Fruit picking is one of the most popular jobs for backpackers. In this article, you find all the answers to frequently asked questions about fruit picking in Australia.
How to find a fruit picking job?
There are different ways to approach employers, either by phone or by contacting farmers in person. If you have downloaded our free Backpackers Guide, you can use our farm contact list to contact your future employers.
If you have a vehicle, the best way to find a job during the harvest season is to go from door to door and ask.
You can also find a job on the Internet, by searching on job boards or the website Gumtree, which publishes all kinds of classified ads. For that, you have to be really quick though, because positions fill within a few hours. Apart from that you have to watch out for scams!
A great way to find a job in fruit picking is by word of mouth. Also, ask around in hostels.
Is it better to be paid by the hour or for performance?
There is no rule. Some fruit picking jobs can be better paid for performance, as long as it is obviously efficient. In general, backpackers prefer to be paid by the hour because they know how much they will have earned at the end of their day and there’s less pressure on their efficiency.
Generally, packing jobs are paid by the hour because they require attention to detail rather than speed.
What types of fruit picking jobs are there?
There is obviously picking, which involves picking fruits or vegetables. Packing consists of sorting and packing fruits and vegetables in boxes. Pruning means pruning trees or vines with secateurs. The process of thinning is removing parts of the trees before the harvest season. And planting consists of planting trees / vegetables.
What are the working conditions?
Working in Fruit Picking Australia requires a good general physical condition. And you often work in difficult climatic conditions. Nevertheless, this type of work is doable for everyone, it is not necessary to be really fit. In some jobs, women are more agile than men. Everyone can find their place in farm work, provided they have the spirit and a little courage.
What is the best season to find a job?
The best season to find a job in Fruit Picking depends on the region you are in. In the southern part of Australia, the highest demand for labour is between November and February (harvest period). In the north, where the climate is tropical, you find work throughout the year. Some fruits or vegetables are obviously picked at a certain time of year. The best way to learn about the seasons is to have a look at the harvest calendar of Fruit Picking in Australia.
You can also check the seasons in the National Harvest Labour guide, which is published every year and available for free online or at tourist information centres.
What salary can you expect in Fruit Picking?
Salaries vary by farm and job. They can be paid on a weekly basis, on time, or according to performance (basket, tree, tray). Wages are generally higher for larger fruits. They are on average between $12 and $25 an hour (most often around $15). You shouldn’t work under minimum wage though. Employers typically pay workers weekly or every two weeks.
What level of English is required?
Having a good command of English is not essential for working in harvesting, but it can help when applying for jobs and talking to your potential employers. It is essential for you to be able to understand instructions.
Do you need a vehicle to find a job in Fruit Picking?
Having a vehicle helps when looking for a job in Fruit Picking, but it is not essential. It makes it easier to go from farm to farm, you can have a look around and choose the farm you like best. If you can sleep in your car, it’s even better, as farmers appreciate that you have your “own home.”
Which fruit pays the best?
Cherries have the reputation of being easy to pick and to be well paid, on the contrary tomatoes or onions aren’t. That said, it all depends on your employer, your efficiency and your motivation (if you are paid by performance). It’s difficult to generalise because wages vary from farm to farm and can also change depending on the season (good or bad harvest).
What is the best spot to find a job in Fruit Picking?
There is not really a best place or town for Fruit Picking. On the other hand, there are agricultural regions that are better known because they employ more workers throughout the year. The disadvantage is that these areas are often packed with backpackers. For example, you’ll hear about Mildura, Shepparton, or Bundaberg. In these regions, wages are often lower and scams more numerous. The best way to find a good Fruit Picking job is probably to go away from the coast, and avoid too “popular” areas. Workers are more sought after in these regions, but then again, there is also less work.
Before starting a job, make sure to check that the kind of work and the region are eligible for your Second Year Visa.
More information on Eligible jobs for a second year visa in Australia
More information on Eligible post codes for a second year visa in Australia
What scams should I look out for?
A scam that happens regularly concerns farmers that offer accommodation and work, provided you pay a first down payment. You will then have to pay a certain amount by bank transfer or Paypal before you even arrive at the farm. If a farmer suggests that to you, stay away!
There are also working hostels that, in theory, provide their guests with fruit picking jobs. It can work out well, but not all the time. Find out more before you make a booking at this type of hostel.
It is always advisable to leave a job after receiving your last pay. Otherwise a farmer could take advantage and not pay your outstanding salary.
Other scams concern underpaid jobs. If you are paid for performance it might be difficult to evaluate your salary. Ask around, get some information from other backpackers, or try your luck and wait a few days to see what happens.