Working Holiday in Australia…my story.

First week on the farm in Yarrabeepark

The first travel related thing I wanted to write about is the farm life in Australia. I kind of forgot about it really quickly, that’s what happens when you are on a little holiday. But then I got a comment with questions about working in Australia, I went to look over at my drafts, and what did I see? A draft called Australia, it must have been fate! So here is my experience on my Working Holiday(the first 5 months) in Aussie!

Here is the question I received from Quincy!


First of all, thank you so much for your question, I love answering any questions about my travels. Also when I get DM’s on Instagram, it makes very happy to be able to help you!

NOTE: This wil not only be an informational/factual/intelectual blog, this  post is also about my whole experience that comes with working in Australia on a Working Holiday Visa.

 

How did I find a Job in Australia?

In order to fully understand our descision-making  process I’d like to tell you about how and why we went to Australia.
I’ll try to keep it short:  because I had an accident in 2016 a lot of our travel money disappeared in health care, we tried our best to save as much as possible in The Netherlands. We went to Bali, Indonesia for a month, to Thailand for a month and we we’re already getting close to zero. We really needed a holiday, so I guess we spend a little more than we wanted.. hehe.. We decided to go to Australia to make some AUSSIE $$$$, March 7th we arrived in Melbourne to meet some friends first. And discovered very quickly, Auz is very expensive when you come with €€€. It made us even more desperate for a job!

 

Now, the real question is how did we find a job?
Being in an expensive hostel in Melbourne, we had to get away quickly, but we wanted to extend our visa next year, so we could only apply for specific jobs.

To apply for a second Working Holiday visa, you must have already completed three months of specified work in regional Australia. This specified work must have been completed while on your first Working Holiday visa.

Specified work is work that is undertaken in a ‘specified’ field or industry in a designated regional area. See the section on Regional Areas below to check the postcode list of designated regional areas.
Approved industries for specified work include:

  • plant and animal cultivation
  • fishing and pearling
  • tree farming and felling
  • mining
  • construction.
Source: www.border.gov.au

We probably responded to over 100 job ads on Backpacker Job Board Australia, I love this site it is very clear and obvious and if you are looking for a job, definitely use this site!

Anyway, we got back one reply from Stuart Stevens (we don’t know if this is his real name, read on and you will hear about our strange first Working holiday experience. If you want more information about how we got our second and third job scroll down a little bit more.

We got an email that we could call him, he had an advert up for Apple picking in Shepparton, we tried to call him a couple times and when we finally got a hold of him, he told us to get to Shepparton today! Just a little inside information, it was I think 1pm and Shepparton is about 200km from where we were at that time. We packed our bags went to the train station, only to hear that there weren’t any trains today, so we had to take the bus.  We arrived at Shepparton around 9pm.

We called Steve (he told us to call him Steve, even though the email said Stuart Stevens) he would be there shortly. We were waiting in the dark and suddenly a guy tapped us on the shoulder, whispered ‘I’m steve’ and gestured to follow him. We followed him to his car and seeing him in the light this guy looked a bit creepy, hollow eyes, long skinny posture, we’d describe him as a skinny Lurch from the Adams family.

We had to do some groceries for a couple of days, because the house we could stay in was very isolated. We got to see the house, by that time it was 11pm and almost everyone who lived there was asleep. We had to pay rent for 1 week which is AUS$ 165,- and we could sleep on a mattress on the floor because the bed we could sleep in later would be ready in a couple of days. There was no blanket, no pillow, just a 10cm thick mattress on a cold tile floor. There was barely any wifi, because there were too many people in the house. The next day we heard that yes, Steve was a creepy dude and the job was shit, but in this little house were about 25 people, and some of them had been here for 2 months already! So it couldn’t be that bad!

The job was really hard devastating work, my team was in the top 3, picking about 12 bins a day, that is about 1200KG of apples! But we only made about AUS$400,- a week, if we had a good week that is. That minus $165 in rent and about $100 on groceries a week, we could barely save any money, and we weren’t having to much fun either.. The only good thing about this place was the lovely backpackers in the house. Some nights we would drink Goon (very cheap wine in a box) and have some fun, but Steve had inserted a bed time of 11pm and we weren’t allowed to drink so we had to do it secretly. Can you image grown up people from 18-30 years old secretly drinking some wine and being told to go to sleep at 11pm?!  It is quite hilarious if you think about it this way!

Our Second Job!

We knew that staying at the apple farm would not be convenient for us, as we had to make money, and we were here to also have some fun. We had to leave Shepparton! One of Koen his friends has done all of his 88 days in a town called Griffith. So he advised us to go there. On our first day we were having a little drink getting to know the town, and we had a conversation with the owner of the cafe we were sitting at. He didn’t have farm work for us, but for the time being he had a little job for us we could do.

We fixed a net around an indoor sports field, we got paid $1000,- for one week worth of work. There were many holes in this net around the field and we had to sew this other net on to the one already around the field. Hopefully this makes some sense?

After this odd job we kept responding to ads on backpacker jobboard, we had some contact, but it often didn’t work out how we wanted to. Often you had to have a car, which we didn’t have any money for.. Koen found a job driving a tractor, but there was just work for 1 person. I worked in a fine dining restaurant once, picked grapes and pumpkins once, which were both worse than picking apples! The job finding part in Griffith was horrible. But there was also an up side of Griffith! We were at this hostel, Explorers, and I would definitely not recommend this hostel, every hostel in Griffith is not really recommendable, so I’ve heard. But again the people! Nothing but love!

Because we all had a lot of time(no job) but not a lot of money (backpacker life yo) we sometimes just strolled around town, going to the mall or to a cafe. Order one drink and just hang out! Because now we were close to shops and civilized life forms, we could sometimes go out to the pub or to the Area Hotel, which was sort of a disco on Saturday nights. And sometimes we’d just chill at the hostel,  playing drinking games. It might not have been a very successful time, but it surely was a memorable time.

Our Third Job!

I heard a lot about people putting up an ad for themselves, saying they were looking for a job, instead of responding to job ads. So I went on Gumtree the Craigslist of Australia! And posted an ad of Koen (my boyfriend) and me looking for any farm job with minimum wage! And within some days we got some response and one guy stood out, it really sounded to good to be true!

I got a text explaining the job and asking if we we’re interested, I called the guy and he told me the job was for 2 people, driving a tractor, seeding. With the job came free accommodation and a car free of use! I thought it might be a scam, but my curiosity was too strong and we met up with him at his farm. We borrowed our friends car to get there, as it was so isolated, you couldn’t use public transport. When we arrived there was a woman picnicking with her children in her yard. The guy and his brother who both own the farm came by and we had a little chat, we liked each other, so they showed us the cottage we could stay in. It al looked so awesome, I had this vision in my head how ‘ farm life’  in Australia  would be. A big house, dogs frolicking around, Kangaroos, and many km’s of open fields. And this was exactly that!

As soon as we could we moved to the farm and started 12 hours shifts of driving the tractor every day, no weekends no brakes. Nowadays driving a tractor has become a lot simpler that it used to be. You just need common sense and to be able to stay alert. We seeded Canola, Barley and Wheat on the many different locations, they have around 18,000 hectares of land, that is almost half of the Island Venice! The people  on the farm were so nice and helpful, the staff was fun too! And the experience is very special, being on a farm like that. Sunsets, sunrises, kangaroos, emu’s, owls, foxes, guns, big machinery, dirt, rain, wind, frost, sun, dogs, jokes, radio talk, truckers, peace, quiet, loneliness, everything breaks and they fix everything again.

We got paid $20 an hour and no living expenses except for groceries. We worked here for 3 months and finished our farm days! And because we like the place so much we are coming back for the harvest season. We made enough money in 3 months to pay off our credit cards, have a long weekend in Melbourne AND go to Asia for 2 months and still have money on our bank accounts. While back in The Netherlands we worked for six months and eventually we had to use our credit cards in Australia.

Hopefully this answers your questions Quincy! If there are any other questions please put them in the comments below and I would gladly answer them!

If you have any questions about a working holiday visa, I definitely recommend spending some time on the governments website, they explain it best, and it is the most up to date information you can find!

XOXO
Sabien

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