Tabulam, Coffs Harbour
Tabulam, Coffs Harbour
Fresh Produce Group
Wamuran, Sunshine Coast
Fruit picking jobs and harvest work is carried out on farms throughout Australia. These are usually in remote locations, so don't expect a lot of nightlife or attractions during your time fruit picking. There’s likely to be a few basic shops and a pub or hotel a short drive away. Because fruit picking jobs are so remote, you're likely to need your own transport to get around. Most fruit picking jobs will come with the option to live on-site so you are close to work, but your pay will be docked to cover the cost of rent. Luckily, nearly all fruit pickers are backpackers so it’s a great time to meet new people and make new friends. If you’re lucky, you’ll find yourself a great group to pick with that will make working much more fun.
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Fruit picking is hard, manual work in very hot conditions, so prepare to put some blood, sweat and tears in no matter what fruit you end up picking. That said, there are definitely some fruit picking jobs that are easier on the body than others.
Oranges and mandarins are a good choice because they are large, so will fill your container quicker, and they’re light so you can carry a full bag without straining your back too much. Some orchard owners will also give you clippers so you can cut the stems without damaging the fruit. This will slow you down a bit, but it will prevent you from getting repetitive strain injury to your wrists from pulling the fruit.
The short answer? Yes.
Fruit picking is physical labour, done for up to eight hours a day. You may need to spend a lot of that time standing, crouching, climbing or stretching, and because you're most likely to be paid based on how much you pick, you’ll need to keep up the pace if you are to earn well.
On the bright side, fruit picking is great for your fitness, and usually allows you to spend plenty of time outdoors!
This depends on how you are paid: per hour or per piece.
An hourly rate will guarantee you are paid at least the minimum wage – currently around $22/hour – but puts a hard limit on how much you can earn.
It’s more common for pickers to be paid according to the amount of fruit they pick, called ‘piecework’. The piece rate is calculated in a way that ensures the average picker earns approximately the minimum wage. This means that the best fruit pickers can make double the minimum wage or more, but slow or beginner pickers often struggle to reach that minimum wage mark.
At around $20/hour (depending on your age and the job), Australia has the highest nationally regulated minimum wage in the world, meaning even the most entry-level of jobs gives you the capacity to earn relatively good money.
It should be noted that the minimum wage doesn’t strictly apply to fruit pickers though.
Fruit pickers are most commonly paid according to the amount of fruit they pick (measured either in number or in weight) – this ‘piecework’ rate is calculated so that the average picker will make minimum wage. If you are below average, you may make less than $20/hour. If you’re above average, however, you could earn far more!
What you wear fruit picking will depend on what, where and how you’re picking. Your outfit will need to adequately protect you from both the weather and the work. Any number of the following items may be required.
Farmers are not legally required to offer accommodation to their pickers, but because farms are generally located in regional areas with limited accommodation options, many will have on-site lodgings that pickers can use.
It’s important to speak to potential employers about accommodation before you lock in a job. Ask whether they have somewhere to stay on-site, whether you need to pay to use it, whether you can park your van or pitch your tent on the property, or whether the farmer has any recommendations for places to stay in the area.
How do I get a job fruit picking in Australia?
At the right time of year, finding harvest work can be quite straightforward. During peak season, there's plenty of jobs. It's important to make sure you are in the right location at the right time of year. Note; it can take about 5 days to find work successfully and you may need a few items (WiFi, Resume, Computer, Mobile Phone).
Check the Harvest Guide to learn what produce is in season at what point in the year. The Harvest Guide will also help you discover which harvests are going on nearest to you.
Make sure you update your resume with all relevant experience and qualifications. Preparing an awesome cover letter is also a wise move and will save you time in the long run.
Your final option is to contact farms direct to see if they are staffing their harvest teams. Choose farms which already have a positive online reputation and have all resume ready to email through.
What are the best fruit picking jobs in Australia?
Small fruits like berries and cherries often seem like a good option because they’re light and you strip a bush rather than having to move and climb a ladder to strip a tree. They can be problematic though - you have to be very gentle when stripping the plants and then place the fruit in your container slowly to avoid squashing them, which makes it a much slower process than more robust fruits like apples and pears.
Apples and pears are a fairly good option. They’re large enough to fill your container quick(ish) and you don’t have to worry about damaging them too much. Be warned though, carrying a full bag of apples down a ladder will be tough work on your back!
Fruits that are notorious for being hard work are bananas because you need to be strong enough to carry a whole bunch (we’re talking hundreds of bananas!) at once, and citrus fruits, which are covered in thorns.
Not every part of Australia has fruit picking seasons, so you’ll need to suss out where the most job opportunities are. New South Wales is probably the best place to pick fruit in Australia because it has a mixed climate that is suitable for growing a huge variety of fruit and vegetables. Because of this, you’ll be able to find picking jobs in New South Wales at any time of year.
South Australia is also a good place to fruit pick because of the ready availability of work, and if you choose to pick in the autumn/ winter months, you’ll be grateful for the cooler days!
There’s plenty of work available year-round in Northern Territory and Queensland but it is very hot in these states - particularly in the summer months - so the work can be very grueling!
You'll find full details in our Fruit Picking harvest season calendar.
The fruit picking seasons run differently in each state because of the different climates. Just because it is apple picking season in one state does not mean that you’ll find apple picking jobs in another state. Generally, the fruit picking seasons run as follows:
|February||Apples, pears, grapes, melons and ginger|
|July||Ginger and onions|
|November||Mangoes, lychees, bananas, plums, cotton and avocados|
|December||Sugar and bananas|
|February||Apples, pears and grapes|
|September||Asparagus and oranges|
|December||Onions, stone fruits and blueberries|
|January||Pears, peaches, tomatoes, tobacco and apples|
|November||Cherries and berries|
|February||Apples, grapes, peaches and brussel sprouts|
|March||Apples and pears|
|May||Rockmelons and zucchinis|
Fruit picking isn't the only way to earn your second year visa, but it’s the most popular way. Fruit picking jobs are easy to come across, aimed mostly at backpackers and are nearly always regional enough to count towards your second year visa (although you should still check the farm’s postcode). The process for earning your second year visa has changed recently, and now your approval is based on whether or not you can submit payslips with your application. This ruling means that volunteer working and WWOOFING no longer counts, so fruit picking jobs are becoming all the more popular for backpackers.
If you do intend to fruit pick in order to gain your second year visa, you need to make sure that you are filling all of the requirements. In order to be eligible you need to provide:
The tax part of your fruit picking job is very important for your second year visa. If you haven’t been paying tax, your application may be denied. If you are fruit picking for money rather than for your second year visa, you still have to pay tax. Your employer is legally obligated to deduct tax from your wages and pay it to the Australian Tax Office. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Because you are not an Australian resident, when you do leave the country, you are entitled to most of that money back. This can be a nice departing gift from Australia when it is time to leave! To claim your tax back, your first need to make sure that you were paid above board and legally, and secondly that you have a tax file number. It will be very hard to make your claim without payslips and a tax file number on record.
Superannuation tax refunds are not so frequent with fruit picking jobs because the threshold to be eligible is $450 earned a week. And, well, not many pickers earn that much! If you are one of the lucky ones, however, you will also be eligible to have this money refunded. You have to opt in to superannuation, but make sure you do because it’s a fantastic way to boost your cash flow on your way home or on to further travels. The average superannuation refund for backpackers is a whopping $3,380!