A Kelvington area farm girl spent a working holiday in Australia.
Courtney Murrison was in Australia from Oct. 2012 to April 2013, as part of the ‘Farmaroo’ program.
The program places young Canadians familiar with farm life on a big Australian properties to work the harvest period, as ‘Farmaroos’, who can then go on to experience Australia. Guaranteed work, above-awars wages, comfortable accomodations, insurances and safety training are just some of what’s included in the package on offer to suitable applicants.
The Farmaroo program specifically recruits Canadians aged between 18 and 30 who have experience in operating farming machinery, have a love of the land and are interested in learning new skills.
“I had been saving money for traveling for a couple years and decided Australia was the place to go,” said Murrison, adding she has a natural connection to a trip involving agriculture. “I grew up on a farm and had experience harvesting and decided to do a working holiday harvesting in Australia. I didn’t know how to go about the process of finding a job and where I should be looking and all the details. It just so happened that I heard about Dodgeson Medlin and the farmaroo program through word-of-mouth. I got Carling Henderson’s number from a neighbour and called her up and just like that I was in, and had a plan of attack to make my trip happen.”
Once in Australia Murrison spent time on two operations, although her time was not entirely spent with agriculture.
“I spent one and a half months in South Australia where I worked on two grain farms,” she said.
“After harvest was finished I moved to Horsham, Victoria where I worked as a casual at the Department of Primary Industries, as well as waitressing for two months.
“I then spent the last month traveling from the Northern Territory all the way back down the East Coast to Melbourne where I flew in and out.”
In terms of farming, Murrison said it was a great experience.
“They were amazing! The two boys were close to my age and we became very close,” she said. “I still consider them my Australian family, and definitely plan on going back to visit them one day.
“On the farm my main job was to drive grain cart, or ‘chaser bin’. I also spent a little time on the header. I had my own vehicle to get around in while I was there.”
Murrison said she was well looked after too.
“The family owned a second house where I lived with two truck drivers and their wives,” she said. “I also became very close with them. I felt so pampered. They cooked for me and insisted on cleaning up after me, even doing my laundry.
“Our whole crew got along so well and always had a good time. We spent many days on the boat at the river, waterskiing, tubing, having barbeques, fishing, hunting, dirt biking and having the odd cold one! I spent my 21st birthday on this farm, and in Australia that is a big event. They even went as far as to take the day off and throw a party for me!
“I was on the second farm for only two weeks, but they were also very kind and we had some fun during the short time I was there.”
Asked for trip highlights Murrison mentioned a diverse range of activities from time spent with my farm family, to chasing down kangaroos, cage diving with crocodiles in Darwin, Northern Territory, scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, and visiting the Australian Zoo, Home of the Crocodile Hunter, Queensland.
Overall the farmaroo program delivered exactly what Murrison had expected.
“Carling explained the program very thoroughly to me, and everything was pretty much how I expected it to be,” she said, adding, “I would most certainly recommend others to participate in this program. If you have any sort of farming background and are interesting in traveling, this is the perfect opportunity! Its a great way to meet people and set up a ‘home base’.”
To find out more about the program check out www.farmaroo.ca.