Sydney to Young – Part 2
A backpackers perspective on getting a Fruit Picking Job for the first time . Written by Cecile – Check out her profile here
….Most of the other pickers slept in their tents. We all had access to the shower (hot)
and toilets for $12.5 per week which was deducted directly from our weekly wage.
Also there was a kitchen and lounge with plenty of chairs and tables that Barry allowed us to use. Apparently he doesn’t make the resources available every year but he had faith and trust in our group.
This orchard is one of the biggest in Young, but this years the crop wasn’t so good. The weather hasn’t been favourable and most of the cherries are split. That’s means we have to sort them, it’s taking a long time to select only the good cherries, a waste of time so an effective reduction in wages as you are paid by weight you pick and not per hour.
The trees are high and we had to climb the ladders regularly to access cherries. There are different varieties of cherries, some are easier to pick than others, that’s why we get paid depending of the variety, but for all of them we have to separate the clusters. Roughly, we get between $12 and $15 per bucket. Of course the more hours we did, the more we typically picked and the more we got paid. Our days started in the early morning, around 6.30am and we were free to stop whenever we wanted typically by 3-4pm that we had enough.
At the end of the week, our wage was fairly low after you factored in all of our expenses ( accommodation + taxes) we only earnt between $350 for the quickest of us to $200 for the more relaxed ones.
Group Dinner after a days work
As this was our first job in Australia we didn’t have much of an idea about how much you can get paid Down Under. Most of us had come from Europe where wages are much lower than in Australia. However, day after day, we started to realize the money was not good at all, and so, we start singing in the orchard, while picking cherries under the sun : ‘ We are the cherry pickers, we don’t make much money but we are very happy’…. and so we were, very happy!’
As a team we came from far away, France, Germany, Netherlands, Korea, to live the Australian way of life, to share experiences we’ll remember for a lifetime. Together we were worriless, walking barefoot, eating 100 cherries a day, baking cherry pies all together. Living with naturewe woke up to birds singing and played and listened to guitars to put us to sleep before another day of work. As a close-knit team we spent our days off together, having barbecues, picnics, and exploring what Young had to offer. We could work 7 days a week if wanted but we like to have a balance and experience Young.
A month later, the season was over, and it was time
to make a move. We got in contact with another farm in Tasmania with work from December. Our co-workers had now become our friends, so we planned to go for another picking experience, together in Tassie!
At this time, we leave Barry’s farm with a all with tear’s in our eyes.
Time has flown, but the memories will last us for a long while.
Ok, we didn’t make much money, just enough to feed us and the simple bare necessities but we forget about our worries and stress and lived the relaxed farm life.
Bye Bye Young, Let’s go to Tassie.
And now another adventure begins, we have no idea what to expect..
Follow Cecile’s story to Tassie here