Since the beginning of the Working Holiday Visa in Australia, Fruit Picking has naturally become a favourite job for backpackers, as it’s the best way to work and travel around the country. Apart from that, you don’t need to have great English skills and there are farms all over Australia that always need manpower.
Why is Fruit Picking so popular?
Fruit Picking is a great idea for those who want to discover something new, and earn money while traveling. These are the main reasons why backpackers choose picking:
No need for a good level of English
It’s one of the few industries in Australia in which a high level of English is not required. You just need to be able to understand a few instructions and that’s it! “Which row are you going to do today”, “What kind of fruit do you need to pick”, “be careful when you put the fruit into the box” and that’s about it …
For some of us, fruit picking is an opportunity to work in a different setting. If you went to university or worked in your hometown, finding yourself in the middle of the Australian bush picking fruits, is a totally different experience. You create amazing memories. If the working conditions are good, you can actually enjoy working under a tree, listening to the sound of nature, spotting kangaroos or koalas … (no, we won’t talk about the snakes and spiders at this stage)
Possibility to renew your Working Holiday Visa
Many backpackers want a job in fruit picking in order to complete 88 days of farm work, and apply for a second Working Holiday Visa.
Australians don’t want to do this type of work
In Australia, you will find that the majority of pickers are foreigners. Young locals have the reputation of being lazy and not interested in agriculture and the country lifestyle in general. It’s actually a bit like that in most countries, few young people want to work on farms.
Is it really easy to find a job in fruit picking?
No. In any case it hasn’t been for several years. At home, we often hear that Australia is an Eldorado, that farmers are waiting for you, ready to offer you a well paid job under the sun! It’s not that easy. You have to make a bit of effort to find a fruit picking job. You have to go to the right region at the right time and look for a job in the right way. We obviously explain all this in Australia – The Backpackers Guide and on our website.
The Working Holiday Visa is becoming more and more popular
As more and more people from all partner countries are coming to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa, there is more and more competition! In Queensland, the number of backpackers has increased by more than 30% in 2 years, with a total of 249,231 backpackers in 2012/13 (compared to 185,480 in 2010/2011). Hence, the number of backpackers looking for a fruit picking job is increasing! In an article written by The Australia, Tourism and Transport Forum, Ken Morrison even encourages the government to open doors to other Asian countries.
Farmers are reviewing their requirements
In recent years, some farmers are taking advantage of this competition to refine their selection criteria. Having some experience in fruit picking is often an asset. Some even look for skilled workers.
With the popularity of the Working Holiday Visa, new scams have appeared. Basically, they say “we offer you a job, but you must stay in this motel, and pay a deposit!” And when you arrive, the address does not exist! If you are asked to pay anything in advance, RUN!
More and more websites on fruit picking are flourishing on the web. Be careful because sometimes you have to pay a registration fee! We don’t believe this actually works. Farmers don’t use the internet much and they often hire people at the last minute (depending on the weather). By the time they’d contacted an agency for them to post an ad online, backpackers had responded and moved, farmers would have lost 2 weeks. In the meantime, they probably have a dozen backpackers knocking on their doors!
Working “Waiting” Hostels
Some hostels located in agricultural areas try to make a profit by acting as contractors. Basically, you stay at a hostel, and they find you a job on a farm in the area. But even if they are good, they can’t guarantee you a job. Sometimes you are just sitting there for days. And some make you believe they’ll find you work even though they won’t! This phenomenon is particularly present in Queensland (e.g. Bundaberg) or in Victoria (e.g. Mildura), areas particularly popular among backpackers. According to a ABC Rural report, in two years, 230 complaints were filed by foreign workers because their employers underpaid them or their working conditions were below standard. Out of these 230 complaints, about one-third come from agricultural regions in Queensland!
Tips to avoid fruit picking scams
Prepare yourself a bit! Learn about the different seasons and regions.
Use the 500 contacts listed in the Australia Backpackers Guide. Contacting farms directly will help you find a job much easier. And even if farmers don’t give you a job, don’t hesitate to ask them questions. Why? Has the season not started yet? Am I too early? Too late? Do you know anyone who is looking for staff? etc. All this information may be helpful for your job hunt!
Be very careful about ads on the internet! Always ask around if anyone knows this employer, or do some research on the internet.
Avoid regions that are too popular. The best way to avoid scams and competition is to get away from the well-known backpacker towns. Especially the regions close to the east coast are often crowded with backpackers.
Think of jobs that are less popular. Pruning for example (removing parts of trees/ vines) is a job that’s often well paid. On the one hand, it’s not an easy job because it hurts your hands initially and it is done in winter. On the other hand, there is much less competition!
Don’t lose hope! We know that not finding a job for several days can be discouraging. But you will, eventually! Don’t give up!
Have you got any advice for backpackers or experiences you want to share?