fruit picking jobs in melbourne

Fruit Picking Jobs in Melbourne  ( A step by step guide)

Did you just search for “Fruit Picking Jobs in Melbourne”? 

Well, you must have a rabbit’s foot or a four-leaf clover hiding somewhere, because you came to the right place! Since the dawn of time, fruits have been the engines that have fueled and fed our hungry workforce to reach for better and better every year!

Did you know that Aussies eat so many bananas that nine-in-ten households in Australia have bought bananas in the last year? Or that the banana consumption per head of population is 16 kilos?

They love their bananas so much that they even have a series of large fruits all over Australia which have become popular tourist attractions

So let’s see how I can get little ol’ you to see those big ol’ things over there!

I’m Mihael Berberu, and a couple of years ago, I found myself straying from my University degree to take a gap year to Australia, the land where I spent a portion of my youth. 

I wanted to run as far away from my Engineering degree in Europe for a change of scenery, and boy did I! I found myself studying for a Certificate 3 in Production Horticulture under one a Production Manager from one of Australia’s biggest Nurseries.

Little did I know that Production Horticulture was a fancy word for Gardening and growing plants! So I found myself on the other side of the world, studying in what was an essential “fruit picking University ”. These are the lessons I picked up.

Summary of Fruit Picking Jobs in Melbourne

  • What on Earth Is Fruit Picking?
  • Why Would I Want To Pick Fruit In Melbourne?
  • Are There Any Long Hours Or Harsh Conditions?
  • Where To Actually Look For Jobs
  • Do I Need A Visa?
  • Necessities for Work
  • Will Money Really Grow On Trees And If So, How Much?
  • What Is Life Like For A Country Boy/Girl?
  • Where Will I Sleep?
  • Useful Sites
  • Tools Of The Trade
  • Tips And Tricks

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What on Earth Is Fruit Picking? 

“To go fruit picking” is rarely just “to pick fruit” in Australia. It’s a bohemian way of life. But when we come down to the nitty gritty, fruit picking is the act of harvesting the fruits which have grown throughout the season. 

Since Australia has an aging population, it needs young workers who are willing to be the backbone of the country and physically “pick” the fruits off the trees, collect them and then send them to a facility to be packed and shipped straight into Aussie bellies!

“Fruit picking” is a blanket term for activities that are undertaken on farms and orchards all around Australia. The actual “picking” of the fruit is only a small part – there are other activities such as:

  • Packing – working on a conveyor line and putting the fruits that the pickers have picked, into punnets and boxes that are ready to be shipped out.
  • Machinery operation – such as tractor driving, forklift driving or operating other specialized agriculture machinery (beware, licenses are required)
  • Tree thinning – also known as pruning, which is removing parts of plants so that the remaining parts can get more nutrients.
  • Weeding– picking the weeds out of the ground – weeds are generally any plants that attach itself close to the host plant and suck the nutrients out of the ground, making it harder for the plant to grow
  • Planting– Planting new trees and plants on farms and at nurseries 

Why Would I Want To Pick Fruit In Melbourne? 

By now we all have heard the quote “he who has a why can bear almost any how”.
It was written by a German philosopher called Friedrich Nietzsche.
But Nietzsche didn’t pick fruit, so how would he know?

Setting the obvious jokes aside, fruit picking is a job that requires a very good why. Whether it’s to fund your backpacking journey, your digital nomad dream or your “gap year” fantasies – once you know what your goals are, it’s a lot easier to reach them. 

Not only do you need a why for the job, but ask yourself, why look for fruit picking jobs in Melbourne? I mean, aren’t the other cities in Australia just as good or more popular (I’m looking at you Sydney). 

The truth is, you can’t go fruit picking in any of those cities. 

Farms are all located outside the metropolitan area and the nursery and horticulture jobs close to the city are usually taken by Australians themselves (nobody loves a commute).

However, when you pick your general region, you get to pick all the things (good and bad) that come along with it. And Victoria has some of the best fruit picking jobs in Australia.

For example, would you rather be stuck in the middle of nowhere (Alice Springs anyone?) or a brisk car ride away from Australia’s second largest city?
I know which I would pick.

Melbourne is known as the cultural capital of Australia. Ask any European where they would feel most at home in Australia, and they will tell you Melbourne as it’s the most diverse and pleasurable city, thanks to its many galleries and thriving music scene.

And thanks to its diversity, it accepts all kinds of people from all kinds of culturally diverse backgrounds, making it a hub for some of the best fruit picking jobs in Australia for foreigners.

And that also means you can enjoy mixing and mingling with the cultures of the world. Your coworkers will span multiple continents and a variety of religions, from  Berlin to Mumbai – making Melbourne one of the best for fruit picking jobs in Australia for Indians.

Melbourne has continually topped the list of most liveable cities within the last decade (until it was overtaken by Vienna, Austria in 2018) but even now, it retains its spot in the Top 10.

Besides being an all-round killer city, it also boasts many cool, natural and man-made things to see, such as the Great Ocean Road – a road along the coast where you can see famous attractions such as the Twelve Apostles.

Or Phillip Island, located a mere 2.5 hours from Melbourne, famous for its Penguin Parade, where residents flock to see the penguins in late Fall or early Spring. 

Are There Any Long Hours Or Harsh Conditions?

Fruit picking is an agricultural activity, and so, it should be rather obvious that the hours start in the early morning.

The Hours

Usual work days start at 7 AM (but 6:30 is not unheard of) and lasts till about 2 PM, sometimes even all the way up to 5 PM. After that, it is a rarity to continue working. 

Usual work weeks are 5 days per week, but since harvesting season waits for no man (or woman), you may be asked to work 6 or 7 days a week.

Breaks are usually given 15 minutes in the morning and half an hour in the afternoon, but everything depends on the farm and how it allocates its resources – whether they offer food or not, transport, lodging and so on.

The Weather

The toughest working condition in Australia, for any industry really, is the sun.

 Keep in mind that it can be taxing to work in the sun and especially the Australian sun can be very harmful and requires you to take cautionary steps (check the Necessities section).


The weather can change at a moment’s notice, it is uncommon for fruit pickers to continue picking even in rain, so you don’t need to worry about that – however, plan your finances accordingly.

The Insects (and other obstacles)

Creepy crawlies are everywhere, especially in certain species of fruits (check the Tips and Tricks section!) so you’re gonna want to avoid those if you have a special aversion to them.

There are also horticultural obstacles, such as tall grass that can trip you, rotten fruit that can make you slip up, as well as nettle thorns that can sting you!

Tall trees also require that you climb up on ladders, so you better bring your balance A game or at least have a friend there to spot you (hold the ladder and watch you) while you do any excessive work. 

Your mental health

The loneliness of the work can be offset by bringing a pair of earbuds with you to listen to music, but be careful because some farms do not allow you to work with headphones (for obvious safety reasons).

Fear not though, you won’t be staying with any employer for too long (visit the Visa Section to find out why!) anyway, so you might as well just do as much work as you can for that employer and then move on!

Where To Actually Look For Jobs?

The best places to find fruit picking jobs in Melbourne, as in life in the 21st Century, would be to look online. 

The majority of these sites are used by Australians themselves, to find jobs, so you know you’re getting the highest quality job hub.

Fruit Picking Websites:

Truth of the matter is, any of these websites will get you there. 

All you need to do is to look for, find and apply and you’ll get it in no time! That’ll be the easiest way to find fruit picking farms in Melbourne.

If however, you find yourself overwhelmed by the job search and all the different job ads you see – or you just want to be a little nifty and stay ahead of the competition (literally EVERYONE is on these sites) –  you can have a look at a number of specific companies directly.

Work in the Yarra Valley

The main work you’re going to want to find when trying to stay as close to Melbourne as possible is work in the Yarra Valley. Especially if you’re looking for grape picking in Melbourne.

The Yarra Valley is a patch of land approximately 40 kilometers northeast of Melbourne, or about an hour’s drive. 

The Yarra valley envelops a couple of neighborhoods such as Lilydale, Coldstream, Healesville, Seville (not the Spanish one) and Yarra Glen, among others.

But I think it’s your best bet to look for fruit picking in Wandin or fruit picking in Lilydale as they seem to be the places everyone’s looking for.

It mainly has grape picking as it is a famous regional wine vineyard – having been Victoria’s first wine growing district – but other main harvests include Apples, Berries and Cherries. 

Yarra Valley Seasonal Work is a website that is not too well known in the backpacker community looking to come to Australia to fruit pick. As of writing, it has postings such as being a Vineyard Hand ($30 per hour!), Apple Packer, Farm Hand and more.

It even has one for Cherry Picker, especially if you’re looking for cherry picking jobs in Melbourne (you’ll find out why in the Tips and Tricks section)

Easy Pickings

The first choice if one wants to stand out is Easy Pickings.They operate mainly in the Yarra Valley too!

It is a company operating since 2013 made by the people, for the people (if those people are backpackers, that is). It is essentially an agriculture contracting agency which acts as a middle man between the workforce and the farms.

To apply, all you need to do is fill out an application form and if you get the job, they’ll get back to you in two weeks. They pay every Friday directly to your bank account and their work qualifies you for a Secondary Visa!

If in need of transport, fear not, they offer a paid transport that starts from the city center and takes you to your destination for only $12.50 AUD ($8.39 USD) per day, return trip!

Work in the Mornington Peninsula

Your second best place to look for would be the Mornington Peninsula fruit picking jobs.

The Mornington Peninsula is a patch of land that looks like a horn, right under the main CBD of Melbourne. There are a myriad of farms down there, but most of them hold the “boutique farm” business model that will be mentioned later. 

However, that does not mean that one can not find work there or do Mornington Peninsula fruit picking, only that the jobs there are scarce when compared to other places in Victoria.

Unfortunately, you will find the same thing when looking at the opposite end of Melbourne, for fruit picking in Werribee – not that you won’t find any fruit picking but that you won’t find the fruit picking jobs in Werribee that you’re looking for.

When comparing, the fruit picking Mornington Peninsula jobs are a lot better since there are more boutique farms there. 

Work in Victoria (If push comes to shove)

If you don’t find suitable work in Melbourne but still are dead set on working in Victoria, then you need to look a bit farther from the city. Your best bet would be to find a job fruit picking NEAR Melbourne.

Your next best bet would be to look for work in the Goulburn Valley and Shepparton, which are located about 2 hours north of Melbourne, by car.

For that, you would definitely want to look at Pick GV, a website with job postings and general information about fruit picking work in the Goulburn Valley.

An additional hour to the north, and you will arrive at Cobram, another city that is ripe with job opportunities in the fruit picking sector. It is also situated along the Murray River (where most of the fruit picking jobs in victoria can be found).

Cobram is located in what’s known as the “Peaches and Cream” district, because of it’s many stone fruit orchards and dairy farms. A good job provider there to check out would be CVGT Employment & Training Specialists

Further out come Swan Hill – at a 4 hour drive from Melbourne; and Mildura – at a 6 hour drive from Melbourne, North-West. Your best bet in Swan Hill would be MADEC Australia, whereas for Mildura you will have to check the job websites mentioned previously.

What to look out for

Now that we’ve covered where to look, it would be rather irresponsible if I told you where NOT to look for jobs (or rather, what to look out for).

There are a couple of farms near the city of Melbourne that are so called “boutique farms”. This means, other than just being small farms, that they are a pay-to-play kind of farm where residents go to pick the fruits themselves instead of buying them at the supermarket or farmer’s market.

Now, it doesn’t mean that you can’t find work at these places – I mean, after all, they sell already picked produce themselves – but  you need to be alert that they are places that primarily sell a service of picking fruits yourself as a customer! 

That’ll save you a lot of time and hustle. 

Fruit Picking Jobs in Melbourne – Do I Need A Visa? 

First and foremost, you can not do fruit picking in Australia on a tourist visa

Many people sleep peacefully, thinking that if anything happens they can always go fruit picking “in the bush” to make ends meet.

Now that we’ve dispensed with the myths, let’s see what we really need to get the show on the road.

To work in Australia as a seasonal worker, you need a 417 Working Holiday Visa and meet the following next set of requirements:

  • Between the age of 18 to 30 (35 for some countries, so make sure to check)
  • Must be a passport holder of an eligible country 
  • Must not have any dependent children in company
  • Apply from outside the country
  • Not have entered in Australia before through either the 417 or 462 visa
  • Have the finances to Support yourself in Australia as well as leave at the end of your stay (5000 AUD or 3340 USD, excluding your travel ticket)
  • Must sign the Australian Values Statement
  • Must not have withstanding debt with the Australian government, whether you or your family
  • Meet the character and health requirements

Now, I can hear yourself asking the question, what is a 462 visa? Well, that is a category of visa called Work and Holiday visa.

But isn’t that the same as a Working Holiday visa? Yes and no.

Work and Holiday visa (462) is the same as a Working Holiday Visa (417) all except for one point – with a 462 visa, you must demonstrate functional English skills as well as requiring a Letter of Support from your home country, except if you are from the US.

The cost is $510 AUD ($342 USD) and 

The processing time can take anywhere from less than a day, up to 39 days from application. It allows the visa holder to stay and work in the country for up to 12 months, as well as study for a maximum of 4 months.

Does 12 months not seem enough for you?

This is exactly why the AU government has created the program of “Second Working Holiday Visa”. That is, if you are willing to work for 88 days of “specified work”, you will be able to extend your visa for another year, and then an additional year after that.

What’s “specified work” I hear you say? Well fruit picking of course! (Among other things)

Important reminder – you may not work for any ONE employer for more than 6 months during your stay in Australia. Breaking this law could affect your stay in Australia as well as your ability to renew your visa. 

Fruit Picking Jobs in Melbourne -Necessities for Work

  • WATER!
    WATER, WATER, WATER.
    I can not stress this enough. You do not want to be doing any physical labor in the scorching sun while dehydrated.
    Having said that, you also do not want to overdrink, since water intoxication is actually a thing in Australia. That’s why it’s smart to keep a bag of electrolytes with you, just in case you do go overboard. Here is a good water bottle that has a strap which you can hang while you pick.
  • Energy Bars!
    Depending on whether your organization provides lunch, you’re gonna want to bring that along with you, maybe some small nut bars (avoid chocolate, since it melts) in your pockets to re-energize every so often.
  • Hats and sunscreen!
    A broad-brimmed sun hat and some sunscreen (30 – 50 SPF) is very important for you in any part of the territory of Australia.
    The reason for this is because Australia has a thinning in the ozone layer which protects it from harmful UV radiation, so always remember to apply sunscreen and take your sun hat with you if going out – preferably a pair of sunglasses as well if you’re light-eyed.
  • First Aid
    A first-aid kit will go a long way, anything from plasters to aspirin to ibuprofen, it will help if you get sore from work or get a sun-kissed headache. 
  • Physical fitness
    You need to be physically fit and healthy to do fruit picking work with the required efficiency. You also need to know ahead of time, whether you are allergic to any substances that are expelled during the harvesting season.
  • Valid license
    A valid driver’s license, although not technically a necessity, is a big plus and can sometimes make the difference between you getting hired or some other fruit picker.
  • Nail polish remover (ok, you don’t really need it on you)
    For the ladies, keep in mind that nail polish is frowned upon and most places will force you to remove it, since fruit is food and that can lead to contamination. 

How much can you earn fruit picking in Melbourne? 

While I personally love the pun, I can not say that I love the wages. 

Australian law mandates the wage of casual farm work through the Fair Work Ombudsman, and regulates the wages for harvest work at a minimum of $25.41 AUD per hour (approximately $17.09 USD at the time of writing).

While it is clear that you won’t get rich picking fruit, understand one thing – you are doing this to dip your toes in the water. You want to find a way to experience Australia while getting paid for it.

Having said that, there are two ways you can get paid – either per hour or per basket (unit of fruit you pick). 

If you plan to do the minimal work required then you should choose a job with an hourly wage and if you plan to hold your destiny in your own hands then pick the “per basket” option 

This way you will ensure that you have control over how much work you do and thus can get better wages if you work harder! 

However, there is always the risk that you might not fill the bucket (whether because of your speed or because of the fruit quality), so remember that there are two sides to the coin, and sometimes you just have to go with your gut on this one.

Nobody says that you have to stay at your first fruit picking job or remain in the industry, but it’s safe to say that if you go to Australia as a temporary seasonal worker or Backpacker, you will need to do fruit picking at some point in your journey. 

Fruit Picking Jobs in Melbourne – What Is Life Like For A Country Boy/Girl? 

Seasonal work starts in November and carries on all the way to April in Australia, and it is “ripe” for fruit picking.

Not many people know this, but since Australia is in the Southern hemisphere, the seasons down there are reversed. This means that they experience winter in the summer months (June, July and August) and summer in the winter months.

Since February can be considered the “peak month” for fruit picking, you will get to enjoy a brimming sunshine, basking in the glow while all of your friends back home will be stuck to their heaters.

Usually it’s pretty chilly in the mornings, but once the sun comes out, you will regret dressing up too much, so it is best to just suck it up. 

Toilets can be scarce too, so be strategic about your trips to the bathroom and your water consumption during work on the farm. 

Since you’ll be living in rural places if you stay on the farm, you will end up saving a lot of money (assuming you get paid well). When your surroundings are green and the nearest club is miles away, you are in temptation-free, financial savings nirvana!

The outback is a quiet place filled with peace and serenity, so you can bask in the sounds while you escape from the hustle and bustle of the cities.

“The bush” (what Australians call the outback, where all the farms are) is also filled with many critters – from possums to flies to spiders and roaches – so keep your guard up at all times, from when you work to when you sleep. 

Rural Australian is practically a new language, if you thought you didn’t understand Australians before – think again. It takes some getting used to, but even I never fully understand them, so don’t worry, it definitely isn’t you.

Fruit Picking Jobs in Melbourne – Where Will I Sleep? 

Some of the employers provide you with accommodation on site and thus you are allowed to sleep on the farm.

Some will provide you as part of your work, and some will charge you extra, but it’s worthy to note that sleeping on the farm is usually your cheapest and all-round best option, since you have a chance to meet everybody else you will work with.

If they don’t offer accommodation then you can always ask the farm owners or any agencies you are employed with as they have industry contacts that they can refer you to.

There are some not-so-funny stories of people sleeping in shipping containers, so go with your brain on this one, it’s more of a farm-to-farm basis.

Be warned, some farms have exclusive relationships with hostels and will (more or less) force you to live in a certain hostel or risk losing your job!

Fruit Picking Jobs in Melbourne – Useful Sites 

  • Agriculture Victoria is a website you can use to learn more about the agricultural industry in Victoria in general – for example, in 2022 they had a Big Victorian Harvest sign on bonus, where international job seekers were eligible for up to $2000 AUD ($1342 USD) in reimbursements. So keep an eye out! 
  • Pick Your Own is a handy website that can tell you which farms near you are a “pick your own fruit” type of boutique farms!
  • Harvest Job is a website that shows you the different types of fruits and vegetables  that grow in each state as well as their harvesting seasons.

Fruit Picking Jobs in Melbourne – Tools Of The Trade 

Fruit picking is a part of the horticultural trade and is thus branded in Australia and “tradie work” (tradesman – people who work in the trades or do manual labor).

  • Hi-Vis shirt
    The staple trademark of the Australian “tradie” is the so called “hi-vis” shirt or vest (stands for high visibility), a requirement for every manual laborer.
    Invest in a good shirt (avoid the vests) and make sure you have short and long sleeved ones, as well as a backup one in case anything happens to your old one. The shoulders must be covered and the shirt must have a collar.
  • Gardening gloves
    You’ll also be needing a pair of garden gloves – in ideal conditions they’ll be fingerless, allowing you to have better grip when picking fruit but it would be smart to invest in full gloves as well.
    It’ll keep you from getting chemical rashes as well as keep your hands from turning black from the fruit picking with a substance that takes days or even weeks to come off! 
  • Pruners/Secatuers
    Pruners or Secateurs (or “Seccies”, as Aussies call them) are basically the firearm of horticulture. Use it sparingly where you don’t need it, go all in where you do.
    A good pair of “seccies” will come in handy when you have thousands of repetitions of the same movement, and if you rely on the farm’s rusty or old ones, you can find yourself developing a mild form of carpal tunnel in no time!
  • Picking bag
    Having your own picking bag will be a lifesaver
    in terms of productivity and efficiency. You will never work as quickly or as well with another bag as you will with your own. Also, the personal responsibility you will feel for your stuff will ensure you take care of it.
  • Boots
    Make sure you have the proper footwear, you will need proper tradie boots with a tough sole that will make it impenetrable by liquids and insects and thorns – basically anything that can stab at you or soak you.

Fruit Picking Jobs in Melbourne – Tips And Tricks

  • When bending down to pick things up, keep your back straight (never bent) and always squat down to pick it up, especially if it’s heavy!
  • Don’t take unnecessary trips. Plan your route so that you cover the whole area in one line (from start to finish).
  • Start at the top of the tree and pick downwards so that the bucket is heaviest when you’re on the ground instead of in the air.
  • If you want to be cheeky, pick only at eye level and leave the top and bottom for other people to pick, that way you can pack your bucket quicker!
  • If you have to choose a fruit to pick, choose cherries. They are known as a fruit that’s easy to pick because they are easy to pick, are very light and don’t crush easily
  • Apples are your next best bet, they are tough and easy to pick, although they do ten to get heavy once a few are in the bag. Just be careful not to rough them up too much as some varieties bruise easily. 
  • Go for fruit and vegetables that grow at eye level or above, that means no to anything that grows on the ground such as peppers, rockmelons, onions, pumpkins, watermelons.
  • Also avoid strawberries if you can! Although lighter than the previous, they are heavy on your back and easily crushed. Although some farms have bicycles that you can ride to help you pick them with your hands while moving with your feet.
  • Avoid Bananas, peaches and mangos. The first one is a magnet for roaches, spiders and other creepy crawlies while the other two cause allergic reactions in many people
  • If picking Citrus fruits, learn “the twist” – you want to twist the fruit with your wrist so that the stem breaks off naturally and you don’t break off any rind (skin of the fruit)
  • Mandarins are the only citrus fruits collected with a pruner, leaving the stem intact with the fruit ensures slower spoilage. 

Fruit Picking Jobs In Melbourne FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about fruit picking jobs in Melbourne:

How much do fruit pickers earn in Victoria?

Fruit pickers in Victoria earn the national minimum wage for the Horticulture Award as per the Australian Fair Work Commission’s guaranteed hourly rate of at least $25.41 AUD.

How much does a fruit picker get paid in Australia?

Fruit pickers in Australia get paid an average salary of $58,500 per year or $30 per hour, which can go as low as $52,600 for new workers and as high as approximately $83,800 for seasoned workers who have experience in the fruit picking industry.

How much do you get paid for kiwifruit picking in Australia ?

Paying for kiwifruit picking in Australia can get up to $60 per hour because of all the incentives and bonuses that are offered to potential workers to mitigate the impact that the Covid-19 crisis has had on the kiwi industry in the region.

Conclusion

And when it’s all said and done, would you rather have said more or done more?

Australia is a vast country with many wonderful things to see, from the Uluru Rock to the Great Barrier Reef. Fruit picking is a wonderful way to pay for your costs while you’re “Down Under” and an experience that will last a lifetime. 

Not to mention the friendships you will gain along the way. And did I mention the big fruits? 

Agh, any way you spin it, the adventure of a lifetime is out there, waiting to be seized by the right person.

Well then, what are you waiting for? Let’s get you a sun hat and a pair of boots and send you packing!

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