This helpful guide is written by our guest writer, Izzie. Izzie is a backpacker, originally from UK, who is currently travelling around Australia. She has completed her 88 days of eligible farm work and is has more recently enjoyed au-pair work.
So, you’re reading this because you’re like me, and just need to squeeze one (or two) more years of what Australia has to offer into your travelling plans, and you’ll do whatever it takes to do so. Whether you’re fruit or vegetable picking or lucky enough to work on a farm, I can say from experience that they are both as hard as each other.
“What do I need to take with me for a fruit picking or farm work job?”
You may be feeling anxious or a little bit in the unknown, so I’m here to help you on your way to feeling more prepared for this new adventure on an Australian station. Coming from someone who massively over packed and got furiously fed up with cramming unnecessary items into my backpack, I’ll be sure to tell you the essentials, the non-essentials, and the little things to get you through.
Essential items to pack
Depending on where you do your rural experience, the general concern is weather, although I will give you a run down of items to take for all scenarios.
- A hat – Whether it be cloudy or raining, the great Australian sun will always, ALWAYS, catch you out.
- Water – You never know how long you are going to be outside, so always take two big bottles of water with you.
- T-shirts & a shirt that covers the shoulders – Most contractors and farmers make this compulsory, if they are good ones that is. I made this mistake; going to my fruit picking job with singlets and vests because I thought I’d get hot… it made a nice trip to K-Mart anyhow.
- Suncream – And suncream again, and again; factor 50 by the way.
- First-aid kit – Plasters, paracetamol, ibuprofen. I’m sorry to tell you, but you may get a sore
back from picking.
- Gloves – This is especially relevant to fruit/ vegetable picking work. The crops are sprayed
with chemicals and pesticides that are no good to the human skin. If you’d like to finish your days work rash free, and not covered in a black paint looking substance (which by the way takes weeks to come off) you should buy yourself a cheap pair of gardening gloves, or even hospital hygiene gloves do the job.
- Snacks – Again, as mentioned above, you never know how long you are going to be out. A musli bar and a sandwich will do. You may be lucky enough to work on a farm where there is some nice fruit and veg to graze on.
- Old/ cheap trainers – You are going to get dirty wherever you end up, don’t make the mistake of wearing your nicest trainers, they will be going in the bin.
- A rain jacket – Always be prepared. You won’t be going home until the work is done, so you don’t want to be working in soaking wet clothes.
- A jumper – Fruit picking has very early starts. Don’t be fooled by Australian weather, it can still be cold at 4am!
What NOT to pack
Everyone is in the same boat when doing their 88 days, it’s no fashion show.
- Nice clothing – I think this goes without saying, but seriously, save those nice clothes for the celebrations once your 88 days is over.
- Money – When going out to the farm, don’t take your money with you. Firstly, you don’t need it, there’s no where to go shopping, and secondly, you never know who is about, always be careful!
- Chocolaty snacks – You are going to be under the sun for a good amount of the day, and so is your bag. Be snack smart.
- Flip flops/ sandals – Unless you want sludgy mud between your toes and dust in your nails, I’d opt for those cheap old trainers.
- A frown – You’ll have a smile on your face by the end knowing you’ll have completed another day… maybe.
Luxury items to pack
We’re all human here, we need some good items to get us through the (kinda) bad, so these are a few things that helped me, but I’m sure you will be able to add to my list yourselves.
- Earphones and music – This really helped me out whilst I was fruit picking. In most circumstances you are on your own in a row, so it can get pretty lonely, and honestly, pretty boring. So if you’re like me, listening to music whilst working may help past the time a bit quicker.
- A Netflix account and/or a good book – This one is more for after your work day is over. If you worked on a farm like mine, my day started early but also finished early. Living in rural areas of where farming takes place, you’re lucky to find much to do, so it’s always good to have a past time.
- A cold beer – After a days work, you and your other work pals are going to want to sit and socialise over a drink, or a few. Just don’t get the goon out.
- A friend – Backpacking is all about meeting new people, but if you have a friend already that also wants to get their 88 days done, it’s always nice to have a familiar face. But don’t worry if not, most people are in the same position and want to socialise.
Don’t think of your 88 days as a chore, think of it as an experience. You won’t get an opportunity like it again. So I hope my list has helped you out in your preparation!