British man complains about his farmwork experience in Australia

British man complains about his farmwork experience in Australia

How a British expat was left with a gruesome rash all over his body after suffering allergic reaction while picking FRUIT on a farm: ‘I looked like Elephant man’

  • Alex Bayliss left looking like ‘the Elephant Man’  
  • Brit expat had severe reaction to mango sap 

A British expat has revealed his horrendous farm work experience which left him looking like ‘Elephant man’ after he suffered a severe allergic reaction to the mangoes he was picking. 

Alex Bayliss, originally from Sunderland in the north of England, did his obligatory farm work stint at mango plantation in Emerald, north Queensland, four years ago.

He had been picking the fruit for 10 days straight before he was admitted to hospital with a rash that spread across his body leaving him looking like ‘Elephant Man’.

Mr Bayliss re-lived the horrifying farm work episode as a warning to other travellers, detailing his squalid living conditions, filthy kitchen and destroyed bathroom on the first farm he stayed on.

Alex Bayliss (pictured) was hospitalised for three days after developing a severe reaction to the mangoes he was picking during a farm work job in Queensland 

Mr Bayliss’s fingers (pictured) were left seriously inflamed by the allergic reaction to the mango sap

‘I was working on a farm in North Queensland in Australia three years ago,’ Mr Bayliss explained. 

‘The reason I was doing that is because if you’re not from Australia – I’m English – you’ve got to do 88 days or farm work to get a second year visa.’

He added: ‘I had to work ten days straight. I had one day off and I woke up in the morning looking like Elephant man.’

‘Elephant man’ was the nickname given to Joseph Carey Merrick – a disfigured Englishman who worked as a professional ‘freak’ during the second half of the 1800s. 

Despite wearing gloves and taking antihistamines, Mr Bayliss’s allergic reaction was so bad he was left with a rash across his entire body and ended up in hospital for three days.

He said he was glad he ‘lived to tell the story’.

‘Mango rash is a massive thing – especially in Australia,’ he said. 

‘I think around 50 per cent of people that pick mangoes get mango rash. Obviously, I knew that but I didn’t realise the extent of how bad I could actually be affected by it. I just thought you’d get a little rash on your arms.’

Mr Bayliss warned others to be careful if they had a job picking mangoes. 

He is the latest expat to open up on the difficult reality of working on an Australian farm, while others have claimed to have made a small fortune from the back-breaking work.

A French backpacker claimed he saved $15,000 in just three months while working on a farm.

Mr Bayliss said he is glad to have ‘lived to tell the story’ after his horrific farm work job

Mr Bayliss shard images of his squalid living conditions during his farm work experience 

The man claimed that he makes more while working 50 hour weeks on minimum wage – operating a cherry picker to harvest fruit and ‘chopping down some trees’ on a Western Australia farm – than he did working as a professional marketer with a postgraduate degree in Europe.

‘So that’s my question, how can you be poor in Australia?’ he said in a video posted to TikTok.

The French national is one of 112,335 people holding working holiday visas in Australia as of December 31, 2022.

Many of those choose to do agricultural work as it can extend their stay by up to 12 months and open the door to an even longer visa in the future.

‘I get paid the minimum rate of what you can be paid here in Australia,’ he said.

The minimum wage in Australia is $21.38 per hour with 25 per cent loading to $26.73 per hour for casual work.

‘I do maybe 50 hours per week… I try to earn a lot of money,’ he continued.

‘And in three months I have maybe $15,000 in my savings.’

The backpacker then claims that he makes more money with a ‘s****y job on a farm using a cherry picker and I cut some trees’ than when he worked in France with a masters degree.


Mango rash is a skin condition which is caused by an allergy to a group of compounds found mostly in the sap, and to a lesser extent, the skin, stem and leaves of the mango fruit.

The mango fruit contains a small amount of sap at high pressure near the stem. 

When the fruit is picked with the stem broken off at the fruit rather than leaving a stump, this sap can squirt out up to three metres distance. 

Usually two to three days later a marked reaction occurs including itch, redness and swelling. 

The rash can vary from a mild irritation to severe reactions such as intense burning and blistering of affected areas. 

Most people, who are allergic to the sap, won’t be allergic to the pulp of the fruit because the pulp contains a different allergen, but there have been rare instances of people allergic to both the sap and pulp. 

Source: Northern Territory Government 

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