Best Fruit Picking Jobs in Australia? A Short Guide to Farm or Work on the Countryside
Fruit picking on farms in Australia is quite popular and many people who go for a year Work & Travel check out this opportunity to make some cash, but it is sometimes not as easy as it sounds. So where to start and how to find a good job?
My story is similar and like nearly everyone I tried my luck on www.gumtree.com.au but to find something at the end of the season was not easy and calling the harvest guide hotline was not successful, too. Finally after more than a week I found my first job but was not even sure what is was all about. There are a lot of opportunities out there and sometimes the best way to get a good job is to drive around and ask at every farm until you find a farmer who still needs workers. Furthermore, the harvest guide can be good to check when the season for picking starts ’cause the chances to find a good job depends partly about being at the right time and at the right place.
It is always a good idea to choose some fruits or veggies which are growing quite high or even better on a tree because everything which is growing on the ground can be really challenging and might fuck your back up after a short while. Strawberries, for example, are really hardcore as you are bending down the whole day and most of the people have some serious trouble within a few days. I picked, or let’s better say, collected chestnuts from the ground for two weeks and was really happy when my girlfriend gave me a massage at the end of the day. Besides, I had to remove nearly every day spikes from my fingers and my knees. Another time, I bagged sheep manure while it was 35 degrees, the flies were all over me and by the end of the day when I went home, I smelled literally like a piece of shit. Depending on what you pick, it is worth to spend a few bucks and buy some descent tools and protection clothes because it might increase the amount of what you pick enormous.
Finding a good farm
Finding a good farm can be really challenging and I recommend everybody to stay away from contractors. My first job was pruning vines, I worked for a contractor and earned shit money cause round about 10% of my salary went straight into his pocket. Some farms force you to stay at their place and make some extra cash on the accommodation. As I said before the best opportunities pop up if you reach out and try every option by driving around and asking at every farm until you get a direct contact with a farmer and can stay for a reasonable price on their own property.
It is all about the techniques
Making some descent money with fruit picking can be really challenging and it is always about the right techniques. When I picked mandarins, for example the farmer, provided us a picking tool which was always blunt and really tiring for the hands. We talked to some Australian pickers and they advised us to buy a special snipper. With this tool we were able to make each bin more from the first day on. With apples it was a different story. It took me a while until I figured out that I can be much faster if I grab three apples at the same time with each hand instead of picking one by one. Pruning vines was the most difficult one and there are many techniques involved. You have to choose the right branches, get the right twist, don’t snap them and be really fast. It is nearly like art. Talking to some very experienced pickers and ask for some tricks can be very helpful, too. It doesn’t matter what you are picking, it takes some time to find out the right techniques but it is definitely worth it and the amount of bins gets more and more after a while.
Making money can be tough
It is possible to earn good money from picking but sometimes it is quite tough and you have to be willing to go full on and don’t screw around half of the day. Never forget you are working outside and the sun can be tough in Australia. Sometimes it might rain or it might be super cold in the morning. The bag you carry around can be very heavy plus climbing up and down the ladder the whole day doesn’t make it easier. Just to give an example, usually by the end of the day you have carried between 2-4 tonnes of fruit from the tree to a bin on your shoulders and the first days you might feel like a tank rolled over your body but finally you get used to it. To keep you going, some fast music like, drum’n’ bass, techno, rock or speed metal can be very helpful.
I had really lots of fun when I worked on the different farms and enjoyed working outside in nature. What was also really great is that you have so much fruits to eat for free. I made cakes, juices, apple sauce and even jam. I met people from all over the world, learned a lot from each other and had a great time around the campfire. One thing is for sure you won’t look in the same way at the fruits anymore after you picked them for a while. Happy picking!
Did I forget anything? Leave me a comment or share your personal fruit picking experience. If you are planning to pick and have more questions, just drop me a line and I am happy to give you more advice.