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Backpacker on $800 a fortnight debunks Aussie work myth: ‘Wages so much better'

German backpacker Sirirat Nensewicz is currently earning $800 a fortnight working on a Queensland island.

Sirirat Nensewicz
Sirirat Nensewicz thought she'd have to complete "physically exhausting" farm work to stay in Australia. (Source: Instagram)

Farm work is often seen as a tough but necessary job for backpackers hoping to extend their stay in Australia. But one German woman has revealed travellers can actually do their required work hours in a far more idyllic location.

Sirirat Nensewicz came to Australia on a working holiday visa in March this year. The 27-year-old told Yahoo Finance she’d previously visited Australia on a holiday and had always wanted to come back to live.

She’s now completing her 88 days of work required by the government to extend her visa for another year. While she initially thought she’d have to do “physically exhausting” farm work, she was pleasantly surprised to learn she could do hospitality and tourism work instead.

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The Hamburg local currently works a “dream job” on Pumpkin Island in the Southern Great Barrier Reef where she works 24 hours a week doing various jobs like bartending, housekeeping, gardening and general island maintenance.

“It depends on the day but we also have two days off a week, so I have a lot of free time as well to go snorkelling around the island and just enjoy the island,” Nensewicz told Yahoo Finance.

“It’s not too hard and it’s not always the same every day. We have a lot of free time to go swimming and snorkelling.”

Sirirat Nensewicz
The 27-year-old is currently earning $800 a fortnight working on Queensland's Pumpkin Island. (Source: Instagram)

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Nensewicz currently receives free accommodation through the job but has to cover her own food costs. Aside from rent, she said the cost of living here in Australia is pretty comparable to Germany.

The one thing that’s stood out to her? The wages. Nensewicz worked in social media for more than three years in Germany and resigned from her job ahead of her move to Australia.

“When I convert it back into Euros, [the cost of living] is pretty much the same as back home but the wages are so much better,” she said.

Nensewicz is currently earning $800 a fortnight through her island job.

Prior to that she worked a tourism job for Beef Week in Rockhampton and shared she was paid $34 an hour and $55 an hour with public holiday rates.

“Back home I had a proper office job working in an agency and [was] making a lot of money. But here for the Beef Week job I got almost the same amount of money per hour,” she said. “Compared to the job and the requirements that come with it, it’s pretty good.”

Nensewicz said she has found hostels to be “pretty expensive” in Australia but she’s lucky to have an aunt and uncle living in Brisbane who she is able to stay with.

Department of Home Affairs data shows more than 122,000 Working Holiday Maker visa applications were granted between July and December last year, that’s up from 111,000 in the same period last year and much higher than the 23,000 recorded over that time during COVID restrictions in 2021.

The influx of backpackers means it can be a struggle to find work. Netherlands woman Fleur recently shared online that she was finding it “tough” to find work in Australia.

“Right now [it] is so hard to find a job. I’ve been living two years in Australia and have never experienced anything like this,” she said.

“[It] feels like there are too many backpackers. Last week I had 60 hours, three jobs. This week, 18 hours and one job because there are too many backpackers here and everyone is begging for hours.”

Fleur shared she living in a regional town in Western Australia and even then it was “full of backpackers”.

Sirirat Nensewicz
Nensewicz said she was "lucky" to have applied for her job at the right time. (Source: Instagram)

Nensewicz said she too had found it hard to find work in the hospitality sector and recommended other backpackers wait until they were physically in Australia to look for jobs.

She shared she got “lucky with the timing” to find her current job and had applied online after looking up islands in Queensland.

“Before I found my jobs, I sent out over 100 emails applying for jobs and never got answers,” she told Yahoo Finance.

“I had so much more luck when I literally went there and talked to the managers and hand out resumes in person.”

Nensewicz shared she is planning to go to Brisbane once her job wraps up next month and find another job in the hospitality and tourism sector that counts towards her required work. She then hopes to extend her visa for the full three years if possible.

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