Here, I will attempt to answer as many of the questions I myself was asking when I attempted to research regional work before embarking on my travels. I used a variety of websites to gather the information I needed as well as brochures, magazines and talking with other travellers who had entered Australia on a working holiday visa (subclass 417). It is with the working holiday visa where you are required to undertake 3 months (or 88 days as I have since found out now I’m in Oz) of regional work in order to extend your initial one year visa by a further year. It sounds like it could be easy but you have to bear in mind just how gruelling some of the days can be working in wind, rain, unbearable heat and tropical conditions
, at times in a job which you literally wouldn’t ponder back home. You need to be prepared for early starts, late finishes, weekends, seven day weeks and the chance that you could be staying in a very isolated region which has none of the usual entertainment that you might be used to. So hopefully this guide will help you locate the best regional work about to get you in with all the other travellers so those
three months run smoothly and leave you with fond memories as well as an extra year in Oz to use as a base allowing you to explore its surrounding countries; or if unlike me to explore Oz itself for the full two years …All a good journey either way.
What Is Regional Work Then?
As the word suggests it is work which can be found in certain regions of Australia mainly away from the cities and there adjoining suburbia networks. I know for a fact that anywhere in the Northern territory of Australia is classed as regional so you can take on any job there. The work you embark on must also fall within certain industries and is called ‘specified work’. At first I thought to myself, ‘Am I just supposed to guess where a region is or do I pick some obscure backwards town and contact a farmer there!?’. I thought this because I couldn’t find any concrete answers initially online but rest assured I have found some great sites now which will help you understand what is considered to be specified work and which areas within Oz are regional.
How Do I Find Regional Work In Oz?
Hunting for regional work in Australia can be tedious and time consuming and from my experience here so far there have been many travellers who I have met that have left it too late to arrange regional work and lost out on their second year visa. It is not as simple as just phoning somebody and having a job awarded to you the next day…Although in some cases it is ha ha. You must bear in mind that the sheer volume of travellers who wish to embark on regional work at any given time of the year is vast so there is always competition for certain regions and farms. Fruit picking is by far the most popular type of regional work as it can be done by people of all ages and weights with varied fitness levels. I didn’t consider this as a factor before I came out but your general health and fitness plays a huge role in whether you gain employment as no employer wants somebody who doesn’t perform well on the job or is susceptible to illness through poor health and lifestyle. So there are a variety of ways you can find regional work in Australia whether it be through word of mouth, specific backpacker services, local ads or online so make sure you venture down each of these avenues to find out which one suits you best. Put your neck out a bit and you’ll find work no problem, sit on the wall and you’ll be very lucky to find regional work. Some specific backpacker businesses like the one seen in this picture below have contacts with regional employers and can, for a fee set you up with work pretty quickly. Be warned though that the fee will be around $60-$80 and the work they advertise can be found elsewhere online too if you are prepared to scout around. They will give it the big talk and try to convince you that these employers are exclusive to them but rest assured they are not. Why would one employer put all his/her eggs in one basket when they have to get the word out to as many backpackers as humanly possible? My advice to you would be to check online first of all before approaching these companies as its free and easy, which is what everybody loves after all right!?
The best websites which advertise regional jobs are ‘Harvest Trail‘ and ‘Travellers At Work‘. There are prepaid websites which ask for a small amount of money which in return offers you jobs sent straight to your email inbox or phone calls should you have a mobile phone already in Oz. ‘Gumtree‘, ‘Travellers At Work’ and ‘Harvest Trail’ are free websites which has employers contact them to promote the jobs for them so you can rest assured that these jobs are definitely under the category of regional and ‘specified work’. The ‘Harvest Trail’ is also government backed so if you get work via this website then you know you’re in the right region!
Accommodation, Transport and Working Hostels
What type of accommodation is best suited to regional work? Do I work for my board like with woofing or do I pay a set price like in a hostel environment?
Well the type of regional work which you can expect to find is so varied that you will find yourself in any kind of accommodation. There are occasions where the farmer/employer will house you and ask you to pay a small reduced rent but you will still get paid either through the books or cash in hand. You may work for your bed and food which is called woofing, this avenue of work is much easier to come across because you don’t actually get paid which tends to lead to less competition for the job. However, if you have enough money or it is not a huge concern to you and you just wish to get guaranteed work which will extend your visa then this is probably the best option for you.
Lots of farm and deep rural jobs will require you to have your own mode of transport to get to and from work so if you have a car or camper van
which you sleep in then this could be a great option too. These jobs, as I have noticed, tend to be better paid as there is less competition due to their remote locations. If neither the woofing or own mode of transport are options for you then there is another avenue which is looking for working hostels within regional postcodes. Click here to go direct to a website which I used to locate which hostels were available for fixing you up with a job in the farming sector. This site is a good reference for you to know which fruits are growing in certain months of the year. Following the different fruits to pick in different regions and territories in Australia is known as the ‘harvest trail’ and is pretty much a 365 day cycle, so if you position yourself correctly you can actually get work at any time of the year.
When I took on my first month of regional work in Griffith, New South Wales, I had no transport and instead I used Greyhound coaches to take me on a 9 hour overnight journey from Central station in Sydney. It cost me $82 for a single journey which included travel insurance. I had work within two days of being at the Griffith International working hostel
and they required only my passport as a deposit. If you have no money you will be fine also because they know where you will be working and so deduct your rent from your wages if you prefer. It’s a good system really and ideal for any traveller who needs to get money fast and also work the days off their regional work.
What is the pay like?
You can get paid either through the books or just by cash. I was personally on $14 an hour cash for sitting on the back of a tractor de-weeding a pumpkin field, glamorous I know but I don’t like to brag about it . There were other people at the hostel who worked at a cherry factory called ‘Cherry King’ (October, NSW) where they worked for 10 hours a day at $20 an hour, this wasn’t cash but still a fairly attractive wage for regional work. Remember you do get a tax allowance so check out my posts on superannuation/taxes and how to set up a bank account most effectively. Another popular way in which the farmers pay you is by how much fruit or buckets of fruit/vegetables you can pick. I think the cherries were about $20 per container which held 14 kg of cherries. I spoke to one girl who was making $160 a day from this and hated her life because of the work and another guy who picked two baskets a day and he hated his life and also the girl who made $160 a day so if you aren’t very quick or aren’t up for wearing yourself down to a nub then opt for paid hourly work as you can at least take it a little easier knowing you still get paid by the hour.
I think it’s fair to say that the average traveller working in regional work can earn anywhere up to $1000-1200 per week (taxed) and as little as $150 per
week for any of the reasons I have expressed above. Either way, have a party, don’t take any of it too seriously as its just menial work and just try and tuck away those 88 days as easily and pain free as you can. I probably shouldn’t say this but many backpackers pay off the farmers to write down more days than they have actually worked, if any at all for that reason. You could get caught out by immigration doing this and not be allowed back to work in the country again. So it is entirely up to you whether you go down this seedy dark back alley route and dance with the devil or not…Good luck guys and girls and who knows I may even see you on the farms.
And on a side note the working hostel which I stayed in called the Griffith International was $120 a week so it worked out around $100 per week cheaper than a city hostel.
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