Travelling to Australia? READ ME FIRST!

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Travelling to Australia? READ ME FIRST!

Avatar for Denton32

Total Posts: 1923

Joined 2008-04-17

Planning a trip to Australia

By Louise Denton (Denton32)

Ok this is quite a long post, so I’ve added a mini contents page, so you can find bits easier….

1. Visas
    i).  Tourist Visas
    ii).  Working Holiday Visas
    iii). Second Working Holiday Visas
2. Flights
3. When you arrive
    i).  To book an Intro package, or not?
    ii).  Organising everything yourself, and what you’ll need
4. Where to stay
5. How to get around Australia
    i).  Greyhound
    ii).  Oz Experience
    iii).  Hire a campervan
    iv).  Buy a vehicle
    v).  Catch a lift with backpackers
    vi).  Get a relocation deal
    vii). Hitch
6. Working
    i).  Job websites
    ii).  Farm work
    iii). Farm work websites - including where is the work?
    iv). Accommodation whilst doing farm work
7. Budget and how much things cost
8. Packing
    i).  What to pack?
    ii).  Backpack or suitcase?


Australia is one of the most back-packed countries on the planet. These boards are full of great advice from people who’ve been there, done that and still not washed the t-shirt.

If you’ve got the time, take a look at the discussion boards. is the world’s #1 website for long-term, long-distance travellers. We’ll all do our best to answer any questions you may have, and offer advice on your trip. If you have no idea where to start planning your trip to Oz, the following information details the key things to think about. Feel free to message me, or post a new discussion on the message boards if there is something you need more information on. Everything on this forum is written by gappers, for gappers. So you’re in the best place if you’re stuck for inspiration or need practical advice!

1. Visas

Your visa should be the first thing you arrange when planning your trip. I’m sure 99% of people have no reason to be refused a visa, but it’s always advisable to obtain your visa first and then your flights.

i). If you are travelling to Australia for a visit and you do not want to work, you will need a tourist visa.

The options are either:

A) Visitor visa (subclass 651) which is valid for 3 month entries over a period of 12 months. It is free and you can apply online.
Find information here (copy and paste) -


B) Tourist visa (subclass 676), which allows you to stay for up to 12 months. You have to pay for this visa.
Find information here -

ii). If you want to work and travel, you will need a Working Holiday Visa (subclass 417).
It is a 12 month visa, which allows you to work for each employer for a maximum of 6 months at a time. You can work for the full twelve months if you want, but only a max of 6 months per employer.

There is a cost for the visa, and certain conditions you must read and adhere to.
All of the information is here -
Have a look through the 5 sections about the visa.

To get one, you can apply online.

The above visa information might vary depending on your nationality. I am British, so the above information applies to UK and certain EU citizens. For other nationalities you can use the further information below:

If you’re not sure what visa you need, the Australian immigration website has a visa ‘wizard’ - you enter your details and trip particulars, and the system suggests a visa for you.
Here -

All other visa information can be found at

Always make sure you read terms and conditions on visas!

iii). Second Working Holiday Visas can be granted if you have completed 3 months (88 days) of harvest work (see part 6 of this guide). You will need to get certain details from the farmer and ensure the farms post code is accepted as regional Australia - see here -


2. Flights

Ok, so this is kind of hard to advise on as different airlines always have special deals on and the cheap airlines change.

At the time of writing (Feb 2011) Air Asia is a very good, cheap option for getting to Melbourne from the UK via Kuala Lumpur. They also fly to Perth and the Gold Coast, and have flights from Bali to Darwin.

Their website is (copy and paste)

For domestic flights in Australia, the main airlines are Qantas and their budget company Jet Star. Virgin Blue and Tiger are other options.

A good website for finding the cheapest domestic flights is[/ - basically a search engine for Aussie flights. It will give you all the main airlines prices and the cheapest option for your dates. However, do not book through Webjet themselves as they charge a fee. Use them to find the flights/airline and then go direct to the carrier to book. E.g. or whatever.

If anyone finds good deals on flights to Oz, feel free to add the information below!


3. When you arrive

Right! So, this is going to be a bit of a complicated section.

Depending on what sort of person or traveller you are (shy or out-going, first-time traveller or experienced nomad), you may prefer to do this differently.

i). A common dilemma people have is whether to book an ‘introduction package’ for their arrival in Australia on a working holiday visa.

First time travellers often prefer to book a package, where a company organises your first few nights of accommodation, arranges tourist activities, settles you in, explains what there is to do in Australia, plus the boring stuff like bank accounts, sim cards, etc.

If you decide you would like a company to organise things for you, the most popular company among the crowd is Oz Intro. Their website is here -

And here are a couple of past discussions from people who’ve done Oz Intro, and what they thought -


They are obviously not the only company, there are others. I’m just saying Oz Intro are popular.

ii). Or you can organise everything yourself, which is generally the cheaper option. And you can make this option a bit less daunting by finding some mates to do it with via!

So, if you DIY and are on a working holiday visa, you will need -

Accommodation for your arrival (see the next part of this guide)

A visa, as discussed above.

A bank account, for when you start working. They are all very similar - just walk in to any branch and explain that you need to set up a bank account.
The big 4 banks are Commonwealth, Westpac, ANZ and NAB (if you want to research the best accounts before you arrive).
You generally have to pay a monthly fee to have a bank account. I have a Westpac account which costs me $2 a month and a Commonwealth account which is $4 a month (both are essentially the same, so in my opinion Commonwealth are a rip off!)

A Tax File number - which is like the equivalent of a UK National Insurance number. It is free, and you need one to work. Apply for it here -

A Medicare card, which entitles you to subsidised health care whilst in Australia.
The information about Medicare cards is here - and it is free to apply for in offices around the country. Do a Google search for “Medicare Sydney” or “Medicare Melbourne” to find where your closest office is.

A mobile phone. You can bring an ‘unlocked’ mobile from the UK and walk in to any phone store and buy a sim card to put in to it. Or you can just buy a phone and sim package.

That’s it!

Hopefully that wasn’t too complicated.

There is a very useful discussion here – on how to organise things.

If still unsure on how to go about your first week in Oz, maybe try writing a list of pros and cons for whether to use a package or to organise it all yourself…..


4. Where to stay

Most people on this website will be looking at staying in budget accommodation. They will, therefore, be looking at what are known as backpacker hostels.

These are great for meeting people, and the cheapest option.
Sleeping arrangements can vary from a double en-suite room to a double room with shared bathrooms to, of course the good old dorm rooms - which can be 4 bed, 12 bed, 20 bed…. single sex or mixed sex. There are lots of options and a lot of hostels to choose from!

A dorm room will typically range from $20 - $35. Prices vary with season, and depend on the size of the room. Private rooms are obviously more costly.

I would book your first couple of nights’ accommodation before arriving! Not everyone does this I’m sure, but 90% of people when landing in a new destination for the first time would agree that it is nice to be sure you have a bed for yourself and somewhere to head for!

To book a backpacker hostel for the night (or three) of your arrival, a useful website is – it’s like a hostel search engine. Enter your destination and date of arrival and a list of available hostels will be generated.

There are very helpful reviews, maps, pictures and descriptions of different hostels. You can book through them and pay a deposit (which is taken off the bill when you arrive), or you can contact your chosen hostel direct (by finding their details on google).

Some popular areas in Sydney include the city centre, Kings Cross, Coogee Beach and Bondi beach.


5. How to get around Australia

Most people fly in to Sydney or Melbourne. After that you’ve got range of options –

i). Go by Greyhound. They are essentially a coach service - like National Express (but not as cheap and nasty!). They will transport you from A to B and that’s it.
You can buy passes (hop on, hop off) to make it cheaper for yourself, and their website can be found here -

ii). Use Oz Experience. They are a bus service like Greyhound, but with smaller buses and tour group related. They drive you from A to B, but on the way stop at tourist attractions and arrange excursions at your destination. The groups are small and good for meeting people. They do bus passes from A to B - like a tour basically, but a hop on, hop off style. Their website is here -

iii). Hire a Camper. You can hire a van from one city and drive it to another. Generally they have a bed in the back and all the equipment you need.

Some companies to Google include:
Wicked Campers
Travellers Autobarn
Backpacker Camper
Cheapa Campa
Hippy Campers

And there are others…..

iv). Buy a car or van. You should have a little bit of mechanical knowledge to do this - Australia is a big country and you don’t want to break down in the middle of nowhere.
Look in the local paper for adverts, or on your accommodation notice board. Or check out or
A more detailed discussion about buying a car in Australia -

v). Catch a lift with a backpacker with a vehicle. Backpackers who own or rent vehicles always want passengers for fun times and to share fuel costs. Check hostel noticeboards, and the Gumtree and Global Gossip links above.

vi). Get a relocation deal. These are often free or very, very cheap ways to hire vehicles. Hire companies sometimes need their vehicles moved from depot to depot, and the cheapest way to move them is to get someone to drive it to where they need it to be for the next customer! This is where we come in!

Basically, the available vehicles are advertised on a website with the dates it needs moving and how much time you can have for the trip. See here: .

Often they need to be moved quickly (which is the only drawback), so there is sometimes little time for sight-seeing. But if you need to be somewhere quickly for a flight, this could be for you.

Depending on how quickly the company needs it moved, you can sometimes negotiate a longer rental - e.g. 5 days for $5, and 5 days for $50 a day (still cheap). I did Alice Springs to Darwin in one, where you only need 5 days or so anyway. My friend did one from Broome to Darwin and got 7 days. They all vary, but they are worth checking out.

vii). Hitch. Not really recommended (I think I probably have to say that). I don’t mean the “standing by the side of the road with your thumb out”, but you can do that if you like. I mean just chatting to people, and asking about if anyone has space in their car for you. I found a couple of lifts this way.

Some points to note….
To hire a vehicle, you have to be 21.
To buy a vehicle, you will then need to arrange appropriate insurance and registration. If anyone needs more info, I can provide this - just ask!
WAIT until you get there to decide what to do - you might meet people you want to travel with and can book similar things as them! You might also find special deals if booking when in Oz.
I believe there are now train passes you can get for the East Coast, but I am unsure of the details of these. If anyone can add info, please do!

Everyone is different! Some people like tours. I personally prefer the freedom of my own vehicle.

Here are some past discussions on pros and cons of different travel methods….

Greyhound vs Oz Experience discussion -

Oz Experience vs Campervan discussion -

Oz Experience -

Another Oz Experience VS Greyhound -

Campervan discussion -

You get the gist!


6. Working

Ok, so working in Oz is a different experience for everyone. Some people struggle to get work - it’s not all rosy holiday dreams like some people believe before they leave the UK. Yes, you are here to have a good time, but when looking for work, it is the same as looking for work in the UK. You have to put effort in to find a job, and you need to go for jobs that are realistic - although you might start out in holiday mode, getting a job requires work mode!

Another thing to think about are the restrictions imposed by your visa. You can only work for 6 months and for any one employer for a max of 6 months. Employers know this, so unless you are a strong candidate for sponsorship/applying for jobs in a specialist field, you are probably not going to be offered a permanent position.
So, don’t waste your time applying for permanent positions if you are not intending to be permanent. You are unlikely to be considered, being on a temporary visa.

You will be most successful applying for temporary fill-in positions. Or positions in the tourist and hospitality industry. That is not to say you can’t ever get anything else. But people who are desperate for money, or cannot find work, look in the more casual sectors and you might have more luck.

i). Some job websites –

Check in the local paper for jobs (ask the newsagent what day they have the jobs/careers section).

Check hostel notice boards.

Do a Google search for recruitment agencies in the town you are in, and contact them.

Hand out CVs, in person, everywhere!

ii) And then there is the farm work.

If you complete 3 months harvest work in ‘regional Australia’ you are eligible to apply for a second working holiday visa.
These are the postcodes that are “regional Australia” -

Here is the information about what work you can do, where and what information you will need from the farm, to apply for the second visa -

Farm work varies everywhere you go, and whatever you do. Pay varies, hours vary, accommodation options vary…..

I’ve done cherry packing for $22 an hour, for 8 hours a day, with tax taken off.
I’ve also done zucchini (courgette) packing which was $14 an hour, 10-14 hour days, no tax - cash in hand
I’ve tied bits of tape around trees for $15 an hour, 6-10 hours a day, no tax - cash in hand
I’ve picked strawberries, squash, and packed strawberries, squash and chillies.

iii). There are a few websites that will help you find harvest work -

First is the government job search website for harvest work. You can either search jobs by month or by state. Pretty handy!
I generally prefer to call the phone number. They are very helpful and know about harvest seasons, where to go and accommodation. The site is here:

I have just found this website -
I have a copy of the booklet that is featured on the page, and it’s handy! It has a table in it that gives details of every farm town in Oz, what they grow and harvest and when the demand for workers is high.

You can download a copy of the booklet. Click on the book image on the left side of the page at the bottom. The charts and tables don’t start until maybe page 12, but they’re very useful! Dark squares represent high demand for workers, and light grey represent a medium/low demand for workers.

Or check up on hostel noticeboards, and the Gumtree link which I have mentioned a couple of times now.

Sometimes, the backpacker magazines that you find lying round (e.g. TNT) have farm jobs advertised. And, of course, there may be new stuff on the boards here.

iv). Accommodation options also vary. Sometimes you can get what they call a ‘working hostel’ which will be a local backpacker hostel. The hostel will have connections with a selection of local farmers. The hostel will arrange work for you through their contacts. Often the hostels will arrange transport too. And it’s handy if you can drive, as these hostels are always looking for drivers!

Some towns that have working hostels include Ayr (QLD), Bundaberg (QLD), Mildura (VIC), Huonville (TAS), Berri (SA). And these are not the only ones.

Otherwise, you can find your own job independently. Sometimes the employer will have accommodation for you. Sometimes they will allow you to camp on their land. Sometimes you will have to stay in a motel, but then you will need your own transport.
Just bear in mind that farms are not going to be in the middle of a town so transport will almost always be an issue.

Also don’t forget that farm work is hard. It takes about 5-7 days to get used to the 4am starts, the 12 hour days and the physical labour. However, you once you get over that initial horror and pain, it’s fine. I’ve had some of the best times working on farms - met some awesome people and saved a fair bit of cash.

And don’t be scared of bugs, they’re not that bad. (Apart from the ones in bananas, apparently).


7. Budget

Australia is an expensive country to travel around. It’s currently (May 2011) worse than it has been for a while due to the weak £ and strong $.

If spending pounds, you are currently looking at a rough budget of about £1500 a month (including everything - accommodation, transport, food, activities… etc).
You might be able to it on £1200, but I think a good guide is about 1500. I don’t think you would want to take any less than that, per month of travel.

So, if arriving on a tourist visa for 3 months, I would budget no less than £4500.
If arriving on a Working Holiday Visa, you legally have to have a certain amount of money when arriving (and can be asked to prove this on arrival, though it is pretty rare). Currently this amount is $5000 (May 2011).

For a typical day, your costs might include -
Breakfast = $5
Bottle of water = $3
Lunch = $5
Dinner = $15
Hostel accommodation = $25
A beer in a backpacker bar = $5
(A beer in a normal bar = $7)
= Average budget is about $50-$60 a day, without the trips and extras.
Plus ….
Bus ticket to the next town = $40 (obviously dependent on length of journey!)
Tank of fuel = approx $1.30 a litre = between $60 and $100 a tank.
Postcards & stamps ($1.25 each) = $5
Ice cream at the beach = $3
Day trip, e.g. Litchfield National Park from Darwin or Blue Mountains from Sydney = $100 each
3 day trip to Kakadu or the Whitsundays or Fraser Island = between $180 and $300 each.
A box of goon (cask wine) = $15
A small cuddly koala teddy = $10

Just an idea. It all mounts up.


8. Packing

i). What to pack?
Don’t forget, Oz is a developed country and everything you need, you will be able to buy here.
So don’t stress too much about packing and what to pack.

A few tops/t-shirts/singlets, a couple of pairs of shorts, a pair of long trousers and a hoodie should be all you need clothes-wise.

I got addicted to the surf shops when I first got over here and bought lots of clothes.
There’s no TopShop/Man, River Island, Primark though!
There’s lots of other shops (including cheap shops), and markets too.

I would personally advise against bringing work clothes.You can buy them out here, when you know what sort of work you are going to be doing. For instance, if you end up loving farm work and end up doing that for 6 months, the office dress stuff you have in your backpack is kind of wasting space. Bar work will generally just need a pair of black trousers and a top that may be provided.
Just buy work stuff out here, and buy the cheap stuff grin
And there’s always charity shops!

ii). Backpack or suitcase?!
Personally… I’d get a backpack!

Weight limits on bags for flights are generally 25kg for the long haul (getting to Australia). Most other flights will be 20kg, but Tiger and Air Asia are lower (possibly 15kg or 18kg), so double check before booking flights how much you are allowed!



And I THINK that’s it. Hopefully that’s all you would ever need to know about coming to Australia!

I’ve tried to give a brief bit of information about the main things. Obviously the information provided can and will eventually get out of date.

If anyone can think of anything missed off here, or thinks the situation has changed,  feel free to add to it below/send me a message or post a new discussion about it.

We are all here to answer questions, so if there’s anything you’re unsure on - just ask and someone will try and help out!

Have a great trip



Avatar for Mikeyandthecity

Total Posts: 15

Joined 2011-01-11

Great guide and it looks like really solid advice. One thing I’d like to point out is that in the visa section it doesn’t account for anyone who isn’t travelling with a european passport. eVisitor visas don’t apply to Canada (which is really sad but at least there is an alternative)

ETA (Visitor) (Subclass 976)
An electronically stored authority for short-term visits to Australia of up to 3 months. Available to passport holders from a number of countries and regions, who are outside Australia. There is no visa application charge. A service charge of $20 applies.

Other than that, I will definitely use some of the recommendations! wink thanks!

Avatar for Denton32

Total Posts: 1923

Joined 2008-04-17

Good point - thank you! I will add that in to the information.

The general Australian Immigration link is there though, and the visa wizard will also be able to help with regards which visa you need if not from the UK/EU.

Avatar for Denton32

Total Posts: 1923

Joined 2008-04-17


As such, “tag” posts, will be deleted.

Avatar for 0_naomi_0

Total Posts: 2

Joined 2011-02-03

Thanks for that, very very helpful considering I am leaving for Oz on thursday smile

Avatar for Vicky-lee

Total Posts: 75

Joined 2008-11-05

A big thank you to Lou for doing’s first “Read Me First” post on the boards. We want to do more, so if there are any volunteers please feel free to PM or email me on .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with which board you would be interested in.



Total Posts: 29

Joined 2006-07-14

very useful.

the only thing missing is insurance.

Avatar for Denton32

Total Posts: 1923

Joined 2008-04-17

very useful.

the only thing missing is insurance.

Well insurance is a constant, which ever trip you go on.
I tried to just include the things people would need to know about going to Australia.



Avatar for Oecken

Total Posts: 253

Joined 2011-01-09

Cheers for all the above Miss Denton! very useful indeed, still trying to get my head round buying a car so i may well PM you in the not so distant future!

@ Icehockeyfan, there are a couple of guides in the insurance section that hopefully should help :razz:

Avatar for Irishgirlie

Total Posts: 117

Joined 2009-11-15

Thanks for that- alot of useful info! Ive been in Oz three and a half weeks now and have spent $2,500 so its ALOT more expensive than I anticipated (Cairns 11 nights, Sydney for the rest)... finding it hard to find work (as you said its difficult to find work when your just temping) so am looking into farm work at the mo…  :?

Avatar for Missvicky

Total Posts: 11

Joined 2011-02-20

Heya.. great guide, found it very helpful and with all the prices (on average) on what you get for work, thats great to know. Nice to see people wanting to help others in giving them an insight to what its like to do =]

Im planning to go in Oct 2011 with my boyfriend, we planning on going for 6-8months with a bugdet of £10,000 between us, do you think this is a realistic amount to go with?

Any help would be fab :D

Vicky x

Avatar for Denton32

Total Posts: 1923

Joined 2008-04-17

Put simply…
If working, yes, it is realistic. If just travelling, no!

1500 pounds per month x 6-8 months = 9000-12000 quid (per person).
The 1500 is a general guide per month of travel.
If you are working, then it is more realistic.
Once working, expenditure is generally lessened AND you will have an income. Maybe even saving money!

So, you would probably have enough for 3.5 months of travel (working on 5000 quid each), then say if you worked for 3 months, you might save enough for another month of travel.

The quicker you earn dollars and start spending dollars, the easier it is financially when compared to pounds because of the poor exchange rate.

Avatar for Macca

Total Posts: 518

Joined 2011-02-18

Good work Dents !

Avatar for Missvicky

Total Posts: 11

Joined 2011-02-20

Heya, thanks for the reply.

Yeah we are planning to work as well, wont have enough to just travel and I think by working this will be a great way to see places in Oz that we maybe wouldnt do or go if we were not working.

My cousin went travelling the other year and he was saying that harvest work seems the best way to go. Is it easy to find work out there? Or is it quiet hard, just want a general idea so we can work things out.



Avatar for Denton32

Total Posts: 1923

Joined 2008-04-17

Vicky - I have stated the exact answer to your question in the main information above!

6. Working

Ok, so working in Oz is a different experience for everyone.

Read the section above - all the information about jobs, how easy they are to get, what they can pay, where to find them, farm work, how to get farm work, where to look for farm work is all detailed above.

If you have any more questions after reading the long section about working, I am happy to answer them.

Avatar for Jesshancock

Total Posts: 30

Joined 2011-02-15

Hey I am planning to travel to Australia after SE Asia, however, will have little money so plan to work down the east coast from Cairnes. Would the Oz Experience still be a good way to travel, as I will be staying in each place for a few weeks, or should I just stick to the Greyhound? I am really wanting the social experience of the Oz Ex, however Im not sure whether it will be worth my while as I will spend long amounts in each place, also not sure if other people on the bus will be doing the same as me….