Finally finding work
Well, in the end, we didn’t even find work on a farm directly, we had to stay at a working hostel (although in our case it was more of a campsite). At working hostels, the work is organised for you and there is usually a bus driving everyone to either the packing shed or the field/orchard/whatever in morning and picking you up at night. You pay more per week than in a normal hostel obviously, but if the work pays 20$ an hour and you work all week, you can still save a lot of money.
Finding a good working hostel, however, can be very tricky. Sometimes they don’t have any worthwhile contracts with good farms and you end up in a loop where you have to work to pay your stay, but don’t have enough to save and leave. On our way down the east coast, we stopped at a lot of working hostels where the resident backpackers warned us it wasn’t worth it. Sometimes the owners seemed really shady as well, or they told us there was a two-week wait for work opening up.
The place was outside of Bundaberg, we got work picking mandarins the next day until the avocado season started, with the promise of at least three months of hourly-paid work. This is as opposed to contract work, where you are paid by how much fruit/veg you pick. It’s not always a bad deal if you’re a fast picker, but we were definitely not. We made a lot of money and where able to pay for 6 weeks in Asia with our savings (plus paying off the red balance in our bank accounts eek). I need to add though that selling our car also got us some money.
I made this all sound like a grueling experience, but I would still do it exactly the same way: Driving around rural areas, for hours on a straight road with flat landscape at either side and just some cows as far as you could see. I don’t even think we were that worried, we just thought someone somewhere will have to have work and I’m glad we made it all the way down to that campsite, because it was an amazing time and I made some great friends.
In comparison to others, even friends from home that had started out travelling in Australia at the same time as us, we were lucky. Some people never seem to find any work and just end up having to leave when the funds run dry. If you’re motivated and organised enough, it should work out though. Making contacts while travelling and finding a farm by referral is the best option really.
Below are just some photo’s from working on the mandarin farm and on the avocado farm, in a processing shed that made guacamole. I also worked in a packing shed, but don’t have any pics of there unfortunately:
View from bus on way home:
Full gear, the hygiene requirements are crazy in food processing (sorry for the potato pic)