The reality of Australian Second year visa work
Sure most of us have heard about second year visa work.
13 consistence weeks on the same farm or 88 days of some kind of agriculture work to gain a second year visa in Australia.
Hearing numerous things regarding farm work, I had a good idea how it all worked, however I don’t think anything can prepare you for the real thing.
Almost everyone says, do it for the experience and boy is it one!
In this blog,
I can only go off my experiences and knowledge, working on a banana farm as apposed to others all over Australia, never the less, I sure had a real Australian, backpacker, bush living, full time farm work experience and I’m writing this to help understand, inform and share this experience for me and many others!
North Tropical Queensland
4 hours North of Cairns, Lakeland.
Four farms, one accomadation and 50-80 backpackers.
Sitauted far from much sense of normality, the closest city was Cairns, over a 4 hour drive.
The closest town was Cooktown, an hour drive north, around 15 years out of date, a basic town with only approx 2,000 as their population.
As mentioned in other blogs, travel tip, don’t have expectations. It’s hard not too especially when you already have loads of information however I never expected something quite like this.
Getting the job
After 6 months traveling solo around Asia, and just under three months living in Melbourne, I decided farm work was a favourable option.
Making calls to hostels and farms around Innisfail and others around Cairns, I wasn’t getting much luck. I had booked a flight up to Cairns as I wanted to be in Queensland.
Helpful places offering work; Gumtree. Facebook. Travel agents
Farm work is a pretty last minute thing. Jobs come and go and staff are normally needed asap.
On the Monday of leaving to Cairns, I called round more working hostels as last minute seemed to be the best option.
‘The job is yours if you are here by tomorrow’
Arriving past midnight, a few hours sleep at Gilligans and a 7am pick up I was off the next morning.
Farm work tends to happen very quickly, there are so many people looking for work they normally want immediate starts, hence why last minute seems to be the best option.
When looking for farm work, try give yourself the flexibility to just get straight to the job.
Sometimes it’s a matter of constantly checking or work and just calling up and hoping there are places.
There are, like always, a few dodgy farms and people get messed around so it’s worth doing a little research on where you are heading or speaking to people in the area.
I’ve heard stories of travelers completing their time however not being signed off.
Unfortunatley, on most farms, no job is secure. Everyone is so easily replaced so incase of the worst, try not to leave farm work too last minute.
If you do leave or get sacked, however still want to continue farm work. You will have to complete 88 days to be signed off, which can work out a lot longer.
The nature and scenery looked like something from David Attenborough, legit.
(Fun fact: His favourite rainforest is in Queensland)
The farm and accomadation surroundings where just sensational. Miles of nothing but land. Wild wallabies, crazy insects, surreal surroundings and sensational sunsets, it was hard not to enjoy the lifestyle.
Farm life is normally tough graft, easy living.
Long days, short weeks we all used to say on the farm.
Other then attending work and getting on with it, life wasn’t too stressful.
It’s a strange living condition as you live and work with the same people as there is no one else around. We felt like we were in the TV show, Big Brother.
Every morning 4/5 days a week.
Depending on which farm you worked on, was dependant on what bus you got and off you went for the day. Water, lunch, coffee, sun cream, hat, phone, go.
Let me tell you, the fun of it all can ware off as the work gets tough.
It was go from day one and that was going to be it for the next 13 weeks. I kind of had absolutely no other option other then to get the heck on with it.
Pay was hourly, which I highly reccomend.
Comission work isn’t always great pay and there is no garuntee there is always enough fruit.
Girls in the shed. Guys in the paddocks.
There were particular about male and female roles despite being one of the only females to do a males job and I luckily got to work in the paddocks!
There are jobs for guys in the shed, who will be named ‘shed bitches’.
There are a number of reasons for girls and guys having certain jobs.
A. Sexism. This is outback Australia we are talking about.
B. The heat is so intense, the guys are more reliable for work in the hot weather.
C. The cutting & humping are so physical, the height on the banana trees, and weight of some of the banana bunches do make it a ‘mans job’. End of.
Female – Sorting, Hanging, Stacking, Packing, Cutting and Weighing.
Sounds like some kind of joke. It’s not.
Male – Stacking, Humping, Hanging, De-hanging, Driving.
Shed life: No talking. No music. Nothing but machinery. We occasionally made small talk and had a little giggle. Almost got sacked my first few days for talking. I guess some things never change.
You eventually get the hang of things. It takes a few days and thankfully help from the others, you get to know what to wear, what to take to work, how the days pan out etc.
You work out what time to get up at and how much sleep you really need.
After a few weeks you really get into a routine. As a backpacker always on the move, it felt wierd being back in my own little room and working long days.
Make the most of the routine. I used my time to loose some weight, get my fitness back, chill out, earn some money and still travel parts of North Queensland.
Girls. Forget the nice hair and make up. Think banana gunk, dirt, water, sweat and occasionally tears, you get used to it. Your clothes will get ruined, your shoes will have to stay at work and hats or normally requested or just needed.
Lads. Think sweat, dirt and pure banana sap.
Either way. It’s thought graft.
It’s a pretty easy life in a way. As long you as you’re ready for the bus, get on it and get on with the farm work, there’s not too much to worry about. It’s an experience like no other and isnt supposed to be straightfoward.
It’s more of a challenge, mentally.
Long, tedious, repepative work. Treated pretty shit at times. Crazy tempretures and basic living.
At my farm, we had the same job everyday. If you sorted bananas, that’s what you did all day every day. I know a lot of farms mix it up however it can feel endless.
The lads and eventually me when I was put onto as the tractor driver, had to spend hours in the tropical scorching sun where it reached up to 45 degrees. I give it to the lads physically working out while cutting and humping the bananas, it’s fucking hot.
The job is a valuble spot and can very easily be suspended. I almost lost my job the last week of my farmwork purely as they had to cut down staff. I had backpackers on my farm getting sacked and sometimes there isn’t always full time work.
Each job is so easily replacable so it’s important to work hard. It’s easy to want to quit, have days where you feel it’s not worth it.
It helped spending time in Australia beforehand. Despite only living in Melbourne for a couple of months, it was enough for me to genuinly want another year in Australia at some point.
It’s an experience like nothing else, full of lessons, memories, learning new skills, banter, nature and a different Australian experience.