A Guide to Working in Australia
Australia is a real gap year hot spot, and the beautiful landscapes, fascinating wildlife and non-existent language barrier make it an extremely rewarding country to explore, particularly for newbie travellers.
However, Australia is not a cheap place to travel. It's sheer size demands reliance on long distance coaches and domestic flights. You'll also find that food, drink and accommodation are more expensive than in the UK. Whether you're a perennial traveller or just on a gap year, it's more than likely that you'll need to find some work while you're out there.
Finding work while travelling requires an attitude shift from hunting jobs at home: you may have to broaden your horizons, consider options you never would have before, work bizarre hours and literally get your hands dirty. But you'll also meet amazing people, see incredible things, and really feel the value of the money you earn.
Keep in mind that with a standard working holiday visa, you are only allowed to work for a maximum of six months at a time with one employer. Before you start working you should set up a bank account and apply for a tax file number– doing this before you arrive can save you a lot of hassle later, making it easier to start working immediately.
Now that the paperwork is out of the way, here are seven tips to help you find some work whilst you're out there:
1. Make the most of your hostel
Hostels are a goldmine of information when you're looking for work, particularly in a big city. Almost every hostel will have a noticeboard with new opportunities for casual or one-off work placements, and big chain hostels like Nomads and YHA often have members of staff dedicated to helping you find work.
Hostels themselves can often be a source of employment, working on the front desk or as cleaners can often get you free accommodation as well as a little spending money.
2. Work with the system
Australia is very fond of rules; often you can give yourself an edge on the job hunt by brushing up on them, and applying for any licences you might need before you arrive.
If you're planning on working behind a bar for example, or indeed anywhere alcohol is served, you'll need RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol) training. You can do this online before you get to the country for every state barring Tasmania, where you have to do your training in a classroom. Here's a link to the online courses.
For labourers or anybody looking to work on a construction site, you'll need a 'white card' which costs around $100 AUD and needs a day of safety training. A pair of steel-toecap boots is a must too, though you’ll probably want to buy those once you’re out there, rather than weighing down what will already be a hefty backpack.
3. Talk to our friends at StudentUniverse
Our booking partners over at StudentUniverse have an ideal package to help you find work in Australia. Their Travel and Work in Australia experience pretty much does what it says on the tin: you'll fly into Sydney, where a friendly face will be waiting to take you to your pre-booked accommodation. You'll get a tour of the city and its beaches, and also be set up with paid work without the hassle of finding it yourself. This is the stress-free way to experience Australia! Call on 0333 333 9971 to find out more or follow the links!
4. Check out the farms
Despite Australia's reputation, it's a lot harder to find a job on a farm or fruit-picking than you'd think, and because of the sheer number of travellers looking for farm work it can be a bit of a minefield finding legitimate employers.
Most importantly, never pay money up front to reserve a place on a farm.
Check out Harvest Trail: it has some of the best info on the harvest trail and posts job opportunities regularly. Gumtree also posts a lot of opportunities but make sure everything's legitimate before you commit yourself.
For a real edge when looking for farm work, club a few mates together and buy a car. It seems extreme, perhaps, but UK driving licences are valid in Australia and farmers are much more likely to employ a group of travellers with their own transport than a single traveller without. Brush up on those road laws, however, and make sure the tax and rego is up to date!
Alternatively, if you're after the experience rather than the money (and want that second year visa) try Wwoofing. By becoming a 'willing worker on organic farms', you trade hard work for food and accommodation, it's a great way to meet people and have an interesting experience whilst working towards the second year visa.
5. Sell travel
Conventional employers can be put off by the transitory nature of a traveller. But it can be a strength. Travel agencies, tour groups and hostels all look for temporary staff, people who know the lifestyle and get along well with other travellers. Travel agencies like Peter Pans have some fantastic opportunities for salespeople as they have centres in every major travelling location, transfers and discounts are often available to their employees.
6. Take advantage of seasonal work
If you're travelling over the Christmas periods lots of places will be looking for temp staff, and will be more likely to favour a traveller if native Aussies are heading home to their families. Gumtree is a good place to look for seasonal jobs which can range from working as a shop assistant to dressing up as a festive elf, which brings me to my next point.
7. Lose your pride
You know those people with clipboards you try and avoid in the high street? Well, good news: they're in Australia too, and they're always looking for new clipboard monkeys! This kind of work is short term, well paid and good fun once you're over the social awkwardness. In fact there are a lot of jobs going which you may not have considered before; cleaning jobs, labouring, night shifts, warehouse work etc.
Remember, you're not looking for a career, you're looking for money to help you out on your continued adventures, and quite often, it's the grotty jobs that pay the best.
Travelling around Australia is a once in a lifetime opportunity. If there's one piece of advice I can give, it's to take every opportunity that comes along. Living and working in another country is in itself life-changing, and the money you make will take you to some of the most amazing places on Earth, and create memories you'll never forget.