I completed my regional work in Griffith, New South Wales. It is a city(!) with a population of almost 18,000 as of the 2011 census. It is a popular place for backpackers to come for their regional work because of the many wineries and large productions of crops in the area.
By Air: Regional Express fly around four times a day to and from Sydney. There are often special prices for Saturday flights. Prices start at $131 and are usually priced at$172 for one way.
Public Transport: There are regular services to Melbourne and Sydney which are part bus, part train (you get on/off the train at Wagga Wagga). Prices are currently $102 one way.
Drive There: Griffith is accessed from Sydney by the Hume Highway and the Burley Griffin Way and from Melbourne via the Newman Highway and Kidman Way.
Where to Stay
I stayed in a working hostel, The Globe Backpackers. Its owner Brian finds you work if you stay here. It is a hostel, but its rooms are not like your average hostel. You stay in a flat, which you share up to seven others. There are two bedrooms, a kitchen, bathroom, toilet and living area that you share. When you are feeling sociable, there is a BBQ area (although I never saw a BBQ there). Transportation is provided by the hostel for between $4-$10 a day, depending on how far from the hostel you work.
Griffith has a variety of farms, from citrus to nuts and much more. I spent most of my 88 days working on an almond farm (with a week of tending to oranges in between). I completed a variety of tasks, which mostly consisted of the upkeep of the trees and helping the farmers with tasks related to the harvest. I spent most of my days on my quad bike and enjoyed my time there thoroughly. On arrival, I worked for a tree nursery (I hated it) and on the bottling line of a local winery.
Elsewhere, there are many winery jobs available between January and April. At this time, there is also the rice harvest and there is work found with rice companies (90% of Australia’s rice is produced in the Griffith area). Around October, there is the grain harvest.
Aside from the main employers, you could find yourself working on many different types of farms. Locally there are watermelons, cherries, walnuts, butternut squash, garlic, tomatoes, hazelnut and broccoli to name a few.
What to do when you’re not at work
Aside from going to “The Area” on a Saturday night, there are some things to keep you amused during your stay in Griffith:
- Have a BBQ in the park
The city park has excellent BBQ facilities and space to enjoy a sunny afternoon. There’s even an adult sized climbing frame and zip line.
- Local walks
There are some walks in the local area such and the Scenic Route, which leads to the Hermit’s Cave. This walk offers some lovely views of Griffith and surrounding areas.
- Visit the National Park
Cocoparra National Park is approximately thirty minutes away from Griffith by car. It has some lovely walks and drives, as well as multiple picnic areas. There are some beautiful viewpoints.
- Winery Tour
Many of the local wineries offer tours and wine tastings.
- La Festa
This is the largest event on the Griffith calendar. It occurs over Easter weekend, so if you are working the vintage, you should be able to attend. It is a weekend full of food, live music and the wineries usually put on some events. People come from afar just to be part of La Festa.
Griffith is an ideal place to complete the 88 days of regional work required for a second-year working-holiday visa. It is a regional area, but ‘necessities’ like a bank and McDonalds are a five-minute walk away. If you are looking for a second-year visa, I would consider Griffith, especially if you are planning to come at the beginning of the year.
Where did you complete your regional work? Would you ever visit Griffith?