The following article is written by Andre. He and his girlfriend quit their jobs in order to follow their dream – to travel the world. We met Andre in a Facebook group for backpackers and other travellers. In this article both will share experiences they made while earning money for the rest of their travel. Farm work in Queensland – here we go!
Hey and welcome to our unique farm work experiences in Queensland, Australia. We are a young German couple, 26 and 27 years of age.
Farm work in Queensland – How everything started
After some years in Germany we decided to follow our heart and travel the world. After that decision we quit our jobs and moved out of our flats. Now we were just about to start our great adventure. Always in our backpacks: Our camera to capture all moments while backpacking through Australia. All this we bundle on our German-speaking YouTube channel “Fernweh”.
After three months in beautiful Australia we faced our next challenge. We asked ourselves if we will be able to find a job in Australia as a backpacker. On the other side of the world.. After a few calls and speaking to some people we found something in Australia’s outback. Here we stumbled into a farm where we helped out harvesting cotton and we didn’t have a clue what we were expecting.
The closer we came to the farm the dryer and lonier the landscape got. When we finally left Goondiwindi and we didn’t see anything for 150 kilometers but huge farms and veld.
Farm work in Queensland – Our first challenge: Cotton Harvest
Arrived at the farm we experienced a warm welcome. We lived in a big house with a couple of single rooms, shared bathroom, kitchen and a spacious living room. With people from South Africa, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, New Zealand, France and Australia we had pretty international group of nice people.
After a short introduction we already were about to start. Huge machines harvested those strange looking white little flowers. During long working days from 12 hours and more at 40 degrees Celsius (extreme heat!) teamwork was the keyword! Working on the fields we were always dependent on the weather. But we were really lucky being on a great farm, as we were able to retreat ourselves on a daily basis with lovely chats with great people from all over the world. The owners joined our table and we felt that everybody was enjoying this international group of people. We experienced great hospitality and great cooking skills, simply put we loved it!
All in all, we were busy for five weeks harvesting cotton and the farm manager ensured us that the past year was pretty dry. In good years the harvest can take up to three months.
Farm work in Queensland: Different than planned before
After five weeks we actually were upset to leave this place. It was more than just a place to earn money for our onwards journey but it was a place were loved to stay AND earned good money. We made friends here and it felt a bit like family. After talking to the farm manager we were really lucky that there was more work for us to do. So, we stayed!
Farm work in Queensland: Next challenge! Stick picking
As we have never heard of this task in Germany we asked ourselves in the beginning: Really? Just picking up sticks just in order to clean a field? Jup, basically that’s right. “Stick Picking” generally means to remove all branches and other parts of trees from fields. It sounds pretty easy but as fields are probably bigger than Germany, this task comes with a lot of work.
First thing in the morning was a 30 minutes quad ride to reach the field we were working on. On one of these rides we asked ourselves “why all this work just to keep something fastidiously clean”. Stick Picking was not only a lot of work for us but created a pretty big amount of costs for the farm. So, we just asked the farm manger. He answered that keeping the fields clean might be expensive at first but when one of the big machines will break caused by a branch or bigger parts of a tree the costs will be significantly higher. While working in these fields we met toxic spiders, snakes, scorpions but also kangaroos, emus and pigs.
Long working hours with partly highly physical demanding work does not sound very appealing to the average person. But working outside like this felt somehow refreshing for your body and mind. This, in combination with jaw-dropping sunrises while driving through the idyllic fields being accompanied by cockatoos or pelicans – a very special experience.
If there is a lot to do you will not have many days off, as working on weekends is normal. Due to our intention to earn as much money as we can for our onwards journey, this was great! But while stick picking in Australia’s outback we are once again depended on the weather. After heavy rain we regularly found our working place flooded and we needed to spend the days with our international friends. It might sound strange but some mornings we were really happy when we heard rain on our roof.
The time where farmers are able to sow is very limited and thus we started working on rainy days, too. Due to heavy rainfalls in some nights before our shift the soil was sodden and the big machines got stuck in the mud. With a huge effort we needed to push the tractors out of the mud again in order to continue our work. In two shifts per day the busy “Planters” sow 24 / 7 for almost two months.
Australia’s outback isn’t always warm
Who thinks Australia is always warm, is completely wrong. Especially in the area of Queensland, mornings and evenings can be freezing cold. Every morning we jumped on the iced quad and continued with the never-ending task “fencing”.
As we found out pretty soon, fencing is a highly physically demanding job. Having spent some time on the farm we slowly became real experts driving the tractors, which was big fun. Sitting in the tractor, day-dreaming and get impressed by the nature that surrounds you. In one of this moments, the battery of a tractor just died and we go reminded again how big the land was. We needed to walk for 45 minutes to reach our car.
We started working at the farm with the intention to stay five weeks. Now, we are here already a little longer than three months but this amazing time comes to an end, too. We will miss this great time without any mobile service or internet. We are more than happy to experience what we did and we do not want to miss the experience any more.