Today we’ve decided to share our farm work Australia story.
It involves crazy farmers with shotguns and a whole lot of ups and downs doing our farm work Australia.
We know that many of you are, or will be in the dilemma of how to approach your farm work to get a second-year visa.
We have spent remarkable first six months in the land down under and as for everyone on WHV the time was approaching to the decision …
Are we staying for the second year?
What should we do?
What farm work Australia for a second-year visa to choose?
Should we just do fruit picking or get paid farm work within regional postcode?
Living in Perth WA, we thought that we would just go down to Margaret River and get it quickly over with and getting paid fruit picking job.
Well, we were very wrong!
After just returning from an excellent long holiday in Bali, on January 15 we have packed our life’s into a car that we managed to buy few days earlier and went down south to Margaret River.
We had only booked a backpackers hostel for a week thinking we will find some place elsewhere for three months within the first week.
First, few days farm work hunting didn’t go well at all. We managed to get to 5 wineries and we quickly realised that they have no interest in hiring us.
Instead, we ended up doing wine tasting and buying their wine (as you do ).
The next day we’ve decided to go to agencies and get fruit picking job through them.
Good idea right?
Well, not really if they give you a booklet full of names and when you ask how long will you have to wait to hear back from them, you hear
There’s a waitlist of 521 people….!
Great, so of we go to other agency and all we hear ‘ if you have a car come back tomorrow morning 7 am to sign up’.
And that’s what we did.
Woke up 6 am and 7 am already waiting outside the agency door.
After half hour of wait been invited and given the paperwork to fill along with 15 others.
Being told that payment is by a bucket and is $3-$5 isn’t the best starting point especially that you also need to pay $25 for clippers, gloves and protective sunglasses to start with.
Another red flag – we were told that if you don’t like the job – tough luck just do it no one is interested in hearing your complaints.
So after this eventful morning, we went to our hostel where met few people who were hired through this agency and
said they couldn’t go over 5 min bathroom break as someone came and knocked on the door.
They also promised us 5 – 6 days of work a week the girls had been there a month and barely got 2 – 3.. meaning our regional work was going to take a LOT longer than three months/88 days.
So this evening we decided to use our free time and enjoy some quality time in one of many wineries and ditch that hopeless job.
So long story short after two weeks of no luck with farm work Australia and drinking our sorrows in different winery each day– we’ve decided it’s time to move.
The next stop we researched and heard there’s work was Pemberton.
So we drove to Pemberton with a big smile on our face thinking we had just discovered gold.
And yet again we couldn’t be more wrong.
Driving for 2 hrs to be told no work until March isn’t something you would expect especially that this place is well known for fruit picking jobs year round.
So what now? Running out of options and lacking any reception in 30 degrees heat we had no idea what to do now.
Eventually managed to get wifi and research few places.
Bunbury it is so, there were a few listings for farm work there.
So we drove to Bunbury…
As you can imagine it didn’t go as planned either.
After a week of contacting every possible place, endless emails and phone calls we were running out not only of options but money too.
Hostels aren’t as cheap and our we had about AU$2000 left was getting tighter every day.
Read our money transfer article to find out how we saved lots of $$$ on money exchange when we had to send money from Europe to Australia, and how you can too:-)
We probably could have budgeted better but sunsets were simply unbelievable every day and it was hard not to celebrate each one with bottle of cheap wine at the beach 😉
Eventually after 100’s of emails we received a reply that there is available farm work Australia for backpackers in Mandurah at horse stables.
Without having any idea how it’s going to be like, we took the chance.
Greeted by a guy and taken to a room and being told to relax for the day was the best feeling ever.
Thinking at first the place couldn’t be any better with beautiful lake, free kayaks, outdoor swimming pool and large lounge area…wow right?
The deal with this farm was $500 per person per week to pay in exchange for few hours of work in the morning (cleaning horse poo), breakfast and dinner.
Not bad right? Well at this stage we didn’t care. We were just sick of looking for regional work. Even having to pay for your farm work to be signed, you can always get a job in the afternoon to make up for it in one of the many bars and pubs right.
And that’s what we did before we realised that a crazy person runs this place.
Warning signs that should alert your regional work asap:
1. You are only allowed to use one cooking ring to boil eggs for breakfast. Tired of always eating boiled eggs? Try and make fried eggs.
Result: Your eggs will end up in the bin and you will be the farmer start screaming at you as you didn’t obey the rules, and as that couple learnt will get you swiftly kicked off the farm!
2. When you are enjoying few beers in the evening in the patio area with few others and the owner walks in with a shotgun, sits down and stares you. When someone jokes – he’s going angry and shouts that he’s patrolling the area. Not weird enough? Read further.
3. When another friend on the farm asks for one day off for family reasons.
Result: He had one hour to pack stuff and leave without farm work papers being signed (only had three weeks to go to finish, poor guy!).
Because we felt bad for him and the farm is about an hour walk to the train station we pretended we go shopping and picked up our poor friend and dropped to the station.
Next thing you see in rear mirror – farm guy driving right behind you and following you all the way to the station.
4. You develop a fear of speaking to the owner ( along with ten other people that are in the same situation as you).
5. You develop a great skill of avoiding seeing him for days.
As you can probably figure out, we left the place as soon as we could but managed to last there a whole month! Most people left after a week or two (either kicked out or figured out the danger fast enough- smart people right).
After about a week of awkwardly asking the farmer “could you pleeeease sign our regional work forms.”
On the last day about an hour before we left, he finally signed our one month of horrific regional work
So driving out of there as fast as we could after securing a traffic control job in Bunbury.
Finally, a paid farm work Australia job and not living in fear of a farmer throwing you out because he was having a bad day.
So driving back to Bunbury to the same hostel we had just been a month ago.
Yes, so now we are back at the same hostel renting out cups/ towels and so on again.
How to get this paid regional work for a second-year visa?
Actually, it was surprisingly easy enough – it took one phone call, a phone interview a person to person meeting and few odd questions like are you ok to pee in bushes?
So we are on the right track – not only don’t have to deal with crazy people but also getting $25-$30 paid an hour.
How to get traffic control job for farm work Australia?
Have a valid Australian Drive Licence
Make sure that work is within farm work Australia postal code. You can find out more info here. We also found this regional work guide helpful.
Obtain white card
Complete Basic Worksite Traffic Management (BWTM) & Traffic Controller (TC) course
After you successfully complete all requirements is time for some real work.
First few days were amusing. A road closure where you spend half an hour at the beginning of the day setting up signs and at the end collecting them back.
How the rest of the day looks exactly like?
Reading a book, talking to others, watching shows on your mobile phone = switching your brain to off mode.
This is exactly what I did. Steve wasn’t as lucky and had to stay on the stop/go bat most of the days (you still get 15 min break every 2 hrs- or at least that’s how it supposed to be).
It all was going well for the first month until just a few weeks before Easter where one of us had only one – two days of work a week.
We still were hoping to complete the work before we head to Melbourne for event Steve’s friend was participating just after Easter.
And again it didn’t go according to plan.
After the first week working five days, following week three days and by the end of the month having one shift a week, we realised that this was ridiculous. We thought of sticking around until Easter (double pay woo) and leave for Melbourne after we get loads of money and finish this already dreadful farm work Australia.
In the meantime, we had moved out of the lovely hostel in Bunbury and we managed to find accommodation in Busselton with another crazy person who played ACDC at 6 am full volume and repeatedly punched a punching bag right outside our window…. it is another long story for another day!
These were just some of his “rules”:
I think that this place influenced our decision to leave. After finding out that there will be no work for us until after Easter holiday, within an hour, we decided to pack our bags and move.
On the way, we dropped to work to say we quit. We told the manager that there were no hours, we need these days to sign off our regional work bla bla….
.. she just looked at us and said
‘Well … yea didn’t last long’
Great staff care?!
If you don’t know, regional work can be done over three months or 88 days, if it’s done over 88 days when you split it up. In our case Mandurah(ugh) and the traffic control.
It took an hour before getting our farm work papers signed and nobody didn’t even think to say ‘Hey guys why did you decide to quit so sudden’, well no wonder they have such a significant staff turnover.
The most unexpected thing was after working for the company for two months I got signed for 16 days and Steve for 23 days. Meaning if we had stayed there our regional work would have taken about six months to finish.
Well we didn’t care at this point anymore, we were on route to Melbourne.
If you want to know how we got there, check out our Perth to Melbourne road trip guide.
By far the best road trip we did in Australia –and we did a few of them!
So going back to our how to do farm work Australia or more so how not to do it…
After arriving in Melbourne and spending an awesome week here, using our hard earned traffic control work money, the clock was still ticking and we couldn’t avoid not thinking of farm work.
We had contemplated ditching our second-year visa all together but then we remembered what had been through to get this far.
Luckily enough we managed to find a working hostel on gumtree and called the place.
You probably wonder now where did we end up?
After the phone call and confirmation that there’s plenty of orange work picking and reassurance that once we reach the hostel, we will be rewarded with seven days of full-time farm work. So of we go to Mildura..Mil..f**in..dura
Pay by bucket but sure, we can survive right?
Well, 7 hours of a drive just to find out there is no job until next month or two!
We were offered other ‘cheaper’ partner hostel and bit of work there. Naturally, we took the opportunity.
Paid the weekly fee and given shopping basket filled with crockery, towels and sheets and taken to a room with bunk beds and filthy mattresses, cats crawling around the place. The place was an old mental hospital or something.
As you can probably imagine, we lasted there entire 5 minutes while we were waiting for money back.
How did we survive farm work Australia?
We didn’t…. 😀
Just jokes, we eventually managed to finish the longest farm work experience ever but this part of the story is for another same sized article.
What did we learn doing our farm work Australia?
All said and done; our regional work was awful.. it really was..
Working with crazy farmers with shotguns and turning off our brains at traffic control… the laws have thankfully changed now in Australia so that you no longer can do “unpaid work” or “woofing”, how true this is we don’t know.
We met some awesome people along the way and made some friends who we still speak to this day, although we don’t talk about the days on “the farm” much anymore.
Many other people had similar experiences and we are sure that we have not the worst regional work story.
We went on the road trip of a lifetime from Perth to Melbourne, which we would never have had if the farm work Australia didn’t work out.
Please share your stories in the comments and if you do have an epic story like this send it to us at [email protected] we would love to feature you.
So if you are reading this and just about to start your farm work in Australia, good luck we are sure it won’t be as bad as ours.
Steve and Sabina
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