Never heard about pearling?
The farming of oysters for pearls and associated products is called pearling. The heart of the pearling industry is located in Broome, Australia, the Kimberley region of Western Australia, but also in Queensland and the Northern Territory is work available.
It is not a job for everyone. If you like the sea and early mornings this job suits best to you. Usually the boats are leaving around 6am and return around 4.30pm.
You have the opportunity to work and live on a boat, so you may not set foot on land for a couple of weeks. Other companies offer to sleep on land and work on a boat during the day. Most of those farms are in sheltered and protected waters so you do not have to worry about getting seasick (but to double check you should contact the particular farm).
Where can I find pearling farms?
The favourite destination for backpackers looking for a pearling job is Broome, Western Australia. It has superb weather around the peak harvest time with around 30 degrees Celsius during the day and 18 around at night. Also this area produces some of the best pearls in the world.
Currently there are less than fifteen pearl culture leases operating in Queensland waters. Spat hatcheries produce shells for pearl farming have also been established in three Queensland locations: Albany Island, Turtle Head, and Fitzroy Island.
Pearl culture operations in the Northern Territory are centred on the Coburg Peninsula to the north-west of Darwin. Pearl cultivation also occurs in Darwin and Bynoe Harbours.
When is the best time for pearling?
Casual work can be picked up all year round but the busiest season is the harvest season from April/May through to September/October when most places double their amount of staff (most of which are backpackers).
How can I find a job on a pearling farm?
The biggest WA pearl cultivator is Paspaley Pearls.
You can generally pick up work quite easily as there are constantly workers coming and going.
The pay ranges from $120 to $145 a day. Different pearling companies have different rates and rosters, so the frequency of work varies. Some work two weeks on then one week off. Others work by the neap tides which is about eight to 11 days on and four to six days off. You can make about $1,000 for ten days.
The best part is you can't spend any money while you're on the boat and you get three good quality meals a day.
If you think this industry suits you - search for a job now.