Australia is one of the easiest places to get a working holiday visa for, and for first time travellers it’s a great place to start. But, travelling isn’t always easy, so here are some things I learnt in Australia during my Working Holiday.
- Hostels can be expensive, especially in the big cities. You’re looking at $35 or more per night and in the peak summer season, it’s even higher! It’s always smart to check if a hostel has weekly rates. Though cheap hostels do exist, don’t expect them to be nearly as quiet, clean or secure as the pricier ones.
- Work in the city can be hard to find. Everyone wants to work in the big centres like Sydney and Melbourne, so there is heavy backpacker competition. Most work is on farms in the middle of no-where. When looking for work backpackerjobboard.com.au will be your best friend.
- Some farmers DON’T pay legally. Though many farmers DO pay legally, watch out for the ones who don’t. It may not seem like a major issue while you are working, but when your visa is being investigated you’ll think otherwise. Multiple friends of mine were sent home when trying to renew their visas because the farmer was caught forging their pay slips, underpaying, or taxing incorrectly.
- Farm work is seasonal and regional. Make sure you do your research to find out what areas are in need of workers. I picked grapes in Mildura, Victoria from January to April, which is the main season for this fruit.
- Working for accommodation in hostels is a common advertisement. If you have the money it can be a great experience. It usually requires a couple hours of work per day to pay for your bed, so you only have to pay for your food. If you are in need of money this could be a temporary gig until you can find a job that will pay a regular wage. I drove people to and from a greyhound bus station a couple times a day for a hostel in the small town of Port Macquarie on the east coast. The rest of the time I was relaxing at the beach or exploring the surrounding area.
- Goon is the budget backpacker drink. It is cheap wine in a box up to 5litres, and costs only 10$. Alcohol can be pretty expensive in Australia, so if you are on a budget this might be the drink for you. Try mixing it with sprite or lemonade if you aren’t a fan of the taste.
- Don’t forget to check out Northern Territory and Western Australia if you have the time and money. They both have incredible National Parks. The Northern Territory is home to Australia’s famous Uluru, or Ayers Rock. Australia is not just the East Coast!
- Camping in Australia can be good budget accommodation. Just be aware that campsites usually charge for two people and it is an extra fee for anyone else in the group. If this is too expensive, you can find a free campsite. They are usually in inconvenient locations and its often just a parking lot and a bathroom, but it will save you about $40 per night. CamperMate is a great app that shows you where all the campgrounds are, their prices, and any other camping information you could ever need!
- Transportation can be expensive. Buses can be up to 20 hours long and flights aren’t always affordable. If you will be in Australia for a longer period of time, consider buying a vehicle. This will make it easier getting to job opportunities, and you can stop in beautiful places that busses won’t! If buying a vehicle isn’t in your budget, check out Tiger Air Tuesday for deals or the Facebook page “Australia RideShare”.
- Australia is HUGE. Be realistic about what you can see in your time there. I was in Australia for 7 months and I never made it to Western Australia. Don’t worry, you can always go back!