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Farm Jobs In Australia


Do you want to work on a farm in Australia for a completely different experience?

Or to get your visa days for your Second or Third Year Working Holiday Visa?

Great news! You’ve found the right place!

In this guide, I’ll give you insights into the types of farm jobs and how to get a farm job in Australia.

a backpacker doing farm work with the text Farm Jobs in Australia Complete Guide for Backpackers
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1. Overview of Farming Jobs in Australia

Farming and agriculture in general in Australia is a big industry. This country is a huge country and there are farms located everywhere.

Farm work can be a great way for backpackers to earn some cash and experience the Aussie culture whilst traveling and enjoying the unique beauty of the great outdoors.

Farm work in Australia is often physically demanding but you need to make sure the employer who you work with is paying you minimum wage, you have a good place to stay and don’t get charged and arm and a leg to stay there.

The trick is how do you get a good job? 

Almost all the jobs are located in rural areas, the work is very seasonal and competition has increased for a limited number of jobs as many backpackers have taken advantage of the option to extend their working holiday visa.

2. Most Common Farm Jobs

There are a LOT of  jobs in agriculture but I will list only the most common on farms.

2.1 Harvest Work

Involves working with grain crops (wheat is the most popular grain crop in Australia); cotton; and all kinds of vegetables. Work in this sector includes tractor driving, header (combine harvester) driving, and driving chaser bins. If you have no experience driving tractors, a lot of these farms look for people to move augers, refuel headers, and cook meals.

2.2 Fruit & Vegetable Picking

This job is very popular with backpackers, as there are orchards all over Australia. You can also travel around the country and work with various fruits and vegetables, depending on the climate.

Great Benefit:

The majority of the pickers on the farms are generally backpackers and there is a great social environment at work and outside of work on your time off. I’ve made lots of backpacker friends working on the farms in Australia.

Popular Picking Jobs

Having worked on a lot of farms in Australia and spoken to many other backpackers here are some of the best farming jobs from my experience.

a backpacker holding a bunch of grapes from harvest

Cherry Picking – Tasmania 

The season generally runs from Early December to Late January. Cherry picking is generally a lot easier than other picking jobs because the trees are short (no using ladders) and the weight of the bucket used to collect the fruit is generally less than 7 kilograms so it won’t kill your body. It also pays well compared to other farming jobs.

Grape Picking – Southern Parts of Australia

Just like the cherries the grape vines are at the perfect height that you don’t need to bend over and it is generally very easy work that pays well.

2.3 Fruit and Vegetable Packing

This is a great job if you’re in a hot part of Australia because most of the packhouses are air-conditioned to keep the produce fresh. The job usually involves packing produce into a box or container and sorting or preparing fruit or vegetables to be shipped. The days are usually long 10-12 hours and the work is repetitive which can be draining but you make a lot of money. There are other factory-type jobs in the packhouse such as stacking, making boxes, fort-lift operator (need license), labeller, and more which you can try to keep the work more interesting.

2.4 Crop Maintenance

Work in crop maintenance can include anything from spraying crops to pruning trees and vines. Vine pruning is one of the easiest crop maintenance jobs to get into; and the work, although very monotonous, is very easy to do.

2.5 Pearling

Pearling can be hard work, but if you enjoy the sea and don’t mind getting dirty then you should enjoy pearling.

The best thing about this job:

Often quite remote and beautiful, you will get the opportunity to see an amazing and diverse array of Australian marine life. Check out this page to find out more about pearling and how to find a pearling job.

2.6 WWOOFing and HelpXing

WWOOFing for bushfire disaster areas is eligible for second year visa while HelpXing is no longer included as eligible visa days for a second and third year Visa. But, you may consider it if you want free accommodation and food while traveling. WWOOF stands for “Willing Workers on Organic Farms” and basically involves working on farms for free, in exchange for meals, accommodation, and a unique cultural experience. HelpXing, short for “Help Exchange”, works in mostly the same way as Wwoofing.

3. What are Farm Jobs Like for Backpackers

If you’re like most backpackers you’ve probably never worked on a farm before you’re probably wondering what it’s like. 

If you enjoy the outdoors, farm work is an exciting way to experience the beauty and our culture.

You’ll meet other adventurous travelers and there’ll be plenty of time after-hours to explore the breathtaking scenery of regional Australia and to enjoy the outdoor recreational activities many regions have to offer.

3.1 What to Expect – Harvest Jobs (Picking & Packing)

a sample farm in Australia

Be warned that harvest work and fruit picking in Australia can be demanding labour with lots of bending and stretching, often in hot temperatures and dusty locations. Being physically fit and healthy is important.

In most orchards, I’ve observed that fruit pickers usually start early in the morning, around 6 am, to avoid the hottest parts of the day. However, it’s still essential to wear sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, sturdy boots, insect repellent, and carry water.

Some farms pay a piece rate, meaning you get paid what you pick for example $8 per bucket of cherries. Regardless of what you pick they should always pay you a minimum wage per hour and if you pick more than that, you earn extra. Be wary of farms paying you less than minimum wage. This is illegal, but often backpackers accept the farmers’ excuse for this just to get the visa days.

Great Benefit:

You usually get to take home some of the produce you are harvesting to eat.

3.2 What to Expect – Working on a Dairy Farm in Australia

Dairy Farms can be very demanding work, I observed my backpacker friends mostly assisting in milking the cows, feeding, cleaning the milking bays, and general work around the farm (depending on the farmer).

A backpacker doing farming jobs in Australia

Be prepared for early starts around 3 am as this is when the milking starts.

You will often stay on-site, sometimes in the farmer’s house or worker’s lodge. You’ll get to experience real life on a farm and how a farm operates.

3.3 What to Expect – Fishing and Pearling in Australia

You will most likely be working out at sea sometimes for weeks. It will smell like seafood the whole time but you will get used to it. The job can be very physically demanding and you can do long shifts including overnight.

3.4 What Experience or Qualifications Do I Need to Work on a Farm in Australia?

For most jobs, you don’t need any experience just a positive attitude, be reliable, and show up to work every day. Being physically fit is definitely an advantage as you will mostly be doing physical labor. The majority of backpackers I know don’t have any experience before they start their first farm job.

4. Where are the Farming Jobs in Australia?

Australia is a huge country and there are farms everywhere. To help you find what you looking for I have made a summary of work in each state for you.

4.1 Victoria Farm Jobs

Best time of year: January to April; November to February

Crop and region:

4.2 New South Wales Farm Jobs

Best time of year: Work is available all year round

Crop and region:

4.3 Queensland Farm Jobs

Best time of year: Work is available all year round

Crop and region:

4.4 South Australia Farm Jobs

Best time of year: February to August; and October to February

Crop and region:

4.5 Western Australia Jobs

Best time of year: All year round

Crop and region:

4.6 Tasmania Farm Jobs

Best time of year: December to May

Crop and region:

5. How Much Do You Get Paid?

There are many different farming jobs across Australia, some pay better than others. Most farm work is hard and usually in regional Australia with not much to do on your time off, so you deserve to get paid well.

You should at the very minimum be paid a minimum wage of around $28 AUD as a casual employee, anything less is illegal. Farmers for years understand that the majority of backpackers want to get their eligible visa days and some are low on time and are desperate. Unfortunately, this has created situations where the farmer takes advantage and pays below minimum wages, especially for piece-rate jobs. Don’t accept below minimum wage, it only encourages this bad behaviour to continue.

5.1 How to Earn More?

Don’t settle for minimum wage, the work is hard and the days are long, you can definitely earn more if you know where to go. Here are some tips to earn more:

  • Piece Rate Jobs: – Piece rate can be good money if you are fast and work hard. The top pickers can earn $300-$500 on a good day. Cherries, Grapes, and Mangoes, and usually very well-paid. I’ve learned to speak to other backpackers or co-workers who are already in the area about what other workers are making rather than the farmer’s inflated figure. Backpackers communicate all day on the farm and know how much each other picked every day.
  • Fishing & Pearling Jobs: – You will spend time out at sea but these jobs usually pay a lot more than minimum wages. The work is very hard and the days are very long.
  • Speak to Other Backpackers: – Backpackers are the best source of information for the best farming jobs because they have done them. When looking at where to do farming, get their experience on where to go, the conditions, and how much it pays. They know the best jobs.

6. How To Get a Farming Job

Most entry-level (backpacker) Farm Jobs aren’t advertised on the major job search sites. Here are my best tips for getting a farm job:

An infographic on how to get a farming job in Australia as a backpacker

  1. Just Arrive in the Farming Regions – As simple as it sounds many backpackers just arrive in the farming regions during peak harvest season, and start making enquiries at the farms. Refer to section 4 for dates of the seasons.  
  2. Contact Companies Directly –  It is best to contact the companies by phone. Sending an email or resume is less likely to get you the job.
  3. Talk to Other Backpackers – Backpackers love to help each other out, and you’re usually going through similar experiences as them. Talk to other backpackers on the way to the farming regions and when you arrive. They may have already made enquiries or are already working or just finished working in the industry. They may also know which companies are hiring, which pay better and have better conditions!
  4. Visit the Companies – If you’re already in the farming region, showing up at the farms and asking for a job can be useful; especially if you’re having trouble getting through on the phone or you’re having trouble understanding the thick Aussie accent over the phone (we’ve all been there). The company can see you’re keen and ready to work and may even employ you on the spot. I’ve gotten many jobs in Australia using this strategy.
  5. Facebook Groups – There are many different Facebook Groups that post farming jobs. Search Farm Jobs Australia, Backpacking Jobs Australia, etc. Add yourself to the groups, there are numerous posts per week.
  6. Working Hostels – The hostel is in contact with a lot of the farmers of the region and helps you get a job. Often the farmers will contact the hostel directly as they know there are a lot of backpackers there that will want a job. Do be wary though, see section 9 for more details.

7. Essential Tips

Plan your adventures: Where do you want to travel in Australia? Do you want jobs in the Australian outback, visiting the beaches of Queensland or the vast wineries of Western Australia? Research your destinations well and get a job close to where you want to be. Having said that, everywhere in Australia is usually a great place to travel!

Weather: If you’re not used to Australian weather, you won’t be used to the heat and humidity. Believe me when I say you should always wear sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, a long-sleeved breathable shirt, and DRINK PLENTY of WATER.

Rain: Sometimes if there is a lot of rain, fruit can’t be picked and your wages will be affected. Don’t worry it’s not like the UK, Europe, or Canada where it can rain for weeks but make sure you have some cash to fall back on.

Eligible Days: If you want to apply for a second or third-year working holiday visa after your harvest work, make sure you are working in an Eligible Postcode that is on the Approved Jobs list, and obtain an employment verification form. Make sure you keep evidence of your employment. See more information on Working Visas.

Payslips: Make sure you are receiving Payslips and bank transfers as payment. You will need these as evidence when you apply for your second year visa. Don’t accept cash payments and/or no Payslip. This could ruin your opportunity to get granted a second or third year visa as there is no documented evidence that you completed your farm work days. A farmer paying cash with no payslips isn’t going to be very helpful to your situation when the Australian Government starts asking questions about your employment.

Be sure to check the legitimacy of the harvest organizations before you accept positions or travel for a job. There’s no need to be overly suspicious but some individuals sometimes take advantage of working travelers. If possible: Ask advice from other travelers who have done harvest work with this company.

8. Farm Jobs in Australia with Free Visa Sponsorship

In the past, there was an Australian Agricultural Visa option where workers from the UK and 10 countries were able to get a free sponsorship to come to Australia and work in the Agricultural sector. However, this scheme has recently been discontinued and replaced with the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) Stream. If you are from these countries you are eligible:

Click the link for more details on the PALM Scheme.

If you are not eligible you may still be able to get sponsored see our complete sponsorship jobs guide on how to do so.

9. Farm Work Scams

Unfortunately, some people try to take advantage of backpackers knowing they are looking for fast money or need their visa days. I believe I should mention a few of the job scams in Australia so you don’t also fall victim.

9.1 Farm Work Accommodation Scam

Not necessarily a scam but some farms offer accommodation on site while you do your farm work. The accommodation is usually extremely overpriced over $250 a week for a shared dormitory with poor conditions. Some farms will not let you work there unless you stay onsite and pay for the massively overpriced accommodation. This is a big red flag. Think about the location of the farm, in the middle of nowhere in Regional Australia and they are charging higher prices than you would pay for a hostel in the big cities. Bundaberg in Queensland has a bad reputation for this amongst backpackers but you should be careful everywhere.

The variation to this is the farm will offer you a ride to work from your accommodation at a hugely inflated price. Even worse if you are already staying at their overpriced accommodation, you get hit twice in the pocket.

To avoid this try and secure your own accommodation and/or transport to the farm, the farm is usually a bit disgruntled about this if they are offering overpriced accommodation. Sometimes they won’t let you work unless you take their overpriced accommodation. Big Red Flag. If it doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t! Find another farm there’s plenty around.

9.2 Working Hostels Scam

A slight variation to the above scenario. Don’t get me wrong, some working hostels are great. The way they work is they have contact with the local farmers and source the farm work jobs for you if you stay at their hostel. Saves you looking and they have all the important contacts.

Where this can go wrong is unfortunately some hostels charge overinflated prices for you to stay and use their job-seeking service and again you can also get hit with overinflated transport costs to work. In some cases, they only want to fill the beds and have very little care about finding you work once you have paid for your bed. They suck you in by offering a weekly or monthly discount if you pay upfront (sometimes non-refundable). Sometimes the jobs they offer are very undesirable jobs or farms that have a bad reputation and mistreat backpackers. They may also only provide work but only 1 or 2 days a week, barely enough to cover your extremely high accommodation costs. Again Bundaberg has a bad reputation for this.

To avoid this before going to any working hostel, check the reviews, and talk to other backpackers about their experience with certain working hostels. Some are actually very good, but unfortunately, there are bad ones.

If you’re willing to take a chance on one (some can be very good) try to book 1 or 2 nights and when you arrive speak to the guests that are there about their experience so far. See if there are any legitimate jobs before you book for a long-term stay (week/s or month).

10. FAQ

Unfortunately no, unless you are paid for working that day, not working due to severe weather doesn’t count towards your days.

If you are paid for a public holiday or sick day as part of your contract it can be counted as an eligible day. If you are not paid it will not count towards eligible days.

If you are mistreated, underpaid, not provided a payslip, not given a break, threatened, or harassed if possible raise the issue with the farm manager. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to the manager you can contact Fair Work 13 13 94 and report the issue. They will also give you advice on what your next step should be.

Firstly I would raise this to the farm manager. If you don’t receive a reasonable response you need to contact Fair Work 13 13 94 and report the issue. They will also give you advice on what your next step should be.

Most farm jobs for backpackers are not posted on the main job search sites. Visiting the farming areas and asking around is a good way to find a farm job. See our complete list. on section 6

For backpackers, there are lots of places but a good place to start is figuring out where you want to visit and seeing what seasons have harvests in those areas.

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