Transitioning into new experiences can be both exciting and challenging. It requires stepping out of one's comfort zone and embracing the unknown.
Meet Hung-Hsuan Yen, affectionately known as Bacon, a Taiwanese chef who embarked on an exciting journey to Australia in 2018 searching for growth and adventure. Born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan, Bacon was inspired by her brother’s experience on the Working Holiday Visa to Australia. Leaving Taiwan at the age of 29 to explore the opportunities in Australia, she saw this as a chance to earn money, live in a different country and escape the monotony of daily life.
Bacon began her journey by picking strawberries and tomatoes in Stanthorpe, Queensland. She then moved on to Bundaberg, where she picked tomatoes, zucchini, capsicum, beans, chillies, and watermelon. After that, she worked in Caboolture, where her tasks included packing beans, broccoli, shallots, and lettuce. She then travelled to Georgetown in Far North Queensland for the mango harvesting season, but after just a week there, she returned to Mundubbera to pick blueberries and grapes. Throughout her work, she has travelled to various locations across the country and approached each new experience with enthusiasm.
It was during her time picking grapes that Bacon discovered her passion. She found joy and satisfaction in this work, which led her to decide to move to Mildura in 2020, and since then has been working on farms in different locations around the Sunraysia region.
She returned to Caboolture, Queensland for a period of time to work on strawberry farms, where she was involved in planting, picking, and packing strawberries. Additionally, she participated in picking and packing lychees and raspberries. These tasks demand physical labour and a certain level of skill. The practice of moving between different locations and crops is a common strategy among farm workers, as they follow the harvest trail to optimize their income potential.
Bacon expresses a preference for piece rate work, as it allowed her to work at her own pace. She appreciates the flexibility it offers, allowing her to slow down or speed up. In contrast, hourly pay requires constant productivity and can be more demanding. This insight sheds light on the financial aspects of farm work and the impact it has on workers’ motivation and work-life balance.
When comparing Australia to Taiwan, Bacon reflected that the working culture in Australia was much more relaxed and laid back whereas at home, the rush and pressure was constant. Bacon also appreciates the freedom to enjoy life outside of work.
Bacon’s advice to Working Holiday Makers just starting their first farm job is to approach each job with a positive mindset and a willingness to learn. Each new opportunity has allowed her to learn and grow, both personally and professionally. Despite the challenges she faced along the way, her determination and willingness to try something new kept her moving forward.