Backpacker Jobs

So you've scraped together enough money for a flight down under but find yourself cash poor on arrival. As a developed nation, you won't find Australia as cheap as some of its South East Asian neighbours. The best solution to fund your antipodean holiday is to jump on the backpacker work bandwagon and take one of those flights to Sydney!

Vis-à-Vis: Working Holiday Visas

The first thing you'll need to do before you start your job hunt is sort out your visa. Obtaining a working holiday visa is a relatively straightforward process if you're aged between 18-30, just head to the Australian Immigration website for all the official guidelines. Most citizens from Europe, North America and some Asian countries are eligible, but if you're not sure you fit the criteria head online to take an eligibility test. Make sure the site you use is legit and uses the same specifications set by the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

A working holiday visa will allow you to stay in Australia for up to 12 months, work for six months with each employer and you can leave and re-enter the country any number of times (useful for those short expeditions to NZ or Bali). The charge for applying for a working holiday visa is set at $AU270, not much relative to the $1500+ you've spent on a flight. Keep in mind that once your visa is approved you can start earning that money back right away when you land in Oz.

Preparing For the Job Hunt

Looking for employment in Australia isn't that different to how you would approach looking for work back home. What skills do you have that you can capitalise on? What prior experience can you spruik to potential employers? If you're a pro at handling kids and have experience babysitting, why not consider an au pair or nanny position? Former employment in an office environment will also stand you in good stead for administrative jobs, or maybe you're a sales whiz who would fit in at a marketing company.

Reaping the Benefits of Harvest Time

If the idea of leaving your job and travelling half way around the world only to find yourself in another cubicle doesn't get your juices flowing, there are stacks of other employment options that will get you out of your comfort zone.

Unskilled labour is in demand amongst the backpacker set as it provides plenty of scope for saving money as well as time for partying on the side. Fruit picking is a popular option, taking you to the far reaches of agricultural Australia for physical but rewarding work. Harvest Trail is a national initiative that teams together farmers and job seekers at harvest time. Because different types of produce are grown all over the country you could find yourself picking grapes in regional NSW or plucking mangoes off the trees in Darwin.

The days start early (before dawn) so if you're not a morning person, fruit picking might not be for you. On the plus side, workers also knock off early (around 3pm) leaving plenty of time for afternoon shenanigans and parties back at camp with your fellow workers. The accommodation is usually basic but cheap, meaning you can save more of your hard earned dollars on travelling instead of rent.

Becky, a traveller from the UK, went lettuce cutting in Gatton, Queensland for two months, and describes the experience as hard work but also immensely worthwhile. “It's physically demanding and the work can be irregular but you don't go up there to make a mint. You have to enjoy the experience for what it is and meet other people… honestly; I had the time of my life.”

Head to the Harvest Trail website to download a comprehensive guide to the program, including a list of regions, their produce and a guide for extra activities.

Live, Work, Play

If unskilled labour doesn't appeal to those with finer sensibilities but you still want a young and upbeat work environment, hostel and hospitality jobs could be up your alley. The Youth Hostel Association (YHA) is a reputable backpacker network that offers a number of employment opportunities across Australia, from reception duties to event management to food preparation. Many hostels also offer discounted accommodation rates so you can live it up with other backpackers while also earning some dough – sounds too good to be true!

Make your friends back home truly envious of your Australian adventures by scoring a job on one of the country's pristine islands. In 2009 Queensland Tourism put on offer “The Best Job in the World”: a six-month position as caretaker and live-in tourist of Hamilton Island. With an attached salary of $150, 000 you might not be so lucky to score that kind of once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but there is still plenty of work to be found on island resorts. Check out the websites for individual islands such as Hamilton, Heron and Daydream for more info.

Skills to Pay the Bills

The more skills and experience you have to offer potential employers, the better your chances of scoring an awesome job (and a decent pay check). Consider adding to your skill set by getting a First Aid Certificate or a Responsible Service of Alcohol Certificates (RSA) (you'll need this for any kind of bar work in Australia).

For a huge range of employment opportunities on offer across Australia head to sites like the Backpacker Job Board or Travellers at Work. Here you'll find short and long term jobs from face painting to beekeeping to modelling, bus driving and more.

Remember, you're out here to enjoy yourself, not toil away at a job you hate. Make the most of your time in Oz – push yourself out of your comfort zone and talk to fellow backpackers and locals for travel and work advice. With the right balance between work and play, you'll have the adventure of a lifetime.

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