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Farm work in Australia – What They didn’t tell you


Today, the famous quest of the “88 days of farm work” is one of the key concerns for every backpacker in Australia as it allows you to stay an extra year on your Australian Working Holiday Visa.

But recent problems with farm work and how it is calculated have made this option far less attractive than it used to be. This document is a MUST READ for every working holiday maker so you can enter into farm work with a clear understanding of the benefits and many problems.Working Holiday Visa Overview:

  • What type of farm work is suitable?
  • Why is 88 days?
  • How is it calculated?
  • How is it recorded and tracked?

The most essential requirement to qualify for the second Working Holiday Visa (subclass 417) is to complete three months – or 88 days to be exact – of regional farm work in the country and in specific jobs such as fruit picking and packing, trimming vines, fishing, working in tree farming, or working in mining…

Fact: 88 days is the combined length of the shortest three-month period.

Farm days are counted differently if you work full-time or part-time and you don’t need to do your three months’ work all in one go, or all with one employer.? If you work full-time (35-40 hours a week, depending on what industry you are in), the 88 days includes your days off.

For example: working seven hours a day for five days a week can be counted as seven visa days (you’re doing 35 hours a week).

? If you work part-time or casual, only work days are counted.

For example: working eight hours a day for four days is counted as four visa days (you’re doing 32 hours a week instead of 35 hours minimum as required).

BE CAREFUL: For your farm work to be eligible, you must at least earn $17.70 per hour (minimum legal wage before tax), even when you’re being paid per kilogram. If this is not possible, then your work may not qualify for the second-year visa and you should seek employment elsewhere.

One important thing is that you need to keep all of your receipts and payslips. In fact, your payslips are key. They will provide evidence of work done, count your days and confirm payment has been received. It’s ESSENTIAL.

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Don’t forget to make sure your employer is legit by giving your Tax File Number and receiving their Tax File Number.

If you need more info about the 417 Visa, we invite you to consult the official website of the Australian Department of Home Affairs

What’s hiding behind this type of work? What should backpackers be aware of?

Upon first glance, it sounds pretty fair and achievable. However, according to reports of young workers, they address a list of problems that often comes with a farm experience such as:

  • Routine underpayment: employers can take advantage of you by not paying you the correct wage/working hours or fix an unreasonable rate of pay.
  • Financial exploitation (E.g.: asking you to pay a deposit to hold your position or asking to stay and pay for accommodation while they promise you a position will be available soon…).
  • Hard Manual Labour picking heavy fruits like watermelons can be backbreaking labour. Even small fruits like strawberries mean you are crouching and hunched over for 8 hours a day.
  • Bad living conditions with crowding backpackers, who are all waiting for a position into hostels (E.g: inadequate number of bathrooms, mice running in bedrooms…).
  • and sexual harassment. Be careful to research your intended farm to ensure all staff have been treated with respect and dignity.

Sources: must keep in mind that farm work, by its nature, is very season-dependent and often somewhat unreliable. If the weather is bad, you might get some unexpected days off. Sometimes the season starts unusually late or finishes unusually early.

That’s why a lot of workers are forced to work over the 88 days required. If the weather is bad your 88 days may stretch out to over 4, 5 or 6 months, which is terrible given you have a 1-year visa. If you work part-time must have in mind that you will probably have to multiply your time commitment by two.

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What most would expect to just be three months on farm work, often turns into five to six months of farm work in a nightmare situation. Plan for unexpected circumstances – Australia weather can often be unpredictable!

Despite these hiding issues with farm work, many WHV holders have reported positive experiences and have gained new friendships along the way. It’s also the opportunity to experience something different and quite unique in Oz.  

Here are a few steps to ensure a safe experience:

  • Don’t pay to find a farm job.
  • Don’t pay for any accommodation or transport unless you know you have work.
  • Get all of your agreements (pay, working hours, starting/end date, equipment…) in writing before you start, so the employer can’t take advantage of you.
  • You are not alone. If you meet any of those issues above, visit the Fair Work website and contact them if you need.
  • Australia is a huge country with various landscapes and weather conditions. Before you start looking for a fruit picking/packing job, you must determine where and when it’s best to go, to maximise your chances of finding an available job. Check out and download the National Harvest Guide of Australia

Following all of these realities, it’s important to think about other options to stay in Australia instead of trying to get your 88 days of farm work.

The answer to this is simple: the STUDENT VISA. Backpackers and people who are travelling Australia are passing up this great opportunity to live down under.

Indeed, the student visa has multiple benefits and can be your perfect solution to live, work and grow your career in Australia in Australia. It allows you to study an English or professional course (E.g.: business, marketing, hospitality, childcare, fitness…) for more than three months in Australia.

Here we show you five reasons why you should consider applying for a Student Visa instead of a Working Holiday Visa:


N°1:  The Student Visa is open to EVERYONE with NO LIMIT AGE.

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N°2: The Student Visa allows you to work up to 20 hours per week. During holidays, you are allowed to work full time, which means up to 40 hours per week.

Thanks to that, you can finance your studies, your accommodation and save money for your future road trips…

N°3: Your Student Visa is valid as long as you study in Australia. In other words, enrolling in a course that goes for two years guarantees you to stay in Australia for two years. How amazing is that?  Some people study for 5 or more years by packaging courses together on 1 single visa.

N°4:  It’s a superb opportunity to pimp out your CV and add in an international experience. Nowadays, many employers are looking for new talents who have an international experience and with a pretty good English!

Take advantage to be in Australia to improve your skills in the field you want, or to specialise in a certain area/ industry. Or even more, maybe it’s time to learn what you’ve always wanted to learn!

N°5:  If you want to go on holidays, you can! You can leave or enter the country whenever you like with a Student Visa.

N°6:  You don’t have to live in an isolated area and do backbreaking labour for a tiny wage. Instead, you can find a great job in the big cities and enjoy all the benefits of modern Australia.

Note: Cost of Student Visa is $575 AUD.


Would you like more information about the Student Visa? Don’t hesitate to contact us using the form below. We are specialised in education in Australia and ready to help you, wherever you are in the world!

Our expert counsellors will provide you free support and find a course which suits you and your needs.


Go Study is a free service and can help you in so many ways:

  • Secure cheapest prices and best discounts for any course in Australia
  • We will provide full support for your enrolment and visa application
  • Help you find a job and accommodation
  • Help plan your whole project in Australia
  • Connect you to our community of more than 29,000 Go Study Legends who have reached their dreams in Australia through parties, events and professional development

Rather than picking watermelons, pick up great new skills and great new friends and Study in Australia through Go Study!

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