Yes I miss my friends and family and the comforts that come from being at home in England but, having given up my relatively good job to come to Australia, I wanted to make the most of it and stay here for as long as possible.
I’ve been in Australia for a year and I still haven’t seen everything I want to see; this is probably due to working full time jobs in order to fund my travels but I don’t really mind this.
I’m taking my time seeing everything instead of rushing, and experiencing what it’s like to actually live in Australia.
If you want to stay in Australia for another year after your first Working Holiday Visa expires you are going to have to do some form of fruit picking or farm work.
Wwoofing is definitely an avenue to consider if you’re not bothered about being paid in actual hold-in-your-hand dollars. Instead, in return for a days work, the hosts provide you with your board and food.
Once you’ve got your membership (www.wwoof.com.au) you’ll get sent a book in the post which lists all the hosts in Australia. Then it’s just a case of contacting whichever ones take your fancy depending on what kind of work you do and which State you want to work in.
Beware though; not all of the hosts live in one of the postcodes needed to apply for your second year visa and not all of them actual can sign you off for the work so take this into account when you’re contacting them.
The Harvest Trail website is also a great resource for finding farming jobs, as is the Gumtree website. On both sites you’ll normally find that advertisers want you to start asap though so be prepared to be flexible.
How to survive fruit picking in Australia
Wear the right clothes
There’s nothing worse than having the wrong gear to work in especially when the weather’s bad. And it can be, even in Australia! Get yourself a pair of khakis from an op shop or Target, a sturdy pair of runners or hike boots (I got mine from the Men’s section in the sale at Rivers) and a couple of old t-shirts. You’ll feel much more comfortable and you’ll be able to work much better.
A lot of the job descriptions for fruit picking jobs will say that, in order to do any sort of farm work, you need to be physically fit. And this is true, but being mentally fit is also really important.
Travelling can be hard at the best of times, especially when you’re completely out of your comfort zone. And, unless you’ve done this type of thing before, you will be out of your comfort zone. Keep in mind that your hard work is a means to an end; it isn’t forever and once you’ve got your visa granted you’ll be really proud of yourself.
Learn to love nature
Remember those cockroaches you saw when you stayed in that horrible hostel in Sydney? Brace yourself; the Australian countryside has many more creepy crawlies to offer.
While Iwas working on a vineyard in Country Victoria I encountered Huntsman, Golden Orb and Red Back spiders as well as a King Brown snake. I was incredibly scary at the time but the important thing to remember is that, as long as you have your wits about you, you shouldn’t come to any harm.
The hosts you’re working with have lived there their entire lives so they probably won’t pander to your screaming when you find a Huntsman spider in your bed (yes I will come back to that story one day) or a King Brown snake weaving in between your feet (ditto) but think of it as an experience and vow to laugh about it once you’re back in the city.
Respect your hosts
You may be staying in the host’s home, a caravan on their land or not with them at all but it’s important that if you are staying with them, or at least having meals with the family, that you remember your manners. Wash up, cook meals, or lend a hand around a house. They’ll appreciate it.
Working on any farm requires early mornings and hard graft but this is usually rewarded at the end of the day with a good meal and a chance to put your feet up so at least try and enjoy the work you’re doing and see it as an opportunity to do something you’ve never done before. Sometimes I could hardly get out of bed for the aching in my muscles after weeks of grape picking and leaf-plucking but, once I was up and out, it wasn’t that bad. Work hard and your hosts will respect you and want to continue to employ you. Slack off and you could be out of a job.
I have to say I think I was incredibly lucky; I found work on a vineyard in Harcourt, Victoria, through a friend I went to University with in Leeds. I lived in a caravan opposite my host’s family home, learnt to cook proper meals with my wonderful host and I surprised myself by actually enjoying living in the country when really I’m a city girl at heart.
It’s not for everyone, but when your efforts finally pay off, it’s definitely worth it.