Practical tips for pickers and farm workers
Protect yourself in the sun
Newsflash—it can be very hot and sunny in Australia! Unless you’re working indoors (e.g. packing fruits and vegetables), make sure to:
- Apply sunscreen regularly: make applying it several times a day part of your routine, especially when you’re outside during high exposure time (noon to 2 p.m.). Australia has one of the highest skin cancer rates in the world—follow local recommendations regarding the level of protection you need and how much cream you need to apply. Pay attention to exposed body parts, like your face, hands and lower back (when you bend down a lot!).
- Stay hydrated: bring a large refillable bottle or container and drink regularly during the workday. Heat can be intense between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. and the work is quite physical. You may want to consider bringing a high-energy snack as well.
- Wear sunglasses and a hat: sunscreen isn’t a magical body armour, protect your head and eyes! Shop around for sunglasses—they shouldn’t be a cheap fashion accessory, you’re looking for UV protection here. If you’re wearing a cap, don’t forget to apply sunscreen on your ears.
Finally, consider using bug spray or mosquitoes will eat you alive, especially toward the end of the day when it’s hot and humid.
Dress for the job and hot weather
In Australia, working outdoors often means working in the heat. Fruit picking is physical work and you will get dirty—don’t wear your favourite t-shirt and designer shorts unless you’re happy throwing them away after a few weeks as a picker! On the other hand, now is the time to use stained, old clothes and that pair of shoes you were going to bin.
Need cheap clothes for the job? Head to the second-hand store for great deals!
Finally, don’t wear sandals, both for safety reasons and to avoid getting bug bites.
Secure your valuables
You’re going to spend long hours far from your camera, cash, tablet and computer. Many backpackers wonder what to do with their valuables—the best approach is probably a mix of common sense, trust and respect:
- If a safe is available at the hostel, use it. If you can lock the door in your dorm, do it so that the whole team can go to work knowing no one will enter. Don’t leave your valuables lying around, or at the very least hide your cash in your backpack. Don’t travel with unique, irreplaceable items.
- Respect other people’s property—but you knew that already, right?
- Remember that everyone is in the same boat. Trust the backpacker’s honour system, most people travel with valuables and don’t go around stealing stuff.
Plan your breaks
You’ll get a few “smokos” (“cigarette break,” a term that applies to non-smokers as well) throughout the day. Bring a sandwich or an easy-to-carry snack (granola bar, etc.).
Check with your employer if you can listen to music. If they don’t mind, charge your phone, download your favourite tunes or podcasts and bring earphones, your workday will go by faster.
Take interstate quarantine seriously
Remember when you were asked whether you were bringing food into Australia when you landed? Remember when you had to throw away a lovely orange brought from home and forgotten in your daypack?
Well, the same rule applies when you travel from one state to another. Australia has very strict biosecurity procedures to prevent the introduction of harmful pests and diseases and there are quarantine zones between states or even within states. You can download a copy of Australian Interstate Quarantine: A traveller’s guide for more info.
Check restrictions before you travel, “eat it or bin it” and be aware that fines are given on the spot if you’re caught with—gasp!—fruits.
Main articles about the WHV to Australia
16 Good Reasons to Apply for a Working Holiday Visa
The Working Holiday Visa Adventure as a Solo Traveller
Applying for a Working Holiday Visa (Subclass 417) To Australia: The Ultimate Step-By-Step Guide with Screenshots
Globe WHV insurance policy highlights
Your first steps in Australia with a Working Holiday Visa
15 Tips for a Successful WHV Experience
Working in Australia: Opportunities, tips for backpackers and job search advice
Fruit Picking Jobs in Australia: What, Where, How (and Why!)