Whether you are looking for farm work to save up enough money to get back on the road, to have a fun and unique experience or to extend your working holiday visa, it is important that you choose a good farm.
There are many farms outside of Cairns, a small town in the beautiful Tropical North Queensland, that offer work to backpackers and working travellers. However, with anything, it’s important you are prepared when you look for farm work so you work for a reputable farm and are not ripped off.
Read these helpful tips below to ensure you choose the perfect farm for you.
1. Think about what you can offer to the farm.
Farms require all sorts of work and love flexibility. Don’t worry if you don’t think you have the specific skills or if you are still learning English – a lot of people working on farms are like this.
If you can come to the farm prepared to work long, hardworking days with a positive attitude you will be a benefit to the farms.
You will need to be physically fit and healthy and farm work also starts early in the day to avoid the Australian heat.
A lot of backpackers doing farm work start by working part time or in job sharing roles, when they gain more experience they then move on to a better job within the farm.
2. Different options in Tropical North Queensland
In Tropical North Queensland, the most popular locations for farm work are Tully, Innisfail, Atherton, the Tablelands and Mareeba – all about an hour or less away from Cairns.
These farms harvest lychees, bananas, mangos, peanuts, avocados and papaya fruits.
Follow the links below for current farm job listings.
- www.backpackerjobboard.com.au/ offers second year working holiday visa jobs and other jobs such as aupair, farm work, fruit picking, help exchange and more!
- fruitpicking.org/ offers fruit picking jobs for backpackers and working travellers
- www.bananabarracks.com/ and tolgacountrylodge.com.au/ offer farm work and accommodation. Many farms offer work and accommodation together which will save you a lot of time!
In Tropical North Queensland, there is farm work available almost all year round.
If you are coming in between December – March (the West Season) Mareeba is a better choice, as it is dryer than Tully.
3. Which employers to avoid
Unfortunately, there are employers who will try and take advantage of backpackers so it is important to be aware of any scams or misleading job offers. If any farm work requires you to pay them before starting your job, it should alarm you.
If the employer doesn’t openly communicate with you, makes excuses for basic requests, doesn’t pay on time, has bad reviews online, is rude or talks down to you, you should be avoiding them.
If you are unsure of anything you have been told by your employer, phone Fair Work Australia. They will be able to tell you what your employer can and can’t do regarding your situation. This way you will know whether you are getting a fair and legal deal.
4. For more information on different farm work
You can find any extra information about farm work including the best season to work where you are and what grows where on www.workstay.com.au/harvest-trail.
This website also lists open positions you can apply for.
5. Verify the farms
Use Google to find reviews of any farms you are interested in. This will highlight whether the farm is reputable or not.
Search for terms like:
“Farm work” + “(job type)” + “(location)” + “news”
E.g. Farm work fruit picking Mareeba news
“Regional work” + “(job type)” + “(employer)”
E.g. Regional work fruit picking John Smith
Use Facebook. Search for the farm on Facebook as often people leave comments and reviews on the page. You also then have the opportunity to directly message those who have left reviews for more information if you want more.
5. Before committing
Before you commit to a job, ensure all your enquires are answered. Important things to know are:
- Find out your wage (and check with Fair Work Australia if you need to, to make sure it is at least the minimum wage)
- How you are paid – is it per hours or per quantity picked?
- When will you be paid? How often?
- How many hours will you work?
- Are accommodation and food included?
- How close is the farm to the nearest supermarket and town?
- How close is the farm to the nearest bus station?
Despite the hard-working conditions, farm work can give you the opportunity to earn (and save!) a lot of money, have an interesting and unique experience, meet new locals and other travellers, and is also the ticket to your second-year visa!
Farm work is an amazing opportunity for backpackers to learn a new culture, put yourself out there, overcome challenges, meet new people and change your perspective! Which is what travelling is all about!
Written by: Diane Charamnac & Sarah Latham
Are there any farms that can give me part time work on tourist visa without breaking immigration laws?