It happens to most Australia-adventuring travellers. Soon after arrival in Oz you realize you’d love to stay in this country for a second year. To earn a second year visa, a traveller has to complete 88 days of rural work. This can be working on a farm, working in construction in a rural town, or even working in a hotel or bar in a very remote area. Click here for a complete overview of all areas which qualify as regional.
I arrived in Australia February 2016, and started looking for farmwork the month after. There are so many things I know now which I wish I had known right at the start, so I decided to share them with you. Please note that below are my personal findings and opinions, and that other backpackers may have different experiences.
1. Find a job on Gumtree (www.gumtree.com.au/)
Gumtree is an Australian website where you can find advertisements for all kinds of products and services, including farmwork. There’s plenty of farmwork being offered on Gumtree, but unfortunately there’s even more backpackers looking for it. You’ll often see that an ad has been viewed over 200 times, which is a shame if you read that the farmer is only looking for two backpackers. I therefore recommend not being too picky and replying to as many ads as possible. Make sure your reply is not too standard and that it stands out from the crowd by making a joke, or adding something personal to it.
2. Place an ad on Gumtree (www.gumtree.com.au/)
This is how we found our current farm job. We placed an ad on Gumtree with a little bit of information about ourselves (age, work experience, hobbies) and a picture. A few days later we got a call from Brad, our current landlord, saying we could move into his hostel (read my blog about the hostel here), and the rest is history. Maybe it is stating the obvious but do not forget to include your phone number in the ad, so the farmer/hostel manager is able to easily reach you.
3. Drive to farms for some face 2 face job hunting
Hop in your car and drive around! It often works best to just show up at a farm and ask the farmer face to face if he has any job openings available. Personally we didn’t try this method, but many of my friends have successfully found good jobs doing so. Often they could start the day after, so it is worth a try!
4. Watch out for scams!
The downside of applying for farmjobs on Gumtree is that there are many scammers out there. Some are just after taking your money, others lure you into their hostel and let you pay ridiculous high rents while only giving you a few days work. Always Google a farm, hostel or an advertisers name before you say yes, and never ever pay money upfront. Naïve and hopeless as I was, I once paid $100 for accommodation in WA up front, and never heard from the guy again…
5. Avoid places with a bad reputation!
There are some places in Australia which have a very bad reputation when it comes to farm work. These are places like Mildura (NSW), Gatton (QLD) and Bundaberg (QLD). Of course not every farm or working hostel in these places is bad, but because it is better to be safe than sorry, I would avoid places like this in general. We’ve been to both Bundaberg (read my blog “88 days a slave”) and Gatton, and had very bad experiences there.
6. Go to Western Australia instead of Queensland
Most backpackers travel the east coast rather than the west coast, so obviously more backpackers search for farm jobs in Queensland and New South Wales rather than in Western Australia. The higher the demand, the higher the amount of asshole farmers or contractors who try to rip you off. I’ve heard many, many bad stories about farmwork in Queensland, but I have rarely heard a bad story about farming in Western Australia.
7. Find out what is growing when
Most fruits and veggies are seasonal which means they are only ready to be picked a certain time of the year. For instance, strawberries are planted in April and grapes are ready to be picked from January. Lists like these help you find out what grows when and where, so you know where to go if you decide to go for that farmjob hunt 🙂
I hope the tips above will help you finding that desired farmjob! Also don’t forget to start way before your visa runs out since farm work is very weather dependent (rain=no work). Best case scenario it’ll take you 88 days, but on average it’ll cost you 4 to 5 months of your first year visa.
If you have any more questions please feel free to leave a comment, and if you have an addition to these tips also don’t hesitate to drop a line below. Good luck! 🙂