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Fruit picking in regional Victoria – your questions answered

Words by Della Vreeland
Images Supplied

There’s this notion that the task of fruit and vegetable picking is reserved for the backpackers and skilled migrants of the world. A job for those looking to earn some extra dollars while they find their feet in a new country. And while this might be the case in many instances, harvest work is in fact just as rewarding and worthy of consideration for the average joe as it is for the intrepid traveller.

For those who have ever been curious about the ins and outs of the picking and packing world, we’ve put together a list of questions and answers to get you started along your investigative journey.


When does the season start?

This depends on the product – naturally. Obviously, for produce such as apples, pears, grapes and berries it will be during the summertime, while the citrus season will be from May to September and the vegetable season from October through to March.

But one thing is for sure, picking and packing work is a year-round job, so you’re never going to find yourself twiddling your thumbs.

Where will I be based?

Victoria’s main harvest regions across Victoria are East and West Gippsland, Sunraysia, Wimmera and Mallee, Swan Hill, Goulburn Valley, Yarra Valley, the Dandenongs, Mornington Peninsula and a little pocket of orchards around the Werribee region.

Fruit Picking Victoria

Not a bad choice of office space if you ask us.

Bask in the sunshine, breathe in the country air, connect with a gracious community, and experience some hands-on, healthy work.

What does the job entail?

Victorian harvest work needs workers of all ages and skill sets with jobs including fruit picking in the field, preparing and packing the fruit in sheds for distribution, pruning and thinning fruit trees, and driving tractors, forklifts and other machinery.

Most jobs require skills that can be learned on the job while other jobs require training, skills or licences.

There’s no denying the work is rewarding, but it’s tough and can be physically demanding. Often outdoors, some roles require heavy lifting, climbing ladders and operating machinery.

Do I need training?

It’s always going to help your case if you have some training and sets you apart from other candidates. Plus most of the training is free, quick and simple.

The new Seasonal Workforce Group Traineeships in Horticulture pilot program links students with training and on-the-job experience to build their skills and open new career pathways and will be rolled out across key horticulture regions including the Sunraysia, the Goulburn Valley and Gippsland.

Then there’s the free Horticulture Farm Worker Induction Program that is being delivered by SuniTAFE and can help get you job-ready for harvest work as well as a number of other free TAFE courses and dairy industry training too.

For more information about free training opportunities, make sure to check out the Training for Harvest Work page.

What do I get paid?

Ah! Now to the all-important question!

Depending on your classification, those working in horticulture can earn anywhere between $21 to $25 per hour (minimum full-time rate – ordinary hours) with the minimum ordinary full-time weekly rate currently sitting at $812.60 for a Level 1 classification and $940.90 for a Level 5 classification.

Note that this is not taking into account afternoon and late shifts, public holidays and other allowances. And of course, this is only the minimum amount as set by the Fair Work Ombudsman. More here.

It used to be that fruit pickers were paid by piece, but luckily that’s not the case anymore, as many labourers found themselves being grossly underpaid. While piece rates are still able to be used, pieceworkers must still get a minimum wage guarantee.

Where will I stay?

Some farms provide accommodation on-site and some charge a fee. Either way, wherever you find work, make sure to reach out to the relevant council area and seek further insights regarding relocation and accommodation assistance.  

The Department of Health and Human Services has also been working closely with industry and accommodation providers in the different regions to ensure COVID Safe accommodation is available to workers, with limited public transport also available to farms. Some accommodation providers can also assist with travel to and from farms, so it’s worth checking with them individually.

Final points to consider

Embarking on this new journey can be daunting, especially if you’re new to Australia or the horticulture industry in general. But to be able to work outdoors in some of the most serene and awe-inspiring regions of the state is really a bounty worth pursuing.

Before applying, ensure the job and employer are reputable and read about the produce, harvest process, and industry on the Horticulture Industry and Local Government Websites.

Jobs are often listed by labour-hire companies, which source workers for farmers, and you can check if the company is a licensed labour-hire provider on the Labour Hire Authority website.

You can also find a harvest job by:

For all this info and more, visit Agriculture Victoria. And have yourself a very happy harvest!

We wish to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.
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