Yarra Valley and Warragul

Trip Start Sep 27, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
El Paso Caravan Park
Warburton Caravan Park
What I did
Apple Picking

Flag of Australia  , Victoria,
Friday, March 18, 2011

After a great few weeks traveling through New South Wales and visiting Canberra we finally headed into the state of Victoria. We had heard there was more harvest work in a town called shepparton so that was where we headed. We still have just over a month of harvest work left before we have finished our '88 days' for our second year visa so we wanted to get it out the way as soon as possible. We had goon night at a free rest stop just over the border in Victoria which ended up being a very messy but funny night so we all turned up in Shepparton a bit worse for wear, especially Em. Shepparton is a small town, nothing special and we only ended up staying a day or so as we signed up at the Harvest office and they said the fruit picking season was nearly over and there wasn't much work around anymore, we also bumped into a couple of French guys we had met in the Hunter valley who said how awful the work was in Shepparton so with that we moved on!

We called the Harvest Line who gave us a contact in the Yarra Valley for some apple picking. We got offered work starting the following day which we couldn't refuse so we drove down there. The Yarra Valley is an hour outside of Melbourne and another famous wine region but we weren't grape picking this time but apple picking! We signed up at the Harvest agency at Lilydale and he gave us the details for the job, the guy was ridiculous. We were working 40 km from Lilydale in the middle of nowhere. The caravan park closest to were we were working was an absolute rip off, so we searched round for another one. We ended up in a tiny town called Warburton which was just hilarious. The town was minute, it had a small supermarket and not even a pub! The caravan park was in a beautiful setting with a river running through the middle of the park was a bit rough around the edges (we won't even mention the shower block) but it was less than half price than the other place so it did the job anyway so we set up camp.

We were working at a farm called Battunga Orchards picking Golden delicious apples. The job was paid for what you pick so the three of us worked together. Picking apples is completely different to other fruit we have picked as you have to use ladders to get to the tops of the trees and you ave a 'joey pouch' strapped to your front to collect the apples! The joey pouch can hold up to 100 apples so you can imagine how heavy that is let only when you climbing up and down ladders. We had to pick the apples in a certain way to make sure the storks come off too and make sure you don't bruise them so there was a bit of a technique to it. The trees at this orchard where really old which meant they were over 12 foot tall and ridiculously bushy which made them a lot harder to pick. It as good having Chris as he could reach a lot more apples from the floor but we spent the majority of time on the ladders. Once our joey pouches were full we had to empty them into the huge bins, we get paid $40 between us for each bin, we were doing around a bin an hour. We worked from 7am until 5pm so the hours weren't too bad and we were making over $100 a day.

We worked here for just over a week and ate our way through the apples, they tasted so good we were eating at least three a day and some of them were huge!! Towards the end of the week we were getting really good and had quite a reputation at the place as we were always the last to go home! We were having a good laugh and the farmers and tractor drivers were such lovely people, there were so friendly and really looked after us it made such  difference to our day. It rained for the last couple of days, and it really did rain. It was torrential rain for hours and hours. We still worked through the rain and the farmers thought we were mad as everyone else had gone home and we were still soldiering away! The next day it was still raining so no one turned up to pick but the framer was desperate to get all the apples off the trees so we were the last men standing and had to pick the ;last of the apples off where people had done a rubbish job. The farmer was so grateful to us and ended up giving us loads of free bins to say thanks which was really nice of them! The people here were really awesome.

So after eight days apple picking in Warburton the Golden Delicious were finished and there was a week break before the Granny Smiths apples were going to be ready at Battunga's other orchard in Warragul, a couple of hours East of Warburyton. With a week to kill we were a bit at a loss at what to do so as it was the weekend we decided to just relax for a couple of days so we got gooned and watched the Lord of the Rings Trilogy!

We then started looking for work in the area as we thought we could work for a few days doing some grape picking but a lot of the vineyards had already finsihed or already had their work force so it was a lot harder than we imagined. After doing this for a couple of days we weren't having much luck and then we found out Chris mate Lindsay was in Melbourne for a few days so we headed there to see him and Kate. We met them in the City and went to a few rooftop bars a few drinks a long the South Bank and then ended up in the Casino, it was a great night and brilliant to catch up with them as it had been so long.

After that we drove back to Warburton as whilst we were in Melbourne we had been offered a job grape picking, alt hough the guy hadn't been impressed we couldn't make our first day we thought we would try our luck. At this point we weren't paying ofr the caravan park anyway so we didn't have much to lose. We then lost our grape picking job before we even started and with that we gave up and just decided to wait a few more days before Warragul. We just hung around relaxing in the sun and wandering into town to get more goon supplies.

Finally the Granny Smith apples started so we drove to Warragul and had a look around at caravan parks. We found a caravan park that was like a palace compared to Warburton and the cheapest place we have ever stayed to we were happy with that.

We had an induction at the orchard and after that realised this orchard was going to be a lot different from the last one as they were so strict! The apples here were much easier to pick as they were younger trees so the trees weren't as tall and bushy and a lot of fruit was at the bottom so we flew through these trees. It was easier as well as the Granny Smith's don't bruise as easily as the golden Delicious so we could go faster. It was very different working here though as they were so anal. The farmer was really arsey and had about 10 supervisors who were constantly checking your rows to make sure you didn't miss any and checking your apples, at first people were getting sacked left right and centre for missing apples or bruising too many it was ridiculous.

As we got to know everyone a bit better they eased off a bit but the good thing about this orchard was we were earning a lot more money, we were getting $150 a day. We had the weekends off which was a bit annoying as we just wanted to earn as much money as possible and get the hell out of there but there wasn't much we could do so we went to Melbourne most Saturdays. The train only took just over an hour and was really cheap so we went into the city each weekend which was good fun.

After 4 weeks of working here the apples finally finished and they did a big BBQ and free beers for everyone at the orchard which was good fun! We all took advantage of the free beer and the lads ended up in a bit of a state but it was good laugh and a nice way to end it. Finally our 88 days OVER and we can now apply for our second year visa. The harvest work has been such hard work and 88 days is a long time!!!! thank god it's finished! Next stop Melbourne.
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jenni-louise on

Hi guys! Really enjoying following your travels, and now that yr in my home state I'm lovin' seeing it though others' eyes....cheers, stay safe - Jenni

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