Like many others before us, we decided to work on a farm in order to extend our visas.
The famous Visa 417, commonly known as the “Working Holiday Visa”, allows people aged between 18 and 30 who hold a passport from an eligible country to stay in Australia for up to 12 months.
You can renew it only once though, for another 12 months, given that you have completed the now famous (guess you’ve heard it before, am I right?) 88 days of specific work (e.g. farming, mining, construction…) in a rural area of Australia.
This (and $450.00) is all you have to do to gain the opportunity to enjoy and explore ‘Stralya for another year.
We found our workplace in a potato farm in Bungaree, Victoria, thanks to the Harvest Trail number ( 180 062 332, in case you need it ).
This is a national FREE number, available Monday to Friday during office hours, that provides information and contact details of farmers who are looking for employees in the area where you are (or they can tell you where you should move to have a better chance of finding a job). I can’t thank these people enough and if you, like us, don’t have any contacts or friends-of-friends-who-know-a-farmer and don’t want to end up in working hostels, this is the number you need to call to feel less lost.
Our original destination was Robinvale and we were supposed to reach it from Sydney, where our plane landed, in 3 days. But life doesn’t always go the way you planned (actually, does it ever?) and that journey ended up lasting 6 days thanks to the best van we could ever hope for! But this is another story…
So we were too late for the initial job we were hoping to get. But on the way to Victoria we kept on calling the number every day, until finally one day we got Russell’s number. A quick nice phone interview made us hope for the best and in the evening we got the positive message: we got the job!
And that’s how we ended up in Ballarat (which is the closest big town where we actually stayed – only 15 minutes by car to Bungaree), knowing nothing about the place we would call our home for the coming 5 months.
There are so many things I could say about this experience, how we grew fond of the people we met, how a job that was not maybe the easiest on the paper (back pain, dust, cold, mud are some of the “side effects”) turn out to exceed our expectations, thanks to the laughs we shared, the good company of our employers and colleagues, the “smoko” (coffee break) talking farming business and gossiping with a smile.
I could talk about how I loved the freedom of going to work without makeup, without the hassle of “what I am wearing today? Is my hair clean?”. I could talk about getting dirty and actually enjoying it, about finding happiness in small pleasures like grasping earth in your hand and feeling the connection with this land so far and yet so similar to what I left at home; watching sheep and horses under the rain; admiring the sunshine on the fields after a long day working; a glass of wine for dinner realising that no job was coming home with you, that my mind was finally calm.
I could tell you all this, or I can just let you watch this beautiful video that Sam (my sexy boyfriend – he begged me to add this) created … it’s our tribute to this experience, now that it has already become our history, now that we are about to start a new adventure…because sometimes images tell you more than words.Remember that...Sharing is caring!