Fruit Picking Jobs for Backpackers

Fruit Picking Jobs

Fruit Picking Jobs, Australia
Fruit Picking Jobs, Australia

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.

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.

Best Place to Fruit Pick in Australia

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.

Fruit Picking Farms

You’ll be carrying out your work on fruit picking farms. These are usually very remotely placed, 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 farms 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.

Fruit Picking Seasons

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:

Fruit Picking in the Northern Territory

MonthHarvest
FebruaryMelons
OctoberMangoes

Fruit Picking in Queensland

MonthHarvest
FebruaryApples, pears, grapes, melons and ginger
MarchVegetables
JulyGinger and onions
OctoberPeaches
NovemberMangoes, lychees, bananas, plums, cotton and avocados
DecemberSugar and bananas

Fruit Picking in New South Wales

MonthHarvest
JanuaryStone fruits
FebruaryApples, pears and grapes
SeptemberAsparagus and oranges
DecemberOnions, stone fruits and blueberries

Fruit Picking in Victoria

MonthHarvest
JanuaryPears, peaches, tomatoes, tobacco and apples
FebruaryGrapes
OctoberStrawberries
NovemberCherries and berries

Fruit Picking in South Australia

MonthHarvest
JanuaryDried fruits
FebruaryApples
SeptemberStrawberries
DecemberApricots

Fruit Picking in Tasmania

MonthHarvest
FebruaryApples, grapes, peaches and brussel sprouts
MarchPears

Fruit Picking in Western Australia

MonthHarvest
JanuaryGrapes
MarchApples and pears
AprilMelons
MayRockmelons and zucchinis
JuneTomatoes
JulyBananas
OctoberMangoes

Fruit Picking for the Second Year Visa

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.

Regional Work Requirements

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:

  1. 88 days of signed off work from your employer
  2. A bank statement covering the entire 88 days
  3. All of your payslips
  4. Tax returns
  5. An employer reference on an official letterhead
  6. Any travel tickets, accommodation notes or receipts in your name

Fruit Picking and Backpacker Tax

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.

Fruit Picking and Superannuation

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!

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