Guidance and advice on where to start and how to find a fruit picking job in Australia to gain your second working holiday visa.
You must complete 88 days of regional work to gain a second-year visa to extend your stay in Australia.
You’re either in one of two possible situations.
Super prepared. You know you want to work towards your second-year Australian visa with plenty of time to look for job opportunities, complete the days and return to enjoying your first year.
Or, you’ve decided in the heat of the moment at what feels like the worst possible time to frantically mass panic in search for anyone or anything to help guide your foot into the fruit picking door.
The good thing is, you don’t need any qualifications BUT a little advice goes a long way…
Finding fruit picking contacts in Australia
Find contacts through word of mouth.
Speak to as many people as you can about farm work opportunities in and around your location:
- Ask the staff at hostels and other backpackers about advice and information on fruit picking jobs, locations and accommodation options.
- Start by researching the state or location you’re living to find local farms. Pick up the phone to contact farmers – don’t email.
- Head down to fruit and vegetable markets and ask those on the stalls for information and contacts.
- Join online forums or backpacker groups who share fruit picking information and recent job postings.
- Contact MADEC offices – Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales – for further guidance and information.
- Contact working holiday hostels by phone if you’re unable to speak to them in person.
You must be willing to be flexible and open-minded. Often, farmers or working hostels may not offer you fruit picking positions until you’re in the area. The demand makes it difficult to promise to hold job opportunities whilst you make travel arrangements so always look in local areas with good travel options first.
Be aware of scam advertisements and agencies on job posting sites such as Gumtree. Always do your research and make sure the fruit picking farm and accommodation offered actually exists. There are so many scammers online promising backpackers the world. Never, ever pay for anything upfront – jobs and accommodation. If the job opportunity seems off to you, then it probably is.
Research the fruit picking season
You will have some idea of the fruit picking season across Australia through word of mouth.
It’s important to research the fruit picking season for several reasons:
- Some fruit cannot be picked in certain weather conditions.
- Some seasons can be short.
- Some seasons may be coming to an end.
You will want to ensure the location and farm you’ve picked can offer you enough work to complete the 88 days. Signing up for a job which cannot offer you this will leave you at square one having to find yet another job elsewhere to complete the remainder of the days.
You must also consider what the job will require from you in terms of physical demand and impact, especially as you can work up to 7+ days straight 8+ hours per day fruit picking before your day off.
- Watermelon picking will require bending over and heavy lifting which can impact your back.
- Citrus fruit picking such as oranges, mandarins and lemons require stretching and ladder work.
Fruit picking equipment used in Australia
Common fruit picking equipment:
- Ladders & steps
Fruit picking bags
The farm or working hostel usually provide the above equipment.
Recommendations & what to wear:
- Purchase your own gloves with a good thickness to avoid cuts and splinters. The farm gloves provided are thin.
- Head to charity shops and purchase clothes you won’t mind damaging - tree branches will catch on clothes and rip them.
- Long-sleeve t-shirts help with avoiding cuts and comfy trousers are essential.
- Clothing choice depends on the weather conditions.
Australia fruit picking and farm work pay rates – how much will you earn?
- Paid by piecework per bin, kilo or pound.
For example, picking standardly sized oranges in Australia equate to $25 per bin. You usually work with a partner - $12.50 each. The daily rate per piece depends on how quickly you pick fruit and how challenging the row may be.
In comparison, grape picking starts around $1.50-$1.80 with a row worth $30-$40.
- Hourly pay – minimum wage $21.6 per hour including fencing, general farm work, packing factories and fruit picking dependent on location.
Hourly paid jobs are not as widely available as piecework.
General Fruit Picking Advice
- Be prepared for hard labour across all sectors whether it’s fruit picking, packing or general farm work.
- You’ll spend all day outside.
- Weather conditions range from extreme heat to cold rain and wind dependent on location and time of year.
- Make sure you eat properly to keep your energy up.
- Most farms do not have water stations to refill your bottles so take plenty of water with you.
- Make sure the farmer can sign off your visa work before you commit.
- Take advantage of extra work opportunities in the area such as bar work to make extra cash.
- Keep track of your days, payments and hours. Log everything in a book for further evidence towards extending your visa.
- Be prepared to live in the middle of nowhere for three months.
You can read about my personal fruit picking Australia experience working on farms here.