We heard on the grapevine that Bundaberg was as good a place as any to hitch up and grab some regional work to extend our working holiday visa, so from Brisbane this is where we headed using the train. It was a smooth ride in a very comfortable and clean economy carriage and it only cost $82 including taxes as opposed to the $98 which the Greyhound coaches were asking. The coffee on the train was also a bargain at $2 for a large cup so we took full advantage of this offer. The scenery on the way up was also nice with a mixture of swampy lakes with dead tree stumps standing eerily in the water and rolling lush green hills with cattle, kangaroos and a very random camel roaming around. The day was overcast and 23 degrees making the travelling conditions perfect for us with all of our heavy luggage.
After four and a half hours on the train we finally made it to Bundaberg station which looked exactly how I imagined it to look, small, quaint and very much like a country town station would look in the movies with pretty hanging baskets, lots of wooden cladding and a sort of nostalgic vanilla
paint job to complete the scene. The first building you see when you exit the station is a working backpackers hostel so like moths to a flame we headed over after being beeped by two locals with big smiles. We had a few things to ask the receptionist to encourage our decision on whether to stay there. Asking the obligatory question of ‘how much?’ was the first alongside ‘how much work is available?’ and ‘what are the pay rates?’. Here is what we found out:
At this time of year (March) ground vegetables like sweet potatoes and zucchinis are very popular. Macadamia nuts and pineapples are also very common and last for a couple of months weather permitting.
For a 4-8 bed dorm the average price seems to be between $155 and $200 and you will need to pay a week in advance to secure these rates. The average night by night rate is between $25 and $30 but you will not be put on the jobs book as that is reserved for people paying on a weekly basis.
Nearly all the jobs in Bundaberg are paid on an hourly rate of between $18 and $21 dollars and hour and will go through the books so you will need a tax file number and an Australian bank account. If you are under 20 years of age then you will get paid roughly $2 less an hour which isn’t really that bad considering the wage is already pretty high.
Transport is provided with a lot of the farm jobs so don’t worry if you haven’t got your own wheels but you may have to pay a transport fee of approximately $5-7 a day.
It is recommended that you have enough money in your account to pay for 2 weeks rent just in case there is bad weather and farm work is unavailable.
NOTE: Remember that you will be able to claim back nearly all of your tax in June as a lump sum due to the tax bracket allowances in circulation in Australia.
How many working hostels are there in Bundaberg? Roughly 9, all of which have regular work all year round and the type of work depends on the harvest.
There is only really one nightclub/late bar in Bundaberg called ‘The Central’ which we visited on the Saturday night. It offered a live acoustic set up until 1 am outside and had a dance floor and DJ set going on inside. To my surprise the drinks were very cheap for Oz at around $5 a schooner and $6 for a spirit and mixer. The ratio inside the club was around 70% backpackers, 29% locals and a small 1% contingent of solitary weirdos. All in all considering it’s a small town with not much else to offer other than beaches which are about 15km away it wasn’t actually too bad.
Bundaberg also has a very modern library which has free wifi which runs at a very fast pace. As you can imagine this is littered with backpackers and the type of folk who enjoy a good read or renting a DVD. It is also a great escape from the
relentless direct sun as it offers a full on air conditioning system to readjust your body temperature.
There is one launderette which is open from 7am till 10pm every day and contains both hot and cold wash top loaders (why we don’t have these in England Ill never know!). The machine is $4 a go and the tumble dryers are $1 per ten minute cycle. I tried 4 cycles today and the clothes were still very damp so I would recommend the classic hanging the washing out technique to avoid disappointment.
I have only been in Bundaberg one week now so I’ll be sure to check out the beaches and transport links etc to construct my next post but until then all I can say about this working town is that it’s a great place to find work to extend your working holiday visa but not really the sort of place you need to worry about visiting if you are in Australia. Any questions then please just ask.