Fruit Picking in Shepparton: Australia Under the Radar

I am 100% sure that Shepparton VIC, is a town that’s on no one list when they travel to Australia. It wasn’t on mine. I hadn’t even heard of the town before getting a phone call from a woman offering me a job there.

Fruit Picking in Shepparton VIC

Shepparton is located in the northeast of Victoria and in the heart of Australia’s food bowl. It is a place surrounded by farms and orchards. Apples, cherries, berries, oranges, tomatoes, grapes,… it’s all grown, picked and sold there. In November and December 2010 I spent a month and a half picking cherries, pruning trees and planting tomatoes.

It was a blast.

Fruit Picking in Shepparton VIC: Three Bins of Cherries
Three Bins of Cherries

Picking Cherries in Shepparton VIC

Fruit picking in Shepparton is pretty much the ultimate backpacking job and when I got that phone call – I was staying in Melbourne, two hours south of Shepparton – I couldn’t say no. Everyone who worked at the cherry farm was there for two reasons: making money and saving money. There is no place where it’s easier to connect with people and to make friends than a fruit farm in Australia. I stayed at a so-called ‘work hostel’ and later moved to an Australian guy’s garden with a bunch of co-fruit-pickers. He allowed us to pitch our tents in his front yard in exchange for 35AUD a week. We could use his kitchen, laundry machine and living room. It’s almost impossible to find cheaper accommodation, so we all stayed there for a while. One week sleeping in a tent cost as much as one night in a hostel dorm.

Fruit Picking in Shepparton VIC: The Shepparton Cows
The Shepparton Cows

On a day of fruit picking in Shepparton we would get up before sunrise and drive our cars to work. Work started at first light and finished shortly after noon – when it usually got too hot to keep on working. We drove home again, cooked some food, played games and drank beer or goon.

I made 1AUD per kilo of cherries. That may not seem like a lot, but after a while you learn the technique and could make a decent amount of money. After a couple of weeks I made twice as much money in a day than I did when I first started. It’s definitely motivating.

Planting tomatoes, however, was ridiculously boring. I did that only a few days before I found extra work pruning trees. That was a lot more fun and the pay was way better.

On days we didn’t work – rain or the occasional day off – we went into town. The local library had free internet and was where all of us went to check our emails. In the evenings we either drank cheap beer at home or went to bars in town.

Fruit Picking in Shepparton VIC: Cherry Farm in Shepparton
Cherry Farm

I was glad I could spend some time in a place like Shepparton VIC. It is the real Australia, a place where you can meet real Australians. It’s not even the least bit touristy- except for working backpackers – which was a welcome change after spending several weeks in Sydney and Melbourne.

And also on the plus side, I have never eaten so much free fruit in my life!

After I had saved up enough money fruit picking in Shepparton VIC, I booked myself a place to stay in Sydney and went to spend Christmas and New Year’s Eve in Australia’s most iconic city.

About Bram

Website: http://www.travel-experience-live.com

Bram is a Belgian guy who's currently living in the USA. For over four years now, he has been wandering the globe, with jobs here and there in between. So far, his travels have taken him to four continents and twenty-two countries. Bram likes to try different styles of travelling: from backpacker and adventurer to tourist and local, he has been all those stereotypes and probably will be many more in the future. You can follow his adventures on his travel blog, on Twitter and on Facebook.

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3 Responses

  1. Southwest Australia: Exploring the Highlights | Go 4 Travel Blog

    […] community. At Margaret River, I made some great friends there and even ran into a couple of old fruit picking friends from my time in Shepparton, Victoria. I had already spent about a month and a half picking cherries in […]

    Reply
  2. Avatar for Bram

    Sofie Verhaegen

    Hi Bram,

    I was wondering
    If you could give me the names of the farms you worked for or any contact details?

    Greetings
    Sofie

    Reply
    • Avatar for Bram

      Richard Wolskel

      Hi Sofie,
      I don’t know where Bram worked. However you might want to check out this site.
      https://jobsearch.gov.au/job/search/harvest
      On it you can search for fruit picking jobs in every state of Australia. It is an official government site, so you should be OK. Just be a bit careful though, one of the TV companies here did a piece on the exploitation of overseas workers working as farm workers or fruit pickers. This included some very big companies, mainly Poultry producers and large orchards I think. So just be careful who you sign up with, and make sure you have enough spare money to move on if things don’t turn out as you expected. Then I am sure you will have a fantastic trip!
      Cheers Richard

      Reply

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