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How to Get Farm Work

Can’t you just imagine it? Waking up to a misty pre-dawn. Pulling on your comfiest clothes (no one cares what you look like), and heading outside to breathe fresh, pure air deep into your lungs.
Watching the rays of the sunrise pierce the mist, turning the frosty fields a sparkling pink-gold colour. Listening to the cries of the first birds as they start their charming and excitable morning chorus. Eating a hearty breakfast with a steaming hot tea or coffee.

Then a full-on day spent mostly outdoors, right in the thick of nature, tending to animals or crops. A tasty, nutritious lunch to keep you going (ploughmans, anyone?). The late afternoon sunlight signals that the working day is coming to a close. You head inside for a hearty, homemade dinner. Another productive day done and dusted. Physically tired, yet mentally calm. Maybe a fun evening of music or board games ahead of you.

Ok, so it sounds like we took that day straight out of an English period film, but it does spark something doesn’t it? The concept of a simple life, full of real, authentic pleasures. No traffic lights. No office cubicle. No suit and tie. No constant bombardment of advertising everywhere you look. No fast food. No pressure to look or dress a certain way. A chance to live a life on the land. Growing your own food. Traipsing through beautiful and serene countryside. Almost like you’d travelled back in time. And then, if you need a city hit or a culture hit, head to the nearest city. Sure, it’ll be fun at first, but if you’re a rural person at heart, we reckon it won’t be long until you’re pining for the calm and stillness of your farm life.

So, yes, that’s all very good if you actually WANT to live and work on a farm, and then there’s all the backpackers or nomads who need to do farm work to get their second year visa.

So, whether you’re a romantic craving a simpler life, or a traveller who actually really dislikes the idea of farm work but you’re willing to do it to stay in Oz, we’ve got you’ve covered.

Here are the steps you need to take to get yourself a job on a farm:

1. Brainstorm and narrow down your options

Firstly, think about all the options available to you on a farm. Then make a list of all the things you love to do, all the things you do well, and all the things you have skills and experience in. Think of it as a big stocktake of everything you’ve done in the past. Consider what tasks you enjoyed and which ones you hated! Then consider why. Then think carefully about the experiences and skills you’ve gained in other jobs that can be transferred to farm work. This might open up some opportunities you hadn’t thought of.

2. Be flexible

If you really want to make the move, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is limiting your options to only the exact role you want. Employers on farms appreciate someone who is willing to be flexible, adaptable and versatile. You can always start in a position that’s not your first pick with the intention of building up the skills and experience needed to transfer to a better job. Plenty of people working on farms started off working part time, in job-sharing roles or even volunteering. If you can demonstrate you have what it takes then you’ve got a better chance of landing your dream job when it does become available.

3. Research what skills and experience you’ll need

Once you’ve picked a few jobs you’d like to do, it’s time to do some research! This is the best way to assess opportunities in your new location. Don’t just rely on job search websites. Many regional areas have dedicated career pages – jump onto Google and see what you can find.

Subscribe to the local newspaper. Plenty of jobs in the country are only advertised in print. You can have it delivered straight to your door. It’s also a great way to familiarise yourself with the local community and employers, plus you’ll be learning lots about your new location.

You can even contact the local Chamber of Commerce and ask them about local skills shortages and employment opportunities.

4. Start networking

Local contacts are going to be really helpful. Building relationships with local people and letting them get to know you is going to make this process a lot easier. Do you belong to a particular industry, trade or profession? If so, find out if you have a professional membership association and give them a call. Ask for advice on the major employers or farms in the region and try and get names and contact details.

Use your research to make a list of people to contact. Prepare a short introduction. A good way to do this is to call and tell them that you’re researching farm work opportunities in their region. Ask them if they have any advice or if they know where you might be useful. This may work better than straight up asking them if they have any job openings. You can also suggest any ways your skills and experience might be able to help them in return.

5. Create a personal and compelling application

Just sending in a standard resume without talking to a potential farm employer is going to be pretty ineffective, especially if your address is in another part of the country. When you do send in your application, it’s really important that you tailor it for both the farm and the position. Make it very clear (at the top of your cover letter is a good spot), that you are moving to their location at a set date and that you are available for a phone call to discuss the role when convenient. If it’s feasible for you, offer to make a trip there for a face-to-face meeting. Be honest about your reasons for wanting to work on the farm. Specify why you want that particular job.

Tips to make the most of living on a farm:

● Become involved with your community’s social club, or attend casual social events
● Live with others so you don’t feel too isolated
● Join a local community group or sports club
● Try and find out if you know anyone who knows anyone who lives in the area

For Backpackers

So, you’d like to extend your working holiday visa for another year? To do that you’ll need to complete 88 days of regional work. Think you’re up for the challenge? If so, follow these tips to find the best job:

1. Follow the harvest trail. Plan to be in the right area at the right time. This link has all the info you’ll need:

2. Check out community and hostel noticeboards – employers often advertise here. You don’t have to be staying there, just drop by.

3. Ask lots of questions before committing to a job. For example, what is the pay (does it meet minimum wage)? How long is a typical day? How long does the work last for? Are accommodation and food included?

4. Be aware that fruit picking and harvest work can be very physically demanding with lots of stretching and bending, often in hot and dusty conditions. Your experience will probably not be as pleasant as the day described above. You can still have fun and meet new people, but you’ll be expected to work long, hard days and it’s important to be physically fit and healthy. Even though you’ll start early to avoid the heat later in the day, you’ll need a wide brimmed hat, sunscreen and water on you at all times.

Whatever your reason for wanting farm work, treat it as you would any new adventure. Put yourself out there, expect challenges, work hard and enjoy the rewards.