My Australian farm work experience – living and working on an Aussie farm
Hi, I’m Nora. I’m originally from Germany but I’m currently living (and loving life!) in Australia. As a kid, I always loved to travel and discover new places. 5 years ago I have decided to start my adventure in Australia, which became a huge life-changing step for me. I’d longed for freedom and adventure for too long, so I decided to quit my secure job, sell my car and anything else I could ready for a trip to Australia. I packed everything I thought I’d need for a whole year abroad into a tiny backpack.
I spent the first two months travelling around Australia, then one day decided that I couldn’t imagine leaving this beautiful country so soon. So, I decided to complete my 88 days of regional work and apply for my 2nd-year visa to extend my Aussie adventure for another year!
I’m so happy I travelled first to explore some of Australia and get used to being in a different country. I’m also so glad I started my farmwork towards the beginning of my Aussie working holiday.
88 days may not seem like a lot, but depending on the farmwork you do and the weather conditions, you may need to give yourself more time to complete the full amount of days needed. It’s worth planning this early! Altogether I completed 7 months of farm work in my first year, but that’s because I loved it so much!
My experience living in a ‘working hostel’
For my first 3 months of farm work, I lived in a working hostel in Atherton, Queensland with other backpackers. The working hostel provided us with different jobs, almost on a day-by-day basis. This meant we got to experience a range of jobs in order to complete the full 88 days.
The working hostel also provided us with vehicles or a pick-up service to the farms, so luckily, we didn’t need our own car.
What is farmwork in Australia really like?
Farm work does tend to get a bad rep, with stories of underpayment, hard manual labour, bad living conditions and even sexual harassment.
I don’t want to sugarcoat all of these aspects as I know everyone has different experiences but I am lucky enough to tell you that I had a wonderful experience.
I hope in sharing this with you, it’ll take away any fear you might have about doing your farm work and give you hope that good farmwork experiences do exist!
The work itself can be tough, but I can honestly say that the experience and the memories you gain being in this situation with others makes it all worth it.
Firstly, let me tell you about the hard part: Expect early wake-up calls, long hours, physically demanding work and grumpy farmers. I went from working for a bank, wearing nice clothes to work in Germany to working in a field picking and packing fruits and veggies. You really do get to know yourself and your boundaries. But however hard, I honestly call this one of the happiest times of my life.
The good times!
You might think I’m crazy, but I have so many beautiful memories from this time. I’ll never forget seeing the beautiful sunrises, spending time with other backpackers around the campfire, singing songs together, and talking about life, our adventures, hopes and dreams. Nothing matters…only the present. You share stories and laugh together and you form a community to support each other where it doesn’t matter where you are from, how much you have or what your profession was in your home country.
You’re all in the same boat doing your farm work to prolong your Aussie dream as much as you possibly can!
I remember the evenings in the hostel when everyone brought home their picks from their day that they could keep. Some brought passionfruit, lime, watermelon, potatoes, tomatoes… all kinds of fruit and veg, and we all shared and cooked delicious meals with them together. Reflecting on this time with some of the friends I met on the farm, we all remember it as our most memorable time in Australia. We were connected with nature and to ourselves, away from the cities and the everyday pressures of society. We built our own community where we shared love, friendship and memories. Thinking back we were all kind of living a cute hippie life!
If someone asks me about the best job I‘ve ever had, I automatically respond: ‘Working on a passionfruit farm in Queensland’. I remember how we picked – and ate – passionfruit whilst listening to our favourite music in the sun. During our breaks, the farmer would sometimes offer us homemade ice-cold passionfruit beers. My time working on a lime farm was also a unique experience; Imagine starting early in the morning, and soaking up the sunrise to the smell of hundreds of fresh lime trees!
My second farmwork experience in Queensland
The next farm I worked at was at a lovely resort in Bowen, Airlie Beach – the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands. This was a magical place in another working hostel right next to the beach. In Bowen, 4 years ago, I found friends for life and I also met my current partner! It might have been the long nights staying warm by the fire, long conversations, or stargazing in the middle of nowhere but we fell in love doing our farmwork – which is quite a common occurrence!
Not only did I complete enough regional work to get my 2nd year working holiday visa, but I also earned enough money to enjoy travelling around Australia, found some new friends, met my partner and found my true self.
Although I was sad that this unique time had come to an end, I was also super happy to have finished work and that I had another year of fun, travel and adventure ahead of me!
My top tips for completing your farm work in Australia
If you’re thinking of coming to Australia on a working holiday and thinking of doing your farm work – do it! It might be the best experience in your life.
If you’re serious about finding farmwork, I recommend searching for working hostels with good reviews. Read through backpacker Facebook groups and hear about other travellers’ experiences. I chose to do my farmwork with a ‘working hostel’ as it made me feel safer being around others in my situation. However, there are lots of other farm work opportunities out there. Keep an eye on the backpacker job boards and get chatting with every traveller you meet for recommendations.
It’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience so why not give it a go?