working holiday in Australia

Getting a Working Holiday visa is becoming more and more popular as people start to realize that travelling is awesome and don’t want to stop. But seeing this incredible world is pricey and unless you’re a super hot Instagram superstar (seriously, why are there so many?!), it takes a lot to save enough cash to fund your travels.

If like me you just can’t wait to travel, doing a Working Holiday is the perfect option for becoming Dora the Explorer ASAP. So I’ve decided to start a series of interviews with fellow travellers who have done a Working Holiday anywhere in the world to help fuel your wanderlust and encourage you to do a Working Holiday, because it really is one of the best ways to broaden your mind and your experiences of the world.

The most popular countries we travellers are choosing to live and work in are the UK, Canada – this is where I started in 2015 – Australia and New Zealand, but there are so many more options for living and working abroad. This series will cover all these countries and more, including China and even Russia!

Happy reading!

WORKING HOLIDAY ADVENTURES is a series of Q&A’s with travellers from around the world who have completed, or are currently doing, a Working Holiday. A new one is added every #wanderlustwednesday. To find more incredible personal stories to read, go here. Or sign up on the right to receive a monthly dose of travel stories straight to your inbox!

If you have a great story to tell from your Working Holiday and want to be featured, email hilltopsandflipflops(at)gmail(dot)com.

Introducing…Ellie from Cambridge, UK

working holiday in Australia
Why did you decide to do a Working Holiday in Australia?
I never really planned to do one, but a friend from uni was going to Australia to do one so I sort of just decided to join. And I ended up staying for the whole year – way longer than planned, and way longer than she did as she had a job to get back for. But it seemed like a good way to incorporate work and travel – and not end up broke while still being able to see lots of new places.
OK, so how did you go about it?
I just organised everything independently because it’s actually really easy to do. The whole application process is super simple, you just apply for the visa online (and mine got granted in about three seconds, literally). And the rest – setting up a bank account, phone, tax file number etc – just requires a small bit of research. The country is very well set up for backpackers because there are so many!
How did you prepare for your Working Holiday in Australia?
This was the start of my post uni gap year so I’d been planning to go travelling for basically three years. I always had a job while at uni, working at the college bar and as a brand ambassador for STA Travel, and I also did a couple of summer jobs to give a boost to the ol’ savings. In theory you’re supposed to have around $5000 AUD in your bank account before you go to Oz (apparently they sometimes check this) so I really had an incentive to earn and not spend!
working holiday in Australia
How did you get $$? What jobs did you do?
I had a few different jobs throughout the year. I worked a few different farm jobs, picking fruit (blueberries and grapes) and also pruning vines and preparing for the new season. I also worked in a bar in central Melbourne for a few months, which was great fun with great people.
What was the highlight of your Working Holiday in Australia?
So many things! Living in Melbourne was honestly the best, it’s such a cool city with so much going on – and being a village gal it was all very exciting. I went to the Australian open and the Grand Prix (even though I care about neither sport) and generally had a really fun summer exploring all its bars and coffee shops and museums.
How much travelling did you do during your Working Holiday Visa?
My working holiday in Australia was about half and half work and travel. I started off by travelling down the east coast, with a brief stop to work on a farm in Coffs Harbour, then worked in Melbourne for a few months before I road tripped along the south coast and up to Perth with a friend. Then I went to a little place in the south west to do my farm work – which you need to do in order to get your second year visa.
working holiday australia
It’s not always rainbows + sunshine. Were there any downsides?
I think there are downsides to most trips, but they were definitely outweighed by the good times! I’d say that Australia (and probably other places with a backpacker working holiday tradition) is a bit of an odd country if you’re just backpacking, because there are just so many people who are staying long term in any place you visit. It really changes the vibe of a hostel when there is a group who have known each other for a few months dominating the place, and it can be hard to work out who are the people who will actually be interested in talking to you! This is admittedly less of a problem when you’re travelling in a pair or group, but still I found it a bit off putting at times.
Share your wisdom with us, Obi-Wan. What have you learnt?
Oh god I learnt a whole bunch. I actually wrote a whole blog post about it! Especially from the farm work – working in a job where you have to spend 8 hours outdoors whatever the weather is a real good teacher.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to do a WHV?
The first thing I would say is that you should definitely allow time to get over the jet lag! Australia was the first country where I’ve actually felt really disorientated upon arrival because of the time difference and I swear it took three whole days to get over it. I think it’s easy to get yourself down about the feel of a place when you’re so tired and your body is confused – so I’d say for sure give yourself like a week of adjustment, where you’re allowed to feel shitty about it.
working holiday in Australia
One travel tip for Australia…
Get a car! Though the Greyhound bus is a convenient method of travel, and one that a lot of people pick, you get so much more out of the trip if you have the freedom of going wherever and whenever you want. It’s also pretty easy to buy and sell cars in Australia – because there are so many backpackers doing exactly that – which makes it even better. Although I’d also say try to buy and sell the car in the same state if you can because it’ll save you a whole bunch of hassle.
Three fave places / things to do
  1. Port Douglas – This was one of my first stops and remained one of my favourites. It’s just north of Cairns and has a real chilled holiday vibe. It’s beautiful and there are great beaches, the Daintree rainforest just down the road, and overall I just found it a lot more friendly than Cairns.
  2. Margaret River – The atmosphere here was a bit similar to Port Douglas in that it was very small-town and cute. This is a big wine region so there are lots of wineries around that you can go and sample, and there’s also a beach fairly nearby, plus it’s a good spot for walks.
  3. Melbourne – I couldn’t miss Melbourne off this list! I still think it’s one of my favourite places in the world. It’s brimful of culture, and all the suburbs surrounding the CBD have their own character and atmosphere. Head to one of the many second hand markets – there’s one in Camberwell on Sundays and a great one in Fitzroy one Saturday a month, and if you like art, the NGV is really good and has great exhibitions on regularly. I love the ACMI museum (Australian Centre for the Moving Image), which has loads of interactive exhibits. There are also a lot of theatres, and you can get cut price tickets from Halftix or do a theatre ticket lottery to get a cheap deal.

It sounds like Ellie has learned so much from her Working Holiday in Australia – I hope mine ends up being just as incredible! You can read more about her travels on her blog Grad Gone Global or follow her travels on Instagram!


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How I moved to Oz + set up a life in just 10 days


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