Through speaking to others about their regional work experiences it became clear to me that not one placement is the same. There is a huge range of jobs which can be done to complete your 88 days and a very large country to relocate to!
I spent my time completing my regional work on a farm in central New South Wales where I predominantly looked after children. I had my own cottage on the property and was around 20 minutes from the nearest town with my own mode of transport to get me there. I was very lucky in many aspects of my role and job and enjoyed my experience thoroughly despite the sometimes harder days. Below I have featured the stories of some of my friends who also completed their farm work.
I hope you enjoy reading these different accounts and it helps to broaden your mind and idea of what is possible during your own regional work!
I love to have options and one way to have more during my time in Australia was to do farm work. Not only could I stay another year if I wanted, I could also experience the outback of Australia in a more authentic way. I knew that if I would go for it, it would be hard, but that didn’t stop me. In January 2018 I came into contact with the lady of the house of a farm in Mendooran, a very small town in New South Wales. I could work and live there. I would live in a tiny house (read; a shed) with two to three other backpackers where we shared the bedroom and the bathroom.
The farm was a cattle farm, but my job would mostly consist of cleaning the house, since the family didn’t have any time for that. However, I had a lot of small chores next to that. Such as looking after the calves and the chooks (read; chickens) and helping the girls clean the stables. Each day would start at 6am when the cows would be milked and the first cleaning of the stables took place. We were often working days from 6am to 7pm, with an hour for lunch break. It was hard for me to combine cleaning the house and all the other chores I had, since I prioritised the other jobs over the cleaning.
At some point halfway through they sat me down to talk about it. They had the impression I was only on their farm to get my second year visa and not to experience it. They told me I had a choice to leave, because they hired me mainly to clean their house and they understood if I didn’t want to work on the farm. Or they said I could join the other girls and work outside. Obviously I chose to stay and finish the three months. After this decision, I was much happier even though it was physically a lot harder for me.
Luckily, there were plenty of things that made my time there very memorable. I got along with the other backpackers really well and we made the best of it by supporting each other. During one of the first weeks, there was a rodeo in a nearby town and all of us worked together so we could leave as early as possible. During Easter, the family went to their other property and we got to run the farm for the weekend. We worked really hard so we could have an extra-long lunch break and use the pool. It was great!
There was one pub in Mendooran, which I visited on a few occasions with the other backpackers. It was always great fun to go there and talk to other farmers from the area, but mostly it was nice to see something else and ‘dress up’ for an evening.
One of the best things on the farm was George, a rescue Joey. He lived with the family in the house and I used to change his nappies and feed him special kangaroo milk. While I was cleaning, he used to hop around the house following me in the hope to get some extra cuddles.
Overall it was an amazing experience with its personal ups and downs, but now I know what I am physically and mentally capable of which still works as a motivation for me to get things done. If I can carry all those bags of feed, I can carry all my books at university.
My experience in the Australian outback to gain my 3 months of farm work was as a nanny for a family with two boys (8 and 4 yrs) and one little girl (2 yrs). I worked on a large cattle station situated around 70kms north of a small town called Winton in central Queensland. I stayed for almost 5 months because I enjoyed the work and made strong bonds with the kids.
My daily duties mostly consisted of looking after the 2 year old and we established an amazing bond during my time there. I also did the house cleaning and cooked lunch and dinners for everyone at the station. Typically this was for 8 people but could be for up to 15 if we had extra hands for mustering jobs. I worked Mon-Fri and the weekends were my own to go to races, rodeos and camp drafts which were most weekends in Queensland.
As the station was around 1.5hrs away from the closest town, the two older boys were home schooled by an on-site teacher (called a governess or 'govie'). Trips into town were quite limited but I never felt isolated because there was always people coming to visit to do cattle work or events on the weekend. The boys' teacher was an Australian girl around my age and we grew quite close.
We lived separately from the main house along with our on-site Jackaroo. The three of us each had our own rooms, a kitchen and living room and usually spent evenings and weekends together. My advice for anyone looking to do nannying for their 3 months or farm work in general is to truly throw yourself into it. The way of life in the outback is like nothing else I have ever experienced and I learnt lots about Australia as a country and about myself too.
When I read an ad on Gumtree for a position on a farm in rural NSW, I didn't know what to expect. And nothing could have prepared me for the experience. Working with an amazing family in a rural community of 2000 people was like nothing I have and will ever experience again.
From early morning sunrise runs with kangaroos, to rodeos, working at the golf club and being known by everyone in the town as one of the backpackers will be a time I'll never forget! The people were amazing, the place was amazing and it taught me to take life at a slower pace and appreciate the small things, the power of community and how you really don't need a lot to have a wonderful life.
I ended up spending 5 months there because I loved it so much. And there are days now, I long to go back!!