Irish backpacker Nicola Kierna is 28 years of age and likes to travel alone because she finds it helps her to meet people more easily.   

The value of a helpful Harvest Office

While travelling in New Zealand, Nicola heard good stories about Australia. Being so close and convenient meant she could travel easily and cheaply across the Tasman and use her Working Holiday Visa to experience Australia as well.  She wants to both work and travel while here.

Having had farm work experience has meant she has the advantage of knowing what to expect when performing the 88 days needed to qualify for a second year visa.  She is taking a casual approach to staying in Australia longer – if she earns the second year she considers it will be a bonus, but at this stage she is just enjoying working on farms.

To get work, Nicola went to Mildura in north western Victoria and registered at the MADEC Harvest Office.  The helpful staff there not only directed her to a job, but also assisted with finding a decent hostel.  She has heard good stories about the hostel where she is staying and so far her experience has been positive. 

From little tractors to big machines

Expecting to see big farms in Australia, Nicola was a little surprised since arriving to be working on small farms producing winegrapes.  She has driven tractors before but only little ones, so has been delighted to find herself driving big harvesting machines, something she didn’t expect to be doing.

Harvesting winegrapes is known as ‘vintage’, and she initially found herself in command of a large specialist grape harvest machine in the small town of Nangiloc in the Victorian Sunraysia region. Since then she has moved across the River Murray to the town of Colignan and is continuing vintage work by testing the ‘baume’ of grapes to assess their sugar content before being picked.

Nicole considers that she has experienced great working conditions so far and has been given good advice by really good farmers.  This has provided her with the knowledge of what to expect before she started each job.

Once Nicole has achieved her 88 days she intends to travel for at least a couple of months, and then anticipates getting back to some work again.

Get the second year visa jobs done early

So far she is very satisfied that her expectations of work have been met. Nicole’s advice for anyone wanting a second year visa is to do their working days early so they have the opportunity to change jobs if they are not happy where they are.

Since arriving in Australia Nicole considers her best experience so far has simply been meeting people, and making heaps of new friends at the hostel.  She has noted the quantity of good looking men too!