Working in Australia

What to expect as a fruit picker in Australia

December 20, 2022

What to expect as a fruit picker in Australia

Hot sun, blue skies, fresh fruit, and mateship are just some of the amazing things you’ll enjoy on a day-to-day basis as a fruit picker in Australia. 

All over the country there are opportunities to work picking fruit and vegetables in harvests at any given point of the year. Whether you want to work on the tropical banana fields in Cairns, or the chilly berry farms in Tasmania, you are certain to find work on a farm picking fruit wherever you want it. The work is tough, but it is hugely rewarding; for some, it will be a pathway to a second or third Working Holiday visa, for others a much-needed break from the hustle and bustle of corporate life. No matter what you’re looking for in being a fruit picker, the experience is once in a lifetime, and you’ll walk away with incredible, lifelong memories and friends. 

Why are fruit pickers needed?

Australia produces huge amounts of fruit and vegetables each year, and modern machinery is not able to harvest most fruits and vegetables as well as humans can. So, with so much fruit being produced each year, and there only being a short period of time where the fruit can be picked, then sold, there is a huge demand for workers who will get the fruit off the vines before it spoils. Pre-Covid, there were over 65,000 fruit pickers, of which over 50,000 were working holiday makers. Now, there is huge demand from farmers to fill all the empty positions.

What do fruit pickers do on a day-to-day basis?

Fruit pickers work from the early morning till mid-afternoon. Like all physical workers in Australia, you’ll start before it gets too hot, and finish before you’ve spent too much time in the sun. You’ll obviously spend a lot of your time harvesting the fruit, but you’ll also likely assist with basic farm work, maybe even tending to animals. You’ll have several ‘smoko’ breaks throughout the day (10–15-minute break to catch your breath and have a drink of water) as well as a half-hour or so for lunch. Given that you’ll be finishing up in the mid-afternoon, you’ll have plenty of time to relax and recover over dinner after a hard day’s work. 

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Where do you stay as a fruit picker?

Many fruit picking jobs include a place to sleep and eat on the farm which you either pay for upfront or gradually pay off as you work through the harvest. If you aren’t offered room and board in your contract, you will be able to find accommodation close enough to the farm and will most likely be able to arrange transport to and from the farm. It’s important to note that there are many ‘working hostel’ type lodgings available across Australia, however, we recommend against staying in them. Working hostels are backpacker hostels that include work and/or transport to the farms in their (expensive) accommodation rates, but often only offer very few hours. Resultantly, the pay you make from working on the farm will barely cover the cost of staying in a working hostel, if it covers the cost at all. So be careful when choosing where you stay, as you could end up losing money while working! 

How much do you earn as a fruit picker?

All fruit pickers are afforded at least minimum wage for their work. The minimum wage for full-time workers is AUD 21.38 per hour, and for casual workers AUD 26.73 per hour, so you’ll be making a reasonable wage for your work. Many fruit picking jobs will also offer some travel allowance if applicable, but you most likely will only receive an hourly rate. Be aware that there are plenty of farmers who offer piece-rate payment, where they pay you based on the amount of fruit you pick in a day. We would recommend against taking up one of these offers, as it is not as stable as having an hourly rate. 

Is being a fruit picker dangerous or bad for your physical health?

Though the work is physically demanding, and you will feel pretty spent by the end of the day, the work is not dangerous, and it is not going to ruin your physical health. Sustained physical activity over a period of time may leave you feeling pretty tired, but it is unlikely that you will incur any physical injuries, given the low-risk nature of picking fruit from trees and bushes. You will have plenty of time to recover at the end of each day, and opportunities to have water and food throughout the day, so you’ll be more than able to take care of yourself and your mates.

As we said before, fruit picking is one of the most amazing jobs you can possibly do; it’s physically demanding, you work in some of the most picturesque landscapes in Australia and you make incredible mates from all over the world along the way. It’s something that we recommend to anyone looking for work in Australia, as there is so much demand for labour in the industry and it’s such a rewarding experience. We hope this article has helped answer some of your questions, and if you’re looking for more resources on all things working or holiday in Australia, check out our other resources below!

The information provided in this article is for your information only. While all care has been taken in the preparation of the article, Sven Global Pty Ltd makes no representation or warranty as to, or accepts any responsibility for, the accuracy, reliability, completeness or currency of the information, its usefulness in achieving any purpose or your reliance upon it.

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