G’day Guys, Strawberry Sue, ( Sue Mazi) was kind enough to write a few words for us and give you guys an insight into the strawberry picking season in Caboolture..
Our strawberry farms are located in South East Queensland, planting starts mid March and all being well and weather permitting our strawberries are ripe for picking until mid to late May. Millions of plants are planted in our state from Bundaberg to the border of NSW. However most of the farms are clustered around the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, near Caboolture and in and around the Glasshouse Mountains. Our season goes to the end of September and some farms go into early to mid October. We need thousands of workers on our fields during this time.We start our season slowly with four to five days a week of work, and some of those days only involve four to five hour shifts. However, our high season is August and September. For six weeks there are strawberries ripening everywhere, a great time to get a fruit picking job!! This is the time to make money and it has been known for packers to make over $1000 a week. Be prepared for long hours, long days and probably 7 days a week.
Keep in mind that a picker or packer that join our farms during the high season and will not make as much money as a person who has started earlier and has learned to the most efficient methods of finding berries and them packing into punnets in neat patterns that are exactly the weight that we want. It takes a good three weeks to learn this job. As mentioned earlier, please don’t come in our high season thinking that you’ll make the big money straight away, because you won’t. By the time you’ve learned the technique the high season will be over! That’s why we need workers to come early and to stay all season. The training is very intensive, especially for the packing and it will ultimately give you a chance to earn even more money and obtain your 2nd Working Holiday Visa.
Most of the farms employ backpacker labour for our fruit picking and packing jobs. Pay methods include, contract wages or by piece. The rates of pay vary from 50 cents to 80 cents for a kilogram of Strawberries, depending on the availability of strawberries. Punnets packed are normally paid anywhere from 13 cents to 20 cent each. We have no working hostels in the Caboolture area. However more and more farms are putting accommodation onsite. For those that don’t then there are private houses in the Caboolture and Sunshine Coast areas that have rooms to let or granny flat to rent. A lot of rural homes have liveable sheds that are fully self-contained and made clean and comfortable for the strawberry workers who come every season.
For those who want to drive to the farms themselves, The Hub, at King Street Caboolture has a Visitor’s Centre. They have a map of all the farms in the area and they’re a bunch of real friendly, helpful volunteers there.Caboolture and the Sunshine Coast have large supermarkets and shopping Malls as well as specialty shops catering for many nationalities. It’s an intense time during peak season, we see our local communities swell by thousands as we welcome the backpackers and Grey Nomads into our homes and community over our winter season. And by October, everyone goes and Caboolture seems a little empty without them all……….
Thanks and Have a Great Day,