Every year, thousands of backpackers go to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa hoping to get a Second Year Visa. To obtain this visa, you have to work 88 days in regional Australia. I’ve heard many horror stories about working on farms in Australia, and I know it’s hard for backpackers to find honest farmers that pay normal wages. But still, my boyfriend and I decided to do our farm work, and it was overall a very positive experience. If you are going to embark on this 88 days journey, here are 5 tips to successfully complete your 88 days in Australia:
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1. Make sure you know what counts toward the visa
To get your second year visa, you will have to complete 88 days of specified work in regional Australia. According to the website of Immigration Australia, approved industries for specified work include: plant and animal cultivation, fishing and pearling, tree farming and felling, mining and construction.
Here are examples of eligible specified work:
- picking fruits on an orchard
- feeding and herding cattle on a farm
- horse breeding and stud farming
- landscaping the grounds of a construction/house site
- painting the interior/exterior of new buildings
- conservation and environmental reforestation work
- zoo work involving plant or animal cultivation
- erecting fences on a construction site
Source: immigration Australia
If you want more info and details on what kind of work you can do, and where, check out the official immigration website of Australia. Make sure you check that the farm you want to work for is in the right postcode area before you start working.
2. Choose the right farm
When my boyfriend and I arrived in Australia, we almost straight away started looking online for farm work. When we saw all these ads that offered terrible wages and very high accommodation rent, we realized that finding a good farm wasn’t going to be that easy. With so many backpackers looking for farm jobs, a lot of farmers take advantage of the situation and offer poor work conditions and low wages.
After a few weeks of searching for the perfect farm, we ended up in a very good lemon farm in Victoria. We found it by word of mouth, so we knew before we started working what the working conditions were like. If you are unsure of what to expect, it’s better to check on the internet the name of the farm you’d like to work for before applying. You might read other people’s tales and find out if the farm is legit or not. I do not recommend using working hostels, simply because I’ve heard and read online that they often work with farms that literally exploit backpackers. However, I’ve never tried them, so there might be some good ones out there. I know Gumtree is also a popular way of finding farms, but again there are many scams and ads that are just too good to be true.
I have found that the best way to end up in a good farm is to talk to people. You will very likely stay in a hostel at some point, and meet backpackers who will share their experience, good or bad. They could also give you the contact details of a good farm. Some backpackers choose to go WWOOFING (volunteer work for food and accommodation) and end up doing paid work for honest farms via their hosts, which in my opinion is the best option.
3. Know your rights
In 2018, the minimum wage in Australia is $18.29 per hour. So, technically, you should not be paid less than that. If you’re not paid per hour, you will be paid per kilogram picked. In this case, being paid $1 per kilogram is a SHITTY WAGE and it’s ILLEGAL! You would not do it in your home country, so why do it in Australia? In the farm we worked for, we were paid $22 per hour to pack lemons, and $60 per bin to pick. This is a normal wage for Australia, and it’s pretty good if you want to save money. You don’t have to do your 3 months work on one farm. For example, you can work 15 days on a farm, then 10 in another and so on until you complete 88 days.
4. What to expect at the farm
You are probably wondering what to expect when you work on a farm for 88 days. Well, if you thought 3 months weren’t that long, wait until you start working on a farm:
You will very likely be working in the heat all day. The Australian sun can be harsh, and working outside when it’s 36 degrees isn’t easy, and can be dangerous.
Early morning starts is what you sign up for, mostly because it gets hot really quickly.
You will probably encounter weird and potentially dangerous animals including spiders, snakes and other Australian natives.
You will fall off ladders more than once.
The first few days, you will be literally exhausted. Working on farms is hard work! But it is definitely rewarding.
You will probably live in a remote location, which means you can’t go out every night and you actually can’t go out of the farm unless you have a car.
You will get really fit. That’s actually a good point!
You will learn to drive a tractor, try not to break it.
Buy good working clothes including long sleeve shirts, gloves and shoes if you don’t want to end up with pesticides all over your skin.
5. Don’t forget the Employment Verification Form
After completing your 3 months of farm work, you’ll have to print the Employment Verification form from the Australian Immigration website and have it signed by your employer. This form is the proof that you have worked your 88 days, along with your payslips. You will need all of these when applying for your Second Year Visa. Make sure you go to a farm where you know people have had their employment verification form signed by the farmer. Many backpackers have completed their work days and ended up doing it for nothing because their employer didn’t want to sign the form.
I’ve also heard of backpackers buying their 88 days, which is apparently pretty common. Paying farmers to sign the Employment Verification form when you have done no work at the farm isn’t a good idea. When you apply for your Second Year Visa, you may be asked to show payslips as an extra proof of work, which you won’t have if you’ve done no work.
Completing my 88 days wasn’t always easy, but it was a positive and rewarding experience. I haven’t used my 2nd year visa yet, but I will definitely return to Australia in the next couple of years. I hope you found my 5 tips to complete your 88 days in Australia helpful. Are you planning on completing your 88 days? let me know in the comments below!
Please note: All prices in this post are in Australian Dollars
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