29th Feb 2012 3:36pm | By TNTOnline
Sara Hirschorn has just been grape-picking in Mildura, Victoria, which she says is “a once in a lifetime experience”. Here are her fruit-picking tips...
Whether it’s fruit, veg or even cotton, if it’s grown in Oz you can probably find a job harvesting it – every month of the year, something needs plucking (stop that). But it’s worth doing some research before you apply. Find out the typical climate for the time of year in the location you’re considering. Outdoor work is liberating but even die-hard sun worshippers can lose faith grafting in relentless 40 degree heat. From Queensland to WA to Tasmania, the options are yours for the picking. There’s work available in Oz year-round.
Harvest work often demands ridiculously early starts, hard labour and six-day weeks. It may be the toughest dollar you’ve ever earned but remember it’s also an absolutely phenomenal, once-in-a-lifetime experience. You’ll soon discover that even a bad day in the field beats a good day in the office.
Think outside the box
From cattle-mustering to fence-building to tree-planting, you have loads of options beyond fruit-picking. Hunt around – the harvest world is your oyster.
Check out job vacancy listings at www.tntdownunder.com, www.jobsearch.gov.au/harvesttrailor let google do the work by entering three magic words: ‘harvest work Australia’.
Do the maths
If you’re lucky you’ll be paid by the hour, but if you’re fruit picking you’re more likely to be paid by the quantity of fruit you pick. After checking the pay package, dry your eyes and remember that most jobs come with either free or discounted accommodation, and being located in the back arse of nowhere guarantees minimal spending. As a result, saving the spondoolies is an outstandingly effortless task, even after accounting for that all important beer money.
Your biggest asset will be a sense of humour. Considering the early starts, hard graft, shared accommodation and swarms of overzealous creepy crawlies, the first few weeks are definitely ‘character building’. Grit your teeth and soon, with new friends aplenty and fresh colour in your cheeks, the good times will seriously start to roll. This is where you’ll make drinking buddies for now and real friends for life.
If you’re planning harvest work in the interests of extending your Working Holiday visa, make sure you work in an eligible region (check www.immi.gov.au for a full listing of eligible postcodes). There’s nothing more gutting than busting your balls for three months to find out it doesn’t count. The Australian Department of Immigration is sadly not the forgiving type.
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