Sep 28, 2020

A Day in the Life of a Grain Worker

Agri Labour Australia workers

The Grain Harvest is arguably Australia’s biggest annual agricultural event. From Central Queensland and NSW, down to Victoria, South Australia and across to WA – thousands of people all over the country take part in harvesting the labours of our hard working farmers.

Grain Harvest work is always extremely popular with backpackers, Working Visa Holders, Grey Nomads, residents, uni students and anyone else looking to make some great money. This year, we thought it would be interesting to get the real picture of what it’s like working in this exciting field.

Raido Kuiv and Veronica Trisberg have been part of the Agri Labour Australia (ALA) team since 2019, working on Grain Harvest in Victoria and in Queensland. Today, they share their grain story…

Time to Start

It’s 2:00pm and we are in our car heading to the grain site which is just five minutes away from our accommodation. It’s a pretty drive, with golden grainfields surrounding the roads on the way to work – our Port of Brisbane work site was also beautiful, with views out across Moreton Bay where you could see always ships coming and going.

On the Job

Dressed in shirts, shorts and steel cap boots, upon arrival, we clock in with our ID cards and put on our essential PPE of high vis vest, wide brim hat, gloves and sunglasses. It’s always busy and we hop straight in to the daily information talks that cover off what went well the day before, improvements that need to be made and what is happening on the site that day. Weather is always a big factor with how the site runs, especially if there are high winds and rain.

When we first started, we were in the sample stand using a vacuum probe to collect a sample from the incoming trucks which was then tested it for protein, moisture, weeds etc. After entering the data, the program advised which bunkers drivers needed to be directed to.

Hygiene is an important factor in this role and it was vital to keep the surfaces and floor clean so samples wouldn’t get contaminated. Our commitment was rewarded, and we progressed over to working in the bunkers. Greeting the trucks, you check the paperwork to make sure drivers are at the right place and then direct the truck onto the hopper to tip the grain.

Time for a Break

Having been at work for three hours, it’s time for ‘smoko’! It’s great to have a break and a catch up with other staff. Our co-workers on both sites were friendly and really nice to work with. We often socialise outside of work too – sometimes at the pub, chatting with the locals, farmers and some of the truck drivers we’d been taking grain from earlier on. It was always interesting learning about the ups and downs of the grain harvests and they also gave us plenty of tips on places to visit in the area. We enjoyed exploring and hiking in the national parks and having fun with friends, but after long shifts it was also pretty good to relax and prepare for another big day.

What’s to Love About the Grain Harvest?

When we initially started, everything was a unique and different experience, so getting to learn new skills was exciting. But, as time went on, it was the country grain sites, meeting the local farmers and seeing small towns together to make the harvest work that we really connected with.

The enormous amount of work that goes into Grain Harvest is something that everyone should experience. Things can change quickly and it can certainly be challenging at times in the heat and dust but if you’re adaptable it will be one of the best experiences in your life!

You meet interesting people from all over the world and form friendships that will be long lasting. Working alongside ‘salt of the earth’ people who make you appreciate the work they do every time you buy a loaf of bread is something that will stay with us forever.

Our advice to anyone considering the Grain Harvest? Don’t just think about joining ALA for the 2020 Grain Harvest – GO FOR IT!

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