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Why I lasted just five weeks working in the apple industry

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I recently moved out to regional Victoria with my wife and child. We wanted to flee the rat race and get a house that didn’t cost an arm and a leg and a kidney (in monthly repayments alone).

Orchard jobs should be among the best in the country.

At first, we found our new area peaceful, beautiful. The tree change was everything we’d hoped for.

It wasn't long, though, before the two-hour daily commute to my job in the city became a grind. One day I stopped by the office of one of the nearby orchards. I'd read the horror stories about the low pay and poor conditions in the fruit picking industry, but I was finding that employment in regional Victoria is hard to come by. The manager of the operation, a convivial older man, was impressed with my background and offered me a supervisor's role - casual employment with super - for the season that runs from November to May.

I was happy. I was working a few kilometres from home, and while the money wasn't much more than bar wages, away from Melbourne it was liveable. The lush rolling hills were stunning, and immediately I was getting fit and knocking off a new audio-book every other day. Why didn’t more locals do this, I thought? Why were just 10 per cent of the staff Australians when this job was so damn good?

An incredible amount of fruit is discarded - around 80 percent.Credit:Matthew Mead

In the next six weeks, I would find out why.

The work itself........

© WA Today