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Cellblock Backpackers

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For alternative options in Bundaberg, see the Bundaberg Hostels list.
Description & Photos

Hostelz.com's Review
Billing itself as the only "themed backpackers" in Queensland, Cellblock Backpackers quickly disappoints, which is a shame because the building itself is comfortable and relatively clean. The owner lets the place down immensely; John is hostile and can get aggressive, and can be found at the bar, choosing the next frightened female victim to play beer pong with him. If you refuse, you may as well leave because you will not be given work.

The Location

Bundaberg isn't a town you'd want to visit; it's more one that you visit for work -- there are very good working opportunities here, be it cherry tomato picking, weeding, packing fruit, pulling plastic, and cutting wire. But there are better hostels in which to stay! Cellblock is situated opposite the river, which is nice for an escape at the end of a working day, but as Bundaberg can have occurrences of crime, it is best explored in a group.

There is a shopping centre five or ten minutes' walk from the hostel, which has a K-Mart, Coles, Woolworths, and BWS (not that there is any tolerance of alcohol within the hostel itself!). There is a bar/club, which often has live music and is always full of backpackers -- this is a nice place to go on a Friday or Saturday night to unwind. There is a bar in the hostel, but the expense and the presence of the hostel owner may make you want to drink elsewhere. Most will head to another backpackers that's cheaper and has a much friendlier atmosphere.

Rooms and Bathrooms

There are lots of different rooms in this hostel, from the cheapest ten-bed, non-air-conditioned room to the private, air-conditioned double rooms (the cells). It is hard to sleep in the ten-bed -- or even the six-bed -- dorms because of the heat; everybody buys fans to have next to them in the night, and this helps a little, but it is boiling! Many rooms have mice and cockroaches, which will eat anything and everything left out. Rooms are cleaned every Thursday and anything on spare beds or the floor is thrown out -- even shoes! There have been many times where people's entire bags have been thrown out, which is beyond unfair, completely unnecessary, and upsets many people.

The male bathroom is usually closed for some reason or another, so everybody uses the female bathroom. The showers are very good, and considering the number of dirty people coming back from farm work everyday, the hostel is kept relatively clean.

Common Spaces

One of the few good points about Cellblock is its common spaces -- there is an outside bar with plenty of seating, which is where most of the backpackers gather. There is also a TV room with a couple of DVDs. There is a lovely pool, if you don't mind the sometimes-unpleasant presence of John. The kitchen is tiny but everyone knows everyone in this hostel, so it is easily shared. There are spaces to leave your dirty work shoes outside.


As to the deposits -- when you hand your money over, don't expect to see it again! They make money any way they can. You have to give three days' notice to be taken off the work list, despite the fact that people are without work. We were put on cherry tomato picking, which is sneaky because you get paid cash in hand for this job, and they knew we wouldn't be around to collect the money -- so that ends up in John's pocket as well!

You'll come by work very easily here -- we started the day after we arrived; however, this can depend on your relationship with John. Some guests say if you want work, you have to get friendly with him; some find avoiding him completely works best. Additionally, his children run riot in the hostel. John's wife seems lovely and is often helping people with injuries (she's a nurse). In any case, we highly recommend you don't check into Cellblock, especially if you are female. This is a very uncomfortable place to stay. Don't go to Cellblock.

by Graceland
Hostelz.com Staff Reviewer
February 2014

Photos taken by the Hostelz.com reviewer — Genuine photos you can trust.
How is Cellblock Backpackers rated on other websites?
Not listed on Hostelworld.
Not listed on Hostels.com.
Not listed on HostelBookers.
Not listed on HostelsClub.
Hostelz.com Guest Reviews
1   Last three weeks, no pay -- stay away! If you like to be rewarded for your long hours, slave like work by this thing most people call money, don't expect it here! Apparently some Korean women from DSH Labour a company that normally pays us ran off with $200k, perfect timing if you ask me as the manadrin season was just coming to an end. The people of IRIS 7 and the hostel may seem nice up-front but really con artists behind the scenes. Loyalty is a lost art here, smile to your face whilst stabbing you in the back!  , age 26, England ()
1   Run away!!! This hostel is the worse ever! No work! And when you get work you will never get paid! Trust me even if the place is nice, this hostel is a mafia! You have to give a 2 weeks advise to be able to live the hostel with your 150$ deposit. If not they keep it!  , age 22, France ()
1   Don't go!!! Worst place ever, there are no jobs! Only one is lemon that is always on day off cause of rain. At the farm (lemon) they treat you like sh*t, make you waste a lot of time before start and always complaining about the way you pick. Also 180$ a bin is bullsh*t! Consider that it takes a day to do a bin working with someone else so it's 90$ each than minus 15 of money that they keep for fees than the 13% of taxes than 8$ transport than 20-25 $ dollars of rent you have nothing. owners just care about money. Also they ask you 150$ to work and if you leave before telling them 2 week before they are gonna keep the money. Blanket cost 8$ if you want clean ones, kitchen does not have any grill place to cook, the fridge does not work so you have to trow away your food every 2 days. guys don't go! And I could keep going and going!  , age 29, indiano pelle rossa ()
1   Hell hole So me and my friend couldn't get our farm work anywhere, finally we got a phone call telling us that they had loads of work and that we needed to be there before 1pm the next day. We read the reviews but thought it really can't be that bad, little did we know. On arrival there was no one on reception, then after a 30 minute wait a guy came and took our deposits, a weeks rent and charged us for cutlery and bed clothes. We were then given keys to our room, when we got to the room my friend actually burst into tears, it was vile, 10 beds in a tiny room, with 8 males and me and my friend the only females, I didn't mind so much but the room was disgusting it stank, there was a massive black bin in the middle with days of food in it. The bedclothes I paid for were not clean and I also had no pillow, I asked for a new one but was told they had none!!! As we had been told we would be starting work the next day we were surprised we weren't on the work list that night, and every night for a week. Hence why we left. The owner is an absolute creep in the highest standard. Overall it is a dirty smelly dive of a hostel so please don't be caught as easily as we were. We are out every night because the kitchen was so dirty, and the bathroom was vile, dead cockroaches everywhere, spit on the floor and as you can imagine the toilets themselves were yuck. Do not go to this hell hole of a place.  , age 23, Ireland ()
1   DON'T GO, IT'S SH*T I've never been in a s**** hostel like this. There are so many stupid rules like 150 dollars of deposit that we can have back only if we say we're leaving 2 weeks in advance. Obviously I didn't have the guaranteed job in lemon picking, everyday was a day off and sometimes they fired you (from lemon picking) without reasons. Some people, like me, wanted to leave after 2 or 3 days and took back the deposit. 30 persons put pressure on the owners we also called the police, they held some passports from some backpackers who couldn't pay the deposit (and they didn't want to give it back 'til they've got the money). Finally with the police and the pressure we have our money back, and the day after they change the rules and it's quiet more "honest" but still sh*t. Let's talk about the condition of living -- most of the rooms are really dirty, and without a fan or air condition. The kitchen is just disgusting, no one is cleaning, insects everywhere, and even birds are coming for eating. To conclude -- don't go over there.  , age 23, France ()
1   Disgusting I'm now staying in cellblock and I HATE IT!!!! Staff are so rude and there's so stupid rules and staff are sneaking in our room and touch our luggages. What a f***???? Kitchen is so disgusting and rooms are freezing and of course you have to pay for a blanket because you can't have your own or they steal it!! We we're so stupid that we trusted a guidebook and booked this sh*thole for a week, oh my god. We are leaving tomorrow after 3 nights and surprise we don't get the money back!  , age 26 ()
1   It's the worst hostel worldwide Me and my friends arrived at this hostel expecting farm work with reasonable pay, think again the work is like 12 years a slave you pretty much get raped by the farmers for your money! You could be working hard for a week straight and still not be able to afford rent it's complete bullsh*t, the owners are like 50 years old with family's yet they still decide to pressurise the guest especially women to get drunk and play beer pong, complete perverts. The pictures and facilities are all lies, it's a complete scam and in my eyes I would not dream of advising anybody about my terrible time here!  , age 24, England ()
5   Best experience in Australia I stayed in cellblock for six months and I had the time of my life! I will be sad to hear that it has closed down. As for John, yes he comes across as arrogant and not caring, yes he does drink and swear alot! YOU'RE IN A SMALL FARMING TOWN IN AUSTRALIA! Find me someone who doesn't! When I first started there I got fired from job to job. Some by John, some he told me I was fired from but actually wasn't and some that I was thankful for, now I'm not afraid of hard work but working for the sweet potatoes well the money was good but, fck that! However, I got to know John and he did me, I didn't complain about any work I got, intact I loved picking tomatoes for 6dollars a bucket! And when. There were good jobs coming back in (the whether was shot) he would always do his best to get me a good job! Now the hostel was cleaned everyday! I know because I helped if I wasn't working, and have you ever thought of how the hostel gets messy? Take a look. In the mirror darlings! Yes there is no food in your rooms or outside the kitchen unless it is in concealed boxes -- you would rather eat the leftovers of a cockroach would you? I know I wouldn't! Nothing left on the floor, BE CLEAN! This is not your home, and it is a fire hazard, imagine running out the rooms and tripping over your own filthy habits or better yet someone else? With deposits you are told to keep the cards which is not hard, then you get your refund. Now I like to drink and I loved the beer pong and pool parties and the crazy tv room parties -- then again I have a sense of humour! I didn't save any money as I drank it all hut I actually wouldn't change a thing. I got my second year which is the only reason anyone goes to Bundaberg!  , age 22, British ()

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