Every backpacker who goes to Australia for a Working Holiday will have to deal with farm work or work at a fruit or vegetable picking company. I have worked at four different fruit pickers myself, so I can tell you a lot about my experiences (the good and the bad, haha). So you get all the tips that I collected from my own experience during our Working Holiday in sunny Australia. If you have any other pressing questions, feel free to send me a personal message or leave a comment below. I am very willing to help and familiarize everyone with the topic and share everything I know.
1. Take the initiative and drive to the pickers and farms yourself
Be proactive. Wherever you are in Australia, there are always plenty of options for working on a farm or picking job if you are eager to do this. There are farms and fruit and vegetable pickers all over the country. The easiest way if you want to work there is to just drive around the area (if this is a possibility) and ask around. Taking the initiative yourself is very important. We just drove into the yard at many farms to ask if they were still looking for people to work for them. This way of making contact may take a little longer, but it always worked best for us.
2. Look at the seasons
Every season in Australia, different vegetables and fruits are in bloom. There is a handy list that shows exactly in which month which types of vegetation are harvested. Please visit The Australian Harvest and Crop Calender for all information per state. We ourselves have worked in New South Wales on a blueberry and avocado farm from August to October, and from March to May at multiple wineries in Victoria, do to the pruning for the next season, as it was starting to go into winter. This is very useful to research as many people want to do this work for 88 days to renew their visas. So watch when the seasons start and end to make sure you can stay long enough.
3. Know your worth – don’t do “bucket work”
Working Holiday Makers are often paid much less than intended at pickers. You hear it often and we have unfortunately also become victims of this (although luckily we soon realized that). The minimum wage in Australia is $ 23 an hour, so you should earn this roughly anywhere, with any job. At pickers you are often paid in two ways: per bucket or per hour. If you are not fast as lightning (and trust me, this isn’t common), I highly recommend finding work that pays by the hour. With this you are assured of a very good income anyway, and you do not have to work harder than you actually can.
4. Cherish your job
At farms you have to work hard to show your worth. It is also important to build a good relationship with your boss. You will get paid above average and it would be a shame if you lost the job and had to look for a new one again. Unfortunately, this happened to us at the avocado farm where we worked at the time. Afterwards I was very disappointed by this. It took me a lot of effort to find a new job, so my tip is to really give your best!
5. Buy a campervan and go camping in the wild!
Yeww! Definitely do this, if only for a few weeks. In the longer term you will in all cases safe much more money by doing this. Many people choose a Working Hostel, a hostel where you live with all your working colleagues. However, many of these hostels are expensive and you end up with a lot less money than you initially hoped. If you have a van yourself, you can park at the nearest campsite. In most cases they cooperate with the surrounding picking companies here, because the workers are often there for a long period of time.
6. Take enough food for the whole day
Always bring enough food for yourself so that you never get hungry. In the beginning it happened a few times that we saw people eating a whole package of deliciously prepared lunch and we had not brought anything ourselves. This was a bit cruel, as the hard work means you need a hearty lunch, a lot of drinks and a few snacks. So, make a healthy, nutritious lunch the night before and vary it to keep surprising yourself (trust me, this is the highlight of the day). And tasty and nutritious food helps you to keep working harder.
7. Wear boots, gloves and long, comfortable clothes. Not too hot, and not too cold.
Here are some golden tips for the novice field workers: your arms will look bruised if you don’t wear long sleeves.
Also a very important one: always wear gloves, because they protect your hands. We ourselves worked for a few months for a vineyard near Barwon Heads, in the south of Australia. Here it was mandatory to wear thick gloves, otherwise you would cut your finger off with the electric scissors. But don’t worry, I still have all my fingers.
8. Follow the sun, in which way the wind blows, cherish these moments
Don’t pick a job that you don’t like to do and where you go every day with lead in your shoes. Pick something you genuinely like and love what you do! Farm work is tough and often repetitive work, as is picking, so prepare for hard work, but have fun with it. In return, you are in the fresh air all day and always with people around you. Also, you can always listen to a educational or funny podcast that you don’t have time for otherwise (like Ricky Gervais, a British comedian, or podcasts about your favorite subject, to learn new things).
Those are my tips for the Australian farmwork. If you still have any questions, feel free to contact me and I’m more than happy to help!