Australia attracts over 600,000 visitors from the UK per year and is a popular country to work and travel in during a gap year.
Why should I go to Australia?
Australia is a vast country with many different landscapes and people. There are so many opportunities in a country this big. Go to Australia if you love the outdoors, activities and extreme sports. We guarantee that you will have tried some by the time you leave here. It’s a country full of natural beauty, including deserts, rainforests, beaches and mountains.
If you prefer the cities, then Australia has some pretty good ones. Try Melbourne for the art, cafe culture and good nightlife or Sydney for the shopping, great restaurants and beautiful beaches.
Although many people choose Australia for their gap year adventure, there are still many opportunities to get off the beaten track. Try heading to Western Australia or the Outback.
Australia has been one of the only countries not really affected by the recession and work is still generally easy to find in certain sectors.
How do I go about it?
In order to be able to work in Australia you need to apply for a working holiday visa, which allows you to work and travel within Australia for up to 12 months. You can only apply for this if you are between the ages of 18 and 30 years of age and you should primarily use this to work in order to fund your travels.
You are generally allowed to work in any type of job, but are only allowed to work for one employer for a maximum of six months. You are also allowed to undertake four months of study or course there if you wish.
There are a number of different ways to go about organising a working holiday in Australia. The first way is to organise it through a gap year company. BUNAC, STA, Pure Australia or Oz Intro are good options. These companies will usually help you get your working visa, organise your flights, accommodation when you first arrive, and give you advice and support on looking for a job. Some companies, like BUNAC, will also offer you 24 hour support in case you need help.
A popular misconception is that Australia is a cheap country to live in and travel round, but a lot of things can be more expensive than here in the UK. Also, a lot of the tourist sites are in ‘out of the way’ destinations and you generally have to pay lots to go on a tour to visit them. Make sure you take plenty of savings with you before you go as well as earning while you’re there as it’s easy to find yourself stuck with no money if you don’t
Alternatively, you can organise your own working visa via the Australian government website – the process is generally quite simple and quick, and you will probably end up paying less for the visa itself. However, if you choose this option you will not get any support or help in finding a job or accommodation once you’re there. This is a good option if you’re very independent, have done lots of travelling before and are good at networking.
What can I do there?
A typical casual job for a backpacker is fruit picking and following the harvest trail, working on the farms and in the fields. When you work in these types of jobs, you are likely to get free accommodation with these jobs as well.
In the cities, typical backpacking jobs include waitressing, bar work, hotel staff and kitchen hands. However there is nothing stopping you from applying to other sorts of jobs, such as those in offices. If you have the right skills, these jobs often pay more money – just sign up to several temping agencies.
Renting your own apartment in the big cities such as Melbourne and Sydney can be very difficult and is not really an option. Unlike here, you have to apply to rent an apartment and competition for apartment rentals is fierce. Most apartments also require you to have a guarantor in Australia who will agree to pay your rent for you if you fail to. If you manage to get past these problems then you will usually have to sign a lease for six months or more, on top of this most apartments come unfurnished.
A better option is to stay in hostels. Many hostels also offer long term accommodation options for those wanting to work a few months in the cities. Our advice is to stick to the small ones; you’ll meet more people, form stronger relationships and generally have a better time. Other accommodation options include renting a room, usually in a student house, if you want to stay somewhere for a few months.
Whatever you decide to do in Australia, go with an open mind, be flexibe and do your research and we're sure you'll have a great time 'down under'.