Farm Work in Australia

Image: ACM Own - Making yourselg Better

“Focus on making yourself better, not on thinking that you are better.”

– Bohdi Sanders

Image Source: Google Search

We say: Australia Work & Holiday… They say: “ohh pluck apple ah?”

Is that the reputation of Australia now?

The Ideal Work & Holiday (WH) Job

What is Ideal? When we Google, we see farm related pictures. They somehow relates.

So… we also somehow being almost adventurous. We went ahead with the same fear and uncertainty just like anyone else. And somehow do it!

We quit our ok lah paying corporate job to work in Restaurant. Not too bad. Then quit Restaurant job to work in the farm. People keep asking us: “What’s wrong with you two??!” One is “worse-r” than the other? “Something wrong!?”

Not really… We learn so much. It is our journey to: 体验人生 (experience life)

我们真正体验了 “要割禾就先要弯低腰” 想有收获就必须有付出,有忍耐,有辛劳。

Play with the Soil

Image Source: Google Search
Playing with Soil

After REAPEATED High EQ Training in the Restaurant (link to post), we decided to go and play with soil! And true enough, Nature is captivating!! We enjoyed getting close to soil, trees, insects and new friendssss FLIESSS. yeeeee!

Australia is a major agriculture producer and exporter, with over 350 000 employed in Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing! Working in Farm is very popular among WH and Backpackers. Depending on the weather and season, it could be seasonal harvest or seeding time.

How did we get our Farm work?

We connected with agent online looking for people to work in Strawberry Farm. We were really excited about it! (don’t ask us why, we are just crazy) LOL!!

Just Google the keywords or check these links:

Backpacker Job Board/ iBackpackerGumtree Australia Farm Jobs /

Some Facebook pages/groups:

Facebook Backpacker Jobs Australia/ Facebook Australia Jobs (closed group)

Image Credit: Friend
“Playing” in the farm

Preparation

Farm work are Casual Jobs, they change anytime.

Prepare and Be Prepared for Changes

Prepare but be prepared for changes too. For our case, at first all sounded great!

Thrilling! Until few days before the actual date, the agent Texted and say they DON’T NEED people any more. How fun was that! (but at least they bothered to inform right)

You ask, you shall receive…something…

OK! We called the agent and ask. You ask, you shall receive…something. So, yes he gave us another alternative. Not too bad, not the best. It was supposed to be 1 hour away from Perth travel up North changed to 4 hours away down South. Not too much different right? Just one at the North and the other at South.

From North to South

Joondalup is nice and close to City. We spoke to a few landlords to rent their rooms. Plan most of the things. Ok, trash them please!

Then, Pamberton. It is a rural laid back area. If you look at the South of Perth CBD, you will see beautiful attractions, sceneries, vineyards, beaches and natures.

It was a blessing in disguise! We love ulu (rural) places.

But we need to plan all over again. Time is not permitting. So… agent told us they have accommodation for us. Woah! Really? But… there is always a BUT! But what?

Accommodation at the Farm

But of course you need to pay. Well, nothing is free.

$100/week per person or $120/week per person. OUCH! Toothache! Our current place with Ivy was less than $100 and Joondalup area were also below $100 private room shared house. Some with nice pool table, swimming pool or big kitchen.

Living in the farm (or near):

$100 – (Farm House)

  • Room shared by 4
  • Without WIFI and weak coverage signal
  • Rainwater supply
  • 10 minutes drive to farm
  • Conditions were too “unique”. Used dishes around the tables and sink. Flies and ants were probably part of the housemates (how much did you pay? LOL) Bath and toilet without doors and yellowish “graffiti” as deco!

$140 – we traded our life to search around before sunset. Weee! We found one home turned backpacker concept. Much better.

  • 4 in a room
  • without WIFI but better coverage signal
  • 20 minutes drive to farm
  • Overall was okay, just that the rooms were shared between both genders (we were fine). Roommates and Housemates were great people from France, England, Denmark, Australia, Brazil and America. They were all working at the Avocado Farm (so we had free Avocados and Strawberries) 😀

Excited to start!

Image Source: Google Search

Some say local farms do not take people with Zero experience. Agents will put you in Vietnamese owned farm to “learn” with lower pay. But our pay was already very low! IDK!!!

Who cares?! We somehow got in and started as Packers.

Work in the farm starts very early in the morning. We need to be there before 6am and typically finishes around 2pm (earlier or later). And always prepare your own Lunch and lots of drinking water!

Packer:

Work – Pack strawberries (no apples to pack in strawberries farm yah…). Weigh and Close lids Weigh and Close lids Weigh and Close lids… Yah..for 6 to 8 hours… … …

Environment – Air conditioned indoor

Requirements: QUICK! CEPAT! Very Quick! Sangat Cepat! Frantically Quick! Teramat Cepat! Furiously Quick! Teramat sangat Cepat!!!

They were all like robots! All we heard was… pap pap pap pap pap pap!!! And the QC guy will haunt you to remove bad fruits (nightmare!). But we don’t have time to check and pick the bad fruits. Well, that was how it worked. Quick yet detailed O_o

Image Credit: ACM Own
YUMS!

Benefits: We get to pack a mountain of nice strawberries FOC home! Yums! 😛

Equipment: Durable Water Resistant Gloves

Hours: Starts at 6am till 4pm or 6pm (it will always be later than packer)

Packer to Picker!

Two Silly Donkeys requested to change from Packing to Picking!

Packers were like the Sales Support department, and Pickers were the Sales department. Picker to hunt outdoor. And Packer to support indoor. If Pickers couldn’t hit their targets, Packer has nothing to support. So we open a bottle of Wine and start drinking… Yah, dream on lah! No work means no money because we are paid on ‘contract’.

Farm language: Contract means Piece rate. Not many hourly paid farm jobs anymore now.

Picker:

Image Source: Google Search

Work: Pick strawberries into punnets arranged in a bigger tray (fits about 12 punnets) or into black trays slightly bigger than A4 size with depth about 1 inch (all the farm jargon).

Fill the punnets/trays with nice strawberries, throw/separate the bad ones as well as separate the different sizes. Not that hard right? Was just under the huge hot sun or rain for about 8 hours daily with 30minutes break in between only lah. Many just pengsan (faint) if they couldn’t hang on anymore!

Requirements: Fit, Quick and Cepat! Not afraid of Mr Sunny and Fit, Quick dan Cepat!

Image Credit: ACM Own

Benefit: Sun-longkissed Tan skin, Build Muscle and Firm Bum! 😀

 

Equipment: Durable Water Resistant Gloves, Gummy Boots, Hat, Protective Sleeves and Flies Net (very important)  –flies are one of the large populations there!

Hours: Starts at 6am till 2pm or 4pm

Our high low feelings and emotions in Farm:

2 different farms summed up about 2 months. We stopped because we needed to get back to help at the restaurant during festive busy period.

Otherwise, we would continue doing it! (despite all those hard work it was fun and happy!)

FUN meeting all sorts of people from different social culture and background. Even fellow Malaysians, they were all different. Also met many other backpackers stopping by. Came from diverse background, different countries, travelled half the globe, done assorted things across the world….BUZZING!!!

What have we gained?

If we stayed home comfortably doing what we used to do, we wouldn’t taste what was it like to work in production packing. Whenever we pick up a fresh punnet of strawberries in the supermarket now, we feel the work and it tasted sweeter.

We wouldn’t know how was it to labour in farms. The next time when we see labour workers (some call them “bangla” back home), we would be able to sympathize and understood their shoes while enjoying the result of their hard work.

Our muddy stained torn fingers, bruised thighs and rashes on arms and knee back. You will understand why good durable water resistant gloves and protective sleeves are saviours! The rashes were crazy itch! Lucas Papaw was our Saviour! Helped eased the itch and heal our broken skin. “Let’s apply P.A.P.P.A.Y.A!” we said every night.

Image Credit: ACM Own
Our Momentos from Farm

Joke:

Conversation with a new friend (also from Malaysia) just completed his Pharmacist degree in Australia.

New Friend: What are you doing here?

Me: Work & Holiday!

New Friend: Cool! So what work do you do?

Me: All sorts in FARM, Restaurant and Online job.

New Friend: PHARM! Where? How was it?

(spotted the different spelling?)

Me: Just FARM work. At WA. Alright. Not too bad.

New Friend: What kind of PHARM?

Me: ohh… Strawberry FARM!

New Friend: Hahahaha… I thought FARM was PHARM! Cos I am looking for PHARM-acist job…

Me: LOL!!! I didn’t thought of that!

(conversation continued)

Another friend: So what do you do previously?

New friend: (he answered for me!) FARMER!

Me: Errr…. Actually not. I wasn’t a farmer. I came here to try working in farm as part of Work & Holiday!

Everyone: 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆

BEWARE ❗

Work in farm was fun, but BEWARE! We did not get PAID for 3 weeks of work (not just 2 of us, but many others). The agent dragged and MIA 😡 😡 😡

Tips:

  • Always deal directly with the Farm if possible. But the risk is, most of them you need to be there to get the job. Whereas, with agents we kinda secured the job already before travelling there.
  • Always chase your pay on time. NEVER allow them to drag. There must be something not right for Agents to drag. They give lame excuses: like bank issues, their admin issues… all sorts of excuses. Don’t take their words!
  • Chat with people around. They will hint or tell you if your agent is not reliable. Get contacts or change agent! Or switch to deal directly with the farm.

Be curious, not judgmental – Walt Whitman

 

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