Last updated Feb 2019.
During the first year of my working holiday in Australia, I eventually decided to find regional work for at least 88 days so that I could get a 2nd year extension. I had no idea how to go about it at first, but after trying many avenues online, I’ve narrowed it down to the few that have proven most effective in securing jobs for me, be it through Facebook or other websites.
Facebook is a prominent social resource for Australians (and backpackers in Australia); the Facebook marketplace is bustling, and the number of Facebook groups and pages for backpackers, rideshares, jobs, and regional communities you can participate in is only limited by your decision to join or follow them.
It turns out that there is practically a Facebook group for every activity/topic and geographical scope. For your job search, you can find groups dedicated specifically to backpacker jobs (usually with job providers more willing to hire backpackers), fruit picking jobs, one-off labouring or event jobs, barista jobs, etc.
While there are many groups for backpackers in Australia, the national ones with lots of people don’t seem very good for finding jobs near you; the rare job ad in between the deluge of self-promoting posts by backpackers often comes from another side of the country. I recommend joining more local groups restricted to the state, or even the town/city you’re currently in or going to be.
Use this search process for groups and (pages): type key phrases like ‘farm work’, ‘fruit picking’, ‘jobs’, ‘backpackers’, ‘[name of town]’, and see what groups have already been established.
Having spent most of my working holiday in Western Australia, the Facebook groups that I found the most useful were PERTH Backpackers and PERTH Backpackers (WA) Farm Work and Fruit Picking. Also find out if the towns you are nearby are staying in already has a Facebook group for it, for example: Donnybrook WA Backpackers if you are in Donnybrook, or Carnarvon Backpackers and Visitors if you are in Carnarvon.
Once you’ve joined these Facebook groups, you could even consider crafting a post advertising your availability, work you’re looking for, and skills and assets you possess, such as prior work experience, or your own car. I’ve actually gotten messages from potential employers through this method.
I’ve found a couple of Facebook pages dedicated to advertising fruit picking and farm work opportunities for backpackers: Fruit Picking Jobs and Farm Work Australia. Because they are Facebook pages, there are no posts by other backpackers, simply job ads listed in chronological order. The page admins summarise the job description and helpfully mention the town and state where it’s located. The ads seem to usually lead mainly to The Job Shop. But I still follow them as a way to keep up to date on available jobs via my Facebook newsfeed.
There are many job portal websites out there, but I’ve only managed to get callbacks through a few of them. While some platforms may ask for payment, as a rule you shouldn’t have to pay money to search for a job, and the websites I mention below are free to use.
Many backpacker jobs on this website are linked to the Facebook pages I mentioned above. There is no payment required to join, and the jobs are legitimate and up-to-date. The company does manage the job applications; you can only apply for two jobs at a time, your applications are held and vetted by The Job Shop, and only sent on to employers if they think you’re suitable for it. If you are passed over for an application, it is dropped from your applications page and you can then apply for more. When you are selected as a primary candidate, the Job Shop will call you to put you in contact with the employer. Through the Job Shop, I found employment with a banana plantation up in Carnarvon, WA.
There are many jobs on Backpacker Job Board, and it is also easy to sort by locations and job types. Applying is easy too. However, I also realised later that many ads could be a few years old, and were left up by employers who neglected to take it down after they found someone. On this site, you’re more likely to get a callback from potential employers who have posted recent jobs, so I try to only apply for the job postings that are a week or less old.
You get an email if your application has been viewed, but you should only get your hopes up if your job application is actually shortlisted. My success rate with this site is very low, but I did get one job with a cafe through it, so it is worth a try.
Even if you find it hard to get a job through Backpacker Job Board, it does provide a good overview of the kind of backpacker jobs available throughout Australia and across the year.
This website exclusively posts farmwork opportunities, aggregated from various job websites. It’s easy enough to set up an account and apply to the jobs near you. There’s a subscription available that could help you find jobs faster, but the basic features of the site are free to use.
Indeed Seek, and Gumtree are websites used for job applications in general, not just those suited for backpackers. However, that also means that finding jobs specific to working holiday visas or more catered to backpackers requires using the right keywords in their search engines. I’ve found relevant job entries through these websites, but have found it less efficient than other avenues.
There aren’t many apps for finding work in Australia, so you’re better off using websites. However, there is an app on both Android and iPhone called WikiFarms ($5.99) that does make it easy to look for potential farm employers throughout Australia near you, using a map. Features for filtering farms based on the fruit seasons can help you narrow your search. Not every potential farm is listed, since available farms have to be contributed by users. I used it to contact some farms via email and phone, and did receive some replies.
Work agencies could be a last resort if you’ve exhausted your free options. I encountered one in Cairns called Workers Wanted, which takes your details and forwards them to their network of employers. You pay upfront for a fee, which they promise to refund if they cannot find work for you within 2 weeks. I attended their briefing, but did not end up using their service. However, if I was in a more desperate position, I might’ve gone with them.
Liyana, a Singaporean who was in Cairns, paid for Workers Wanted’s job-finding service. She tells me that her experience was quite negative. She was given an opportunity to ride a bus to Atherton Travellers Lodge for a packing job. She checked out the place online, and reviews warned other backpackers not to go. When she pressed the agency for more details about the work arrangement, they were unable to provide it. The agency wanted her to decide if she wanted the job within ten minutes, and when she decided not to go, they did not seem willing to find her another one, even though she was still within the two-week period.
There may be better work agencies out there than Workers Wanted; if I find out about them, I’ll update this section.
One last old-fashioned option would be to drop in to small businesses in town with your resume, or drive to farms directly looking for jobs. It’s a bold approach that still works for some people I know. I haven’t experienced any success myself with this method though.
This article has focused on finding regional work; for finding work in the big cities such as Melbourne, that deserves its own article.
Good luck with your hunt for regional work!