November 2017 I jetted off to Sydney, Australia. Having only decided to go 5 weeks earlier. Never had been overseas without my parents before. With hardly any money, no idea how long I was going to be gone, and what my plans were. But one thing was for sure.
I was never. Ever. Doing farm work.
Or so I thought.
Fast forward to early January and I was willing to do anything in my power to be able to extend my time in Australia. In my case, that meant farm work.
I started reading blog posts, searching facebook, asking around friends, hostels. Anything to find the best place to go. There are many Facebook pages out there that are good resources for finding out information on farm work. Theres no particular one that stands out as being better than any other, I was on possibly a good 5/6, including "Backpackers 88 days and counting Australia" and "Farm Jobs Australia" all found by searching "88 days" or "farm work Australia". All of these groups have both backpackers, posting questions or advice/tips on certain places, and employers advertising positions.
I was extremely hesitant about heading off to do farm work. I had fallen absolutely in love with Sydney. I felt at home, I had some amazing friends, I was even enjoying going to work. I heard horror stories about farm work, people saying it was the worst three months of their lives, the conditions you may end up living in, the work you did, the poor pay, especially with piece rate work, which seemed extremely common. Quite frankly I was scared, but deep down, I knew it was what I wanted to do.
Some point in mid Feburary I went on a night out with one of my friends I met at a hostel in Sydney over the Christmas period with some of her friends she had met on a Contiki tour through Thailand about 4 months prior.
About a week later one of the lads I had met said that three of them were heading off to Bundaberg in a few weeks and that I should think about heading up. I was extremely hesitant again, I hadn't heard much great about Bundaberg so was unsure, but I also didn't have anywhere or anything else lined up. I decided that I would see how they got on a few weeks in and go from there, whilst still keeping on looking for other options.
A few weeks later everything seemed to be going good. They were on piece rate work, but seemed to be earning good money from it. They said the conditions were basic, but they didn't have any bed bugs, which was honestly one of my biggest concerns. I didn't really want to go somewhere I didn't know anyone, so I booked a one way from Sydney to Brisbane, and a Greyhound bus from there up to Bundaberg, with one of my friends promising to meet me off the bus to go to the working hostel.
This ended up working out really well for me, I spent two months in Bundaberg working, mostly on an Avocado farm, but did a few days here and there on tomato, capsicum, sweet potato and citrus. After slightly over two months the avocado season ended and work seemed not too promising from there, some of my school friends were heading to Sydney, so I decided to head back too, and finish off my days at a later point.
In August another one of my friends, from the same hostel, headed up to Walkabout in Innisfail to do her farm work. I had heard a few mixed opinions on Walkabout. I was starting to get a little short on time as I didn't want to leave it until the very last minute, so again I waited a week or two to hear how she, and another guy we knew, got on. Again I then flew from Sydney up to Cairns and jumped on another Greyhound down to Innisfail. Here most people were on banana work, hourly pay, and it was an extremely social hostel.
I found both the places I did my farm work at through connections and friendships I made. And I honestly cannot stress enough how I genuinely feel this is the best way to do so. Farm work, for me at least, was so far out of my comfort zone that knowing someone already there takes out the element of unknown as they can tell you whats the go, what the conditions are like, is there anything to do bar work? If theres actually any work at all, and if there is, how good is it.
Although the Facebook groups are an excellent resource, the large majority of people I met found theirs through people they already knew, as for the same reason as me, they weren't confident in some of the stuff they had seen online.
Farm work made me cry, hate everything I was doing, made me consider sacking it off and heading back to Sydney or even at a few points, going home altogether. But I am so glad I stuck it out. I met some absolutely amazing people and definitly grew as a person, finding out a lot more about myself.
As much as I will continue to complain about farm work I am so glad that I did it, and I cannot wait to be able to head back to Australia one day, and use my second year visa. Call me crazy, but I am also strongly considering doing the six months in the second year to get a third year...