Fruit picking, harvest & seasonal jobs & work in Australia

Running low on cash or desperate to get your extended visa working holiday visa?
Or are you just plain bored with the Monday to Friday grind and want to see some of Australia?
Then our ultimate fruit picking in Australia guide is what you're after. So what are you waiting for?

Fruit picking jobs in Australia (also sometimes referred to as harvest, seasonal or summer jobs/work), is some of the easiest work to find, but the trade off is that it is also some of the hardest work out there.

That said, it has saved many a person who have found themselves in a tight situation and needing money fast. Harvest jobs often pay great, especially if it invloves big machinery.

Are you a backpacker here on a work and travel Australia holiday? Don't leave before you have to! By doing three months of qualifying work in regional areas - and fruit picking work often qualifies - you can turn your Working Holiday in Australia visa into the Extended Working Holiday in Australia visa. Stay for an extra year, see some more of this amazing country, and meet a great bunch of people!

The best thing about fruit picking and harvest jobs is that they can be found all year round. Australia is such a big place (the 6th biggest country in the world), with many different climate and weather zones. This factor, combined with the huge number of different crops grown by farmers, means there is always work somewhere for fruit pickers in Australia.

Another reason that there is always work to be found somewhere is that and that it's not just the harvest period that requires workers. For example, wine and grape vines require pruning and planting during one part of the year, and harvesting in another.


In fact, some people 'work the harvest trail' all year long, moving from one area to the next when that crop has been picked - it's a great way to make money while seeing Australia. And the best part is, your pretty much your own boss, you decide when and where you work, for how long, and where you will go next.

Guy picking grapes
Fruit picking in Australia, an easy way
to make some extra money!

This work, however, is not for the faint hearted. Often the amount of effort you put in does not reflect the pay cheque you get at the end of the week. Being a fruit picker in Australia can be very hard work.

This is especially true when you first start and are learning the job, but things will improve. In fact, some people can make $250+ on a good farm once they are good at picking that crop!

If you need money fast, and are willing to work hard, then you too can make some quick cash!


1. What will you need?

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To survive a day of fruit picking in Australia you'll need some essential equipment. This includes:



  • Sunglasses!
    A day in the sun can leave your eyes dry and hurting, and they also help keep those annoying flies away.
  • Sunscreen!
    This is a must! picture a freshly boiled lobster... this will be you after a day without sunscreen. Australian sunburn hurts!
  • A hat!
    Again, picture that lobster... without a hat, you could very well end up with heat stroke and 2 days in hospital. Seriously!
  • A long sleeve, loose fitting cotton shirt!
    This will help keep you feeling cooler and avoid the lobster scenario mentioned above.
  • A backpack/rucksack!
    There's nothing worse than trekking to your car every time you want a drink, a snack, etc. Take it all with you!
  • Good shoes / boots!
    Sneakers may be fine, but for other work you'll need proper boots. Either way, leave the flip flops behind!
  • Gloves!
    Also depends on what you are doing. You may or may not need them.
  • Drink bottle / Water canister!
    This is essential. Something you can sling over your back, or clip to your belt is ideal. Something that holds a 1+ litres.
  • Determination and a reasonable level of physical fitness - this is hard hard work!

It is possible you may need some other items, but you will be told when you apply for the job. Some jobs require you to have your own tools. For example, some citrus and grape farms require workers to bring their own shears (specialised fruit picking siscors), others will provide them for you if you don't have any.

Apple picking in Australia is very popular. The good news for all the people who want to be an apple picker is that most apple picking jobs do not require any extra or specialised equipment. Just come with the items listed above and you should be fine.


2. What to expect?

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Where ever you decide to work, expect to travel - what Australians consider 'a short trip' can differ greatly from your expectations.

Depending on where in Australia you are, 'a short trip' can be considered anywhere between 1 - 4hrs drive.

If Western Australia was a country, it would be ranked 10th biggest in the world, a 6 hour drive is nothing to the locals... ouch!

Tips & tricks!

  • Bring a large storage iPod or MP3 player!
    8+ hours filling a fruit bucket over and over... and over... and over... can seem like an eternity. This helps time pass!
  • Eat a good breakfast before you start!
    You'll work harder, faster, and for longer, making you more money.
  • Bring a good lunch & other snacks!
    Stuff like muesli bars and nuts are great for snacks as they contain carbohydrates to keep you going.
  • Don't eat too much of the fruit!
    It can cause bad stomach problems requiring many trips to the toilet.
  • Pace yourself for a long day!
    A steady pace will mean you can pick more. You'll develop a 'feel' for this after a couple of days, you'll know what you are capable of.
  • Bring some insect repellent!.
    The insects in Australia can be very vicious - you have been warned!
  • Get a good night of rest!
    It can make an amazing amount of difference to your productivity.
  • Keep hydrated!
    Depending on what you are doing, you may need to consume 8 or more litres of water a day!


Working on a grape orchard
There are grape farms all over Australia and
they are a popular choice with backpackers.

What you'll be doing

Depending on what you are doing, when you are doing it, and where you are doing it, fruit picking jobs in Australia can vary greatly. Picking onions is very different to picking oranges.

Harvest work is a little different from fruit picking. Generally harvest work involves working with crops (wheat, grain, cotton, etc), and often a harvest job will involve using machinery like a tractor or a combine harvester. Harvesting jobs can be a great way to earn some money, they often pay really well.

One you're bending over all day, the other you're constantly up and down a ladder all day long. Picking apples in Tasmania or New South Wales in March is going to be a lot different just because of the difference in the climate.

Or maybe you'll get a job inside the 'packing shed' - there are many different jobs in there ranging from packing fruit or vegetables into boxes, loading boxes onto pallets, using a forklift to load the pallets onto trucks, and more.

Or perhaps you'll have to do pruning, or tying/training vines onto fences. You may even have to put fertiliser on the plants...

There really is no 'this is what you'll be doing when fruit picking' answer, it can be so different from one farm to the next. But what you can generally expect:

A guy and girl picking grapes
Sun, long days, getting dirty and sweaty, early starts,
and lots of other people in the same situation as you!


Accommodation options when picking fruit in Australia

Some farms are isolated and you'll have to 'live onsite'. And what does this mean...? Again it can change greatly. Some farms will provide accommodation free of charge, others will charge you.

On other farms you'll have to provide your own accommodation (tent or campervan). If you have to provide your own accommodation some farms with have access to a kitchen, a washing machine, etc, others will not. When 'living onsite' some farms will feed you, some won't. It just depends on the farm!

On some farms, living onsite is optional, on other farms it is not possible and you have to organise your own accommodation somewhere else (hostel or caravan park). If you're not living onsite you generally have to organise your own transport to and from the farm on a daily basis, however, some farms will pick workers up from a pre-designated place at a pre-designated time and drop you back at the end of the day. It all just depends on the situation. So treat it as such - an adventure where not two farms are the same!

A girl picking cherries

Umm... rain, and what it means

It is also worth making a mention of rain... more than likely, if you're picking fruit and it starts to rain, you will have to stop work. Wet fruit goes off and starts to rot very quickly. Often farms will pay you 'piece rate' just for this reason - if it rains, you don't make money. Whilst it's easy to feel angry about this, it helps to keep in mind that they are not making any money either; if you are not picking the fruit they are not shipping it off to the supermarkets. This doesn't always apply to vegetables, some varieties can get wet, others cannot.

All of this should be made clear to you when you are offered the job, and if you're uncertain of anything, just ask. Typically, Australians are more than happy to answer any questions you have. The same philosophy goes for your job role - if you are uncertain about anything just ask! Australians much prefer a 'dumb' question at the start than a 'dumb' mistake happening later. They understand Australia is a unique country and that you may not be familiar with what to expect: just ask and everything will be fine - they are generally a very friendly bunch of people!

3. Fruit picking wages and hours

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If you have found yourself asking "how much do you get for fruit picking, what is the pay rate" or "how many hours do fruit pickers work" this is the section for you.

Pay rate and wages

Fruit picking wages can often differ greatly depending on what you are doing. There are generally two different pay models, and they will change from farm to farm and from job to job.

The first is the 'by hour' flat rate. You get paid a fixed amount for every hour you work. It is rare to get paid like this for for fruit picking jobs, but it is much more common for jobs where you are working inside the packing shed (packing fruit, grading/sorting fruit, putting boxes onto trucks, etc). Often harvest jobs pay you using this model when you are doing such things as working on a tractor or harvester.

The second pay model is called 'piece rate'. This is where your pay is determined by how much you pick or do. The more you pick the more you earn. Almost all picker jobs are paid using this method. Your first few days on piece rate may seem like your working for almost nothing, but once you get the hang of it and improve your speed you can earn a lot more. Harvest jobs also often pay really good money, so keep an eye out for them.

As for what you get paid, it changes with each crop. When picking little plastic punnets of blue berries you may get 50 cents per punnet. Picking a big bin of apples or oranges may earn you $20. This should all be made clear to you when you are offered a job, but if it is not just ask what your picking wages are.

Hours you work

Once again there is no real answer to this question that will apply to all fruit picking jobs. Many things can affect the hours you work from the weather to your motivation.

Very often, as mentioned, when it rains you cannot pick fruit. Obvioiusly this will reduce the number of hours you can work. Strong winds can all stop you from picking some crops.

Often you will start work very early, just as the sun is coming up. This allows you to pick in the cooler morning, then take an extended break during the hotest part of the day and resume picking in the afternoon once the sun is not as hot. Some people choose to only pick in the early morning and take the rest of the day off, but obviously they won't make as much money as someone who works all day long.

This should all be made clear to you when you start the job, but if it is not for whatever reason simply ask what is expected of you.

3. How to find Fruit picking and Harvest jobs in Australia?

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Firstly, you should check out our job listings and see what's available. You can find them by clicking the link below.





Below, you will find it all broken down state by state, listing the best time to go, what kinds of crops you can expect to find, and other information. Each state has a link to its own page where you can find detailed information, including contact details of various organisations and hostels that can tell if you the farms are looking for workers.

Another good place to find work is the official Australian government website. You can find job listings and other information about 'working the harvest trail'. jobsearch.gov.au - find a job and jobsearch.gov.au - additional information. But as mentioned, just keep browsing below for detailed information state by state.



4. Typical work seasons and crops around Australia

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It should be noted, that due to Australia's' harsh climate, typical fruit picking and harvest seasons and crops are just that - typical. Both floods and droughts can have a devastating impact on crops and harvests. You should always check if an area has been impacted by either before heading there and expecting to find work.



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Victoria

 Apples
Jan - May
Berries
Jan, Nov - Dec
 Cherries
Jan, Nov - Dec
Citrus
Jun - Aug, Oct - Dec
 Grapes
Jan - Apr, Jun - Aug
Hops
Mar - Apr
 Pears
Jan - May
Strawberries
Jan - Apr, Nov - Dec
 Stone Fruit
Jan - Apr, Jun - Aug, Dec
Tomatoes
Jan - Mar
 Vegetables
Sept - Dec
 
Victoria map

Work in Victoria can be found during most of the year. The peak season is over the summer months, and there is plenty of work to be found from November through to April, although work can be found at other times of the year.

The work is not concentrated in any one area of Victoria, Mildura and other parts of the Murray river system, are definitely a large draw card for fruit pickers. Another popular harvest destination is south eastern Victoria around the Lakes Entrance area.

Click here to view more detailed information all about
Fruit Picking & Harvest work in Victoria

New South Wales / ACT

 Apples
Feb - Aug
Asparagus
Oct
 Avocados
Jun - Jul
Berries
Jan - Apr, Sept - Nov
 Cherries
Nov - Dec
Citrus
All year
 Coffee
Nov - Dec
Cotton
Apr - Jun
 Grapes
Jan - Sept, Nov - Dec
Lychees
Feb - Mar
 Melons
Jan - May, Dec
Nuts
May - Jul
 Olives
Apr - Jul
Stone Fruit
Jan - Apr, Oct - Dec
 Tomatoes
Feb - Mar
vegetables
All year
 
New South Wales map

Work in New South Wales is a backpackers dream. There is ready work available all year round, and the work covers most of the state, with only its drier north western areas short on readily available work. The many varieties of crops produced in New South Wales means if you don't like a picking a particular crop, chances are you will easily be able to find work on another farm picking something else.

That said, one must not forget that whatever farm you are on, and whatever you are picking, you will still be working hard to earn your money. Whilst the weather in NSW is generally agreeable to most people, it can still get really hot. But due to the large range of work available, if you want to, you should be able to find some work during the cooler months. Just keep in mind, if it rains, you often won't be able to pick.

Click here to view more information about
Fruit Picking & Harvest work in New South Wales.

Queensland

 Apples
Feb - Jun
Avocados
Feb - May
 Bananas
All year
Citrus
Mar - Aug
 Cotton
Apr - May
Grapes
Jan - Feb, Nov - Dec
 Mangoes
Jan - Feb, Nov - Dec
Melons
Jan - Jun, Sept - Dec
 Pears
Feb - Apr
Strawberries
Jun - Nov
 Stone Fruit
Nov - Dec
Sugar Cane
Jun - Dec
 Tomatoes
All year
Vegetables
All year
 
Queensland map

Just like NSW, work in Queensland is a backpackers Eden. There is ready work available all year round, and the work covers large parts of the state. The picking season peaks between November - January, but there is plenty of work all the rest of the year, especially in the coastal strip from south to north. Don't want to pick fruit? Then there is plenty of work inland on the cattle stations - hard work, but well worth the experience.

And what better place to earn some extra money? Queensland is home to the Great Barrier Reef, Frasier Island, and many other islands. Chuck in the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast (and hour drive north and south of Brisbane respectively), what more could you ask for?

Click here to view more detailed information about
Fruit Picking & Harvest work in Queensland.

The Northern Territory

 Bananas
All year
Citrus
Jan - Apr
 Flowers
All year
Grapes
May - Jun, Nov - Dec
 Mangoes
Sept - Dec
Melons
May - Nov
 vegetables
May - Oct
 
Northern Territory map

Due to fact most of the NT is desert, there is not as much work here as other areas. However, there are some areas 'of Eden' in the dry territory, and any fruit picking work done in the NT counts towards your 3 months required work for your extended Working Holiday Visa.

Click here for more information about
Fruit Picking & Harvest work - Northern Territory.

Western Australia

 Apples
Mar - Apr
Citrus
Mar - Apr
 Grapes
Feb - Apr, Jun - Aug
Oct - Dec
Mangoes
Jan - Feb, Oct - Nov
 Melons
Jan - Mar, May - Sept
Pears
Mar - Apr
 Stone fruit
Jan - Mar, Dec
Strawberries
Jan - Feb, Nov - Dec
 Tomatoes
May - Dec
Tree planting
Mar - Jul
 Vegetables
May - Dec
 
Western Australia map

Most of the work in Western Australia is concentrated close to its capital city, Perth; although there is other work in other parts of the state. Generally speaking you can find work all year around, and the season peaks in June, July and August with plenty of work available.

The Margaret River area is home to some of Australia's' finest vineyards producing premium wine, and is an amazing place to work with breath-taking scenery. However, if you are interested in work on the grain belt (south and east of Perth) there is plenty of work to be had.

Click here to view more information about
Fruit Picking & Harvest work in Western Australia.

South Australia

 Apples
Jan - May, Nov - Dec
Cherries
Jan, Nov - Dec
 Citrus
Jun - Nov
Grapes
Feb - Aug, Oct - Nov
 Pears
Jan - May
Stone fruit
Jan - Feb, Nov - Dec
 Vegetables
Jan - Jun
 
Western Australia map

Although SA is Australia's' driest state, there is still plenty of work! The Murray river enters from the east, providing a wealth of farms for backpackers to work. Like the NT, any fruit picking work done in SA counts towards your three months work for an extended visa. Peak season is between November and March.

Click here to view more information about
Fruit Picking & Harvest work in South Australia.

Tasmania

 Apples
Jan, Mar - May, Dec
Berries
Jan - Apr
 Cherries
Jan - Feb, Dec
Grapes
Apr, Jul - Aug
 Hops
Mar - Apr, Sept - Nov
Stone fruit
Jan, Dec
 Vegetables
Jan - Jun
 
Tasmania map

Like the NT and SA, any fruit picking work done in Tasmania counts towards your three months work for an extended visa. Peak season is between January and May. The work is very quiet between June to November, although with some luck it can be found.

Click here to view more detailed information about
Fruit Picking & Harvest work in Tasmania.

This website & page was created and written by: Tim Blackburn.
 
 
 
 
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