|Australia’s fauna seems to have a fearsome reputation in other parts of the world, and with our recent spate of shark attacks maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. But it was snakes and spiders that had Nick Tomkinson worried, in fact he was so concerned he had no intention of coming to our island continent. Instead he travelled to the Philippines where apparently he thought drug related killings and even civil war would be much safer.
However, young people travelling the world talk to each other and word of mouth from someone you have got to know is what appears to be the most credible source of information. After meeting fellow travellers, Nick changed his mind and got up the courage to head south and become one of many backpackers safely negotiating Australia’a legendary dangerous creatures.
Nick used a commercial fee-for-service website to find work and that worked well for him. Although he does offer the advice that if someone guarantees you work, don’t believe them! Nobody can guarantee work on behalf of somebody else, and there are many practical reasons why that job may no longer be available when you turn up.
His first job was in Bundaberg picking zucchini, but he did not get paid for his work and after three weeks he headed off to try his luck elsewhere. His experiences after that were much more positive, in fact he describes them as “fantastic”. He also learned new skills including how to drive a tractor.
After getting a taste of the country he didn’t really want to visit to start with, he found he was enjoying it so much that, like many others before him, he decided to work towards a second year visa.
Realising that the magic 88 days of regional farm work to qualify for the second year is ideally done at one location where work is steady, Nick headed south. Almonds are a fast expanding industry in south-eastern Australia with many large orchards being established, and Nick got a job at a new property in north-west Victoria. With a steady hourly-paid job involving irrigation infrastructure, Nick avoided the sometimes frustrating and irregular work around picking fruit or vegetables.
Meeting Australian people is one of the things that Nick has really enjoyed, in some places he has felt at home as soon as he has arrived and he has loved the work. For the first time in his life he has looked forward to getting out of bed in the mornings and going to work. It is much easier to have a great work ethic when you are enjoying your job, and Nick obviously impressed the farm where he qualified for his second year visa, because they have now sponsored him to come back to Australia to continue working for them. This doesn’t happen very often and employer-sponsored visas can be difficult to access, but Nick’s boss obviously liked what he saw.
Being almost at the end of his second year, plus the time he survived in the Philippines, Nick has been away from home for quite a while. With his new sponsored visa starting in March, Nick has decided to use some of the money he has saved while working here to fly home to the UK to surprise his Mum for her 50th birthday, and stay for Christmas. He’ll enjoy the British winter briefly before returning Down Under to enjoy New Year celebrations mid-summer.
Nick’s advice to other backpackers starting out include making sure you don’t leave your 88 days to the last minute if you want to stay a second year; get it completed early. Also do your research into accommodation and the type of work you will be doing – before you start – to avoid nasty surprises. Don’t let Australia’s image of dangerous spiders, snakes and sharks put you off, as Nick Tomkinson found, do the working holiday right and it can change your life for the good.
Sourced by: Mike Barrow