THE LOW-DOWN ON DOWN-UNDER!
by Adam English
Australia, the land down under – it’s one of the most popular destinations in the world for travellers and temporary workers. In fact, some 43% of young people want time out to go to Oz before they settle into their chosen careers. So what do you need to know, and what does Australia offer? Read on.
Before you contemplate calling a taxi to Heathrow, it’s very important that you understand the requirements of obtaining a ‘Working Holiday Visa’ (or Form 1150 if you want to get technical), as this will ensure you can legally work in Australia during your time there. You are also required to prove you have enough money in your bank to support yourself on your trip – it’s generally around AUD$5,000, or £2,200, although the amount may vary depending on your length of stay and how much travelling you intend to do.
You should also have a return or onward ticket or the funds for a plane ticket back to Britain if travelling on a one-way ticket. However! There is one very vital and often-unknown fact we at Working Abroad want to make sure you know about this visa – you can only apply for it once. Only once in your life, so you must make absolutely sure that this is the time you want to do it, and don’t change your mind once you have been accepted!
When you have committed yourself and obtained the visa, the next logical step would be to think about getting there. The flying time to Australia is long! Really, really long! It takes approximately 22 hours from London, but a stopover half way usually breaks the flight up. Sometimes flight packages offer deals allowing a temporary stay in your stopover, so you could soak up the culture and atmosphere of Hong Kong or Los Angeles. However, if you want to save money, you can fly with an airline that stops only to refuel, allowing you to soak up the culture and atmosphere of the exotic airport transfers lounge!
Ok, so you’ve got your visa, you’ve booked your flight and you’ve donned the cliché corked hat. What do you do when you get there? Accommodation is one of the first worries for travellers. Most tend to make a beeline for the hostels, as they’re cheap, comfortable and everyone else there is in the same boat as you! All the major cities and destinations that travel workers head for offer great hostels with great deals. If you want to guarantee a bed before you fly check out www.hostelworld.com, where you can book accommodation before you go and read hostel reviews from travellers who have already stayed there, so you know they won’t be fibbing about the condition of the rooms! They also offer discounted bookings for tours and activities, so if you fancy a trip into the outback or a dip in the Great Barrier Reef, check them out. Another good site is www.hostelaustralia.com; it is jam-packed with reviews and information about the best and cheapest places to stay.
A working holiday in Australia doesn’t have to mean glass collecting or sheep shearing (although don’t knock it, I hear it’s actually quite good fun!). If you have any particular skills, such as communication or IT, make the most of them! As the visa only allows you to stay with one employer for three months, your best bet is to use a temping agency in one of the major cities. You will need to have an up-to-date CV, so if you email yourself a copy before you fly you can print it off in an internet café when you get there. Presentation is everything: there is nothing more unimpressive than a crumpled CV fished out of a backpack. The most widely available form of work for travellers is in the hospitality industry. Working in bars, hotels and restaurants is the easiest way to earn money. If you are travelling out in December or January head for the west coast as this is where many of the job vacancies will be, and the chances are good that you can get a solid three months with one employer. Experience is always useful when applying for jobs, so try to get work in a related field before you go. If you intend to work in bars and cafés, it’s a good idea to get the RSA Certificate. This ‘Responsible Serving of Alcohol’ qualification is extremely useful and well worth the small fee hospitality agencies will charge you to do it. In fact, some employers actually require it, especially in New South Wales, so give it some serious thought.
Harvest work is one of the most popular forms of employment for travel workers. Australia has a huge farming industry and there is always a demand for temporary workers. You get to meet plenty of new people and see parts of the country that you probably would not have got the chance to visit if you stayed in the more urbanized areas. Typical tasks range from fruit picking to serving meals and if you do want to participate in such work, ask around at hostels and check out local papers for vacancies. The most popular place to find work like this is in Midura in North West Victoria, between February and April. There is lots of work for travellers at this time as it is the busiest harvest season. You could expect to earn roughly AUS$80 per day and be paid weekly, – not amazing but there isn’t much to spend it on there anyway, so it’s not that big a problem! Sometimes growers do provide accommodation for you we strongly recommended you to bring a tent, as spaces are limited.
We’ve gone through some of the basic types of work you can expect to find but once you are earning you’ll need an Australian bank account because agencies will not take you one without one. In order to open an account you will need a passport and a permanent address. This can sometimes present a problem for people that have just arrived, but if you are intending to stay at your hostel for an extended period of time ask them if you can list their address – they’re normally quite accommodating. Australian banks require you to complete a “points” system of identification before you can open an account. Basically, you need 100 points to be eligible, and your passport alone is worth 60, whilst driving licences and birth certificates are both worth 40 – so if you bring them, you’re sorted!
Connect with Next Step Australia for help locating jobs – whether you’re searching for short- or long-time employment.
Hundreds of people have contacted us and shared their experiences of working in Australia and by all accounts, it sounds amazing! Why not give it a try and let us know how you get on? If you have any questions you can contact us via our website and we will do all we can to help you plan the trip of a lifetime!