Bore Rounds and Termite Mounds

Well we wanted to change our backyard

Water, an essential part of life

Bore running. It’s one of the regular jobs in outback Australia and we recently had our first experience. The stations are large (thousands to millions of acres/hectares). There’s a lot of cattle around in good times, fewer in bad, but however many there are, they need water. Given that 90% of the water supply in the Northern Territory comes from groundwater it’s not surprising that there are around 35,000 water bores in the NT.

Stock water comes from these bores and needs to be pumped up into tanks and then into troughs for the cattle to drink from. So the engines or solar panels that run the pumps need to be checked, fuelled and maintained. This has to happen regularly as a reliable water supply is obviously crucial. So a bore runner is the person who constantly checks each bore, tank and trough and travels hundreds to thousands of kilometres along the way depending on the size of the station.

Brahman cattle amidst termite mounds

To be a bore runner it helps if you like driving and are comfortable navigating without road signs. You need to be a good driver. Bulldust, bogs, breakdowns, termite mounds, kangaroos and wild cattle running about are a few of the challenges. Oh and it’s hot. On the plus side it’s a peaceful drive in natural surroundings, there’s a definite lack of traffic and the customers don’t complain.

The mid-Northern Territory landscape features red dust (or mud in the wet season), grey-green grasses and short trees, magnificent sunrises and sunsets and endless stars at night. Then there’s the termite mounds, not the huge monoliths of further North, but the landscape is peppered with termite construction, albeit of a smaller scale.

They do remind you of the fact that there are more insects than people in the world.

And unlike humans, the termites don’t care if they build next to (or on) a highway. A barbed wire fence is considered to be merely a useful piece of framework.

There’s lots of interesting facts about the termites but the local lore says:

Don’t run into them with a vehicle or a horse – they are as solid as concrete

They won’t melt in the rain

Not all termite mounds are occupied, some are holiday houses!

There are plenty of other jobs on stations such as caretaking, cooking, gardening, childcare, building and machine maintenance, fencing, stock work and animal care. It’s an awesome experience. See our earlier post on finding farm work in Australia for suggestions on sites should you fancy a job in rural and remote areas.

Living Lawnmowers

The lawn that I used to mow

Since being on the road we have noticed heaps of work offered that involves maintaining and mowing lawns. Possibly because people don’t have enough time, or don’t really enjoy mowing the lawn.

So it’s not too strange that resorting to the help of a living lawn mower or two is becoming quite popular. It’s also considered to be ecologically friendly.

Two horses grazing showing the possibility of uses horses or other animals as lawnmowers.  Windmill, tank and trees in the background.

So what’s a living lawn mower? Almost anything that eats grass could be considered, however the most regular choices are animals such as goats, sheep, donkeys, horses, cows, llamas, alpacas, geese and even guinea pigs – depending on the size of your acreage.

Before you dash out to buy your new living lawn mower though there’s a few things to think about.

Considerations

What kind of animal you employ will depend on a number of things:

How big is the area to be mowed? Will one animal be enough for the area or do you need two, or a herd?

This article gives a handy calculator on how many of various kinds of animal you might need Reduce Animal Unemployment: Hire A Goat

How much does the animal cost to buy?

Does the animal eat only grass or will it need supplementary feed? Will it be likely to eat your lawn down to bare earth or snack on plants or trees you don’t want it to eat?

What kind of healthcare and maintenance is involved – worming, shearing, foot trimming?

How will you provide water and shelter for your living lawnmower?

Are there any threats such as feral or native animals that like to eat your brand of lawn mower?

What kind of fencing will be needed (e.g. for goats it needs to be pretty good as they are great at escaping)

What kind of poo does the animal produce and how will it affect your lawn (e.g. cow poo tends to be sloppy, horse poo chunky etc)

What impact will the animal’s hooves/feet/weight have on your grass?

Benefits

A quieter form of lawn mowing

Aside from savings on labour and fuel, depending on which animal/s you decide on, there may be some extra bonuses. For example, free fertiliser, meat, milk, wool, eggs and often just the sheer entertainment value of their presence and antics.

So there you go, consider retiring the mechanical mower and adding a decorative, living lawn mower or two to your landscape.

Where to Find Farm Work in Australia

Want or need to do some farm work? Here we look at options for finding agricultural work for backpackers, travellers, nomads of all ages, working holidaymakers and anyone really who wants to experience life on the land.

Multi coloured cows in a paddock with sea and mountain in the background

We’ve been on the road for a few years now and one of the most common questions we get asked is how we find work along the way. The places we’ve worked have been totally memorable for the experiences, the scenery and the people we’ve met, so there’s far more benefit to working around the country than just the $ – though of course $ are most useful. So here’s a list of some helpful resources. Of course some jobs, and some farms/employers, are better than others. Do your research before you go to make sure you have an awesome experience and not an awesomely bad one.

Note that while the following list covers a wide range of options for farm work, there are some sites/pages/groups that specialise in work particularly for backpackers, some for grey nomads and some who are glad to see any jobseeker who’ll turn up (straight,sober and cheerful) and be capable of and willing to do the work that needs to be done.

So if a job interests you, why not make an enquiry about it? Here’s a few places to start your search.

Agricultural Work Resources – Australia

Ag Workforce

Agricultural recruitment agency offering Australia-wide rural employment opportunities across a range of sectors. Also on FB.

Agri Labour Australia

An agricultural labour hire company. Usually has jobs around many of the states mostly in regional and remote areas. Also on FB.

Backpacker Job Board

A listing of all kinds of jobs for backpackers including a specific section on farm work. Particularly worth noting is their advice for staying safe when applying for jobs online. Also on FB.

Fruit Picking Jobs

Extensive listings of fruit picking, harvest and other rural jobs.  Need to sign up but there is a free subscription option. Has useful guides on what’s involved when working with various different crops information guides for backpackers. Also on FB.

Grey Nomads Jobs

All kinds of jobs listed here from caretaking to mystery shopping.  Many of the jobs are rural/remote – though not all – and you can find some of the most unusual work here.  My favourite: “parrot scaring technician”.  Some jobs are paid, some are exchange and some a combination of both. Also on FB.

Gumtree

If you haven’t discovered Gumtree, well it is a treat and one of my favourite goto’s for a great many useful things in life. Here you can find listings of all kinds of jobs including a Farming and Veterinary section. I have also seen people put up their own ads in jobs wanted. A lot of employers like Gumtree because it is popular and also free to advertise but you need to be aware there is no verification or review process on the site so use caution when advertising and/or responding to advertisements

Harvest Trail

Australian Government site providing information for jobseekers about various crops, locations and seasons (the Harvest Trail). You can download the National Harvest Guide from this site and/or call the National Harvest Information Service on 1800 062 332 to find out about harvest trail jobs.

Indeed

Just put in what and where and Indeed will provide a good long list of available job opportunities.

Jobaroo

Jobsearch facility and detailed information on working in Australia including farm work. Also on FB

Madec

Servicing Victoria/NSW/SA, Madec is a community based non-profit organisation which amongst its other roles provides an employment service for people looking for harvest jobs. Also on FB.

Rural Enterprises

A recruitment agency focussed on rural work with clients mainly in Western Australia.  They encourage applications from Australians and overseas visitors, particularly looking for people with skills in driving tractors, trucks, headers, combine harvesters and similar. Also on FB.

Seek

On Seek you can search for any kind of job by keyword/classification/location or any combination. So with agricultural work it’s easy to set your search for the type of work and location you want. Also on FB.

The Job Shop

Regional recruitment agency (WA and NT) with listings in agriculture, hospitality, trades and labour recruitment and more.

Travellers At Work

Dedicated recruitment service for travellers. There is a membership fee. Also on FB.

The Grey Nomads

Focussed on the Grey Nomad Lifestyle, this site has a classified section including help wanted

Found a useful place or link for finding work? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.