After I graduated High School back in 2014, I had decided to take a year off before university and work and travel in Australia for a little it. I was there for about 10 months in total and while of course there were some ups and downs, overall, it has been the best year of my entire life.
I love looking back at my time in Australia, but there also some things I wish I would have known before so it was about time to write this post. If you are considering applying for the Australian working holiday visa, then here are 29 things to know about Work and Travel in Australia.
1. Once your visa is issued, it will be valid for 12 months from the day on which you enter Australia. Within these 12 months you can leave and reenter the country as many times as you like.
2. There are a couple of organisations that offer work and travel starter packages (e.g. STA travel), which usually include help with your tax file number, a couple of nights at the first hostel and some more information. If you ask me, that is completely unnecessary and you do not have to waste money on such a package.
3. There is a lot of competition on the job market so especially without much experience it can be pretty difficult to find work.
4. Job salaries and rent are usually paid on a weekly basis.
5. In most cases, the more North you go the less expensive are the living costs. Melbourne and Sydney are super pricey but in Cairns and Brisbane you can spend a lot less money on accommodation and food.
6. By staying in hostels and working standard backpacker jobs you will probably not meet many Australians during your stay which is pretty sad. I have probably met more Australians while traveling in Europe for a week than during my whole year in Australia.
7. Therefore, if you want to get to know the local life I can recommend joining the WWOOFing network. For a small yearly membership fee you can find different farms where you can work in exchange for food and accommodation and live with a family. I have met some really nice people in that way. Also being an Au-pair would be a cool and cheap idea, to meet some local families, which, however, I have never done.
8. Eating out in Australia is really expensive and therefore, you will probably have to cook for yourself most days.
9. Even if you spend an entire year in Australia, you will still only see a tiny bit of what this beautiful country has to offer. The distances are enormous and you can easily spent 15 hours in a bus just to get to your next destination. Or flying from one side of the country to another can also take you a couple of hours, so do not underestimate the distances.
10. You can find and meet a bunch of different types of backpackers in all different kinds of life stages. Some people only stay for a few weeks, some for years as well as people taking gap years at different stages throughout their education.
11. While you might think that it is always sunny and warm in Australia, that is not necessarily the case. The North will be warm all year around but places like Melbourne and Sydney can get cold in the winter time.
12. Speaking of winter time, while for me December would be considered winter as a European, December in Australia is the summer.
13. You will have to get used to Goon aka the cheapest wine you can find that comes in 4 litre boxes. All the best stories have started with a box of goon.
14. I know you have been dreaming of seeing some kangaroos in real life and unless you’re staying in the big cities your entire time, you most likely will get to see some!
15. Speaking of Australian wildlife, yes you will also encounter some big and scary spiders. Two weeks into my Australia trip I was living in a camper van helping out on a farm and woke up next to a massive Huntsman spider. I knew they are not dangerous but still one of the scariest things that has ever happened to me. Usually it’s the small spiders that you need to be aware of though!
16. If you want to dive in the Great Barrier Reef or go snorkelling when on a sailing trip to the Whitsunday Islands, you will be required to wear a stinger suit.
17. In Cairns and a lot of other places in Queensland you will not actually be able to enter the ocean. Mostly because of saltwater crocodiles and box jellyfish. But sometimes, you can also find parts in the ocean with stinger nets that you are allowed to enter.
18. Thongs are flip flops. But imagine my confusion when I first saw a vending machine for thongs.
19. Pretty random, but Australia has the best sushi rolls. As someone who doesn’t eat fish I never knew that there was sushi without fish somewhere in the world. But in Australia there is avocado sushi, chicken sushi and so many other flavours. It was delicious!
20. Most Australians live somewhere near the coasts. In the middle of the country there is just mostly outback.
21. There are so many incredible tours in Australia, you can skydive over the beach, snorkel the Great Barrier Reef or do a tour through the Daintree rain forest. Everything in Australia is just so unique and breathtaking. The only catch is that it is just super pricey.
22. If you want to buy alcohol, you can not do so at the local supermarket but you have to go to a separate bottle shop aka Bottle-O.
23. There are BBQ places in some public parks that you can use for free. Nothing like having a BBQ with friends near the ocean.
24. The minimum wage in Australia is pretty high compared to most other countries. It is $19.49 an hour (as of 2020).
25. Fraser Island is the most beautiful place in the world. (At least that’s just my opinion, I loved Fraser Island).
26. And of course don’t forget that people drive on the left site of the road.
27. Tim Tam’s are delicious. And they come in so many flavours. My favourite were always the white chocolate ones. I really miss Tim Tam’s.
28. After some time in Australia, taking a 15 hour bus ride will just be completely normal.
29. Lot’s of words are shortened in the Australian accent, like arvo instead of afternoon. You’ll quickly get the hang of it.
And these were a bunch of things to know about work and travel in Australia. Have you been to Australia before? What were some things that you found surprising or were things that you wished you would have known before?
Talk to you later x
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