After my disappointing two days in Cairns, I went to Atherton, a town about an hour away from Cairns. I expected mesmerizing rain forest and a working hostel which had promised farm work, that could get me a second year in Australia.
Certain countries have an agreement with the Australian government about a second year working holiday visa. To get a second year you have to do 88 days of farm work in Australia within your first working holiday.
The problem with this arrangement is that some farmers/working hostels take advantage of the situation. Hostel owners overprice a bunk bed in farming areas. Even when staying with a working hostel that promises to get you work, it doesn't mean that there actually is work. I've heard plenty of stories where backpackers stay in hostels for weeks without getting work because the owner of the hostel should have been honest and told them that the season isn't right or the weather is too cold.
When I got to Atherton Travellers Lodge the hostel manager said I would have to stay at least one week to get work because they had to prioritize the backpackers who were already living there. I also had to make the commitment to stay there for at least two months or I wouldn't get a deposit of $200 back. Because I sensed I would have to wait for work for more than a week, I decided to leave Atherton. However there was no bus going back that same day, and I was forced to sleep in a nearby hotel for the night.
The next day the hotel manager offered me to share a room with a french girl for only $100/week, $95 less than what I would've paid at the working hostel. I met heaps of backpackers there who said they had waited a month or two to get farm work and some who had worked only one day over a period of three weeks. The hotel manager offered me to get a farmer buddy to sign me off for the 88 days if I would work for them cleaning at the hotel and doing bar work. At the same time he said the truth was that the weather was too cold for farm work in the area, meaning the hostel owners had lied.
I decided I wanted to be honest and actually do work on a farm. I saw an ad for a tomato farm needing workers in Bowen, a traumatic, but character developing experience.