Before I arrived in Australia, I envisioned myself working in a cute, laid back little beach bar somewhere on the East Coast… Fast forward a few months, and I find myself packing capsicums and cucumbers on the coast of Queensland, in a little town called Bowen, that I had never even heard of. I wasn’t exactly sure how to feel going into this experience, but I actually ended up enjoying it and will cherish my time there for all sorts of reasons!
Farm work was something I knew about before coming out to Australia, but I never really paid it much attention, as I was never planning on actually doing it; but as the weather was getting colder in Sydney, and I had just over 3 months until my trip to the Philippines to see friends; farm work oddly seemed like the perfect opportunity to put those 3 months to good use and experience the Australian farm life, whilst earning some cash.
The reason farm work is such a big thing for us backpackers in Australia, is that completing 3 months of it (roughly, there’s a bit more to it than that… it’s not as black & white as you might hope) when you have a 417 Working Holiday Visa, can earn you enough for an entire second years stay. Finding a job on a farm wasn’t anywhere near as easy as I thought it would be, because there is a lot of competition and unfortunately the farmers hold pretty much all of the power. So, I have put together a few of my top tips that hopefully might help you, if you are looking for farm work yourself!
// WORKING HOSTELS
To save you a little bit of energy / stress, you can join a working hostel that will look for a farm on your behalf. Some people choose to live in a hostel / caravan park / shared house and go out and find the work themselves, but another option is to move into a working hostel, join their waiting list and let them find work for you. They basically all have existing relationships with local farms, and if you’re lucky enough to find a great hostel, they will be as honest as possible about how much work is available and how long you can expect to wait. I moved into a working hostel and had a job within a week and a half, but some people at my hostel arrived to a job starting the next day, whilst others waited over a month; luck and timing can be everything, even when the working hostel is doing the best it can, to find work for you.
// KNOW YOUR PAY RATES
When looking for work, you’re likely to see a lot of hourly paid jobs and a lot that are paid on a piece rate basis. Most people told me to avoid piece rate at all costs, and some people even said having no work was better than being paid piece rate. I do think it is worthwhile in some circumstances; if the rates are fair and you can physically work at a level that makes piece rate worth it, it’s 100% something to consider. A couple of lads that we worked with earned very good money, near enough every week because their speed andeffortspaid off. Hourly pay is more reliable in terms of what you’ll be taking home, and is better suited to most, as it is usually peoples first experience with farm work. It’s important to note that you will most likely be on a casual contract, so even hourly rate will only be reliable if you are actually getting offered hours to work.
// ADVICE IS EVERYWHERE
Opinions and facts are two very different things, and this is worth remembering when getting advice on farm work. For me, it was about finding a balance between making the most of all the advice that was available, and trying to get an objective view of places. You’ll come across people who have already done some sort of farm work, and listening to their experiences can help to save time, money and stress; however, try to get to the facts of whatever people are telling you. A good 90% of people will tell you that Bundaberg is a last resort place to go, but there is at least one working hostel there that I’ve heard nothing but good things about (it’s called Federal Backpackers & the only reason I didn’t end up there was because their accommodation was already full). So basically what I’m trying to say is, appreciate the advice you are given, but don’t let it dictate all of your decisions!
// LAST MINUTE LIFE
Life working on a farm is often very last minute, and the only thing you can really do is embrace it! Farm work is as unpredictable as the weather, as the two go hand in hand. Some days we would wake up expecting to go to work, to then be sat around all day getting hourly updates from our farmer, until he eventually decided the weather wasn’t suitable, which meant we wouldn’t be needed at all. The thing to remember is, getting annoyed about it won’t change the situation, just try and look for the positives on both sides – if you have to go into work all of a sudden, great, extra money… if not, great, chill time, coffee date, sunbathing, whatever! Ultimately, it is a weird and wonderful time like no other. On paper it will make no sense – to people back home it will probably make even less sense; but the reality is, with any luck, you will make some amazing memories, meet all sorts of gorgeous new people, and have an experience that will always hold a special little space in your heart.
Thanks to Sally Purdy for contributing this informative blog about her experience working on a farm in Australia. Sally completed her 88 days of Farmwork after she travelled with ULTIMATE on our UltimateOz tour in May 2019. If you want to learn more about the UltimateOz tour, click here. If you want to check out more of Sally’s Travel Experiences, check out her blog, here.
https://www.ultimate.travel/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Farm-Work-Group-1.jpg7001200Sally Purdyhttps://www.ultimate.travel/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/logo-300x94.pngSally Purdy2019-09-12 12:45:142019-09-13 12:08:4688 Day Farmwork in Australia
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