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Bicycle Travel & Harvest Work in Australia

Grace Newhaven

2001 / April 10

Some bicycle travellers in Australia will want to find short term work while they are on the road. This will be so particularly for those undertaking a long journey. As most bike touring follows rural road networks, sources of employment in rural Australia will be particularly useful to travelling cyclists. Harvest work in rural Australia may therefore provide a convenient and attractive option for these cyclists.

It is worth noting that harvest work is available widely across Australia depending on season. It is also a feature of the Australian horticultural industry that it relies to a large extent on foreigners, usually backpackers under 30, who have " working holiday" visas. Some few of these younger people may travel by bicycle, and in the future more may choose to do so.

As in many other areas of modern life, the WWW has the potential to provide a useful and effective way to distribute complex and seasonally variable information relating to the agricultural sector. However, while there are a number of sites devoted to this subject, they are not well cross referenced to each other, and it seems to be difficult to find a single, well integrated information source, whether on the www or not.

When I began to research this issue, I asked for general www references at the Adelaide shopfront of the job agency " Employment National ". The staff there were unable to assist me, referring me to a " 1300" telephone number instead. This service, however, had no general menu, but could only refer me to each Australian region one at a time, regardless of whether there was work there at the time or not. This was useless.

I subsequently found there are www alternative sources for this information after all. They are of varying usefulness.

  • TNT Magazine is both a website and a giveaway paper magazine marketing to the "backpacker-by-bus & car" market. (Neither ever mentions bicycle travel!) Both magazine & www site provide a useful calendar of harvest work across most of Australia ( excluding the NT for some reason). The calendar lists the various seasonal crops over the year, month by month, with a state-by-state listing. It does not provide detailed contacts for each region (consult the Wayward bus site, below, for such information) but is the most useful site to begin looking for work opportunities.
  • The Australian Harvest Trail project is a joint initiative of government, bus companies, the backpacker " hostel" industry and horticultural producers. Its site provides some background but was not very useful last time I looked.
  • The Wayward Bus site concentrates on SE Australia - SA , Victoria & New South Wales. The site contains a large number of contacts of backpacker hostels and other accomodation options, combined with contacts for agricultural companies that require workers. While they are not particularly well indexed on this busily informal site, the listings are (apparently) referenced to Wayward's several established routes which are designed to service this market. In effect, Wayward's site integrates three complementary commercial interests:
  1. its own transport service,
  2. the hostels' budget accommodation service, and
  3. the employers' need for an adaptable & mobile workforce

This produces an attractive and convenient package deal to backpackers. The jumbled listings at Wayward's site will nevertheless be of some interest to bicycle travellers, if used in conjunction with the TNT site above.

  • The federal government's "Jobsearch Network" site searches for all jobs within one postcode/suburb/town. You can narrow the search by entering a keyword. Have your phone book handy for the postcodes you will need, which are listed in the last section of the White Pages phone directory.
  • The Greyhound bus company now has a poster-map in some of its terminals explaining the seasonal horticultural system across Australia, as an advertisement for its own passenger transport business. This information may or may not be available on the company's www site or in some other form. .Tel : 13 20 30


On a slightly different tangent, the " Willing Workers On Organic Farms " organisation may be of interest to some bike travellers. As I understand it however the WOOF is not intended to assist workers looking for cash and/or short term work.

Any further contacts that might make this information more useful will be appreciated. Please email URL's etc to Grace Newhaven.

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