Working in Australia (my experience)

by | May 22, 2019 | Australia

Working in Australia is sometimes complicated. I explain how to find a job in this article.

For my part, after 2 weeks of research, I ended up finding work in a farm. And that thanks to a friend who had spotted an ad on Facebook. The research was rather depressing as the competition was strong at the time of the year when I was looking for a job (February-March). In addition, I did not intend to stay in Australia for a few months and I needed money quickly.

So I decided to accept the work even if the conditions could seem difficult. So it was a work in melon farm north east Queensland. I will work for a company called Willing workers.

The conditions are as follows:

  • The work consists of the planting of melon at first and the “deplastification” fields already harvested.
  • For the month of March I will do between 20 and 40h per week paid at the legal minimum for a part time contract, 20.66 dollars / h.
  • I will stay in a house with a personal room in a collocation of 5 (with 4 Chinese) and may benefit from a car. All for $ 200 a week, which is very expensive in Australia.
  • I must give 200 dollars of “bond” that I will recover from my departure. If I warn a week before the date when I will go.

 

What bothers me is obviously the price of the room which is astronomical for a city in the countryside. In comparison, prices in Brisbane are much lower. But forced by fate and the need to make money quickly, I accept. Especially that I will be paid by the hour and not by the piece, which is rather difficult to find.

I take a plane direction Townsville then a train to Home Hill, my next city for the next 2 and a half months.

My arrival at Home Hill

I arrive at Home Hill and is greeted by the wife of my owner who is also my supervisor, quite a business. Very nice, she makes me visit the city … in 10 minutes.

We go then to my collocation. The house is big, my room very small, without window but at least there is air conditioning. It is essential given the heat in the north of Australia.

I meet my roommates, all Chinese or Taiwanese. All very nice, they prepared a meal for my arrival and I get along with them very quickly. I was afraid to be quickly left out because they speak the same language. But they make the effort to talk to me even if sometimes they switch from English to Chinese.

A first day / evening that reassures me so. I am told that the next day we will start with planting. That we can work 7/7 days depending on the weather and the needs of the business.

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My first working days

Planting

So come my first days of work. We work outside, and plant melon shoots for miles.The work is difficult: it is very hot and back pain arrive quickly. The pace is frantic but we only work 4 hours a day.

Fortunately, we can use our headphones, so I listen to music or radio podcasts, making the days easier. The times are as follows: from 9h to 13h approximately. Nothing complicated, but I worry about the salary.

Plastic

Sometimes, the work changes, we are warned in the evening for the next day by phone. So sometimes we go to “plastic”. We have to remove kilometers of black plastic along the length of the field, certainly to protect the earth from outside attacks and to make the melons grow straight.

This work is better as we work 6:00 am: from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm . Only downside: this work is done on fields invaded by flies, and twenty of them revolve around each backpacker and land on them. I will take a bandanna to cover my face next time.

 And here is the disaster

After a few days, I get used to it and am reassured of the number of hours that are not so bad.

Then comes the day of the storm. It rains ropes while we plant but continue to work. The weather is terrible and it’s a little bit of saying it.

Problem: a river that has become a torrent borders the field where we are. We end up with water up to the knees.

Everyone has to stop working and leave. We take the car but the roads are almost impassable, we are bogged down. A very bad day, but we laugh at this fiercely.Finally we will get out of our bad luck. We will go home and fight to find out who will shower first.

A chifoumi, I’m second, not so bad. After this day, nothing. The day off continues, the fields are flooded and the rain continues to fall intermittently, preventing the situation from improving. I did 17h that week, a miserable salary to the point that my owner will not ask us only $ 150 for rent. Nice move.

I therefore begins to worry seriously for the rest and looks forward to the return of the sun.You can have a glimpse of the weather conditions on the video and the photo just below.

A good news

We arrive at the end of March, almost a month that I work here. My birthday was celebrated with my roommates and I befriended one of them. We signed up for a gym to do something  on days off.

I found out with wonder Chinese cuisine because my friend often cooks for me and much better than all the Chinese restaurants that I could do in France. I also taste the “hot pot”, a typical dish, quite spicy where we put meat, vegetables and other in soups before serving in a bowl.

We don’t work a lot, most often between 20 and 30h. But finally comes good news. Our owner, and manager, aware of the few hours that we do we propose to work in the packing plant during the day off. Clearly, the plant opens its doors soon, and it must be thoroughly cleaned.Perfect, finally work.

I will not dwell on the cleaning, not very interesting. Other good news: the picking begins soon and the packing too. We will do more hours. Moreover, our superior informs us that we will do packing, and therefore we will work indoors. I assure you that this is very good news when you know the working conditions outside. My back thanks him, my sunburns too.

Packing

The packing starts therefore, I am not in the chain but on a post requiring 2 days of training where I will be all alone. My trainer Nigel, is hilarious and we quickly become friends. My job is to send via two huge machines the boxes and lids that will be used to “pack” the melons on the chain.

It is a job with a little responsibility compared to the rest of the chain and where it is necessary to run all day because if a box hangs on the chain, it’s up to me to find a way to unlock it. Not to mention the back and forth needed to change the pallets.

But this pace suits me, headphones are forbidden, I have to take care. The number of hours increases, to my great pleasure. The month of April is so much better and I do in 2 weeks what I did in 1 month.

I finally start to see the color of the money and am reassured for the rest of my trip.

Time to leave

In early May, I had 10 days of work, finally.
My superior offers me an increase of 3 dollars an hour. Sadness.

I refuse but am grateful, I have enough money for the rest.My last day arrives, Nigel comes to see me and lets me go “I’m gonna miss you” that touches me sincerely. My supervisor shakes my hand and tells me not to hesitate to come back, he will take me back immediately.

The next morning my friend and roommate, Zhang, drops me off at the station, a farewell hug makes me already nostalgic for a time that I did not think was so memorable.

I learned a lot about myself during this time. At first, I was alone but I met many people, we realize very quickly that being alone is not a problem. I also learned a lot about Chinese culture. The Chinese are very different from us culturally but I soon realized that going through these differences, we are actually much more like me than I thought. I never thought that I would laugh so much during these two and a half months.

The job was not so bad. In Australia, if you work hard, you will be quickly rewarded. If you do not mind the task, you can make a lot of money quickly.