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Pearling Jobs in Australia

Harvesting pearl from the oysters with the text Pearling Job Complete Guide for Backpackers

Wanting to have true Australian working experience and earn great money? 

Pearling jobs can be hidden gems – literally. Pearling lets you earn bigger bucks while also ticking off the eligible 88 days or 179 years to extend your visa for another year.

In this article, I will be sharing you with everything you need to know about getting a job in the pearling industry in Australia and get you earning great money for your next adventure.

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Pealing Industry in Australia

You may have heard from a friend who is working or has worked in the pearling industry in Australia and made a lot of money. But what the heck is pearling you might ask.

Pearling is the farming of oysters for pearls and associated products. The harvested pearls are mostly used for jewellery but are also used in medicines and cosmetics. You will most likely be working on a boat and assisting with pearling harvesting although there are many other jobs available such as cook, cleaner and machine operator (if you have experience).

The heart of the Australian pearling industry is in Broome, north of the Kimberley region of Western Australia, but there is also work available in the industry in the Northern Territory and Queensland.

1. Why Work in Pearling Jobs?

There are a lot of benefits to working in the pearling industry. Let me share the top 4 benefits that I, along with many other backpackers, have identified:

why choose a pearling job in australia

2. How Much Can You Earn?

The average salary for working on a pearl farm is around $60,000 to $80,000 a year. However, most backpackers work on a casual basis during the season. Many backpackers have reported making upwards of $250 (before tax) per day while working on a pearl farm based on a 10-hour day.

According to the National Aquaculture Award Rate 2020, a casual employee award rate is between $27 – $32 per hour (including casual loading). This rate varies depending on experience. There are also penalty rates that are applied to this if working in the evening and at different times throughout the day.

See here for more information about the Award Rate

In case you are wondering what are the top jobs for backpackers? Here’s our list.

3. Where Are The Pearling Jobs?

As you know Australia is huge, if you want to work in pearling you need to know where to go. Here are the top destinations.

Western Australia

Broome, Western Australia is a favourite destination for backpackers looking for pearling work. Paspaley Farms is one of the biggest farms in Australia and hires a lot of backpackers and also produces some of the best pearls in the world.

Broome is a top tourist destination because of its superb weather and amazing beaches. Around the peak harvest time, the weather is around 30 degrees Celsius during the day and 18 degrees Celsius at night. The beaches in Western Australia are some of the best I’ve seen anywhere in the country. It is a great place to work, explore and enjoy.

Queensland

Currently, there are less than fifteen pearl culture leases operating in Queensland waters. Spat hatcheries producing shells for pearl farming have also been established in three Queensland locations: Albany Island, Turtle Head, and Fitzroy Island. But these islands do not offer much in the way of affordable accommodation.

Northern Territory

Pearl culture operations in the Northern Territory are centred on the Cobourg Peninsula to the northwest of Darwin. After Broome, Darwin is the second most popular place for backpackers to find pearling jobs. Pearl cultivation also occurs in Darwin and Bynoe Harbours.

4. How to Get a Pearling Job

It’s actually very pretty easy: Casual work can be picked up all year round but the busiest season is the harvest season from April/May through to September/October when most places double their amount of staff (most of which are backpackers).

During the season, you can generally pick up work quite easily as there are constantly workers coming and going. Here are my best tips for getting a job in the pearling industry.

4.1 Best Tips to Get a Pearling Job

tips to get a pearling job in australia

4.2 Contact Details

I have listed below some phone numbers I found so you don’t have to. Be prepared to be polite and patient, many of these numbers are general phone numbers and you may need to ask for a mobile or another number. Good Luck!

4.2.1 WA - Western Australia

In WA the biggest pearl cultivators are Paspaley Pearls, Cygnet Bay Pearls and Clipper Pearls.

Willie Creek Pearls is tourism-based so they may employ you for tourism-based jobs.

Cygnet Bay Pearls – (08) 9192 4283 has a pearling department, tourism and retail side. 

If you are a pearling company or backpacker with an alternate number, please contact to help keep this list current.

4.2.2 NT - North Territory

Paspaley Pearls – (08) 9192 2203 (only employ from Darwin)

Clipper Pearls – apply via the website www.clipperpearls.com.au Clipper Pearls’ main farm is located in the NT, near the town of Nhulunbuy (Gove).

5. When Is Pearling Work Available?

The busiest season is the harvest season from April/May to September/October. During the harvest season, work can be found very easily as the companies double their staff numbers and generally employ a lot of backpackers during this time.

Outside of harvest season, you can pick up some casual work but most companies tend to employ fewer new staff in this period and fill their jobs through their regular employees.

6. Work Conditions

Pearling is hard work and is not for everyone. You’ll need to like the sea and early mornings! Boats usually leave around 6 am and finish at around 4:30 pm. The work is physical and can be quite monotonous, dirty, and smelly. Many females work on farms and can take jobs that are less physically demanding.

With some companies, you can work and live on boats. This can be a great way to save money as there is nowhere to spend your hard-earned money. However, comes with the downside that you may not set foot on land for a couple of weeks.

Some boats don’t stay out at sea overnight and you can sleep on land and work on the boats during the day. Most farms are in sheltered and protected waters so you don’t have to worry about getting seasick (but check with the company how far out they go!).

Here you can find a Blog of another backpacker who details their experience in pearling in Western Australia

6.1 Advantages of Working on a Pearling Farm

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