Australia Second Year Visa Farmwork FAIL

When backpacking in Australia, most backpackers find regional farm work for 88 days to gain there second year visa that will grant them another year in this beautiful country. This regional work can range from, picking and planting all kinds of fruits, fishing, working at winerys and lots more. My experience with finding a fruit job wasn’t the greatest…

After doing some research I found that Bundaberg was a popular place for backpackers to go and work on fruit farms to get 88 days signed off. I looked at getting into East Coast Backpackers as Rhys’ friends did there farm work there the year before. I called them but they couldn’t guarantee we would get a room let alone work when we arrived, just to show up on the day and see.

So I caught a flight from Sydney to Bundaberg anyway and hoped for the best. When I arrived in Bundaberg  I called East Coast Backpackers again to say I had arrived in Bundaberg but was told that they had no room. Thankfully I had read about another backpackers called Cellblock – a renovated police station,  that offered farm work to backpackers. We arrived and paid $250 for what was an actual cell with a double bed for a week, we asked about farm work but were very vague on if they had anything, we were asked to fill in various forms and to wait.

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Obviously, this wasn’t what I was expecting, I was probably very naive thinking I would be handed farm work the next day. Maybe this doesn’t happen all the time or maybe thats just the way it is but after speaking to people staying at Cellblock there were girls who had been staying at the hostel for 6 weeks and still hadn’t been given any work. Boys on the other hand were getting work, which meant if Rhys got work and I didn’t this I was was going to be here for a long time. This scared me. I for one couldn’t afford paying $250 a week and getting no work.

I heard there was another backpackers in Bundaberg called Cherri Backpackers who were apparently giving out work to people the next day. So I called them and they agreed work would start tomorrow at 5am. I got a refund from Cellblock with no issues and rocked up to Cherris. Realising pretty quickly that it was an Asian run hostel. A pale ginger girl and a Mexican looking bald Scottish guy – we stuck out like sore thumbs, but everyone was lovely and made us feel at home. We were promised a double room but when we arrived we were put into a 4 dorm room with a bunk and two singles but not sharing with anyone which was fine – the shower and toilet was very sketchy but we made do, we paid $180 for the week. 5am the next morning we met outside not knowing what to expect and boarded what can only be described as a “berry bus”.

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For 3 days we planted rows of strawberries. Handed a black bag full of strawberry roots and planted them in the holes that we had pierced into the black polythene mile long rows with our fingers. QUE RED RAW BLISTERS! and finishing at 11am before it got too hot for everyone. I probably sound like a pussy but it was seriously back breaking work, by the 3rd day we struggled to get out of bed from the constant squatting. For every row we got $15 and had to split it between us as two people worked on a row each. OUCH!

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After the 3rd day I got a call from a farmer who saw my farm work ad on gumtree who was looking for a couple to work on his cattle station in a town in QLD for the full 3months. But thats for another blog 😉 We jumped at the chance and left Cherri Backpackers. We got $90 for 3 days, 2 weeks later.

I really should add that regional farmwork really isn’t a walk in the park, you might find yourself getting messed around a lot from hostels and farmers. Speak to people before you throw yourself into something you aren’t sure about and stay safe, there are some horror stories out there I’m sure you will hear about! 

Here’s a link from the visa bureau with much more info about your second year visa work

photo credit:
cherribackpacker facebook page

Thanks for reading! – A Long Way From Home.

Ask Me! – Backpacking in Australia Questions & Answers

 

If you are currently planning to travel to Australia whether it be on a Working Holiday  417 Visa or a Visitors visa, or maybe you are already here but still have some questions, feel free to ask me anything…

The list is endless!

I have been in Australia for a year now and I’d like to think I know a bit about being a backpacker here 😜

So ask away and I will be happy to help, comment below, tweet me, or dm on instagram, whichever way I love chatting to my readers!

Go on, ask A Long Way From Home!

5 Life Hack Items For Backpackers

Being a backpacker or traveller can be tough, especially if you are one who loves home comforts and wants to pack everything including the kitchen sink. Some might say backpacking just wouldn’t be for you, but I’ve got some ideas that will make your backpacking experience a lot easier!

#1. Microfibre Towel 
EVERY
backpacker should own one of these, nice and fluffy, gets your body dry quick and you can roll it up or fold it flat into basically nothing.

#2. Torch
Staying in hostels can be a bloody mare, especially if you are sharing a room with folk, maybe you need to be at work really early but your roomies are loving the unemployed life. A torch will help you find your work clothes and stay on your roomies good side instead of turning on the room light and wake up the sleeping beauties.
In the words of Beyonce, Turn the lights out.

#3. Shampoo Conditioner Shower Bars
Aint no body got time for carrying heavy bottles of products around. Lush make these amazing bars that lather up really good, all you need is a soap bar container to keep them in. Grab this “Honey I washed my hair” bar, NO MORE SHAMPOO EXPLOSIONS!

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#4. Solar/Rechargeable Battery Pack
You’ve got to keep everything charged right? No plug? No problem! (hopefully  you are in a country that has sun… if not, a rechargeable battery pack will obviously be for you) find one that has more mAh’s (whatever that means) but this will keep you going for a few days without having to recharge it.

#5. Speed Skipping Rope
Gym Memberships are expensive right?? Or maybe you are never in one place long enough to even bother with a membership. Grab yourself speed skipping rope. You can attach it to the side of your bag so its taking up zero extra space and voilà you’ve got yourself a portable high- impact cardio workout. No excuses!

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Renting a Campervan in Australia – East Coast

One of the most popular things to do if you are a backpacker in Australia is to see what the beautiful east coast has to offer, one great way of experiencing it is to rent a campervan. Last year myself, Rhys and 3 mates took the plunge of packing ourselves into 2 camper vans and we drove the 2,000 miles from Cairns to Sydney in 4 weeks. It has definitely been my favourite experience whilst being in Australia so far.

9th March 2016 – Cairns

After spending 3 days exploring Cape Tribulation and Port Douglas, chilling in Cairns manmade lagoon and having a leech stuck to my foot (nice) in the Daintree rainforest, it was time to pick up our camper van!

We went with Travellers Autobarn, a popular van rental company that provides vehicles to folk all over Australia. There are plenty camper van companies that do pretty much the same vans with the same specifications, (apart from the amazing little leopard camper in the featured image we saw in Byron Bay) it just depends on how much you want to pay and what deals they are offering due to the month you are renting – easter time, holidays etc are more expensive. Usually if you are renting for more that 21 days the companies give you a discount.

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Myself, Rhys and Lewis went with a 3 berth Kuga, basically a Toyota Hiace converted into a camper. Whilst our other two friends, Mike and Laura, went with a 2 berth Chubby, a converted Mitsubishi Express. Looking back at receipts we paid $2,300 to rent out a 3 berth Toyota Hiace – Kuga for 4 weeks.

Inside the Kuga there was plenty of space, there was small kitchen but packed with all you needed, a sink (which had a tank that could be filled to have running water), a small sized fridge, a 2 hob gas stove and a microwave, 4 drawers full of cutlery pots, pans and dish towels, 2 cupboards with shelves which provided plenty of storage for dry foods. There was also storage above the kitchen/front of the camper which could hold more than 1 backpack.

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It also had dining come sleeping area, a padded bench on each side of the van that made a generous sized seating area which had storage underneath, big enough for a rucksack under each bench and a table in the middle, this all folded down into a double bed. The other bed folded out wooden panels with padding above your head, this made a large single bed.

Travellers Autobarn provided 3 sleeping bags, 3 pillows and sheets to make the padding of the bed more comfortable. Aswell as 3 clean bath towels, more than we expected.

With both the Kuga and the Chubby, if you park up into a paid campsite (ranging between $15-$30 per night) that provides electricity you can plug into the mains port at your camping site.Your camper should come with a long cable make sure before you set off. We kept saying we weren’t going to keep going to paid sites as there are plenty of free sites down the coast… I think we spent a total of 3 nights at the free sites. The paid sites literally saved our lives, okay maybe not our lives, but our sanity… because we were able to plug our fans in and have them on full blast throughout the night. FYI the east coast is freaking hot in March, WHO KNEW?!

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Thanks for reading! – A Long Way From Home

 

What’s in my hand luggage?

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Here’s my knock off Nigel that I use as my hand luggage, I picked this beauty up on Koh San Road in Thailand.

When you are backpacking for  *insert amount of weeks, months, or in my case, years* and if you are anything like me, you are going to want to take everything but the kitchen sink with you.

We need to remind our self our hand luggage will be attached to our body for long periods of time again in my case in 35-degree heat whilst either dragging a suitcase through sand – Thanks, Gili Islands!! – or having a much larger backpacker on your back whilst this is attached to your front, all of which is REALLY comfortable !! – can you sense my sarcasm??

Some airlines are now doing 7kg hand luggage instead of 5kg, which is bloody amazing but it does mean that you will end up packing more sh** and of course, this will break you back even more.

Most of us pack our most precious items in our hand luggage, small toiletries, jewellery and basically all electrical goods that you don’t want to be stolen or broken (no disrespect to any airport luggage attendant… but really we see you throwing our bags onto the back of the trailer when our plane has landed, WE SEE YOU!!)

I’m not going to lie and say I was clever, used my head and packed light.

I didn’t, I couldn’t.

So here’s a list of things I have with me in my hand luggage:

Lonely Planet – Australia: If you are travelling without owning any of the lonely planet books, stop what you are doing. These books are bomb. I used mine to plan a whole east coast Australia trip. It’s basically my travel bible. If you don’t fancy carrying it around with you, you can also buy them as ebooks and open them up on your mobile. I personally like to have a book in my hands, to fold down pages and highlight, but if you want to travel light, lonely planet ebooks are the way forward.

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MacBook Air 13″: I only just recently bought my MacBook, I previously travelled with an iPad2 and iPod. If you own an iPad 2 from 2011 you will know its heavy af, so I needed to get rid, I replaced both iPad and iPod with a MacBook which is just as heavy so really there’s no knowledge here but hey my MacBook is nice!!

GoPro Hero 3: Feeling like I need to update my GoPro now that the Hero5 is out… but this does the job until then! It’s been to Cairns and all the way to Hong Kong and still works a treat! Here’s a pic of me a Rhys at the beautiful fresh water Lake McKenzie. The GoPro really does pack a punch!

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iPhone 6S Plus Rose Gold: because obviously…

Travel Journal: My mum gave me this personalised travel journal before I left home (it’s a bit grubby now) by a company called hannahlloyd that she found on notonthehighstreet.com. LOVE THIS SITE!! It has translucent wallets inside every few pages that I can put tickets, passes and just things I wanted to keep inside, I then write about them on the next page. Such an amazing gift, go mum!

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Polaroid Zinc Printer: Everyone loves taking pictures right?? Well, this little beauty lets you print off your masterpiece, to give to your friends, to pop in your wallet. All you do is connect it to your phone through the polaroid app, select your image from your camera roll and click print! It even lets you edit your images in the app. AND guess what, the prints have peel off sticky backs so you can stick to anywhere including your travel journal after you’ve written about your amazing adventure, print off your snaps and stick it proudly beside it!

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Travel Wallet: Very handy for storing documents and keeping my Passport, Money, Tickets in one place. These come in loads of different cool colours!

Gameboy 3DS: I picked up two second hand gameboys with Pokemon Omega Ruby and Zelda from EB Games for like $200 because me and my boyfriend got really bored when we were doing our 88 days farm work. #90’s kids

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Wires, plugs and travel adapters: For all the devices above, stored in a zip lock bag.. because I’m human and messy. I got stopped at the airport once and was asked to see all of my electrical goods, I guess they saw all the wires through the scanner and thought I was dodge, the guy just laughed at me when I pulled all my random wires out…. Don’t judge me man?!?!

George Orwell 1984: I wanted to buy a small book to take to the beach and for on flights and managed to find a travel version of this classic in a little bookstore in
Koh Samui.

 

Thanks for reading! – A Long Way From Home

How I found work in Perth, WA.

Hi!! Firstly, I should probably mention a little background about my work experience. I’m a qualified spa & beauty therapist by trade – but I haven’t worked as a therapist since I was 19/20. I got into recruitment administration during the oil and gas boom in Aberdeen, Scotland for 3 years before being made redundant when the boom went bang… I then worked as a compliance administrator for an animal pharma company who manufactured veterinary products (no testing I promise!) for 9 months to then be made redundant again due to the company moving overseas for cheaper manufacture prices (typical American company) That’s when I decided that enough was enough and bought a ticket to travel. First stop, Australia!

How I found work in Perth, WA.

Cutting a long story short I arrived in Perth, September 15th 2016 and didn’t find work until October 10th.

4 weeks without any success can be pretty grim and can seem forever, especially when you have moved to Perth to settle, save and chill for a few (6) months before setting off on your travels again. Being a recruitment administrator in 2 previous positions I thought my recruitment and CV knowledge was pretty high. I thought I would be able to find a position pretty easily… I applied to various online sites Seek, Indeed and updated my Linked In. I applied for recruitment admin and general admin positions in the beginning, then reception positions then it got really ridiculous and I started to apply for part time positions – up to 20/30 a day with no reply. What was I doing wrong??? Now I realise I was being impatient. Perth isn’t as busy as Sydney and Melbourne so I was probably up against a few others applying for these positions and what usually happens is your CVs just disappears into a recruiters trash. I wasn’t looking for bar work or call centre work, I probably could have found those type of jobs if I looked for them.

I had applied to recruitment company’s too – Hudson, Kelly Services and Page Personnel. This was where I found more success. After maybe 2 weeks I started to hear back from them. Please remember that you should hound them (really) at least twice a week to keep your name on the top of the pile. Build a rapport with them by emailing them every Friday just to remind them that you are still available and ready to start straight away. Recruitment companies usually get calls on a Monday morning from clients for urgent day cover positions for employees who have called in sick and if they open an email from you from the Friday before you will hopefully be the one they call!

Hudson was the first agency that contacted me, I went in to register with them so the recruiter could get to know me. Their office is the CBD on George St. Unfortunately, nothing really came from them. On the same day I had an appointment to register with Kellys too. It’s a good idea to register with a few companies on the same day to get them all looking for you at the same time. I wore slim cropped black work pants, black pumps and a blouse nothing too fancy but smart and professional. Even though I’m more than comfortable wearing heels, I have never worn heels to work so I didn’t want to come across as false, or even better – fall flat on my face. A few days later I got a call from Page Personnel asking me if I would be interested in a recruiter position with them, which meant sponsorship!! I was so nervous about this and I prepared so hard for the interview. I don’t have much sales experience apart from small closes with beauty products when I worked as a spa therapist in my teens. There were a few questions regarding sales which I really messed up on. I was very prepared to learn but I think the company was looking for someone with more experience, I was unsuccessful anyway. Looking back on this was I really ready to give up my adventure after only having left home 7 months prior? Probably not. Everything happens for a reason and it was good interview experience for me… I then got a call from Kellys with a position starting on the following Monday – no interview required (I KNOW?!) at an insurance company as an administrator (soon to find out it was an underwriter position) at $27 an hour for 6 weeks. So I said I would take it. During this time Page Personnel contacted me again and offered me an ongoing position with Kleenheat (an Australian gas company) in their call centre making “warm outgoing calls” I told the recruiter I had accepted a position elsewhere and she wished me all the best.

Although I was looking for something more long term as myself and Rhys had just signed a lease for 6 months on an Apartment in Joondalup, I’m writing this on the 2nd of February and my “6 weeks” contract is still ongoing, so a little reminder to not turn something short term down when it could possibly extend a lot longer! Chances are that my contract will end pretty soon, but I will speak to my recruiter at Kellys and hopefully I will get something that will take me up to April which is when we plan to leave to go travelling again – South East road trip to Melbourne, I will see you soon!

My advice to my fellow backpackers stuck on where to start looking for a job, be patient, it will happen and keep in contact with the recruiters to show you are keen and ready to work! I hope this helps you a little! Good Luck!

Thanks for reading! – A Long Way From Home

Recruitment Agencies in Perth Mentioned & Links:

Kelly Services – 2 Mill Street

www.kellyservices.com.au

Hudson – 11 St Georges Terrace

au.hudson.com

Page Personnel – 167 St Georges Terrace

www.pagepersonnel.com.au

Job Sites Mentioned & Links:

Seek

Indeed

LinkedIn