88 Day Farmwork in Australia

88 Day Farmwork in Australia cutting-grapes-vineyard-summer-winery-harvest-in Australia

When I first arrived in Australia, I had this idyllic image of working in a laid-back beach bar on the East Coast. But life took an unexpected turn, and I found myself in the town of Bowen, Queensland, packing capsicums and cucumbers on a farm. It was a place I had never heard of before, and I wasn’t sure how to feel about it initially. However, as time went on, I grew to appreciate the experience and cherish my time there for various reasons.

Farm work was something I had heard about but never seriously considered. However, with the weather getting colder in Sydney and a few months until my trip to the Philippines, I saw farm work as an opportunity to make the most of my time, immerse myself in the Australian farm life, and earn some money along the way.

Farm work holds great significance for backpackers in Australia because completing three months of it can make you eligible for an entire second year stay on a 417 Working Holiday Visa. However, finding a farm job proved to be more challenging than I anticipated. The competition is fierce, and the farmers have the upper hand in the hiring process. So, I’ve compiled some top tips that I hope can assist you if you’re also seeking farm work opportunities.

Working Hostels

To alleviate some of the energy and stress involved in finding farm work, you have the option to join a working hostel. While some individuals prefer to live in a hostel, caravan park, or shared house and search for work themselves, moving into a working hostel and joining their waiting list can be an alternative route. Working hostels have established relationships with local farms, and if you’re fortunate enough to find a reputable hostel, they will provide honest information about the availability of work and the expected waiting time.

In my experience, I moved into a working hostel and secured a job within a week and a half. However, it’s important to note that others at my hostel had different outcomes. Some individuals arrived and started a job the next day, while others had to wait for over a month. Luck and timing can play a significant role, even when the working hostel is doing its best to find work for you.


Know Your Pay Rates

When it comes to finding work, you’ll come across both hourly paid jobs and those paid on a piece rate basis. Many people advised me to avoid piece rate jobs at all costs, with some even suggesting that having no work was preferable to being paid piece rate. However, I believe that piece rate can be worthwhile in certain situations. If the rates are fair and you can work at a level that makes piece rate financially rewarding, it’s definitely something to consider.

During my time on the farm, I worked with a couple of guys who earned a substantial amount of money on a weekly basis because their speed and effort paid off. On the other hand, hourly pay offers more reliability in terms of what you can expect to take home. This option is better suited for most people, especially if it’s their first experience with farm work.

It’s important to keep in mind that you’ll likely be on a casual contract, which means even hourly pay will only be reliable if you’re offered sufficient hours to work.

Also read: How To Save Money In Australia


Advice is Everywhere

When it comes to farm work, it’s important to distinguish between opinions and facts. While seeking advice from others who have already done farm work can be valuable in terms of saving time, money, and reducing stress, it’s crucial to approach it with a balanced perspective. Consider both the advice shared by others and the objective facts about different places.

For example, you may encounter people who claim that a particular location, like Bundaberg, should be a last resort for finding farm work. However, it’s essential to gather more information and get to the facts of the situation. In my case, I heard positive feedback about a working hostel in Bundaberg called Federal Backpackers, which contradicted the general opinion. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay there because their accommodation was already full. This highlights the importance of appreciating the advice given to you while also maintaining autonomy over your decisions.

Ultimately, it’s about finding a balance between taking advice into consideration and using your own judgment to make informed choices about your farm work experience.


Last Minute Life

Life on a farm is often characterized by spontaneity, and the key is to embrace it! Just like the weather, farm work can be unpredictable. There were days when we woke up expecting to work, only to find ourselves waiting around with hourly updates from our farmer until it was decided that the weather wasn’t suitable, resulting in no work at all. Instead of getting frustrated, it’s important to look for the positives in both scenarios.

If you suddenly have to go to work, it’s a great opportunity to earn some extra money. On the other hand, if there’s no work, it’s a chance to enjoy some downtime—whether it’s having a coffee date, soaking up the sun, or pursuing other leisurely activities. Ultimately, the farm work experience is unique and unconventional. It may not make much sense on paper, and it might be difficult for people back home to understand, but with a bit of luck, it will leave you with incredible memories, the chance to meet wonderful people, and a special place in your heart that you’ll cherish.


Thanks to Sally Purdy for contributing this informative blog about her experience working on a farm in Australia. Sally completed her 88 days of Farmwork after she travelled with Working Holiday Guide on our Sydney Gap Year tour in May 2019. If you want to learn more about the Sydney Gap Year tour, click here.

Also read: Why You Should Do Your Farm Work in Australia

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