When Melissa  – a French backpacker – arrived in Australia, she had no idea what to expect. She knew that if she ever wanted to stay longer in Australia, she could go work on a farm for 88 days and get a second year visa. But… regional work seemed pretty painful to her. Read on to find out how she got a farm job and how she managed working on a dairy farm for 88 days.

The beginning of our Story

I was in my flat in Sydney when I started thinking about these 88 days. To be honest, I was desperate to find a job. Living in the city was too expensive for me and unfortunately, I knew my budget had a limit.

So I crossed the country with another backpacker to get to Perth. We didn’t manage to find regional work, but we had a source of income by working in a road-house. A few days later, we received a job offer on a dairy farm. So, we quit our new job to seize this opportunity, even if we had to get back to Victoria.

Being on the road can be expensive… and we used all our savings to reach the dairy farm. It was summer, the flies were landing on our faces and the smell of crap was perceptible. No matter what; we would have no other option; our wallet was empty.

The first days of working on a dairy farm

I remember my first morning when I was working on a dairy farm. The owner’s wife was training me on a position where cows tend to “evacuate”. I watched her clean the rails covered in crap and I thought I’d never be able to do it myself. Well, it was confirmed when a cow decided to relieve itself on my neck. That night, I cried. I mentioned to my companion that I wouldn’t be able to do it.

There was a catch; I couldn’t run away. I was literally trapped over there.

So, I drafted a list of 88 silly reasons why I had to stay to increase my motivation.

88 days

How is it like working on a dairy farm

Slowly, I learned to install mental barriers and I started being better at avoiding splashes… until the day where I started to laugh at it. Somehow, I realised they were right; it was only a mix of digested grass and grain.

I do not know how this happened, but at some point, I even started to fall in love with these cows. This, my friends, was unexpected!

Working on a dairy farm means working twice a day doing two 5 hour split shifts. It’s also milking hundreds of cows, accumulating fatigue and learning a lot of new skills.

88 days

Completing 88 days on a dairy farm

When we left the farm, we hadn’t completed our 88 days, but we knew that we would always be able to experience dairy farming again if needed.

Insert the same story again here; we ran out of money on a road trip. Yep, life on the road is quite expensive, remember? We needed to find a job to be able to fund our adventures. So we finished our 88 days on another dairy farm. In fact, we even worked there for a total of 10 months so we can fund our travels through Australia and New Zealand.

Yes, we are now cow “experts” and this saved us from bankruptcy more than once!

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Reasons why we spend 10 months on a dairy farm

  • The opportunity to work several hours a week (30 to 60 hours)
  • The opportunity to have cheap accommodation on the farm
  • The ease of saving money (living far from a city, you don’t need to spend money every day)
  • Our experience on farms in Australia facilitates obtaining a job or even a HelpX project
  • Obtaining a second-year visa

Would you be able to work on a dairy farm?

Updated on the 18th of September 2019. Initially published on the 13th of June 2016.