Make sure you have a confirmed job before travelling.

Backpackers should ensure they have confirmed work and accommodation before travelling to rural areas where fruit picking and packing jobs are available.

Backpackers leaving Australia

Looking for agricultural work? While large parts of other industries have either shut down or are operating at reduced capacity, agriculture is basically operating as normal, with large numbers of people needed to pick and pack fruit and vegetables.Backpacker

However due to the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, many backpackers who would normally help to pick and pack fruit have decided to return to their home countries, with around 50,000 people departing Australia between March and June. After large numbers departed in March and April lesser numbers have been departing in subsequent months.

However due to the closed Australian border, there have been no new arrivals to replace the departing backpackers, and this is unlikely to change until sometime in 2021.

More jobs available

With less backpackers in the country, and basically no change to the amount of fruit and vegetables grown, it is not surprising that it is becoming easier to find picking and packing work to work toward a visa extension.

While winter sees reduced work opportunities in southern states, large numbers of workers are still needed to pick citrus and prune vines, particularly in the Riverland area of South Australia and along the Murray River at places like Mildura, Robinvale and Swan Hill. Blueberry harvest is commencing around Coffs Harbour on the northern coast of NSW, and harvest of a wide range of crops from strawberries to bananas is underway in Queensland.

Do not travel to any regional areas unless you have a confirmed job to go to

Unfortunately, there is a perception in rural communities that backers are potential spreaders of COVID-19. Rural communities do not want people arriving in their towns without a confirmed job and accommodation to go to. Many of these towns have limited accommodation as hostels and caravan parks have had to reduce capacity to abide by social distancing requirements.

For up to date information on all aspects of harvest jobs, contact the Harvest Trail Information Service (HTIS) – 1800 062 332 or visit HTIS contact centre operators can assist with information and advice on where to look for upcoming work opportunities. This is a free service.

Can I travel interstate?

If you have found a horticulture job and need to travel interstate to commence work, you should be able to. However, the requirements vary significantly from state to state. Details are constantly changing, so it is important to check with the Commonwealth Department of Health and each state health department before travelling anywhere, either interstate or even within states.