Seasonal work Northern Australia

Jelle Sleurink:  25 years
Length of stay:  aug t/m dec 2023
Seasonal work: Kununurra, Australie

Jelle seasonal work
Why seasonal work?

I thought it would be fun to work on a really big tractor, in a completely different environment. The country didn’t really matter to me. At first, Canada seemed appealing, but the season there would fall shortly after my graduation. Then I considered New Zealand, but soon Erik from HuizingHarvest presented an exciting job opportunity on a farm in Australia. And so it happened.

How did it work?

For a few years, I’ve been toying with the idea of going abroad to work. Due to COVID-19, this didn’t happen right after my bachelor’s degree, but the dream persisted. About a year ago, I came across the name HuizingHarvest online. I then reached out and had an open conversation with Laura. She explained the opportunities HuizingHarvest offers and how the process works.

Why HuizingHarvest?

Initially, I wanted to arrange everything myself but wasn’t sure where to start. I also wasn’t keen on just flying to Australia and seeing where I’d end up. Therefore, I decided to go through HuizingHarvest for the seasonal work search. They have the right connections with farmers abroad. And this place is so cool and unique; I wouldn’t have found it on my own.

Where did you end up?

I ended up in North West Australia in the town of Kununurra. I work there with a German farmer alongside another Dutch guy, on a beautiful farm where I get to do a lot of varied work. Most of it involves preparing the land after harvest for the rainy months and then subsequently for planting and sowing. This includes tasks like mulching, ripping, cultivating, and fertilizing. In between, I spent a week operating a tractor for a contractor to harrow the cornfields. Since our team isn’t large, there’s a lot to do in a short period, which provides variety in the work.

Is it as you expected?

Well, what can you expect? What’s different from what I expected is the season; it’s initially too wet to do anything on the land, then suddenly the temperature rises, the drought sets in, and you have to act quickly within practically two months. I also expected the crop harvesting to be more spread out, but within 4 to 5 weeks, the harvesting is done, and the land is prepared for the next season. Harvesting is done with only two people, so there’s less of the team effort I had hoped for. It’s also interesting to find out that some things are done similarly to the Netherlands, while others are completely different. For instance, the shops here are almost identical to those in the Netherlands.

The people, however, are different – much easier-going and laid-back. No stress. And all very friendly. Environmental legislation is different compared to the Netherlands. Waste is burned, chemicals are sprayed from planes, and burning corn stubble saves diesel compared to mulching.

How do you live?

We live close to the farmyard. It’s well-organized. Some colleagues live in the main house; I’m about 50 meters from the main house in a donga. This is a type of living unit without a kitchen but with a bed and a shower. It’s perfect for just me.

Besides the work on the farm, the landscape is truly fascinating. If I were to compare it, it’s a bit like Flevoland in the desert.

This area was created. With the construction of the dam, the entire land and the valley became agricultural land, attracting many farmers to immigrate here. Since 1959, the irrigation program for the Ord River was approved, and they work here with meters-long irrigation systems. The system is quite simple and a bit old-fashioned, but it works.

The weekend

Sometimes we work through the weekends, and sometimes we have them off. I went to the reservoir with my Dutch colleague, Huub, and to another cool spot called Secret Springs. The environment there was so beautiful.

Tips for future adventurers

For me, this was a fantastic experience and a great opportunity not to just see the main sights as a tourist but to truly become part of the community here. This way, you get a much better understanding of what’s happening, how the land works, and how the unique history of the land influences the people.