I like a challenge and giving something my all.
"I felt completely safe throughout, I worked for 3 different farms and did my research before applying. The more educated you are, the better."
Even though I have said it was one of the most challenging experiences I’ve had it was also one of the best. I have never had a job that was this physically demanding before, in which you have to push yourself every single day but you’re not alone. In my case I was surrounded by many others and we were all in the same boat and got each other through. Friends become family and you come out of it with such amazing friendships. I felt completely safe throughout, I worked for 3 different companies/farms and did my research before starting/applying. The more educated you are, the better. I was also quite lucky with my pay. I was on piece rate for planting (hard work paid off) and hourly for picking.
I could definitely gather it was going to be hard work from hearing stories from others it basically sounded like it would be (very low) paid slavery! I was also a bit nervous. What if the farm wasn’t legit? What if I don’t get proper payslips? What if I get stuck in the middle of nowhere? I had heard a fair few horror stories and I really didn’t want to go down that path but as mentioned before, you can steer yourself in whichever direction you choose and with enough research and knowledge you can get yourself a decent job.
"I was always surrounded by great people who really kept you going. And not to mention, great bosses. A happy boss means happy workers!"
The reality was (as expected), that it was tough. But I was okay with that because I like a challenge and giving something my all. I’m glad I can compare the two (very different) rural work scenarios I had which came with different challenges. The first job I had was tree planting in the winter in Victoria and NSW. Some days it would be raining horizontal and freezing and most of the time I would be coming home blistered, filthy and sore but that’s nothing a hot shower couldn't fix. Besides, your body does get used to it... eventually!
On the flip side, I then picked and packed zucchinis and cucumbers in the Queensland summer. I don’t think I’ve sweated so much in my life. If you think picking vegetables is easy think again, this was a fast-paced job in which you picked behind a boom that you had to keep up with. In this industry, if you clearly don’t put in the effort you’re out of a job. And of course, not to mention crippling back pain and aching muscles.
“At the end of the day, it’s not forever.”
You know you’re doing this for a reason and it will be over eventually. Whilst planting, I saw the fact it was piece rate as a motivator because the harder you worked, the more money you are going to make. So the fact you could make some decent money AND get your days was a bonus!
I wasn’t alone either. I was always surrounded by great people who really kept you going. And not to mention, great bosses. A happy boss means happy workers!
During picking in Qld, I lived in a workers hostel, so you're constantly around other backpackers experiencing the same thing and it’s safe to say the social side keeps you going...
"Stick it out, remember you’re doing it for a reason. Try your hardest. When it’s over you’ll look back and pat yourself on the back and be truly thankful for the experience."
Some days you do think why am I doing this to myself but looking back you’re so glad you stuck with it. (Think of the visa think of the visa !!)
I learned that even though we would moan about it all the time, you should always appreciate the bizarre situation you’re in because even though it’s hard, when it’s over, you do actually miss it.
Overall I was very happy with the way my experience worked out, however my advice to others would be to try and do farm work as soon as possible or near the beginning of your visa, perhaps not right at the start because you don’t really know what you’re working for (you haven’t had a chance to see why Australia is so great, it’s a huge motivator!) but just don’t leave it until the last minute. I thought it would be super easy to find farm work, however I was looking for about a month before I got a job, so you don’t want to leave it too late.
I would also say get talking to people, the reason I found my first job at a planting company was through talking to friends whilst living in Melbourne. Also do research online, Facebook pages are very helpful. Hostels are a good route to go down if you’re nervous about going to a farm by yourself. They have contacts with many farms and you get placed on one of them, the better hostels are mostly in contact with farms that pay hourly, which is ideal. If it’s a one-off farm always make sure they’re legit, do some research and when you have a job, keep your payslips in a safe place and make notes of all days and hours you work - you’ll be needing them for your second-year application!
Stick it out, remember you’re doing it for a reason. Try your hardest. When it’s over you’ll look back and pat yourself on the back and be truly thankful for the experience. If a farmer ever does seem unreasonable, remember it’s their livelihood, so if you put in the effort and give them respect they will respect you too.