A Complete Guide to Farm Work in Australia
Early in 2018 two friends and I landed in Adelaide Airport, since then it’s fair to say we have seen most aspects of life as a backpacker in Australia. We have travelled extensively, worked in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, McLaren Vale, Barossa Valley, Shepparton, Byron Bay and Hamilton Island. From picking grapes and apples, packing potatoes, working in bars and restaurants, offices and 6 star hotels, we’ve even started our own business. This guide is an effort to pass some vital information down to the next generation of working holiday visa holders, we have had many successes and some failures. This first part will focus predominantly on our first few months in Australia, getting set up, buying a car and doing our farm work, it draws on our personal experiences and the business knowledge we have gained since founding The 88th Day.
1. First Steps in Australia
2. Buying a Backpacker Car in Australia
3. What is Specified Work?
4. What Counts as Rural?
5. How Do Immigration Calculate the Days?
6. Where to Do Your Farm Work?
7. How to Find Specified Regional Work in Australia
8. Techniques The 88th Day Use to Find Jobs
9. Piece Rate vs Award Rate
10. What Do You Need Before Farm Work
11. How to Find Accommodation Whilst Doing Specified Work
12. What Important Documents Do I Need to Hold on to Whilst Farming?
13. Things to be Aware of During Farm Work
14. How to Keep Yourself Entertained During Your Farm Work
15. Saving Money During Your Farm Work
16. How to Apply for Second Year Visa
17. Where to Spend the Rest of Your Time in Australia
18. Myth-busting Farm Work in Australia
I've Made It to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa, What Do I Do Next?
It’s never easy moving away from the comforts of the country you call home, and being Australia you’re guaranteed to be a long way from home wherever in the world you’re from. Hat’s off for making it this far!
You’ve touched down in Australia, the first concern might be where to lay your head the first night and then you have to contend with the inevitable jet lag. If you’re lucky enough to have any friends or relatives that you can call upon, that’s great, a familiar face can make this daunting experience feel a little more comfortable. It’s best to make arrangements prior to getting to Australia to save ‘dropping in’ on someone and putting them in an awkward situation!
The same goes if you’re free soloing, do a little research into local hostels, hotels, Airbnb’s or whatever you fancy prior to your arrival and book yourself in for a night or two, this at least gives you a destination to aim for when you leave the airport, preventing you from feeling completely lost. All the major cities in Australia have numerous hostels to accommodate a traveller like yourself, so it’s often a good place to start and meet new people, most likely in a similar position to yourself.
Once you’ve had a little time to gather yourself together after the long flight, and feel on top of the jet lag, it’s time to go about setting up your new life in Australia. Two key essentials to living a life in the 21st century (unfortunately) are money and phones. You may have travelled across the world, but the basics are the same!
First things first, get an Australian bank account set up. Commonwealth Bank, National Australian Bank (NAB), Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ), and Westpac Bank are the big four and you can’t go too wrong with any one of them, they all offer competitive rates and prices, do a little research to see which one suits you best, or pick the one with the prettiest bank card. Personally I chose NAB, they had zero fees for their current account and a stunning pink card, they have treated me well and I have no complaints. Head into a local branch with all the essentials (passport and visa) and go about getting an account set up (you may have to make an appointment and go back another time). To open a bank account you will require a Tax File Number (TFN), this can be obtained online or in a local council or government building and they get it done for you quite easily. Almost certainly you will need an address to register an account (same applies for a TFN), if you haven’t got the benefit of friends or family in the area then best use the address of your temporary accommodation (can be changed at a later date) and ask for the bank cards to be delivered to the branch. This will normally take at least a few days, but when it’s done you can spend your hard-earned savings without the need to carry wads of cash or incur extra international bank charges.
Now you have an Aussie bank, you can go about getting a phone contract sorted! Optus and Telstra are the two main operators, and both offer really good rates on calls, texting and mobile data from as little as $10 or $20 a month. If you wanted a little less commitment, and were thinking pay as go would suit you better then there is loads of options and you can pick up a SIM card from supermarkets or a local 7-11 shop for as little as $2. My top tip for phone contracts is that the best deals you can get here are on 12 month contracts, if you head to an Optus store immediately you may be able to get yourself one. I pay $47.50 a month for 80GB Data (very useful when farming) with unlimited texts and calls, plus I get free Optus Sport ($15 a month normally) which among other things shows all Premier League and Champions League football.
One other thing worth considering when you first arrive in Australia (especially if you went for some cheap travel insurance) is setting yourself up with Medicare which is the publicly funded universal health care system and may just come in handy during your time in Australia. Again this can be done online or over the phone, but it is sometimes easier going into a local government building and speaking to someone to help you through the process. Remember to take all your official travel documents and your passport!
Now you have the essentials you can begin your life in Australia, you can now work, travel or do both to your heart’s (or bank account) desire.
Top Tips for Buying a Backpacker Car in Australia
Without a doubt one of the best decisions I made when coming to Australia was to buy a car, yes, it costs money, can be hassle, takes up time and effort but seriously it’s all worth it! If you have the money to spend and are willing to put in the effort, it can revolutionise your experience Down Under, let me explain why and give you some tips to help you on your way.
If you want to see all of Australia far and wide then what can compare to doing it all under your own steam with the freedom and fun of your own vehicle! Who doesn’t love a road trip? You can fly to a lot of places, but that often works out being expensive and then you end up missing half the experience of travelling in Australia. I found lots of the good times and excitement was in the journey! The Australians have got one of the worst train networks I have ever seen, it’s practically non-existent as it seems to be more expensive than flying and slower than driving! The only remaining option is a long-distance bus or coach journey, but where’s the freedom and fun in that? I would say a bus/coach is only worth it if you’re in Australia for a short amount of time and looking to book on to an all-inclusive trip up the east coast. But what you see and what you get for the cost of these tours is not comparable to doing it in your own car, a used car is cheaper than you might think.
I’ve lived in most corners of Australia, metropolitan or rural, and my car has been with me every step of the way. Every time I want to move places I just pack the car up and go. The benefits of a car are endless, you’re not restricted to a suitcase every time you go somewhere new, all the extra gear you acquire on your travels can be kept until when you need it again. I’m talking tents, camping chairs, duvets, pillows, TV’s, whatever it is it can come along for the ride with you and if you’re lucky your travel companions too.
Having some mates to split the cost of a car with is the most ideal situation to be in, then an investment of $1000 each when there is 3 or 4 of you can get you a pretty decent ride. Then all the running costs such as fuel, insurance and registration can be split as well making it easier for everyone. Then the next thing you find out is that an 8 hour drive is a breeze if there’s a few of you sharing the load.
In order for your newest 4-wheeled prized possession to be road legal it requires to be registered and at least have third party insurance, let me explain. The registration is what relates the car to the owner and to the state it is licensed, it costs in the region of $195 every 3 months however that can vary depending on the type of vehicle and the term of registration. Third party insurance is necessary as a minimum, it basically means the cost of the damage to someone else’s vehicle is covered in the case of an accident that is your fault, and all you have to cover is an excess payment (often $250 or $500 depending on your insurer and insurance plan). This is a legal requirement so if you’re in an accident that isn’t your fault the cost of the repairs on your car will be covered by the other individual’s insurance. This is to protect drivers on the road as repair costs can often escalate to much more than people can afford. There are many insurers across Australia, but it is important to do your research as some only cover the car in the state of registration, which is no good if you plan on travelling far and wide. From experience AAMI is great for all-round value (approx. $30/month) and you are covered country wide.
The Royal Automobile Association (RAA) is the national emergency breakdown service, and is highly recommended, if your car (as trusty as it may seem) has an issue in the middle of The Outback (or anywhere) it can be very expensive to get it towed back to a recovery centre. To avoid these costs then you need to be a member of the RAA, basic plans are in the region of $10-$15/month and is definitely worth it, especially if you’re looking to buy a car on the cheap!
Now, when it comes to buying a used car in Australia the options are limitless so here’s a few things to look out for and to bear in mind when on the search. A reasonable budget for initial cost I would say is somewhere in the $2k-$5k price bracket. This way you should avoid a car that needs to you take out a mortgage to pay for, and also avoid one that will fall apart 500m down the road. I know someone that paid $700 for a car and it broke down within an hour of driving, true story! However, you could spend $1k and it be your dream car and it lasts another lifetime, that is just the lottery of buying used cars.
I’m not a mechanic and if you’re reading this I take it neither are you! But before buying a car try to give it a good look over, inside, outside and underneath, ask to see details of recent services as this will give the best indication of what state the car is in or how well it has been looked after by previous owners. To fit into the budget I mentioned, you’re likely to be looking at cars with a very large number on the odometer, 240,000km to 310,000km is probably the sweet spot, much over 350,000km then inevitably the car won’t have much more to give! Take it for a test drive, check to see if the electrics work, the brakes feel good, listen to the engine (keep the radio off) as this is the best way to see what you’re getting for your money. If you have a mechanic mate then great, take them along to view the car, but unfortunately this is all the help I can give! From experience I have had great success/value for money when buying Japanese cars (Honda and Subaru more specifically) that are from 1996-2003. A top tip is to keep an eye out when on the road to see what the older cars are you still see regularly as these will be the trusty and reliable ones.
I can offer a better insight into what sort of car/vehicle you should get on your travels around Australia. 4WD can come in handy but is definitely not essential, 4WD’s often offer lots of space which is more essential as you can then fill it with people and luggage! People carrier’s and estate cars are often great for having lots of space, otherwise keep an eye out for a car with a roof rack as very useful for gaining extra space. If you’re feeling really creative and want to go full nomad then the converted minivans are the one, this way your travel and accommodation is sorted wherever you go.
Lastly, keep an eye on backpacker Facebook groups as there is often people leaving Australia and looking to sell on their much-loved cars and minivans, just keep in mind what I’ve mentioned previously. Now enjoy the travelling with all the freedom you desire!
The 88 Day Journey
After spending our first week at Hostel 109, Trevor the owner helped us organise ourselves and pointed us in the right direction. We jumped in our Honda CRV Sport and set course for McLaren Vale, our first experience of farm work would be grape picking and it was far from ideal. This is what we wish we knew then.
What Is Specified Work?
The majority of this information can be found here https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/getting-a-visa/visa-listing/work-holiday-417/specified-work
These are the main areas of specified work, Immigration expands further on these areas in the link above, you will find the list is fairly extensive. Below we have listed some examples of what the government views as eligible work and also what it does not.
Now there is a theme to these examples, primary work involving plant or animal cultivation is clearly eligible, however just working in this industry is not enough. Being a nanny on a farm isn’t enough, nor is providing wine tastings in a cellar door. Effectively the work must be related to the industry you are in, admin will not count, nor will doing the books for a mining company.
All that being said, we don’t necessarily believe this is how things always work out when Immigration are assessing your application. Take the cellar door example, if you are working in the winery standing on grapes during the weekdays and on the weekends you are doing shifts in the cellar door, how will Immigration know? The primary evidence Immigration uses is your payslips, unless the payslip actually asserts that you work in the cellar door its our belief they will grant your application. The same actually goes for almost all industries, especially smaller businesses where you may be taking on multiple roles, speak to your employer and make sure the job title on the payslip is the one you need. Many employers don’t even specify a role on your payslip, if this is the case and you are working for a business with an eligible ABN then we believe Immigration will grant your visa no matter what you were actually doing.
What Counts as Rural?
The circled areas are ineligible and regarded as urban.
You can find the precise postcodes that count at the bottom of this page https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/getting-a-visa/visa-listing/work-holiday-417/specified-work.
In simple terms Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong and The Central Coast are all ineligible in NSW. The whole of ACT is ineligible, Brisbane and Gold Coast in Queensland. The urban area surrounding Melbourne in Victoria and the urban area surrounding Perth in WA. As a general rule, if you drive for an hour outside of the city, you’re probably safe. Anywhere else in the massive country of Australia and you’re good.
How Do Immigaration Calculate the Days?
One of the great mysteries, and sources of the most speculation when you’re completing your 88 days farm work is exactly how many of your farm work days will count. Rumours of a 35 hour cut off mark are rife throughout rural Australia as backpackers struggle to make the holy grail of a 7 day week. Here at The 88th Day we are in a fortunate position of being able to communicate with Immigration and we have a few discoveries to share with the working holiday visa makers of Australia.
This is probably the most contentious aspect of the government documentation and a quick disclaimer, our information is not official but we believe it is reliable and hopefully it helps settle a few minds.
Firstly Immigration don’t want to comment on whether there is a structure they are given to calculate days. We believe there must be one, how strongly it’s enforced, simply we don’t know. What we do know though is their bottom limit for a full time job is around 30 hours. Taken from the Immi website
The example here states Maria works 30 hours a week for 6 months and she is granted the 3rd year visa. This is likely the minimum hours the Government will accept but we do believe there is some leeway. From this we think the Immigration day counting structure looks like this:
6 hours =< weekly hours < 12 hours = 1 day
12 hours =< weekly hours < 18 hours = 2 days
18 hours =< weekly hours < 24 hours = 3 days
24 hours =< weekly hours < 30 hours = 4 days
30 hours =< weekly hours = 7 days
The 88th Day have built a free App for IOS that will do these calculations for you as well as save your data week by week and give you a precise figure of how many days you have remaining.
Download The 88th Day app here.
The 88th Day App uses Apples Core Data to keep hold of all your records on your device for however many companies you work for, however long it takes you.
The final piece of the puzzle is has by far the most grey areas. According to Immigration, for work to be counted as the full 7 days you need to work the same hours as you would if you are working hourly.
However we think its very unlikely Immigration have any idea how many hours you are actually working on a piece-rate agreement. Most payslips, the primary evidence Immigration uses, will only declare the weight of fruit the worker picked and the amount they were paid. No mention of days worked or hours worked are likely to be on these payslips. Basically we believe as long as you are being paid around $350 a week or more, you will have your visa granted. As long as the number of days you worked isn’t clearly stated as less than 5, you can always take the position that you were working full time, but unfortunately you were a slow picker.
You’ll find below a letter we have been shown from an Immigration minister, in which she states “Note that in relation to piecework, special provisions apply. Provided the working holiday maker is on a valid piecework agreement, and submits a copy with their visa application, then any day on which they have worked and been paid will be counted as a day.”
How Certain Are We?
This is not an exact science, the regulation is deliberately unclear, the Government of Australia has introduced this programme for one reason and it states it here in the 2017 Ombudsman Report into the Working Holiday Visa.
“The 417 visa has introduced an uncapped labour source into the Australian market that fills a low-skill labour gap in the domestic workforce, particularly the specified work requirement of the 417 visa program which fills the labour shortage associated with food production in regional and rural areas”.
The reason we are all doing this specified work is because the government couldn’t get Australians to do this particular type of work, as long as the work is done and the government get their visa fees they don’t really care too much about the specifics of individual cases. Many visa applications are automatically accepted and even when investigations take place, normally only a sample of evidence is asked for.
My final advice to you is this, do as many hours per week as you can, but don’t get overly hung up if you’re not always getting 30 hours a week. If time runs out and our calculator says you haven’t quite got the 88 days yet, do not worry. We think as long as you have 13 payslips, the likelihood is your application will still be granted.
Finally if all this is making you feel extra nervous about getting your days, sign up to our service and we will make sure you get a good hourly job with reliable hours.
Correspondence with Immigration
Below we have quoted information we have received from Gale Lalor, Acting Assistant Secretary, Immigration and Citizen Services Group. To sum up what she is saying, effectively if your employer believes you are working full time for them, then there is no minimum hours for a full day.
“To meet the three months specified work requirement, applicants must work for the same number of days that a full-time employee in that job would normally work in a three month (88 calendar day) period. Note that the work does not have to be full time, or be performed in a continuous period.
All WHV workers, not just those working full time, can count rest days as part of the 88 calendar days. Put simply, in most circumstances, applicants can include two notional rest days in the 88 calendar days for every five days worked.
The department recognises that there is a range of circumstances affecting what constitutes a normal full day in each eligible industry, especially in the agricultural industries. For this reason, the policy does not prescribe the minimum hours for a normal or ‘full’ day.
As a general guide, if the employer reasonably considers that an applicant has completed a normal full day of work for that industry, then the departmental decision maker may be generally be satisfied to count that day of work toward the three months requirement. Note that in relation to piecework, special provisions apply. Provided the working holiday maker is on a valid piecework agreement, and submits a copy with their visa application, then any day on which they have worked and been paid will be counted as a day.”
Where to Do Your Farm Work
The simple answer is anywhere rural will do, there are over 9500 registered farms in Australia and almost all of them will count. But we know many of you won’t have any clue about rural Australia so here is a short list of places we know well.
South Australia - McLaren Vale, Barossa Valley, Adelaide, Gawler, Mount Gambier, Berri, Renmark, Murray Bridge, Penola
Victoria - Mildura, Shepparton, Robin Vale, Bright, Cobram, Beechworth
New South Wales - Griffith, Hillston, Batlow, Forbes, Orange, Tumut, Young, Wee Waa, Moree
Queensland - Bundaberg, Gatton, Murgon, Childers, Gayndah, Rockhampton, Bowen, Innisfail, Cairns
Western Australia - Mundaring, Bussleton, Margaret River, Manjimup, Lakeland
Northern Territory - Darwin, Katherine
Tasmania - Smithton, Devonport, Ulverstone, Burnie, Deloraine, Launceston, Scottsdale, Richmond, New Norfolk, Huonville
All of the above areas have various different forms of specified work, visit The Harvest Trail for a full list. We picked grapes in McLaren Vale, Apples in Shepparton and packed potatoes in Barossa Valley. Barossa Valley was the pick of the 3, we got pretty good hours and the pay was hourly. McLaren Vale grape picking is a farce to be honest.
How to Find Specified Regional Work in Australia
Like most people the place to start is Google, a generic Google search will throw up numerous websites advertising all sorts of rural farm work, there is the larger job advertising sites such as Indeed or Jora however this is where everybody looks and you’re likely to be competing with a large number of backpackers! Similarly there is the Backpacker Job Board which can be helpful but often is often the same story.
If you are prepared to be a bit more proactive, check out the Harvest Trail which gives insight into the fruit and veg that is in season in each state of Australia so can inform you where there is likely to be work for the more seasonal produce. Many jobs are available through working backpacker hostels which are set up in rural areas where there are often jobs available, they all operate on a first come first serve basis and require you to stay at the hostel to secure the work so you have to venture there and find out.
Some of the most insightful information with regards to farm jobs is spread through word of mouth, so when you are out and about with fellow backpackers chat to them as there’s a good chance they’ve completed their 88 days and willing to help. Similarly there are useful Facebook groups that offer a similar service as well as job postings from farmers themselves. The one thing to watch out for is a scam, as unfortunately there are people out there trying to take advantage of the many backpackers travelling throughout Australia. Always do your research and keep your wits about you!
My tip would be try and go to the unpopular places, at unpopular times. Every backpacker in Australia wants to be in Queensland, picking Avocados in the sun during the winter. If you move to Bundaberg or Childers in July, you’re probably not going to get much work. Do your research and pick up the phone, most farmers don’t do computers, we are based in South Australia because we get the most jobs for backpackers here. Plus you can live right in Adelaide and still get your days.
Techniques The 88th Day Use to Find Jobs
Anyone who works in recruitment will know there are certain techniques we can use that don’t work for individuals looking for jobs, approaching a CEO in a pub you know he drinks in or attending industry events gives us a major advantage. However we have also found great success with techniques anyone can replicate, our Head Of Recruitment Tom Little has some top tips for you.
Yellow/White Pages - Type the correct terms into these pages and you will find a long list of businesses in the industry. I find most of the pages contain at least an email but what you’re looking for is a phone number. Call the number and you will likely find yourself speaking to a receptionist, find out how the factory/farm does their recruitment. Often they will use a recruiter or a labour hire company, ask for their details and contact them. Sometimes though these businesses can be quite old fashioned and will rely on CVs that are handed over in person, if this is the case get yourself down there with an updated version of your CV.
Directories - Many farms and factories can be difficult to find using conventional methods, often they have very poor websites and search engines wont find them. These are the ones you want to find, while the average backpacker browses Gumtree and Facebook you can get on the phone to these businesses directly. Use broad terms to describe food, if you know the area produces tonnes of lemons, oranges and limes find the directory for citrus producers in that area. Most producers will be part of a group, find the website for the group and on there you will find details of individual companies.
Aussie Farms - This method is a little unethical I will admit, if you are unwilling to work with meat then this will not interest you. Some of the best hourly paid jobs you can complete your specified work with are in the meat industry. Vegan activists have done me a huge favour in creating this repository listing over 3000 farms and packing facilities, we have mined it extensively to find jobs for backpackers. It’s free and open source, use the details on the site to contact the companies directly, but I probably wouldn’t let on where you found them.
Use these methods correctly and you will find yourself a good job, my advice would be to get off Gumtree and Facebook, it’s easy to apply through these links and often farms are inundated with responses. Get off your arse and meet the employers face to face, you aren’t applying to work in a tech firm, consider what farmers are normally like and what would make you desirable to them.
Piece Rate vs Award Pay
Award Pay Work – Without doubt the best way to do your 88 days is with a reliable hourly paid job, the high minimum wage in Australia means most of these jobs pay over $800 a week. Sign up to The 88th Day if you’d like one, it’s our specialty.
Piece Rate Work – This work refers to the payment scheme used by many farms, paying workers by the weight of product they pick. Make no mistake some workers make great money, however the majority doesn’t. Farmers regularly skew the system, so only the top 25% of workers make minimum wage. This top 25% of workers are rarely backpackers and almost always experienced pickers who have made careers out of picking fruit. Be honest with yourselves, do you think you’re going to be faster than a 35 year old Tongan with 20 years experience?
Another factor to consider is that piece-rate work is outside 99% of the time and work relies on the weather. If it rains you’re not working, fruits not ripe? You’re not working. Harvests are unpredictable and work is not evenly spread. Piece–rate work will get you days, but its unlikely to save you much money.
What Do You Need Before Farm Work?
Most importantly you need all the proper documentation that proves you are eligible to work in Australia, it’s recommended to print a hard copy of your visa grant notification, a copy of your passport, then details of your Tax File Number (TFN) and bank details so that you can get paid! Otherwise have an email file of screenshots on your phone of these important documents as getting organised can make life a lot simpler a little down the line.
Next up you need to get yourself kitted out and ready for work on a farm or factory, your work attire is likely to get dirty, ripped and smelly! Buy some cheap t-shirts, long sleeve tops (easy sun protection), trousers and suitable footwear. Shops such as Kmart and The Reject Shop are your best bet as you can sort yourself from head to toe for about for $20-$50. It may not be the latest fashion, but definitely purchase some hi-visibility clothing as is a standard requirement for a majority of rural workplaces around Australia. Consider what else might come in handy with more specific jobs roles, such as gloves or an extra large sun hat.
To maximise your chances of finding work it is recommended to buy a car, it may seem a hefty investment but definitely worthwhile if you’re travelling in a group. Due to a majority of the jobs you’re looking for being in rural areas, having a car really does massively improve your chances of finding work quickly as those with independent transport are much more appealing to the farmers, it’s a harsh reality. On the plus you have a car and the whole of Australia at your disposal once your work is done!
How to Find Accommodation Whilst Doing Specified Work
Securing a job through a working hostel can have its benefits, such as accommodation being secured as well, however more often than not you are paying a lot in rent for accommodation with very few amenities whilst being crammed in a room full of bunk beds. But more often than not it is the most viable option and it’s always very social as there’s a lot of backpackers all doing the same.
Otherwise if you have a bigger budget then private rental is a possibility through either lease agreements (6 months minimum) or Airbnb, but expect to pay quite a bit more!
The other end of the spectrum is finding a local campground to pitch a tent, or if you’re travelling in style then a campervan or converted mini van will do the trick! If this is the case find a local gym to join and make use of the showers when you can to maintain a relative degree of hygiene.
The 88th Day can offer help and assistance with regards to accommodation around South Australia so if you do get stuck then don’t hesitate to get in contact. Plus if you do your farm work through us, we will attempted to fit you in one of our share houses.
What Important Documents Do I Need to Hold on to Whilst Farming?
Once you’re up and running and working towards completing the 88 days, it is important to keep records and document your time working as this is all evidence that proves you did the specified work required for a second year visa, and being able to supply this information is likely to be the difference between staying in Australia or not!
The main things to keep hold of are the ABN and contact details of your employer as well as every payslip you receive, keep track of important emails regarding your payslips, and if you receive paper pay slips make sure you get a photo of it before it disappears into the unknown. These are essential to getting your visa approved so if your employer is holding them back or not providing them in the first place make sure you chase them up immediately as it’s a lot easier than doing so 6 months down the line whilst on the other side of Australia!
Whilst you’re at work and on the farms take photos of you, your mates and your surroundings, it’s great to do so firstly so you can savour the memories and the experience of completing the 88 days, but more importantly its further evidence that could come in handy when submitting your application to the Department of Home Affairs.
Use The 88th Day App to track your days and save vital information for when the moment to apply comes.
Things to be Aware of During Farm Work
Be on your toes – Always be prepared to take better roles if they are offered to you, many farms will have both piece rate work and hourly paid jobs. If an hourly paid job becomes available, don’t be shy, be the first to speak to your farmer about it.
Keep an ear out for news on the farm – Things can change quickly when it comes to harvesting fruit and veg. Often it’s not in the farmers interests to inform the staff that the season is coming to an end. Listen to your fellow workers and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Be willing to get in the car and leave – Don’t get stuck in a working hostel paying $200 a week, staying in a room with 20 other backpackers if you’re barely working 10 hours a week. Remember it speeds up the process massively if you’re working full time and those jobs are out there, we help people like you find them everyday.
Stand together with your fellow backpackers – Farmers have proven time and time again they don’t always have backpackers interests at heart. Stand up for each other, backpackers may come from all over the world but we are all connected through this process.
How to Keep Yourself Entertained During Farm Work
Maybe these 3 months aren’t quite how you imagined spending your time in Australia, however that doesn’t mean they can’t be a fantastic few months.
Day Trips – It may feel like you are in the middle of nowhere but that doesn’t mean there aren’t great activities within driving distance. Make the most of your weekends and your hard earned cash; rural Australia has world-class beaches and landscapes, take a drive!
Explore local produce – Many of our jobs are located close to top draw wineries, cheese and chocolate producers, not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
In-house entertainment – Head to the nearest charity shop/reject store and pick up some old fashioned entertainment. Board games, cards (learn to play shithead) and books are all great ways to spend your time on weeknights. If you’re staying with The 88th Day, give our accommodation team a ring and they will be happy to pick you up a few things, we love adding items to our share houses!
Exercise – Maybe this isn’t the entertainment everybody’s looking for, but the truth is the 88 days you spend farming is a great time to get fit. Local teams are always looking for extra bodies and most towns will have reasonably priced gyms.
Saving Money During Your Farm Work
Make bank - This may be obvious, but you’d be surprised how many backpackers finish their farm work with less than they started with. Having an hourly paid job with reliable hours is your best bet, if you have a constant income of $800 a week, saving money in these rural spots is easy. 13 weeks farm work is long, by the end you’ll be sick of your job and you’ll just want to stay in bed. My advice is book a holiday for the end of your farm work, the light at the end of the tunnel will give you the boost of motivation you need, plus you deserve it!
Freebies – Make the most of the goodies from work, many farms and factories will have excess stock, take advantage! Who turns their noses up at free food and wine?
Cook communally at home – Whether you’re in one of our share houses or living in a hostel, cooking at home as a group is a great way to count the pennies. Backpackers come from all over the world, encourage everyone to show off their skills in the kitchen
Goon/Hollandia – Ok, we aren’t advocating for binge drinking. But jeez this is a cheap way to get drunk.
Ride sharing – Help the team out! Not everyone has cars and splitting the petrol costs such a simple way to count the cents.
How to Apply for Second Year Visa
So you made it! Congratulations, just 10% of WHV holders in Australia manage to complete their 88 days. What you have achieved is special, its a journey that only a select few can say they’ve experienced. Now its time to reap the rewards of all your hard work.
The process – Very similar to how you apply for the 1st visa, follow the links to start your application for the 417 Visa: https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/getting-a-visa/visa-listing/work-holiday-417/second-working-holiday-417
462 Visa application link:
The only difference is you will be asked for details regarding your specified work. The company name and details such as the ABN and address will be required, it is also possible for you to upload your pay slips at this stage, we recommend you do so.
When to Apply?
This depends on how you plan to spend your time, if you expect to run your years consecutively then you should be looking to apply as soon as possible, its impossible to predict how long applications will take to be granted but it usually takes at least a month.
If you are planning on leaving Australia after your 1st visa ends and then coming back at a later date, DO NOT apply for the 2nd year visa while the 1st is still active. If you apply for a 2nd year visa during your 1st year, when the visa is granted it will automatically start the day your 1st visa ends.
Use our calculator on The 88th Day App to check whether you make the 88 day limit, we have used figures given to us by immigration and we are confident it’s the best guideline available. If our counter hits 0 you are good to go!
Where to Spend the Rest of Your Time in Australia
Hopefully after finishing your farm work you have saved plenty of money to travel the delights of Australia, its fair to say I’ve lived in some of the best bits myself. Here are my top tips for you.
Hamilton Island/Airlie Beach – If you finish your farm work during the depths of the Australian winter, we recommend you leave the cold behind and head north. The Whitsundays is an incredible location and offers a unique lifestyle, if you’re looking to save money and live in a tropical paradise, while spending your days off whale watching and lazing around on the beach, why not apply for a job on Hamilton Island? If it’s a party you’re after, Airlie Beach offers all of the same beauty as Hamilton Island, but the nightlife is on a completely different level!
Byron Bay/Gold Coast – The climate here is very attractive all year round, this fabulous spot on the East Coast offers so much. Byron can certainly stake a claim for the most hipster spot in Australia, truly an international town with an eclectic vibe. Byron has it all, the only downside may be finding long-term accommodation can be challenging and in terms of finding work, hospitality is the major employer in this town. If you are looking for a lot less hipster and a lot more tattoos then give the Gold Coast a try, beautiful beaches and the nights out certainly are memorable.
Melbourne – If you are looking to live in a major metropolis Melbourne is in the top tier worldwide. Topping the polls for most livable city anywhere on Earth time and time again. Melbourne you will find is full of fellow backpackers all around, but there is certainly a concentration in St. Kilda south of the city, not everyone’s cup of tea it must be said. Melbourne boasts sensational cuisine and a big nightlife; personally I have spent many a great evening in the suburb of Prahran, I highly recommend you try it. The jobs here can pay exceptionally well, look for a 9-5 and make the most of your weekends. Move here in the Spring and leave in the Autumn, the weather is near perfect during that period, less so in the winter.
Sydney – What needs to be said, the iconic city is the headline grabber for most tourists travelling to Australia. It certainly must be seen and it has some advantages over Melbourne, the beaches are far superior and the architecture is stunning. Work pays extremely well in the city but rent can be very pricey. There is certainly a huge number of backpackers set up in Sydney and during the Summer months it appears that the city is one big party. It’s a tough choice between Melbourne and Sydney so I’ll let you make that call.
Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this marathon post, finding good quality information isn’t easy for backpackers. Everyone is welcome to share any part of this guide, keep each other safe and best of luck.
Myth-busting Farm Work in Australia
35 Hours is the Minimum Hours Required in a Week to Count 7 Days - MYTH
There is often a lot of confusion around hours worked and days counted in a week, 35 hours is regarded as the minimum required to obtain a full working week be granted 7 days work. Immigration denies there is any cut off at all, they claim that as long as the employer views the work your completing as full time all 7 days in a week will count. I see no reason why a 30 hour week of working 6 hours a day Monday to Friday cannot be counted as 7 days if this is the industry standard for this role. Check out the Home Affairs website where it depicts an example of someone working 30 hours a week for 6 months is granted a third year visa. If this general rule is followed the work can be completed over multiple sessions on different farms around Australia.
Quoting Gale Lalor, Acting Assistant Secretary, Immigration and Citizen Services Group.
“The department recognises that there is a range of circumstances affecting what constitutes a normal full day in each eligible industry, especially in the agricultural industries. For this reason, the policy does not prescribe the minimum hours for a normal or ‘full’ day.
As a general guide, if the employer reasonably considers that an applicant has completed a normal full day of work for that industry, then the departmental decision maker may be generally be satisfied to count that day of work toward the three months requirement.”
Can I only pick fruit? - MYTH
By far the most popular job role to obtain a second or third year visa in Australia is fruit picking, this is by no means the only job role that satisfies the specified regional work, there is just a hell of a lot of fruit that needs to be picked in Australia. Other jobs include feeding and herding cattle, construction, landscaping plus many more so check out the Home Affairs website for all the details. Be wary of geographical location as this can have an impact on the whether the job is eligible or not, it has to count as a rural area, get all the details on the Home Affairs website.
Accommodation Included - Rarely True
If you’re lucky some jobs will come hand in hand with accommodation which will solve many of your problems, however really only the case if you’re working on smaller farms in particularly rural areas. There is a fairly large number of working hostels that offer jobs on local farms on arrival, but this is often expensive for what you’re getting, but sorts a job and place to live nonetheless. These are often are situated in the areas where a large number of jobs are offered in peak seasons for fruit and vegetable related jobs.
88 Days Will Only Take 3 Months - Partially True
The things that catches a huge number of people out is thinking they can complete 88 days of farm in 3 months, in reality this is far from the truth. This can be the case if you are extremely fortunate, however always factor in extra time to allow for travel, the job to start of unexpected days off. In some job roles such as fruit picking, significant delays can occur if fruit isn’t ripe or the weather isn’t right, so to be on the safe side get cracking with your farm work earlier than you think.
I Can’t Get Fired from Farm Work - Yeah?.. Nah
Lastly, when you secure a job you might think your 88 days are in the bag, it’s just a matter of time. Again this is definitely not true, don’t forget you are doing a job and getting paid for it by someone for which this farm work is their livelihood so will not keep you on if you perform lower than their expectations. You could end up fired before you know and then you’re back to square one looking for a job!
Always keep your wits about you when completing your 88 days, be aware of what is happening around you and always watch out for scammers!