Australia is a great country to work and travel in. The working visa allows you to earn some serious cash for you to travel before and after your visa. My final total earnings of 10 months work was $44,000 before tax!! Then I claimed my tax return which was $7000ish which came through in New York, love it. I ventured down the east coast with the Greyhound multi stop ticket, settled in Melbourne for 6 months and lived in Margaret River/Perth for 4 months. This page I will set out a timeline of what I did and how I got a job.
May – June 2013, Cairns
Having arrived from Fiji I was pretty short on money and had planned to travel down the east coast for about 6 weeks, this was cut short to about 3. Cairns you have to stay at Gilligans Hostel which is a party hostel but is a great place to meet people to organise tours or your nights out. Gilligans will be around the $26 a night for a shared dorm. The Woolshed is a cool bar to dance on tables and get free meals such as spaghetti bolognese and chilli. We done the Uncle Brian’s Tour which went north to check out some beaches and waterfalls, the guy who ran it was very funny and its a great laugh. You check out the Herbal Essence/Peter Andre waterfall, flick your hair and get the photo. The casino provides free coffee/tea and a large screen to watch your sport on. Some fellow travellers advised we went to Peter Pans and book our east coast tour, I would highly recommend it. You can book all your tours, most of your accommodation and get some free stuff chucked in as well.
Plonk yourself at Base Hostel, get your hiking boots on and discover the island. We met some fellow hikers who arrived at sunrise on the same day and we got the bus around the island and visited a few peaks including a look out point. Base is on the coast so there is a beach there to do some tanning. It will also hold a few nights during the week for a bit of a boogie. We were low on funds at this stage but can imagine renting a bike/car out would be a good way to see all the island.
Nomads Hostel was our residence of choice in Airlie Beach which apart from a few nights there deciding what to do/goodbye party you don’t spend much time in the town. We booked ourselves on the Clipper Dipper boat which essentially is a party boat. Activities such as diving, snorkelling and chucking yourself down a shoot in to the water are popular. You visit the Whitsunday Islands on day two which ends with a fancy dress party with some interesting games. In hindsight I would have done a different boat as I cant swim and probably would have liked the chillness of being on the water instead of in it. Make sure you take your own booze with you and you can leave your main backpack at the Nomads Hostel.
Seventeen Seventy/Agnes Water
Airlie Beach to Rainbow Beach is a heck of a journey so we stopped off half way down at 1770 Southern Cross Backpackers and booked ourselves in for a Scooter Roo tour which was awesome! This tour includes riding on Harley Davidson type bikes and riding around the area looking for Kangaroos. No need to threat about your ability to ride a motorbike, they are automatic and restricted at a certain speed. Southern Cross Backpackers is a great hostel with free wifi, a table tennis table, spacious rooms, good beds, large screens, good food and a friendly atmosphere.
Dingos Hostel runs a two day/three night tour of Fraser Island which was my highlight of the east coast. You set off in a group of about 20 people in jeeps and drive over to Fraser Island. There you camp for both nights, drive jeeps on the beach, laze on the beach, indulge in some partying in the evening, reflect with some forest walks, visit some amazing sights and hike up the easy Indian Head. The group makes this trip and you all bond over a few days of the activities you do together. When you come back to Dingos Hostel people stay to have a few drinks for one night then move on.
Again we stayed at a Nomads in Noosa which is a picturesque town with an awesome beach, laid back atmosphere and a lovely town centre. You can grab great fish and chips here and take advantage of the cheap Dominoes deals. The place is known for its surfing and that is definitely the activity of choice. Unfortunately I ran out of money at this point and through someone I met on Magnetic Island I sorted a job out in Melbourne. In the few days I spent in Noosa I met a few friends from my east coast travels, laid on the beach and booked my bus to Brisbane and plane to Melbourne.
June – December 2013, Melbourne
Luckily I found a job when I did as I was seriously running out of cash. A fellow traveller told me about an office job in Melbourne which was hiring some temporary workers and I rang them up. Straight away I was offered a job. This admin job was paid at $26 an hour which is pretty good and I think close to what an office job can offer you in Australia. I stayed at Urban Central backpackers on City Road in Melbourne (by the McDonalds) which was about $160 a week for a four bed dorm. After staying here for three months I moved in to an apartment in the Kensington area of Melbourne which is by the racecourse and paid the same amount of money for that. I would highly recommend St Ali’s café in South Melbourne for its coffee and cakes. Albert Park was a regular haunt of mine for running and chilling out as it had the awesome views of the city. I adopted Richmond as my AFL team and went to see them at the MCG a few times. Melbourne’s sports park is worth visiting as it has an array of stadiums to visit and tour. Victoria market offers you some grand choice of stuff to buy at decent prices. Generally Melbourne is a great place to live and wouldn’t live anywhere else in Australia in my opinion.
December – January 2014, Ashes tour
A great friend of mine travelled from home to come and watch the cricket for the Ashes tour of Australia. We planned three weeks in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney and included sights and sounds as well as the cricket. After all the stress watching it you need a break!
Perth – Firstly I met him in Perth and we stayed at a hotel by the new bay which was being built at the time. Quite close to there is my favourite bar in Australia, The Lucky Shag bar. A bar situated on the water with a nice breeze, good beers, good food and cracking atmosphere. Perth has many things you should visit. Firstly Rottnest Island is a must, catch the ferry across and grab a bike or walk around the island. Some fantastic beaches, wildlife and ice cream to get stuck in to. I actually met Alistair Cook (England captain) there who was a gentleman when I asked for a photo. Perth itself has some great beaches such as Scarborough, Cottesloe, Freemantle and many more. Freemantle is a cracking little place to spend an afternoon, the Little Creatures bar/restaurant does great pizzas and beer. You will need to buy a car if you are planning to stay in the Perth area as the city is very widespread. A great café for a fry up is Dome, a little bit pricey but worth it for a cracking start to the day. Nights out occur in Northbridge which is full of backpackers and locals having a good time, wont be hard to find a busy bar there. The only hostel I would recommend in Perth is the YHA in the centre, it was the only one I liked when I stayed in Perth. Finally if you love your cricket you can watch it at the WACA ground which is walking distance from the centre of town.
Sydney – For our stay here we booked the halls of residence at Sydney University campus in the Newtown area which has an efficient bus service to the city centre. This would be a great way to spend cheap on accommodation in the semester breaks. With a McDonalds opposite our budget food and accommodation was sorted. I would advise going to Sydney Cricket Ground for a tour as this is one of the world’s oldest cricket stadiums and a great sports arena. Darling Harbour has all the bars and scenery on the water you need but this wouldn’t be a budget night out. We spent NYE in Sydney and got a great little spot to see the Sydney Harbour Bridge, there is great little sports by the yachts which gives you a great view, highly recommended. The Opera House is definitely worth a visit but even better would be to go to a performance in there as the acoustics are great. Luckily we saw a Beatles’ tribute act. One of my tips is the coastal walk from Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach which is a great walk with awesome views of the coast and plenty of cafes/pubs to stop off on the way. The walk is around 6km so plenty of time during the day to do it with something else planned. Bondi and Manly beaches are great city beaches to grab a beer, have a surf, eat some food and chill out.
Jan 2014 – May 2014 – Margaret River, Western Australia.
Once the Ashes tour was over I got on a flight to Perth and made my way to Margaret River in the south west of Australia to get registered for the vineyard season. I would advise booking in to Margaret River Backpackers where the staff will help you with the agencies to find you work and they also receive a lot of cash in hand jobs around the area. The hostel has full sky channels to watch sport, an outside area for drinking and eating as well as spacious comfortable dorm rooms. Vinepower is the best agency to register with as they have the biggest amount of work throughout the season and region. The area is covered in different types of vineyards with different types of wine on offer. You will also find other vineyards which make their own chocolate, port, ice cream and beer. On the way to the Margaret River there is a cheese factory which is well worth a visit, it is on the main road. The local favourite pub is Settlers Tavern which has great beer, good food and local gigs. The town has sports facilities to keep fit including a swimming pool. Two main supermarkets are Coles and Woolworths with local shops and butchers too. Getting a car would be essential for getting around and also getting a job as the agencies don’t provide transport and will favour people with a car.
Vineyard Season – For my time there I done about 53 days worth of regional work but you need 90 if you want to extend your visa so don’t depend on this system to get you your days, have it as a top up. The type of work I done was picking grapes, picking buckets up and placing on trailers, placing nets on the vineyards, driving tractors, moving hay, crushing grapes, cutting vines and general farm duties. Some jobs do pay by the hour but picking grapes is by the bucket and weight. Don’t expect to earn much money. There will be early starts of about 0430 to get ready for sunrise and you will be finished by 2pm, watch out for the Kangaroos on the road around dusk.
Utility worker – After weighing up my finances for the upcoming trip of 3 months I realised I didn’t quite have enough money so decided to get a job in the kitchens of a mining site through Hays agency. I was told by a fellow traveller that you can register with them as they need temporary workers to be flown out to sites at short notice. You would need to register with Hays, tell them what you are looking for, provide a CV (put a few jobs on there in a kitchen, I did and it was made up) and be flexible. It will cost you around $500 max to get all your tests, online qualifications and uniforms sorted but once you have done this you will be earning $1500 a week after tax! The shifts are daunting and require mental strength. It will be 12 hour shifts and 14 days on, maybe more if you wanted. They will fly you on to site from Perth Airport (you have to make your own way there), transport you to the site, give you your own room which is great, free food and will drug/alcohol test you. It took me a week of sweating to acclimatise to the conditions and shift. The actual job is tough in the kitchens, you will clean dishes, cutlery, boxes and anything the chefs wanted. You may be asked to help with prepping food. After shifts the chefs will go for a beer outside, get involved and be social as it could be key for them recommending you to come back for another shift. For travelling and earning this is an amazing way to save money. When I had a week off in between shifts I would go back to Margaret River as its quite close to Perth in comparison to the size of the country. If you need convincing imagine doing that 4 times and you will have $12000 in your pocket.