Perth, the main coastal city in Western Australia, is an anomaly. It’s one of the last places left where a blue collar worker can earn a respectable, even enviable, living. That’s because it is home to a $70B+ per year mining industry consisting of iron ore, oil, gold, etc. Western Australia is incredibly well endowed with natural resources and has a disproportionately small number of residents which means literally everyone living there benefits from the flow of the mines.
America calls them “Rednecks”, Britain calls them “Chavs”, and in Australia they’re called “Bogans”. Armed with no more than a highschool diploma, many local WA “Bogans” are making a killing working at these mines earning AU$150,000 per year as simple laborers. This influx of wealth for the blue collar community has spurred the name: CUBs: “Cashed-Up-Bogans”. The CUBs live in McMansions, have an arsenal of jet skis, and their calling card is the neon candy paint, chromed out, super charged, extra loud, $80,000 Ford Ute.
Here a local blue collar worker can earn AU$150,000 per year driving a dump truck on a mining site – literally the most boring job in the world. To have a good shot at landing one of these unskilled and highly lucrative jobs you have to not only be a native Australian but you have to have an in, potentially a relative, who will hire you directly. Sorry to burst your bubble if you planned on joining the mining party to get your own garage full of jet skis and Utes.
If you can’t get a job in the mines and you live in Perth you are still able to make a solid income with the minimum wage at $17.50. Although I heard in Perth that the local restaurants, convenience stores, and other generic low income jobs routinely hire for north of $20. This high minimum wage makes Perth one of the most expensive cities I’ve ever visited. Forget what you’ve heard about New York City being an expensive city. A burger at a local Perth pub will run you north of $30.
It’s hot, it’s a desert, and it feels/looks like Arizona.
Perth is an outdoorsman’s paradise. It’s raw and isolated by thousands of miles of Aussie Outback. Some people prefer it this way and some people clearly don’t. My first interaction with a local was with my charismatic British expat bus driver. He proclaimed to be extremely bored with Perth by stating, “If you like rocks and sand, this is the place for you” and “What’s here to do? You can drive out to Rockingham to see the dolphins and if they’re not there, what’s left? F##k All!” and “You can’t go to the beach because you’ll be wind whipped and sand blasted and it’s 40 Celsius out. Only a lunatic would want to go to the beach when it’s 40C out! Or you get eaten by enormous sharks.”
He’s not joking about the sharks. An average of 15 people per year have been killed by sharks in WA with that number rising steadily each year.
Sharks aren’t the only danger, I’d sum up for you how constantly dangerous the conditions are in Australia but Bill Bryson in his book Down Under does it much better than I can:
“It [Australia] has more things that will kill you than anywhere else. Of the world’s 10 most poisonous snakes, all are Australian. Five of its creatures – the funnel-web spider, box jellyfish, blue-ringed octopus, paralysis tick and stonefish – are the most lethal of their type in the world.”
“This is a country where even the fluffiest of caterpillars can lay you out with a toxic nip; where seashells will not just sting you but actually sometimes go for you. Pick up an innocuous cone shell from a Queensland beach, as innocent tourists are all too wont to do, and you will discover that the little fellow inside is not just astoundingly swift and testy, but exceedingly venomous.”
“If you are not stung or pronged to death in some unexpected manner, you may be fatally chomped by sharks or crocodiles, or carried helplessly out to sea by irresistible currents, or
left to stagger to an unhappy death in the baking Outback. It’s a tough place.”
And with that, I’m off to Bali, Indonesia…