Where Are You Going Next? The Lowdown on the Australian Working Holiday Visa

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So your pockets are running dry and you’re looking for something new and fresh.

Maybe you’ve been in South East Asia for quite some time or perhaps you’re looking into going to Asia soon, but you need some travel money. Well, mates, Australia is right there and needs you, yes YOU, to come over and work! The climate is good. The money is great. What are you waiting for?

Fruit picking in Australia
Yes there’s fruit picking – and many more opportunities!

Australia has a fantastic working holiday scheme for many foreign nationals. You’re likely eligible to have the opportunity to live and work in Australia for a year or more, making money and traveling the vast country while you’re doing it.

Great Ocean Road Australia
The Great Ocean Road, Australia

Here’s a deeper look into Australia’s working holiday visa that could fill up your back account, knock a few bucket list items off your list, and then send you on your way to travel Southeast Asia all over again!

So how do I get my hands on one of these visas?

It’s actually pretty easy. Just check this link to see if you’re from one of the eligible countries and apply online or at an embassy. The instructions are pretty straight forward. Then wait for approval.

Even if you’re not from the approved lists of countries or perhaps you’re over the age limit, it’s still worth it to see if you’re eligible for a skilled visa.

A basic rundown of the requirements:

(This varies from country to country, but this is a good overview)

  • Passport
  • $5,000 AUD in the bank
  • Under the age of 31.
  • Functional English
  • Money for the visa fee.
  • Two passport photos.


What kind of work can I do in Australia?

Get your hands dirty!

There are heaps of different choices! A popular backpacker job would be in the agricultural industry. Broccoli harvesting to mango picking could soon be added to your resume should you so choose, but there are other options. I personally work in the hospitality industry, I work at a cafe and a beer garden as a waitress and bartender.

Mining jobs, nannying, gardening, retail, hotel and B&B’s, housekeeping, and more are just a few more ideas for what you could do for work while living here.


Steven Reed backpacker working in Australia
Working in the mining industry in Perth, Australia.

Check out these interviews with backpackers about their various jobs in Australia.

When is a good time to come?

This all depends on what industry you want to get into. If you’re aiming for working at a hotel, it would be a good idea to come a bit before their high season (in whatever region). If you want to work in farming, check when harvesting season is. Keep the weather in mind while looking at when to come as well.

Proposed Backpacker Tax and why it’s a good idea to come NOW:

If you’ve been looking into coming to Australia already, you may have heard of this new proposed tax. It is currently not in effect and has been postponed until the end of the year. Some say there might be a chance it will be postponed until the next tax year which will be July 2017. This backpacker tax is a hefty price to pay, and many aren’t too keen on it.

The tax will take a large 32.5% chunk out of every dollar you earn. While you will still be making OK money, it’s a pretty big blow. So if you’re thinking of coming over to work, it would be a good idea to come now. Like, right now!

(Just as a side note,I don’t want to sound greedy, but a third of every dollar is a bit much! I’m fine to pay a tax at a more reasonable amount, especially because as an American, I don’t get health care while most others do. Hopefully, they will make a more fair decision that works for both.)

What can you earn in Australia?

Well, considering there are so many different industries to get into, it varies. Of course, how much you pay will depend on experience as well… But here’s a bit of a taste:

(Per hour and in AUD)

  • Hospitality: $18-25+ for a bar or restaurant.
  • Office type jobs might net you around $18+.
  • Au Pairs are getting anywhere from $15-30.
  • Trade and labor type jobs are $20-30+.
  • Farming varies greatly. Sometimes it’s hourly, sometimes it’s by the bucket… I haven’t worked in the agricultural realm (yet?) but it’s definitely known for farmers to take advantage, so be sure you’re working with someone legit. Anywhere from $400-$1000 plus accommodation depending what farm you’re on and the skills you possess. (For example, you might get paid more if you have tractor driving experience)
  • Call centers pay $15-20 plus commission.

It’s worth mentioning that if you speak proper English and have a decent skill set, you’ll get paid more. I know of some people who have minimal English and no background in hospitality doing a similar job I’m doing and only getting $15 per hour (cash). These prices are just an average for a skilled worker and they do vary.

How do I find a job?

Just like you would anywhere else.

Either you apply online, or you go around the old fashion way with a CV in hand.

Seek.com and Gumtree.com have job postings.

7 Tips for coming over on your working holiday visa:

  • Bring money to start. It happens to be a requirement to come with at least $5000 AUD in your bank account, but while they don’t always check, it’s nearly impossible to survive for long with barely anything. Save a bit before coming. You’ll be living in one of the most expensive countries in the world.
  • Cook for yourself. Eating out often will get very pricey here.
  • Don’t enter the country once you’ve been approved just to leave the country again. You get one year in total no matter how many times you enter and reenter the country. You don’t “get those days back.”
  • It might be a better idea to get a job right way although I know the lure of travel can be great. Just get a job to make sure you can get a decent one (it can take time) and save in the beginning. If anything, you can come back as a tourist if you run out of time on your working visa, but you can’t come back on a working visa so easily.
  • Make sure you check off everything and turn everything in properly when applying. Remember, you’re paying for this visa, you don’t want to lose any money for a silly mistake.
  • Facebook groups. Join them. The backpacker groups and the groups for jobs in a particular city. It can be a good resource for finding work and getting information and advice.
  • Follow up with places you’ve applied to. Competition can be high. Show them you’re really interested in working there.

What am I doing with my working holiday visa? I’m working my butt off! But I know it’s going to be worth it… 

HINT: I’m saving thousands….

So what do you think? Is working in Australia for you? Would you do it?

If you’ve been before, is there anything you’d like to add about your experience?

South East Asia Backpacker Magazine is a collaboration of articles from travellers exploring the region right now. For more info on submitting an article to us, check out the ‘Become A Writer’ page in the ‘About’ section of the menu.

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