Work and Travel in Australia – “Travelling is the only thing you buy that makes you richer” – By Natalie Wesbury
Exploring the world and its beauty opens yours eyes to experiences that were never possible on your doorstep and encounters with people you would not usually cross paths with. It reminds you life is good and there is more than the 9 to 5 grind that so many of us feel trapped in, but at what cost? Yes flights and visas are an expense, however what if I said you can travel and you can get richer? Richer in your mind and richer in the bank…
Talk to me I hear you say; with a working holiday visa you can work hard and play harder. Yes now we are talking. Working holiday visas are available in several destinations such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada to name a few, to see more visit Jetsetter Jobs. Like myself thousands of other like-minded backpackers head to the land down under to do just that, work and travel, work some more and travel some more. Too easy aye.
So what makes Australia such a popular choice among backpackers? An all-round adventure is on offer in Australia from red dirt tracks and starry night skies. To white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters that fill you with the urge to splash around and sing “hold me in your arms don’t let me go I want to stay forever… home and away”.
I first arrived in Sydney and landed myself a job via a recruitment agency within my first 2 weeks as an event coordinator for a children’s charity. Sites such as Gum Tree, Seek and Hays Recruitment have a range of temporary and permanent positions for various jobs from admin to call centres to labouring and hospitality. For me, a corporate job suddenly felt a little alien while living in a hostel and I found myself envying fellow backpackers who were playing nightly games of Goon pong (if you haven’t heard of Goon, look it up!) Major fear of missing out occurred.
Wanting to step away from my typical line of work having graduated in event management and spent the previous 2 and half years as an event manager I used contacts from my previous employer to secure a job in a tourist attraction. Absolute bonus of working for a worldwide entertainment company. Unlike most jobs at home where you are contracted, throughout Australia casual contracts are really common. To sum it up, it’s a flexible contract that can work both in your favour as well as the employers’. You have an open number of hours so can work as little or as often as suits you and the employers’ needs. Typically casual contracts pay a higher wage per hour but the employee does not receive holiday or sick pay entitlements.
Around $20 hour (that’s just over £10) to welcome guests into a tourist attraction, no wonder customer service is so great here. Anyone can smile through a hangover at that price. Australia’s minimum wage is one of the best in the world and there are plenty of job opportunities for 18-30 year olds on the working holiday visas.
Sydney is a first stop for many backpackers new to Australia and it truly is amazing. It feels like a smaller London, it even has its own replica of Hyde Park. There is a perfect balance of buzz and calm. The first thing I noticed having moved from London was that I could stroll down the street, no power walking required and no one swearing under their breath at you. Oh and did I mention the beaches? The coastal scenery around this city is stunning. Just have a day at Bondi and you will feel skinny just from watching the Sydney siders jog along the coastal stretch from Bondi to Coogee.
Before I knew it I was half way through my working holiday visa which entitles you to 1 year where you can work for an employer for up to 6 months. Not ready to leave I committed myself to extend my visa for a further year. So how do you go about that? You complete 88 days of regional work.
I moved to a town at the top of WA called Kununurra. Now I don’t expect you to have heard of this place because not even many Australians have. In fact 95% of Western Australians will never visit this town. So why here? Because winter was coming and not even John Snow could have made me choose a cold Sydney winter over a warm winter elsewhere in Australia.
Kununurra has an excellent harvest season and so opportunities for regional work are great here. I signed up with the Job Shop where I went on a waiting list for farm work. They offer regional work for backpackers with a range of jobs from watermelon, mango and pumpkin picking to weeding in chia seed fields and pruning sandalwood trees. To sum it up it’s tough and the longest 88 days ever. I hit breaking point more times than I can remember but I would 100% do it all over again. It’s hot. Seriously hot, by 8 am one morning we had reached 32 degrees and 100 percent humidity. Your body takes an absolute beating, literally we are talking blisters, wasp stings and snake encounters. Yet when you stop and take in the stunning Kimberley scenery and see all working hostels and caravan parks booked out by backpackers doing the same thing you know it’s absolutely worth it.