During my time on Sunshine Coast, at Caloundra, I used to work as a picker in a farm. For many reasons, it’s been a whole experience, as intense as short it was. And it’s been short. It lasted all in all less than a month. There’s something I remember, on Day 1, one girl in the group said as we arrived and faced the field « We’re back in green Hell ». After that day, I understood what she meant then. But as tiring… no I mean exhausting that was, I prefer to refer to it s my « Green Days » just because that was everything I could see the whole days. Green color everywhere.
I don’t know what Hell looks like « yet », but I decided that if I have to go there, I’ll turn on rock n’ roll on the way. That’s for sure. And if Hell looks like farmwork in Australia, well I believe the first days might be tough, but once your body start to get used to it, it’s much less impressive. Especially at $20/h.
Focus on Australian Farmwork
As I arrived in Australia with a poor knowledge of the country and only a limited overview of what’s possible to do as a backpacker, every single thing I could learn on the field was/is –I’m not done yet- valuable. There is a lot of backpackers coming to Australia to do farmwork. A lot. From many countries. I don’t understand personaly the Ones coming down there only to do this, because that’s a very hard work, the farmers aren’t honest all the time, the pay can be bad, the work litterally exhaust your body, can be dangerous for your health/safety if there’s spiders, snakes or some other susceptible animals present on the field. So let’s make it short : Farmwork is a shitty job. But that’s an experience.
How I got caught into it
I think I got lucky as I got proposed to do that job by a swedish girl leaving the position. So I knew from the beginning I wouldn’t last long. The job was hard yes, ask my back, my legs and my wrists after Day One, but not enough for me to give up. (Nothing that I encountered has actually ever been enough to make me give up by the way.) Then the pay was totally ok, according to the fact it was paid per hour and not per bin as it’s also very commun. Plus the farmer was honest, and the only animals I’ve seen in the field where frogs and rabbits.
I kind of understood that my fellow pickers « wanted to rage » on evenings after work. Personaly, I just wanted to take a shower and go to bed. I wasn’t feeling sleepy all the time, however I needed definitely to rest my back and all my body. Doing this job also changed the situation for me at Caloundra City Backpackers. From « managing cleaning staff member » (without capital letters) as I had the more experience in the domain, I became a farmer, left my position as a cleaner to my brit friend Ian, and started to pay my rent like any other guest. $170/week. Ouch. I thought I could get back the cleaning position after the end of the harvesting season. But Ian also needed to work for free accomodation. We were picking zucchinis, after a few weeks, the season ended, and we were all jobless again. I made more than $1000 but I decided to remain at Caloundra and look for work there. Which has been a bad decision as I almost spend out all the money I had into hostel rent.
Some backpackers wrote on forums that in order to find work, you’ve got to be wise. If you’re looking for work in a place where there is too many people and backpakers, you’ll have trouble finding something as there will be a fierce competition. And if you’re looking for work in a remote place, you will probably be looking after work for a long time before actually finding something. Caloundra was the second option.
I remained three weeks more at CBP before deciding to leave, go back to Brisbane to give a try to a strange job offer. Finding no work at Sunshine Coast was the reason for me to leave. But I didn’t want it. Beside, I befriended some great local people. Rene, Tina, Olga, Suzi and some other ones that I didn’t exchanged contact details with. Leaving Sunshine Coast, Caloundra meant also leaving them, maybe without any chance to meet them again. Leaving meant first of all facing directly my own Fears about australian job searches, not that different from the french ones in the end, and putting an end to the chapter of my green days.