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1





Equipped with the well known Working Holiday Visa, we arrived in Australia. We needed some easy money to continue peacefully the trip in Asia with some more dollars in our pockets. The best way recommended by everybody is called "Fruit Picking".

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There are opportunities in "Fruit picking" all over the year. This continent is so wide that there is always a harvest season somewhere. In Winter, it is in the North and during Summer in the South. When the fruit is ripe, farmers always needs some extra pairs of hands to pick them up.

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This leads us to Shepparton, the capital of pears, in the north of Melbourne. We found the job in one single hour. Workers were seeked there. We began the next day, in Peter’s Farm.

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We earned $1500 (1000€) each in two weeks of labor. We picked pears, by using the strength of our shoulder, armed with a bag and a ladder. Our goal: to fulfill the "bins", namely boxes of a half cubic meter that can contain around three thousand pears. Salary: $35 per bin. Bins are sold by the farmer between $400 and $800. We filled on average three boxes per day, earning around $105 per day. That’s correct!

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The farmer has been awful, treating us like we were scums. But we still enjoyed our Sudanese colleagues who sang in orchards. Not sure if their job was legal...

6





Working was hard under the hazardous Australian sun. We woke up before the sunrise and went to bed earlier than the sun. Our performances didn’t evolve since the fifth day. They depended mainly on the quality of the trees. After two exhausting weeks, the end of the pear season forced our leaving. We didn’t stay for the apple season that was supposed to start two weeks later.

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While Pierre went on a jaunt in Malaisia (see Article 41), I stayed in Australia for a second Picking. This time, it took me a large week to find work. We have been very lucky in Shepparton. So here I am, exiled in Gayndah, a village of cowboys north of Brisbane, to pick mandarins.

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There I finally found the Backpackers atmosphere that French people love in Australia. My caravan park was full of French people – around 80%! A French guy could come live for one year in Australia without speaking any word of English. Indeed, we meet French people everywhere! I lived in this place a great experience of friendship, of goon (cheap wine – best alcohol bargain in Australia), of weed and of playing cards. We were all in the same boat. We sustained each others, exchanged tips and made the common grub. There was a special atmosphere I particularly appreciated.

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For the work with mandarins, we were a group of three. Julien, Benji and I peeled the trees motivating each other with quips and jokes of all kinds. James the boss remained friendly with us. He always had a sorried smile when assigning us a line of mandarin trees that he knew in advance they were badly pruned.

10





Throughout the harvest, we lose our good habits for a greater efficiency. Fruit picking is a matter of fools. The farmer wants the most mandarins as possible, and a good quality for the least money paid. So he pays for productivity and puts pressure for quality. The picker wants to earn the most money by working the least. He is paid for productivity. So the faster he is, the better he gets paid. From his point of view, quality is therefore a brake. One pushes illegitimately up and the other pulls slyly down.

11





In our case, the farmer has already saved a lot of money by pruning the trees very briefly. It is however an indispensable work for having larger fruits and an easier access to the branches. The difficulty of picking suffers behind. The salary for one bin is here $100 but proportionately it takes longer to pick than with pears.

12





After two weeks of picking punctuated with some forced days off, I woke up one morning wondering: “What am I doing here? I’m losing my time. Where is the Adventure?”. The day after, I resigned and took the road to Brisbane.

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Fruit picking in a nutshell

The fruit picking is a physical work somewhat stunning. We can complain about working conditions there but it remains the easiest way to save for money for later. 

1





Equipped with the well known Working Holiday Visa, we arrived in Australia. We needed some easy money to continue peacefully the trip in Asia with some more dollars in our pockets. The best way recommended by everybody is called "Fruit Picking".





There are opportunities in "Fruit picking" all over the year. This continent is so wide that there is always a harvest season somewhere. In Winter, it is in the North and during Summer in the South. When the fruit is ripe, farmers always needs some extra pairs of hands to pick them up.





This leads us to Shepparton, the capital of pears, in the north of Melbourne. We found the job in one single hour. Workers were seeked there. We began the next day, in Peter’s Farm.





We earned $1500 (1000€) each in two weeks of labor. We picked pears, by using the strength of our shoulder, armed with a bag and a ladder. Our goal: to fulfill the "bins", namely boxes of a half cubic meter that can contain around three thousand pears. Salary: $35 per bin. Bins are sold by the farmer between $400 and $800. We filled on average three boxes per day, earning around $105 per day. That’s correct!





The farmer has been awful, treating us like we were scums. But we still enjoyed our Sudanese colleagues who sang in orchards. Not sure if their job was legal...





Working was hard under the hazardous Australian sun. We woke up before the sunrise and went to bed earlier than the sun. Our performances didn’t evolve since the fifth day. They depended mainly on the quality of the trees. After two exhausting weeks, the end of the pear season forced our leaving. We didn’t stay for the apple season that was supposed to start two weeks later.





While Pierre went on a jaunt in Malaisia (see Article 41), I stayed in Australia for a second Picking. This time, it took me a large week to find work. We have been very lucky in Shepparton. So here I am, exiled in Gayndah, a village of cowboys north of Brisbane, to pick mandarins.





There I finally found the Backpackers atmosphere that French people love in Australia. My caravan park was full of French people – around 80%! A French guy could come live for one year in Australia without speaking any word of English. Indeed, we meet French people everywhere! I lived in this place a great experience of friendship, of goon (cheap wine – best alcohol bargain in Australia), of weed and of playing cards. We were all in the same boat. We sustained each others, exchanged tips and made the common grub. There was a special atmosphere I particularly appreciated.





For the work with mandarins, we were a group of three. Julien, Benji and I peeled the trees motivating each other with quips and jokes of all kinds. James the boss remained friendly with us. He always had a sorried smile when assigning us a line of mandarin trees that he knew in advance they were badly pruned.





Throughout the harvest, we lose our good habits for a greater efficiency. Fruit picking is a matter of fools. The farmer wants the most mandarins as possible, and a good quality for the least money paid. So he pays for productivity and puts pressure for quality. The picker wants to earn the most money by working the least. He is paid for productivity. So the faster he is, the better he gets paid. From his point of view, quality is therefore a brake. One pushes illegitimately up and the other pulls slyly down.





In our case, the farmer has already saved a lot of money by pruning the trees very briefly. It is however an indispensable work for having larger fruits and an easier access to the branches. The difficulty of picking suffers behind. The salary for one bin is here $100 but proportionately it takes longer to pick than with pears.





After two weeks of picking punctuated with some forced days off, I woke up one morning wondering: “What am I doing here? I’m losing my time. Where is the Adventure?”. The day after, I resigned and took the road to Brisbane.



Fruit picking in a nutshell

The fruit picking is a physical work somewhat stunning. We can complain about working conditions there but it remains the easiest way to save for money for later. 

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