Hey, fellow traveler! Just a heads up, you may find affiliate links in here for programs/products that I'm diggin' right now. But don't worry, I only recommend things to you that I love & use myself!
Australia has fast become the ‘go-to’ place for travelers, as it has so much to offer and is pretty much a tropical paradise. From the amazing beaches, jungles and landscapes, unique wildlife and of course the friendliest most down to earth Ozzy’s you will ever meet, there is no wonder they attract so many foreigners from all around the globe each year. If you’re on an Australia Working Visa, you are permitted to stay for one year which you can work to top up your traveling fund. However, to gain your Second Year Visa, you are required to do 88 days of agriculture work. By this, I mean fruit picking, farm work, or horticulture.
It can be very stressful when it comes to doing your farm work. From personal experience, I can tell you that it was a great experience, but I will never be doing it again. To give you a heads up for what you’re about to get yourselves into, I’ve put together the highs and lows of my farm work experience and how to get the most out of it.
If your anything like me, you would have left it till the last minute with a complete lack of research and now time and money are against you. Take my advice, make sure you do your homework in advance! At least, in that case, you’re giving yourself options and you know what kind of work you want to be doing and where you would like to do it. However, make sure your regional work is completed within the eligible postcode area.
As for my personal experience, I was lucky enough to find work with my two friends in a small town called Griffith. I started off on a broccoli farm for a few weeks, hacking away with what can only be described as a sharpened paint scrapper in the freezing cold, marching down my allocated row on the field, ensuring not to miss any broccoli to pass onto the tractor. (Yes, it gets freezing temperatures in Australia during Winter!).
This work was not always guaranteed and of course, the weather played a big factor in this. However, my luck turned around and I finally got ‘promoted’ to the orange shed! My job here actually varied. Someday’s I was sorting the bad from the good, other days I was on packing, stamping, or box making. Yes, it was tedious, but it definitely beats being out in the cold on the broccoli farm and the hours here were more of a 9-5 role. It could be worse!
As for the accommodation, I was in an 8 bed flat- x2 bedrooms both with x2 bunk beds, living room, kitchen, and ONE BATHROOM! Although the rooms were very ‘cozy’ (by that I mean you didn’t even have room to swing a cat) we were lucky enough to live with mostly guys (which reduced arguments over the bathroom) and we all seemed to get along very well. The living room had a tv where we would have GOT nights and rugby days (with lots of goon) to make the most of our time off. The hostel was very social and there was always someone to have a few drinks and banter with along with a slap-up Ozzy BBQ. The hostel was gated and has CCTV cameras all around which they do keep an eye-on you -sometimes felt like big brother was watching.
I feel very fortunate compared to a lot of my friends that have done their farm work elsewhere, to have been located in the town of Griffith as it did have a lot of facilities. By that, I mean decent nightlife on the weekend, a range of restaurants /cafes, supermarkets close by, gym/swimming pool and of course a laundrette.
Below are some of the highs and lows of my time here that most backpackers will go through when in the same situation.
The Weather- This can be a pro/con depending on where you are located in Oz and the time of year. You’ll either be melting in the scorching sun or you’ll be shivering your socks off in your wellies, there’s no in-between. The weather also influences whether you’ll be able to work or not so you might be left with a few days without work.
The Creepy Crawlies- You won’t be alone! Australia has developed a well-known reputation for its creepy crawlies, especially being a country that has the deadliest creatures. Be sure to watch out for the red-back spider, their brown snakes, and anything else that you might find hiding out in your Wellies. However, it’s not as bad as people make it out to be & you’ll quickly get used to it.
Social Interaction- Working hostels are a great place to make friends from all around the globe, drink way too much goon with, and enjoy a slap-up Ozzy BBQ every week. My regional work definitely tested my friendships as your working and living with each other 24 hours a day. You’re bound to get underneath each other’s skin at some point so choose your friends wisely.
It’s long hours- If your fruit picking, you’ll be starting as soon as the sun comes up and work through until sunset. The working schedule can be unpredictable and you have to be ready to drop everything and go.
It’s challenging work- By no means is this kind of work easy, especially if you’re on a farm where you’re getting paid per bucket! You’ll definitely keep in shape as this kind of work is physically demanding but it does get easier. It will certainly test your patience and you will be exhausted but find a way to power through as you need to remember that it is only temporary.
Great opportunity to save money- See this as a great opportunity to save some
- Here are some recommended places to do Farm Work in Australia
- Griffith- (Globe Backpackers)
- Tasmania- Tamar Valley
- Bowen (Aussie Nomads Hostel)
- Queensland- (Backpackers of Queensland)
- Tolga Country Lodge- Queensland
- Margaret River- Vineyards
- Victoria- Mildura (Mildura International Backpackers)
Regional work definitely has its ups and downs. But, if you do your research beforehand, get an awesome group and a stroke of luck then time will fly by and you would have saved up a bit of dollar and got your second-year visa in no time. If there’s any advice I would give, I would say to get it over and done with sooner rather than later. This can be a long process and things don’t always go to plan as expected.
Getting paid hourly is known to be much better than getting paid a piece rate so if you have the option making sure you know in advance how you would be getting paid. Be sure to download some good playlists and podcasts as you’ll definitely need it to pass the time! Overall the good outweighs the bad and it was a memorable experience I will never forget.
Tell us about your farm work experience!!