Genna's Blog! "Packed & Ready"

Thought I’d share this exciting article with you!    

Working Holiday Australia by Lisa Valentine

Ok, you’ve spent years revising, spent a fortune on beer and take-aways and now you’re anxiously awaiting the results of the exams you’ve just sat, with fingernails bitten away and an unhealthy fear of the sound of the letterbox. The next few years depend on these results – the rest of your life may well depend on these results! So what is it to be, MacDonalds worker or ambitious graduate?

Well whatever your results may be why not consider getting away from the stresses and strains of the last year, having a holiday of a lifetime AND getting paid to boot? Doesn’t that sound good? More and more young people are deciding to spend up to a year on working holidays, making the most of their freedom by having experiences of a lifetime whilst earning cash to pay for it all.

Almost 335,000 students will graduate from University this year, all of them looking for a job in this competitive climate. So what will make you stand out from among the rest? Well let’s look at it this way, which is an employer more likely to hire, the fresh-faced University student who has spent the last year with his nose in his books and has barely been outside the college campus? Or you, the graduate who left University a year ago and has since then developed organisational skills, has experience of working in a team and using your own initiative and who is not afraid of getting your hands dirty? So not only does a working holiday involve fun, beer and perhaps a little romance, but it also means enhancing your CV and putting a little money in your pocket – not to mention giving you plenty of stories with which to impress the opposite sex. It’s a no-brainer!

Australia has long been the popular country amongst backpackers and students. The weather is gorgeous; the beaches are long, golden and sandy; the ocean is warm and inviting; the cities are young and vibrant and best of all – there are plenty of work opportunities! We’ll give you the best guide to some of the opportunities that await you in the land Down Under, we’ll tell you how to get there and what to expect when you arrive.

Working Holiday Visa

First thing’s first. Unfortunately you cannot enter Australia without a visa. But happily the process  of obtaining a working holiday visa is fairly straightforward, largely due to the fact that Australia welcomes young temporary migrants who are there to work and in fact some of Australia’s agricultural industry relies on temporary overseas workers. Now if you are American you will need to apply for a visa subclass 462, more information on which is at the Australia Department of Immigration and Citizenship. For Brits and Europeans it’s the visa subclass 417 that you need to apply for. The visa allows young people from 18-30 the freedom to travel and work in Australia for up to a year – you can even leave Australia during that time and return later in the year. The longest you can stay with any one employer though is 6 months – it’s worth bearing that in mind. You can also study in Australia for up to 4 months. And if you find that a year in this fabulous place just isn’t enough, you do have the option to apply for a second working holiday visa. Look at our own Australia visa guide for more information.

You could have your working holiday visa within days!

Don’t worry about endless reams of paperwork involved in the visa application process, these days you can apply online making the process even simpler and quicker. The cost of applying is $230 AUD, around £133, the cost of a single night out in London for the experience of a lifetime! Once you’ve submitted your application online you can check on its progress anytime but with the efficient electronic visa system the DIAC has in place, you could have your application finalised within two working days!

Working in Australia

There are a plethora of jobs you can go for in Australia, from fruit picking to waitressing. You can decide to risk it and find a job once you are in Australia or you can start making enquiries now. Once you have a rough idea of who employs who it might give you a better idea of which area of Australia you want to head for. One thing to remember though when packing – take your CV.

City Employment

– You can approach employment agencies over in Australia and see what they have on offer. Much like a British employment agency, they’ll take your details and experience and let you know what’s available. This might be the easiest way to obtain employment in the city, of course you could get footsore going from bar to bar offering your services, but if there’s an easier way it makes sense to go for that! Many of the temporary jobs during the tourist season are going to be working in the public sector, so bar work and waitressing are going to feature highly, but you can also do housekeeping, babysitting and office work.
One word of warning though, competition for employment in the city can be tough in the tourist season, so if you want to stand out from the rest it may be an idea to volunteer in your local establishment for a few weeks before jetting off so that you have a little experience under your belt. And remember, popular cities like Sydney may have more jobs on offer, but there’ll also be more competition for those jobs.

Agricultural/horticulture work

– Seasonal work always demands lots of workers over a short period of time, making it ideal work for students. It may be back-breaking work at times under the hot sun, but it generally pays well and in most circumstances workers can get accommodation on the farm meaning there are very little in the way of outgoings. It’s not all about fruit picking either, some farms need tractor drivers, cow milkers and general labourers.

Working on a farm means you pick up all sorts of skills.

Farm jobs

– Living and working on a farm also means that you get to experience the ‘real’ Australia and spend some time embracing all that the outback has to offer. What’s more is that there is often a chronic shortage of agricultural workers so there is less competition. It’s also sociable work as you usually get to stay with other workers and a local community is formed, leading to some long lasting friendships. This work is ideal for young people not afraid of hard work and willing to have an adventure!

Picking fruit jobs

– If fruit picking in Australia is your thing then you need to be aware of Australia’s harvest seasons. It’s a great way to travel around Australia picking up work as you go along. It’s possible to get some fruit picking work all year round so long as you know where to head for. Here are the general harvest seasons for each region of Australia.

  • New South Wales – November to April is the busiest period with workers need for fruit orchards, asparagus, onions and cotton. Bananas are picked all year round in the Coffs Harbour Area.
  • Queensland – December to March are the busiest months here fruit and vegetable picking.
  • South Australia – February to April is when the grapes are picked around the vineyards. The Barossa valley is one of the more famous vineyards but there are plenty to choose from such as the Southern Vales.
  • Tasmania – December to March fruit picking.
  • Victoria – November to April is the fruit picking season.
  • Western Australia – October to June is the time for fruit and grape picking but if you don’t mind fishy smells, March to November is great for working in the fishing industry around the west coast close to Freemantle and Carnavon. For bananas and mangoes try the Kununurra region.

Hostel work

– Some hostels take on workers in return for board and lodgings. It’s a great way to meet people, the pay isn’t great but if you’re staying in a hostel there’s no harm in asking if they need any temporary work doing. Or you could always call round before you set off, many hostels get busy in the tourist season and will be planning to take on casual staff during this time.

Working as a volunteer can be incredibly rewarding.

Volunteer work

– Ok it may not pay but it’s a great way to put something back into the country you are visiting and to notch up some valuable experience on your CV. You could work for environmental organisations, nature conservation, disabled or disadvantaged children or wildlife organisations. It’s a great way to learn new skills and meet likeminded people. We’ve written a whole guide to volunteering in Australia, read it here.

So what are you waiting for? Why join the queue at the job centre once you leave college or University? Get ahead of the rest and do something that will provide a talking point for years to come.

The following agencies may be able to help point you in the right direction:

Free Spirit

Go Workabout

Jobs to do

Aussie Farm Jobs

Volunteer Abroad

This information is from