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.
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”.
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!
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
cherribackpacker facebook page
Thanks for reading! – A Long Way From Home.