International visitors who help bring in the Goulburn Valley's fruit harvest are battling the Aussie summer heat.LAURA GRIFFIN December 11, 2012 4:09am
Interational fruit pickers at the Tatura Hotel. (Frp, left to right): Euan Gray of New Zealand, Ellis Dunning of England, Ariel Der Wolters of Holland, Nina Steenwinkel of Holland, Florrie Bowler of England and Anna Stafford of Ireland.
The changing temperatures have made the start of the Goulburn Valley fruit picking season run similarly hot and cold.
Despite the stop-start nature of the harvest, a group of six European fruit pickers was joking and smiling around a table at the Tatura Hotel.
Florrie Bowler has spent two weeks picking apricots and said the biggest challenge was the heat.
‘‘I’m from England. How do you Australians deal with it?’’ Florrie said.
Some of the international tourists are picking fruit to qualify for the second year of their Working Holiday Visa. Under the visa conditions, they must do 88 days of specified work in regional areas, as designated by postcodes.
Ellis Dunning, also of England, said it was a fair condition.
‘‘You can’t expect to get a second year for nothing,’’ Ellis said.
He said all pickers quickly worked out you needed to work hard to make money.
The group said listening to motivational music helped fruit picking.
‘‘Get some Eye of the Tiger,’’ Anna Stafford of Ireland said.
Ariel Der Wolters of Holland said the heat was exacerbated in greenhouses, where he had been picking tomatoes.
The tomato farm is a coveted workplace, however, because pickers there are paid an hourly wage.
Rebecca Sloan, who runs recruitment service Australia Unearthed, said most farms paid by the bin.
The Shepparton woman started the business five years ago to help international fruit pickers and Goulburn Valley orchardists by filling staffing needs and ensuring the workers turned up when needed.
She organises pickers’ accommodation and transport and generally supports them during their three-month stay.
The pickers she recruits sign an agreement to work for a minimum period.
Rebecca mainly works with pickers from Europe, Korea, Canada and America. She hopes this year to manage about 300 pickers during the season’s peak in January to April. They will stay in Tatura, Ardmona and Stanhope.
She has noticed ‘‘an enormous increase’’ in fruit pickers being hired by contractors, some of whom treat pickers unfairly.
Rebecca and the international backpackers have heard stories of contractors leaving with pickers’ pay or refusing to sign off on days worked.
The group said the industry could be better regulated to stop some people taking advantage of pickers.
Rebecca said that could include more funding for harvest recruitment, which could help farmers avoid falling into situations where they needed to use questionable contractors.
‘‘We need to protect our region’s reputation, to ensure future pickers come.’’
She said not only did farmers rely on pickers, but the tourists also spent money with local businesses.
Anna said it would be great to have an official list of farms that treated pickers well, and have farms audited more often.
‘‘A lot of farms are in the middle of nowhere and you hear stories of farmers or people posing as farmers on websites asking young women to send through photos. It can be seedy,’’ she said.Picker numbers rising
CVGT Australia harvest labour consultant Denise Elliot said thousands of seasonal fruit pickers came to the Goulburn Valley every year and there had been a noticeable increase in numbers in the past few years.
‘‘We’re a big harvest area and Australia generally has become a very popular destination,’’ Ms Elliot said.
She said the country offered international tourists good opportunities to travel and make money.
Ms Elliot offers the following tips to fruit pickers:
The Cosgrove community banded together on the weekend to help a local family by harvesting a wheat crop.
Mulwala’s own motor racing sensation Steve ‘Harro’ Harrison has won the 2014 Victorian Super Tin Tops Championship.
St Augustines College, Kyabram, has won the inaugural School’s Sustainability Cup for 2014, beating several Melbourne schools.
Families and diehard supporters are behind the AFL’s decision to freeze ticket prices in season 2015.
Four people, including a father and his two children, were fined more than $18,000 for their role in an alcohol-fuelled brawl at a Lockington party earlier this year which ended in a teenager beaten up and forced into a dog cage.
New faces for Girgarre FNC
A time to include late loved ones in the spirit of the season.
Firefighters were able to save a Finley property's buildings after a large stack of hay bales went up in flames on Monday.
Eppalock Primary School has gone global.
Fire brigade celebrates 80th anniversary and three CFA life memberships among other service awards.
Forest tour only way to understand impact.
Fodder depots have been set up in Euroa and Thoona for farmers hit by the recent fires.
The rail tracks are in such disrepear V/Line is having to close the buffet car between Euroa and Seymour due to health and safety concerns to hospitality staff.
Discover unbelievable local deals from local businesses every week in the Goulburn and Murray Valley area with Leapon.com.au!
Search properties for sale or rent across North Central Victoria and Southern NSW. Visit your local website for local homes....
Search for published and unpublished photos from McPherson Media Group newspapers and magazines. All our photos are available to purchase.
Place an advertisement in any one of McPherson Media Group's local newspapers.