There is a right way to find farm work in Australia, believe it or not. Once you get your visa you can officially earn your 88 days or three months and forever be able to guilt trip people into eating their fruit and veg.
If you’re a backpacker on your first year working holiday visa then you probably won’t need to send CVs. Farmers like the process to be quick and easy; they’re extremely busy looking after billion-dollar land after all.
Make sure you ask all the relevant questions for the job role and guarantee it is an official way to earn your second-year visa. The following questions are vital:
- How many days a week will I be working?
- How many hours a day on a general basis will I be working?
- Will I need a car to travel to and within the farm?
- What is the farm’s residential address?
- What will be the wage per hour?
- Will I need to find accommodation or will it be provided?
Farmers may not be able to give an exact number of hours or days. The work is always dependent on the growth of the crop or if it’s a dairy farm then your shifts will vary depending on the season. They can still give you an average or at least guarantee that you’ll meet the required days for your second-year visa.
Registered Farms for Working Holiday Visas.
Check the postcode of the farm on the government website.
This document will take you to the official Australian governing body, where you can check eligible regional Australia postcodes: www.border.gov.au/Forms/Documents/1263.pdf
Most of South Australia sits under the regional work spectrum. If the post code is not on the list, it will not count towards your second year visa.
You need to complete specified work in one of the following categories:
- Plant and animal cultivation
- Fishing and pearling
- Tree farming and felling
Once you’ve checked that it is a registered farm, see what people are saying about it. You want a fair and reputable employer. Social media is great for realistic views into the farm life. Whether that’s on Instagram, Facebook groups or backpacker forums where you ask if anyone’s farmed there before.
Simply Google the farm and see what people are saying about it. If it’s in the same state then you could always take a trip to see it beforehand. A good point of reference is if they are paying you the national minimum wage or more, which is $17.29 AUD per hour. Farms also employ paying piece-rate; paying you per piece harvested or by the bin.
Official Websites to Find Work and Information:
There are mainly four types of farming that are popular to earn your second-year visa: picking, sorting, packing and dairy farming. Your role may also include driving tractors and forklifts, if you have a license. You could be working with all kind of crops; stone fruits, vegetables, grapes at a winery, banana picking. The list is as endless as the methods employed to harvest them.
Backpacker Job Board – www.backpackerjobboard.com.au/jobs/farm-work/
Official Government Website for Backpackers – www.harvesttrail.org.au/
Fruit Picking Jobs – www.workingholiday.co/fruit-picking-seasons-in-australia
Fruit Picking Australia – www.fruitpickingjobs.com.au/
Search Facebook Groups
I found five people to go to Scotties Point Farm with me by searching on the following:
Irish Around Melbourne – www.facebook.com/irisharound.melbourne.5
Australia Backpackers – www.facebook.com/groups/AustraliaBackpackers2015
Backpacker Jobs in Australia – www.facebook.com/groups/backpackerjobsaustralia
I also found my farming dream team by asking around at the hostel I lived in for a month when I first arrived in Melbourne, Victoria. Backpackers recommend backpackers and mostly try to help each other with their regional work in Australia.
Working hostels are also a great way for backpackers to get harvesting or fruit picking jobs. Unlike your usual hostel in Australia, these regional working hostels provide accommodation, farm jobs and sometimes transport to and from the workplace.
You’re more likely to be contracted out to farmers on different farms. This could vary from working in the same place for a month or a longer period, or it could be a few days or a week in one place. While living at the working hostel you’ll be available for different jobs coming in as the point of your stay would be to complete your visa days.
Make sure you print out your evidence sheet and get every farmer you worked for to sign it with your days. This will be easier if you’re only working for one farmer but it’s best to be prepared. You can access the evidence sheet in the second part of this document: www.border.gov.au/Forms/Documents/1263.pdf
Remember, your farm work could potentially take much longer than the three months to earn your visa days. A friend of mine worked for a farm that wasn’t registered under the government approved post code and went to a working hostel, where he stayed for a further six months to meet the visa requirements (also because he enjoyed living in the working hostel). These cases are extreme but they happen all the time. Make sure you do your research.
If You Don’t Ask, You Don’t Get
Another method would be to ask your friends or work colleagues. Persistence is key and you’ll be the sole communicator between yourself and a farmer. If someone recommends a farm to you, make contact. Then continue to make contact constantly. Another backpacker friend of mine received a referral from a work friend who’d stayed at a dairy farm. She then called the farmer every day for two months to get a trial and a start date. Her persistence paid off.
I found my farm work through an Australian colleague whom I met while working in Melbourne. She knew the farmer and his family personally and simply sent a text asking if he supported working holiday makers. One thing led to another and four months later I am the happy owner of a second year working holiday visa.
Ask work friends if they know anyone, especially as the horticulture industry dominates Australia. You’re bound to meet an Australian at some point who knows a farmer or people in a farming town. Ask other backpackers for farms they worked at previously.
Applying for Your Visa
I know you’ll be doing this at the end of your farm work, but it’s necessary to keep train tickets and receipts. You need to show proof of living and working in the area from the start of your farm work. This includes a paper trail for rent and the money you earned. It’s easier if you pay rent via bank transfer and keep a copy of your pay slips.
Initially it may take a while for you to find farm work, but once you start looking you’ll soon know how to find an official farm for regional work. Earning your Second Year Working Holiday visa is tough, there’s no denying the manual labour and hard work that goes into it. If you start off on the right foot with a good workplace, you’ll be set to earn your visa.
You will always be appreciative of the food that’s on your plate, because you will know exactly how much time and effort went into producing it. Being in the fruit and vegetable isle of a supermarket will never be the same again.