Working in Oz
You can probably get a job in one of the major cities, it may be menial work or possibly within your own skill or profession, and you can enjoy an active social life. Without doubt Australian cities are amongst the most beautiful in the world but, whatever job you have, you will still be living in a city. The world is full of interesting cities but Australia has more to offer. Not only is there an abundance of unique wild life, 80% of Australian species exist nowhere else in the world, but there is a variation in climate and vegetation that only a continent so huge can offer. From the south, in Tasmania, where a maritime climate exists to the equatorial conditions of the “top end” and as inhospitable deserts as you can wish to experience in the centre, and an alpine area. Then there is the aboriginal cultural experience.
Whilst you are in Australia it would be a mistake not to make the most of the sun, sea and sand for which the country is rightly famous but this huge country has more to offer than the coastal strip.
If you limit your travelling to the peripheral areas you will meet large numbers of backpackers like yourself, albeit from most of the nations of the world. You will also meet urban Australians and those involved in the tourism industry. There are other inhabitants who can be identified as rural Australians, in many ways different from those who live on the normal tourist routes.
You can meet and experience the lifestyle of “homo sapiens australiana ruralis” – made up of aborigines and incomers, in a number of ways. There is always the pub in any and every small town through which your tour bus or express coach passes. When travelling from, say Darwin to Adelaide, via Alice Springs why not get off the coach and spend a night at the pub in any of the small towns on the route. However, to get to know and have an understanding of those who make their living in the outback, and on whom Australia depended in the past for its economic survival you need to live with a family on their property.
There are three ways in which you can sample the lifestyle of outback or rural Australia and get some understanding of what it is like to live on a property whose area is measured in millions of acres or thousands of square kilometres. You can book into one of the many host farms as a guest. Although most host farms are measured in thousands of acres rather than millions you can get a feel for the scale of the country side. Your host will allow you to accompany him or her on the daily routine, you will meet the cattle or sheep and on many, ride across the paddocks on horseback or in a ute.
An alternative is to sign up for one of the jackeroo schools, most of which are in rural NSW. There you will be instructed in and practice some of the skills used by jackeroos and jilleroos. All these schools are holiday biased and the other participants will be backpackers drawn from the international travelling community. Most advertise that the skills you learn will help you to find work but, generally, you will be left to find that work yourself.
The option open to those who genuinely want to experience the real Australia and get paid for it is to join Visitoz. The home of Visitoz is in south east Queensland, some 300km north of Brisbane. Participants travel to Springbrook Farm where, in conjunction with four associate farms, they are given an introduction to Australian agricultural techniques and on completion are guaranteed proper farm work for the rest of their Visa. Whilst at Springbrook, or one of the associate farms, participants are given instruction and practice riding an agricultural motor bike across broken ground, they ride horses and work cattle in the paddock and in the yards, they drive and operate tractors and learn fencing skills. Visitozzers live as a member of the family on their training farm. It is not a holiday, it is a period of preparation before going to paid work on an Australian outback property.
Although it is accepted that some women are not as strong as some men, and an allowance is made for that, there is no other differentiation based on gender. To ensure that you gain the maximum benefit the instructor to student ratio is kept to 1:4 wherever possible. Prior knowledge and experience is not necessary as the range of available jobs covers all skill levels. Participants have only ever failed because of a lack of English or a lack of work ethic; the jobs on the properties are proper working jobs. The rates of pay vary with your skill and with the area in which you are working but they do not fall below the union negotiated “award” rates.
None of the jobs involve fruit picking. Over the years that Visitoz has been in operation a database of over 1800 employers has been built up in all States and Territories. These employers, which include many of the largest agricultural companies turn to Visitoz when they cannot meet their needs from the local labour market. Participants, like you, are the best advertisement Visitoz can have. Not a week goes by without new employers, who have met someone on a neighbouring or relation’s property, joining Visitoz. Take a pat on the back – you are intelligent, able to adapt and learn new skills, good company and willing to do your best.
You are aware that you may only work for any one employer for a maximum of six months. Because Visitoz is based in south east Queensland your first job may be in that State or in NSW. On completion of your first job you will probably take a holiday and then, before the money runs out, call and say where you are and we will put your name on the employer’s list with a contact telephone number and / or email address and the employers will contact you direct. Please let us know which job you accept. Once you have joined Visitoz you can work and play your way around the country as you please.
Whatever you decide to do and wherever you decide to go, have a wonderful time and take home good memories of Australia. Come and see us again – soon.