So I finally made it to the end of my 88 days and I couldn’t be happier!
I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs (mostly the latter) so if you’re thinking about doing your farmwork to get a second visa, read on and have a good think about whether it’s actually worth it!
When I decided to come to Australia I knew I wanted to stay for 2 years which meant I would have to do my 88 days/3 months regional work. In theory it seems so straight forward; come to Australia, pick some fruit for 3 months at the same farm and be rewarded with a second year. Well it’s really not like that at all. It’s actually pretty shit!
I first came to Australia in April 2016 and after a few months of travelling I started my farmwork in mid July. I had a job on a dairy farm that I should have been able to stay at for 3 continuous months, meaning I would have finished my days by mid October, giving me 18 more months to enjoy my time in Australia, doing whatever I wanted, without the thought of farmwork hanging over my head. But sadly, as you will know if you have been following my blog, it didn’t work out and I only ended up completing 44 days during my time there.
After my stint as a dairy farmer I headed off to Melbourne at the beginning of September to work in a ‘normal’ job in an office, but I constantly had the pressure of comepleting my remaining 44 days hanging over my head. After 2 months I knew I would have to go and get them finished or risk running out of time on my visa so I headed off to Tasmania at the start of November.
I had high hopes for Tassie as the fruit picking season usually starts in mid November and the working hostel told me I would start working around 2 weeks after I arrived so I thought I would have my days done by January. But just my luck, Tasmania had the wettest winter for years and the season was put back, and back and back. I ended up waiting around a month to start working, and that was only lasted for 3 days.
About a week later I then started another job in a salmon factory which seemed as though it would carry on right up until the end of my 88 days. Again this didn’t happen and I ended up working only 17 days there, finishing just after Christmas.
At the end of December I then managed to get one day’s work harvesting cabbage seeds giving me a total of 21 days worked in 2 months.
I started the new year jobless and with 23 days still to complete. My hopes of finishing my days in January were totally gone at this point.
After about a two week wait I got yet another new job, this time picking blueberries. I had heard good things from people who had already done this so was hoping I’d be able to make some good money and get my remaining days completed. Wrong again! I lasted 3 days before quitting as the I most I managed to make in a day was $78 before tax as I was on a piece rate rather than an hourly wage.
Finally, after crying at reception of the working hostel I got a job on a potato harvester that finally saw me through to day 88! However it wasn’t all plain sailing and took longer than the farmer had initially made out to finally finish my remaining days.
When I did finally get to the end, on Friday 3rd February 2017, I had spent around 6 months of my first year trying to complete my ‘3 months’ farmwork, all to stay here for a second year. Meaning that out of the 24 months, 18 of them could be spent doing what I wanted. Had I decided not to do farmwork I would have had 12 months to do what I wanted, so yes that’s 3 less than I have now but I also wouldn’t have gone through any of the stress which is definitely something that, in hindsight, I would definitely have considered.
So having completed my 88 days and gone through all the stress and ups and downs these are the mains things I wish somebody had told me right at the start of my first year:
My top tips
- Start pretty much as soon as you arrive in Australia to get your days done and out of the way at the beginning. That way you’ll have the rest of your first year and your full second year to do whatever you want.
- Avoid piece rate work (I know, easier said than done). It can be pretty soul destroying when you work so hard and have hardly anything to show for it at the end of the day.
- Don’t wait around too long. If you’re waiting around at a working hostel for a few weeks and haven’t yet started work you should seriously consider looking in another state and moving on. Otherwise you’ll regret the time you wasted waiting for work to maybe start soon.
- Don’t believe everything farmers and working hostel staff say as a lot of it is just bullshit to keep you happy. If it seems too good to be true then it probably is!
- Don’t expect to finish your farmwork with savings. After 3 months in Tasmania I left with only $1000 because the work had been so on and off.
- Don’t bother! If you’re not totally sure you want a second year then don’t do it. Just save up as much as you can before you arrive and spend one whole year doing whatever you want.
With all that in mind, if I had the chance to start my first year all over again I probably wouldn’t bother with farmwork or a second year, I would just enjoy my year to the full (but would definitely arrive with more savings than I had).
However despite it being one of the hardest, most stressful things I have ever done, it has also been incredibly character building and I have made friends for life. Tasman family, I’m talking about you ❤