Soo, the dreaded Aussie farm work. Here you’ll find all the things you to know before starting your farm work.
Some people describe it as pure slavory, and in some ways I have to agree. At a lot of farms you get treated like sh*t, and thats simply because for the most part we are all there for the same reasons: our second year visa and the dollar – even the management are getting sponsored so everyone feels the same.
Every farm is different but as a casual worker, we got paid $23.66 per hour. After tax, if you work a 40 hour week (38 hours after breaks in a 4 day week) you’ll earn around $765 per week. If you get the opportunity to supervise (which is actually quite common, I was supervisor for 2 months) you’ll get a little extra so it will soon add up.
We worked on a banana farm which is a reliable farm to work on as they produce all year round so there is always work. However some weeks were only 3 days but most weeks we’re 4 days. The odd week we worked 4.5 days.
The days are 10 hours long with 2 10 min breaks and a half an hour for lunch. Saying that you actually only really get 20 mins as the bell goes off 10 mins before and your expected to be working when the second bell goes off (bullshit)
Some farms provide accommodation but we had to find it ourselves, which is probably better as they won’t deduct your pay for rent, you choose where to live and what you want to pay for rent depending on the house situation. You’ll find most people renting a room in a house, which is what we did also.
Plus, you’ll become friends with people in share houses and go to some crazy party’s! The only bit of fun to look forward to in these regional areas.
Areas best for farm work:
Get yourself to the Atherton tablelands in Queensland! There are so many farms there with plenty of opportunity for work. There’s loads of farms in Australia but defiantly try the Far North first.
What do you actually do on a farm?:
Each farm is different but here’s the info specifically for the farm I was on…
Females: if you are a female, your in the shed straight up. On a banana farm there’s a very strict process on what goes on in the shed. Once the big banana bunches come in from the paddock they are put on a hanging conveabelt thing, depending on where the bananas are going, the flowers on the bottom of the bananas need picking off also known as ‘deflowering’. If you are a male or female in the shed, you may be doing this for one of your 3 hour sessions (mind numbing).
The next thing for us girls is ‘grading’ this is picking up each individual banana bunch that has been cut off the big bunch, and checking for any major defects, pulling them off and putting them in the conveabelt bin above your heads. Each bunch can weigh up to 5kg so 3 hours of this is tiring, also its very fast paste and you have to put the bunch on the belt facing a certain direction which determines what size it is, which will help the people at the top of the belt, the ‘packers’.
The packers job is to pack a 16.5kg box in under a minute. Carefully too so you don’t damage any of the bananas, if you do you’ll know about it for sure. If you don’t pack over 100 per session, you may be getting sent home.
If the shed isn’t too busy another job us girls do, which I was supervisor of, was Deleafing. This is going out onto the paddock with big grim reaper knife’s and cutting away any bad leaves off the trees. This helped keep the bananas growing healthily. This was the best job because it was alot more laid back than being in the shed. We used to smash targets and have a good day… the only downside is, seeing snakes, being too hot, being constantly dirty. Some days were over 40 degrees and we were trekking 15-20kms a day.
For the men:
Unfortunately for the girls, the men actually have it alot easier on the farms, so it seems. The jobs the men get are:
Injecting the bells on the paddock with natural proteins
Humping (I always laugh at this name 😂 it means cutting the big bunches off the trees – these weigh up to 100kg)
Injecting the roots with chemicals
Basically alot of walking. Sam lost about 10kg working on the farm.
Some men work in the shed and do things like:
Cutting the smaller bunches off the big bunches
Closing the boxes
Arranging orders for deliveries etc
What to be careful of:
It kind of feels like your at school again with how strict the rules are… Rules at my farm (in the shed specifically) included: no talking, you were monitored on how fast you can pack, if you mess around/are slow at packing/argue back when shouted at/don’t turn up or are always late… They will simply fire you, no questions asked. If you get caught once or twice, they’ll probably send you home for the day so you don’t get paid. I got sent home 3 times I believe. One was because it was my second week and I was slow at packing, another was because there wasn’t much work and half the people got to stay and the rest went (I was still quite new) and the final time was when a supervisor lied to the boss to cover himself and got 12 of us sent home. When I found out about this I spoke up and actually got him fired and got his job 😂… This was on my birthday and plus he lied and ruined the day for 12 girls. Karmas a bitch.
Wildlife, Australia is full of beautiful wildlife, this however does include snakes. Eughhh I cringe just thinking about it. Not just because there snakes but the ones in Australia can kill you in 7 minutes, leaving you just enough time to say farewell to your families over the phone. I’m not trying to scare you but this is the brutal truth. Whilst we was doing our farm work we heard of a few backpackers dying due to snake bites and others from heatstroke. It’s vital you look after yourself and stay vigilant. To be fair, the snakes won’t come near you or just attack, they tend to stay away from humans as they don’t like the noise or vibrations. So stamp your feet as you walk or hit your pole on the ground, this helps. I had so many frights from cane toads jumping out at me though and wild pigs/kangaroos creeping up on me too. Terrifying 😂.
Is it worth it?
Although it can be super tough sometimes, I am glad I did it, you actually get used to it fairly quickly and I met some amazing people.
Once you gain some trust from the managers things are sweet. I have, however, permanently damaged the ligaments in my shoulder though from the heavy repetitive work, which is less than ideal.
Would I do it again?
Yes but not bananas. As its heavy work which I’m not prepared for anymore now my shoulders f**ked.
We are going to do farm work again on our second year so we can stay for a third year. This time though its 6 months not 3! But we’re thinking a solar farm or something, maybe even construction.
If you work casually for one company and do 35+ hours a week, it doesn’t matter how many days you do, you just have to do 13.5 consecutive weeks which is 66 days in total. You can work for different farms also and the same rule still applies! Regardless of what farmers may say!
Any in and around Mareeba, Queensland.
Howe Farming is defiantly a reliable farm to work for.
To finish, I want to wish you good luck if you are considering it. It is worth it, don’t have any expectations as you’ll probs feel let down, try to enjoy it, the time flies!! & remember what your doing it for! The country is defiantly worth it.