Completing the dreaded farm work is usually the least favourite thing backpackers in Australia want to do, but a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do, right? I spent about three weeks in Melbourne deciding where to go, constantly on the phone to farms and working hostels, and constantly being told to call back at the end of the week. I was then given three jobs in the space of two hours – Tully, Innisfail and The Kimerleys. I decided to take the job in Tully. I already had a friend there and it seemed more legit than others…
So Tully… Tully is a place like no other. I guess it’s like vegemite… You either love it or hate it! It’s located south of Cairns and north of Townsville just off the Bruce Highway. It’s known to be the wettest place in Australia, and believe me; you are constantly reminded of this. With the rain and heat, along comes the humidity! I noticed this as soon as I stepped off the Greyhound. Luckily, my friend came to meet me at the Greyhound stop and carried some of my ridiculously heavy bags, but I was still dripping with sweat! The warmest time of the year in Tully is November through March, so if you’re planning on doing farm work in Tully, try and do it around these times.
There are a few different accommodations in Tully – Rafters (or Banana Barracks), Hotel Tully and the Caravan Park. I stayed in Rafters which is probably the most reliable to get you work, however, you pay this in your rent! The Caravan Park and Hotel Tully are a little less reliable, but are much cheaper. I work with a few girls who live in the Caravan Park and they lived there for three weeks before getting a call from the hostel manager at Rafters who got them a job with us. If Banana Barracks is full Paula tends to send people to the Caravan Park, then as soon as there’s space you can move into Banana Barracks.
The biggest farm/company in Tully is Mackays, which is a family run business. Mackays produces 90% of Australia’s bananas. They have so many banana farms, and a warehouse. I work in the warehouse just off the Bruce Highway with 8 other girls from Rafters and the Caravan Park, banana peeling! Yep, you read that right, peeling bananas. The bananas we peel are packed and frozen, then sent to places like Woolworths and McDonalds for banana bread!
Most farms in Tully provide transport to and from work each day, however, we have to cycle in! It’s just a 20 minute cycle, but I guess it’s fitness right? So if anyone is driving on the Bruce Highway and see some girls cycling along the road, be sure to give them a beep!
A lot of backpackers in Tully tend to ‘jump’ if they don’t have work. This basically involves packing your bag and being completely ready at the buses at 5:15am. The drivers will then pick up any extra workers they need for the day which is paid cash in hand. This only really tends to work for boys more than girls, but I’d still recommend giving it a go if you need the money whilst waiting for a full time job.
Things to do in & around Tully
As I’ve previously mentioned, Tully is a very small town in the North of Queensland. There’s really not too much happening here! Below are the things we’ve found to distract you from going insane!
- Watch the Tully Tigers (rugby) – the Tully Tigers usually play on a Saturday night when the season starts. A few of us went over to watch the first season match (it’s a 4 minute walk from Rafters). Although it’s not the best level of rugby to watch, it’s still a good night out.
- Alligator’s Nest – despite the name, there aren’t actually any alligator’s that live in this area (that I’ve found so far, anyway!). It’s a really nice swimming hole, which isn’t far from Tully town, you can take beers & goon or just have a chilled day sunbathing and swimming. When the rainfall has been high you can also bring a lilo (purchase from the cheap shop for $6) and take it down the ‘rapids’!
- Murray Falls – this is definitely my favourite thing to do around the Tully area! Murray Falls is a really nice waterfall, with swimming holes and camping facilities. There are designated swimming areas, but it’s always much nicer in the areas you’re not allowed – Sod’s Law! On my first trip, we climbed to the top of the waterfall, which has the most amazing view of the waterfall and the valley at the bottom. I would recommend anyone to do this trip – even those doing the East Coast!
- Mount Tyson – this is a big old mountain at the end of Tully that most backpackers try to climb! Some people make it, others don’t… I’ve not actually tried yet – watch this space! But the best time to go (so I’ve been told) is about 4am to watch the sunrise. On a good day you can even see as far as Mission Beach!
- Toss the boss – I would say a main event in Tully happens every Friday in Top Pub. Everyone usually finishes work and heads straight to the pub for Toss the Boss – this is where you order a jug of cider or beer at the bar and choose heads or tails, if you get it correct then you don’t pay for the jug!
Mission Beach – this is about a 20 minute drive to get the Mission Beach. The main things to do are swim, eat, drink and sky dive! This sky dive is well
- known as you land on the beach and you have the view of the Great Barrier Reef on your way up and of course, way down! I’d definitely recommend doing this if you have the opportunity!
- Sunday Sessions on Dunk Island – Dunk Island is a small island just off Mission Beach. You have to get a water taxi from Mission Beach, which is approximately $35 return. The island itself was ruined from the cyclone a few years ago, but on Sundays they have ‘Sunday Sessions’. This involves live music and a bar! What more could you want?
If anyone is looking to do their farm work anytime soon, the main pieces of advise I would give:
- Try to avoid pay per punnet type work – you never know how big these buckets are!
- Make sure the farm work you are doing does definitely count towards your second year visa! There’s nothing worse than completing the 3 months of rubbish work to not get your visa at the end of it.
- If you’re doing the world for your second year visa, I would recommend leaving enough time to get the whole three months or 88 days complete.
People always ask if it’s as bad as everyone makes out. Well honestly, it’s not. I’ve had such a good experience doing my farm work – met some amazing people and have so many awesome memories. It’s just the last couple of weeks left in Tully when everything sometimes gets a bit too much. You’re so close to the end, but you can’t leave! But I would really recommend anyone doing their farm work. It’s an experience you’ll definitely not forget…