So as you may or may not know by now, Kels and I are home owners! Sorry, we don’t have a cute sign of us in front of a new house in a suburb with a little sold sign. Our home is a campervan, and his name is Jean-Claude. He is a 1985 Toyota Hiace, he’s got a fridge, a bed, a propane stove, lots of storage, a pop top so that we can stand up, a bike rack and a motor. He is our home on wheels- he’s not your typical home that I see Facebook friends buying at this age; but, Kels and I don’t want to live an average life (not that settling is bad!), we want to live a VAN LIFE.
Basically, we bought Jean-Claude because we were having shit luck finding jobs in Brisbane. Kels wasn’t having luck with openings in the strength and conditioning field, and I literally got ghosted after trialling and getting offered a job. Yeah, we were stressed and didn’t know what to do – we questioned this entire move a couple times. But then we decided to take it as a sign; so we bought the van and decided to look for a different kind of work elsewhere.
As you know, Kels is here on his 417 working holiday visa, it’s a one year visa that can be extended if you complete 88 days of regional work. We figured if city life wasn’t going to be easy right now, we may as well get his farm work out of the way! Better sooner than later and stressing about getting it done before his one year expires.
We began applying for jobs fruit picking, vegetable picking, cattle farming you name it. We mostly used backpacker job sites and Gumtree (the Australian version of Kijiji); we applied to over 40 different jobs. The plan was to leave Brisbane on Saturday morning and begin the journey up north. There were a lot more openings up the coast, so we decided to slowly make our way up and continue to apply in hopes it would benefit us to be closer to the position if offered. We got a call back from one job on Wednesday evening, we were told if we were in Bundaberg for tomorrow we would have a job – the ad was for tomato picking.
So in typical Dani fashion, I started packing everything and stressing. Thursday morning we hit the gym one last time, then ran to the stores and stocked up on some van essentials, some food and other last minute items. We managed to get out of the city by 2pm. It was a 4.5/5hr drive to Bundaberg, and we arrived just after 7pm. We drove to the guy’s house, not knowing what to expect, what the job actually was, or who specifically he was.
Turns out he was a backpacker too, but he was a recruiter who worked for some farmers. He would recruit other backpackers to come stay at his share houses (for 160$ a week per person) and then he would “guarantee” them work. He wanted me to work 11 hour days picking tomatoes and for Kels to work 9 hour days tying back mango trees. He also wanted us to either stay at his share house, or park Jean-Claude there and still pay $100 a week per person to use his facilities. Or he told us we could go pay a total of 90$ a week and stay at a campsite in town with all the “druggies and drunks”. Oh, and he wanted a $100 deposit each from us that night to guarantee we would show up for work (aren’t I supposed to get paid to work, not pay to work?).
Kels and I discussed it, and declined the offer. The guy couldn’t even tell me what sort of safety equipment I needed, just that I needed long sleeves so I wouldn’t get chemicals all over my arm. We had also heard of multiple scams regarding the deposit; so we played it safe and decided to wait for a different opportunity.
We stayed in a free camp that night, and on Friday we explored some coastal areas around Bundy. We went for coffee in Bagara, had lunch at a picnic table at Elliott Heads and wandered the beach there. We found free wifi and continued the job search online. Saturday, we decided to ditch Bundy and continue up the coast; next destination Yeppoon. There wasn’t any work opportunities there that we knew of, but there were beaches… and I like beaches.
We loved Yeppoon and area, but I’ll have a separate post all about that (Click Here to Read About Yeppoon)! We ended up chatting with a local lady while watching the sun rise one morning – we told her we were from Canada and searching for farm style work. She told us the name of a gentleman who owned a restaurant a town over who was looking for backpackers. Apparently he grew all his own produce for the restaurant and needed the help! Finally! A positive sounding lead!
We headed over to Rosalyn Bay, which is where the restaurant was. We explored the area as we waited for the man to get back. When we sat down to talk with him and his coworker we quickly found out he definitely wanted backpacker help; however, he was offering food and accommodation for work – wwoofing style. Which would have been wonderful, except for the 88 days to be valid, you must provide payslips; therefore, wwoofing does not count towards the regional work.
We were pretty bummed, we had tried not to get our hopes up too much but it had seemed that things were finally going our way.
It sucked having yet another thing not work out, but we didn’t let it get us down. That night I wrote up an ad on Gumtree stating that we were looking for work – specifically to work on a family farm (we wanted to stay away from working hostels and monotonous fruit picking if possible).
The next morning, to our surprise we woke up to a really positive response to our ad. We emailed back and forth all day with details, and that night had a skype/ phone call with the families, next thing we knew, we were accepting the positions!
So here we are. Kels and I are now on our way to South Australia, we will be working on a dairy farm about two hours east of Adelaide. It’s a 2300km drive through inland Australia, and we’re on our way to be dairy farmers. We’re both excited and scared out of our minds. We’re hoping good ol’ Jean-Claude doesn’t hate us for this roadtrip and makes it the whole way. We have no idea how “outback” this drive actually is. We have no idea what to expect with the job. The people seem super nice, and they are fans of naps, so I like them already! Especially if we’ll be up at 4am milking the cows!
So that’s basically what the last little bit of our adventure has been, and the little town of Tintinara (population 257) is our next destination! I’ll try to keep you updated on how our road trip goes, and farm life in general! Here’s to the next 88 plus days of Dani and Kels the dairy farmers!