Working in Cairns Backpackers Guide ..

front of Dreamtime

Want to work in Cairns?  Well there are a few things you need to get sorted before you start looking such as a visa, a tax file number (Australian Taxation Office Website) and a bank account.

Finding a job Around Cairns.


So you have a working holiday visa, tax file number and a bank account already and are ready to start looking. Most backpackers will either find work in the hospitality , working in bars, restaurants or on tourist boats, or  fruitpicking work. Other jobs tend to be hard to find with most employers preferring locals to short stay backpackers .   The best way of finding a job is to register with the various employment agencies-get some resumes printed and drop them off at their offices or just about every where. Dress appropriately for the sort of job you are looking for and be ready to start , a  contact telephone  number is handy.

Dreamtime Hostel   Volunteer program   

There are 2 types of jobs in hostels.   Volunteer work for accommodation and paid work. Most jobs at hostels will be work for accommodation, and usually consist of hostel cleaning and housekeeping type of work. Dreamtime  volunteers  help assist our head housekeeper who is paid  

Call us a couple of weeks before recpetion area you are due to arrive if you are interested  or call in and fill in an application form .

For 2 hours of work per day for 6 days  mornings  10am until 12pm    . 12 hours total in return for staff accommodation  which  includes  free wifi, discount meals and discount off your tours.

Minimum stay must be  4 weeks  or longer. 

Paid hostel jobs tend to be either driving jobs or reception jobs, or maintenance

If you are looking for reception work having previous experience will help . 

Finding Chef, Restaurant or Bar jobs in Cairns

If you are a qualified chef  there is always a long list of jobs advertised in the Wednesday and Saturday edition of the Cairns Post . (also in Career One).  If you looking for  bar  work you will need a RSV  (Responsible Service of Alcohol) certificate. you can get the online for around $60 try  Etrainu or with restaurant work the best thing is to go from door to door and  present yourself with your resume.

The first one is to register with the employment agencies above, especially Signature Staff. This will more likely get you short stint contracts.

Other jobs

There are other jobs out there for backpackers such as room attendant work ( house keeping cleaning hotel or cruise boat rooms), cruise attendant work on dive boats and labouring jobs. Door knocking is the best way to find these types of jobs. If you have any particular skill such as being a dive instructor, an experience horse rider or a tradesmen then you have a much greater chance of finding work and you should just take your resume along or telephone as many employers as you can.

Employment agencies in Cairns

  • Signature staff  (330 Sheridan Street) specialize in hospitality jobs.
  • Drake International (Level 2, Cairns Central Apartments, Cnr of Mcleod and Aplin Street) are good for finding temporary jobs.

Online resources for Cairns jobs

  • Career One, the biggest online service with ads for jobs in Cairns.
  • Backpacker Job Board  a good online service specifically aimed at backpackers .
  • Travellers at Work , another good online service specifically aimed at travellers.
  • Jobs 4 Travellers a great online service specifically aimed at WHV.
  • Fruit Picking Org  an online service for backpackers looking for fruit picking work.
  • Minder Find  a new online service for babysitters and child minders.
  •  Try looking up  Gumtree   website in the jobs section  bit of  hit and miss.

Fruit picking jobs for backpackers

The good thing about fruitpicking work in Cairns is that it is available all year round. The best locations are  Atherton /Tablelands and  Mareeba, to the south Tully and Innisfail, only a 1 hour drive from Cairns. Accommodation will usually be provided by the farmer and pay usually depends on how much you pick. It can be lucrative but also extremely exhausting work. The Fruit Picking Org is a good place to start looking for fruit picking work.

Mareeba and Atherton

Mareeba  1 hour west of Cairns and is the biggest agricultural hub in the Far North , Citrus fruit ,bananas , papaya are harvested all year round, with avocados (February to May) and Mangoes (November to March)Lychees, longans, pineapples and peanuts are other fruits harvested .Regular buses Transnorth Coaches  leave from the bus stop on the ground floor car park of the Cairns Central Shopping Centre. . For current jobs try this harvest trail Mareeba link.

Tully and Innisfail

Both Tully and Innisfail are hubs for banana picking.  However, banana harvesting goes on all year round so it is one of the best places for finding work. Banana picking is hard work though, if you are a guy you will be required to cut and carry large weights of bananas. Females will usually be given the easier job of packing. Innisfail is only an hour south of Cairns, along the main highway, whereas Tully is another hour south of Innisfail. For current jobs in Tully try this harvest trail Tully link and for Atherton try this harvest trail Innisfail link.

If you have any queries please contact us