Where to live work and play on an Australia Working Holiday?
Considering a working holiday in Australia? People all across the globe dream of having an opportunity to work and travel Australia. After all, it is such a beautiful country and a great place to have an extended holiday. From the warm climate, laidback vibe, friendly locals, great food, spectacular surf and inspiring outback, it’s no wonder many people come to live work and play in Australia! There are a number of visas allowing extended stays in Australia, in particular the Australia Working Holiday Visa. So read on, find out about the visas, then start planning your Australian working holiday.
I have written this post to help you get started as well as help you hit the Australian ground running. There are 6 steps to a working holiday in Australia. They are:
- Getting Your Working Holiday Visa
- Preparing For Your Australian Working Holiday
- Setting Up Your New Life in Australia
- Finding Accommodation in Australia
- Finding a Job in Australia
- Deciding How to Travel Australia
Step 1: Get Your Australia Working Holiday Visa
What is the Australia Working Holiday Maker (WHM) Visa Program?
The Working Holiday Visa Australian Program is open to a wide range of countries. It allows you (if you successfully get one) to work and travel in Australia for up to 12 months taking incidental work to make money to further your travels. There is an option to extend the visa for a second year working holiday visa and even a third year working holiday visa. But it involves completing a certain amount of ‘specified work’, which I’ll get into shortly.
Two Types of Australian Working Holiday Maker (WHM) Visa
There are two types of Australia working holiday maker visas (WHM) you can apply for. The one you get depends on the country you’re coming from and the passport you hold. In general, for both visas, you must:
- be between the age of 18 and 31 years old (in some cases up to 35 years) to qualify for the visa.
- come from an eligible country.
- cannot bring a dependent child with you.
- reside outside of Australia when you apply.
The two visas available to come to Australia on a working holiday are:
Australia Working Holiday Maker Visa Subclass 417
The first working holiday visa option is Subclass 417. This visa is available for citizens of:
- Republic of Cyprus
- Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China (including British National Overseas passport holders)
- Republic of Ireland
- Republic of Korea
- Taiwan (other than an official or diplomatic passport)
- The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
You can find a full list of countries allowed to apply for this visa here.
On this visa, certain nationalities from
- Republic of Ireland
are able to apply until they are 35 years old. If you apply for this visa, you must have at least $5,000 AUD in your bank account to show you will be able to support yourself while living in Australia.
Australia Working Holiday Maker Visa Subclass 462
The second option for a working holiday visa is Subclass 462. This type of visa is available for citizens of:
- China, People’s Republic of
- Czech Republic
- San Marino
- Slovak Republic
- United States of America
You can find a full list of countries allowed to apply for this visa here. As with the other visa option, you must have at least $5,000 AUD before entering the country.
For both visas, you will also need to prove that you are in good health before you intend moving abroad to Australia. Depending on your country of citizenship, you may have to complete a health exam as part of the application process.
Work Limitations on Working Holiday Maker Visa Holders
Working Holiday visa holders have been subject to a 6-month work limitation, meaning they have only been allowed to work for any one employer for a maximum of six months. In 2022 this rule was temporarily relieved to help fill gaps left in the Australian workforce by the Covid-19 pandemic. Check out the latest details when applying for your working holiday maker visa.
Options to Extend a Working Holiday Maker Visa
On both the 417 and the 462 visa, there is the option to extend the visa into a second and third year. This means you could stay in Australia for up to three years under the WHM scheme. To do this, you must complete specific work in a regional area. Often referred to as the ’88 days’ rule because you are required to do 88 days of work to receive the second-year Working Holiday visa. And to receive the third-year Working Holiday visa, you are required to complete six months of specific work.
With the covid pandemic, things were a little different and specific work required were extended to include other industries, mostly to help with the lack of staff thanks to the pandemic. Get more details on Specified work here.
More Potential Changes to the Working Holiday Maker Visa
In 2022, the Australian government signed the Australia-United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement (Australia-UK FTA). While the agreement is not yet effective, once it does come into action, it will allow UK citizens to:
- apply for a Working Holiday visa until the age of 35 years (inclusively)
- receive up to three Working Holiday visas without having to fulfil the specified work requirement.
Learn More About the Working Holiday Maker Program
How to Apply for an Australian Working Holiday Visa
The application process for an Australian working holiday maker visa is fairly simple and usually doesn’t take much time. With that being said, it’s best to apply well before you hope to enter the country in case you encounter any issues throughout the application process.
You’ll need to enter your personal information, identification and apply online by creating an ImmiAccount. To finalise your application, you’ll need to pay a fee of approximately $500 AUD before you’re considered for your work and holiday Australian visa.
It typically only takes a few days to hear back about your application. In many instances, people receive notice of a confirmed visa within the same day of applying. However, during the world-wide pandemic Australia closed its border and was not allowing working holiday makers in. Now that Australia has opened its border again, and is allowing backpackers and working holiday makers into the country, the time to hear if you have successfully got an Australian working holiday visa may vary.
If you are over the age limit for an Australian working holiday visa don’t fear, there are options for you to live, work and play in Australia. These are explained in my Over 30 – Your Work and Travel Options post here.
READ MORE: What to Pack For A Working Holiday
Step 2: Preparing for Your Australian Working Holiday Visa
So you got your visa and have a definite ‘leave date’ now you need to prepare yourself for Australia.
- Most people arrive by plane so get yourself an airfare first. Check out Skyscanner for deals.
- Next book your accommodation. I suggest you book somewhere for 2 weeks. I say this because after you arrive, recover from jet lag, do some sightseeing and get your bearings, 1 week is usually up. The second week gives you a better chance to sort out things you need to do on arrival like get a TFN, a job, a place to live – see further on for more details on these. To check availability and pricing my go to accommodation sites are HostelWorld for a bed in a hostel and Booking.com for everything else – hotel room, resort, etc).
- Choose Where to Begin Your Working Holiday in Australia.
- Finalise things at home. Cancel services like gas, electricity, etc.
- Pack. Packing for a working holiday is different to packing for a two week beach holiday so read this first: What to Pack For A Working Holiday
- Don’t forget travel insurance.
Choosing Where to Live on Your Working Holiday in Australia
When your visa application has been accepted, you can finally decide where you’d like to begin your Australian working holiday. Doing a working holiday in Australia is different from doing a working holiday in other countries. For example Canada, where most travellers find a place to stay for the entire year and don’t bother moving around to different cities.
Since Australia has many beautiful and vibrant cities throughout the entire country, travellers often choose to spend a few months in one city and then move on to another. The most popular cities to live and work in are Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Followed by the Gold Coast, Perth, Adelaide and Darwin, but it really is personal choice.
Sydney and Melbourne are hubs for working holiday makers as they offer many work opportunities and plenty of accommodation. Fancy living by Bondi Beach in Sydney or St Kilda Beach in Melbourne and commuting by bus into the city for work? Many do! Once you’ve decided on your initial landing point you can book your airfare. Check out Skyscanner to find a suitable airfare.
Step 3: Setting Up Your New Life in Australia – Things to do when you Arrive in Australia
Upon entering Australia, your visa will be stamped and authorised by the Australian government. After that, you’ll need to organise a few things before you start to live work and play in Australia.
1. Find a place to live
2. Open an Australian bank account
3. Get an Australian SIM card/phone plan
4. Find a job
5. Register for an Australian Tax File Number
6. Get a Superannuation account
Step 4: Finding Accommodation in Australia – Your Accommodation Options in Australia
Start your Australia Working Holiday with views over Sydney Harbour from YHA in the Rocks.
Looking for accommodation in Australia can be stressful depending on the type of accommodation you’re seeking. It’s best to book a hostel, hotel or Airbnb for the first week you arrive until you’re able to secure a place you’re happy with! I suggest make a booking for 2 weeks because by the time you have arrived, got over jet lag, done some sightseeing and begun doing the things you need to do for your new life in Australia, your first week will be up. Having a second week will let you concentrate on finding a more permanent place to live and a job without having any upheaval to find another short term place to stay because their is no availability where you are.
Start your Working Holiday in Australia in Sydney
As mentioned, Sydney and Melbourne are the hubs for working holiday makers and backpackers to Australia. Sydney has long been the most popular city to start your Australian working holiday. Some great hostels to start your time in Australia at include the Sydney Harbour YHA at The Rocks. This hostel has great views over Sydney Harbour. You can check pricing and book here. There are plenty of hostels all around Australia, to check pricing and to book visit HostelWorld. For something a bit more up-market such as your own hotel room check out Booking.com.
If you’re planning on moving around from one city to another, you may want not want to commit to a long-term rental. Therefore, you could live in a hostel as there are long-term hostel stays available. You could even work a few hours at reception, in the bar or do some cleaning to get a discounted or a free stay. There are also many short term options with Airbnb. You could also consider a serviced apartment or house sitting. If house and pet sitting is of interest, read my post to discover how you could get free accommodation in Australia by Housesitting.
Long term accommodation can be challenging to find but it differs from city to city. There are three main places you can search for long term stays in Australia.
1. Gumtree is similar to Craig’s List or Kijiji where you can buy and sell just about anything but there are also many rentals listed.
2. Facebook Groups. Look for specific accommodation groups for each city.
3. Accommodation websites listing rentals such as Flatmates.com.au and Realestate.com.au.
Step 5: Finding a Job in Australia
Popular Working Holiday Maker and Backpacker Jobs You Can Do in Australia
Doing Farm Work in Australia Will Allow You To Apply For A Second and Third Working Holiday Visa
You can find work nearly anywhere in Australia while visiting on a working holiday visa. But it’s certainly easier in big cities unless you’re working in agriculture.
READ MORE: 6 Ways To Find Work in Australia
What’s great about working in Australia is that the pay can be amazing! You should be able to easily secure a job paying a minimum of $18 AUD an hour quite easily. The one stipulation is that you’re only allowed to work for a company for up to 6 months of the year.
There are ways around the 6-month rule, such as a situation where the company chooses to sponsor you. Although those circumstances are few and far between! Let’s take a look at some of the most common jobs for working holiday makers in Australia.
Hospitality Jobs in Australia
Hospitality jobs are a popular choice for working holiday makers and there are positions to be filled all over Australia. From the big city coffee shops and restaurants to the small outback roadhouses. And don’t worry if you don’t have experience, because people are always coming and going so employers are used to training new bartenders, servers, baristas, etc. If you want to work as a bartender or server, you’ll need to complete an online exam unless you’re living in Victoria (where they require an in-person exam) before you start working. The exam is pretty easy and having the RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol) and the RSG (Responsible Service of Gaming) can be a great investment so you can get work in bars, restaurants, cafes and gaming places.
Getting a job in hospitality is fairly easy to do, especially if you have prior experience. It’s one of a few jobs where you could be paid ‘cash in hand’.
Nanny and Au Pair Jobs in Australia
Nanny and au pair jobs are quite common to do while working and travelling in Australia. If you have experience working with children, this can be a great option. You can choose to be a live-in nanny or au pair where you’d be living with the family and wouldn’t have to pay for your accommodation. Some families will also cover food expenses, which can be a huge plus!
Whilst these jobs can be great if you’re trying to save money, it may be difficult to meet other people around your age. It’s also not the best choice if you hope to travel since you’ll probably be expected to stay at least a few months to build a connection with the children.
Nursing Jobs in Australia
Nursing is a popular option if you have the qualifications. To be a nurse in Australia you need to get registration in each state you wish to work as there is no Australia-wide registration. If you don’t want to go down this track there are agencies where you could be a support worker in aged care and / or disability where you nursing skills will be greatly appreciated. Jobs can be in residential facilities and in the community. However, with community work you may need access to a car so you can get to clients though I have known many who catch the local bus network. Or be a nanny or Au Pair.
Complete Your Farm Work in Australia
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, if you complete a certain number of weeks working ‘specified work’ such as on a farm, you can qualify for a second or third year working holiday visa! If you know you’d like to stay in Australia for as long as possible, it’s recommended that you complete the farm work near the beginning of your year there.
You’ll need to complete 3 months during your first year in order to apply for a second year working holiday visa. Then if you hope to apply for the third year working holiday visa, you’ll have to complete 6 months during your second year. Keep in mind that it’s 3 and 6 months of “working days” so it typically ends up being closer to 4 months (88 calendar days) and 8 months (179 calendar days), respectively.
So what is this ‘farm work’? It’s more formally referred to as ‘specified regional work’ and it can be anything from working on a dairy farm to picking fruit. You may also find some hospitality jobs that count towards the specified work, depending on where they’re located. Most farms are located further inland than the major cities and are fairly isolated. You’ll be working with people from all around the world who are also working to get an additional year.
The pay for specified regional work varies from place to place. Some pay an hourly rate, while others pay based on the amount of fruit you picked that day.
When looking to apply to work for a farm, it’s best to go off a personal recommendation from someone who has worked there previously to ensure your work will count towards getting another year visa. Also take the climate into account when looking for work. Summers can be gruelling with temperatures regularly reaching well above 40 degrees celsius! Working outside picking fruit and vegetables in extreme weather will mean you need to have the right gear. Clothes that cover you up, plenty of sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat and don’t forget plenty of water. Fly and insect deterrent spray will also come in handy.
You can find more information on specified work opportunities to extend your visa in Australia here.
Other Job Opportunities For Working Holiday Makers in Australia
If the previous jobs aren’t up your alley, you can also find work in different areas.
1. Internships – If you’ve recently graduated and are hoping to get experience related to your career, you may be able to find an internship! They don’t usually pay much but it can be a way to get your foot in the door with other jobs in the future.
2. Office Temp Work – There is a range of temporary job opportunities that are perfect for those doing a working holiday in Australia. Hays is a great place to start if you’re hoping to have someone help place you in a position that matches your skills and experience. You can also search on Seek or LinkedIn. Some common temp jobs include working at a call centre, doing data entry, typing or doing office administration. There are also possibilities to work in accounting and banking and other financial fields if you are qualified in these areas. This type of work is usually found in the major cities of Sydney and Melbourne.
3. Tutoring – If you’re skilled in math, science, English or have experience working with special needs students, you can find tutoring work in Australia. It’s one of the highest paying cash in hand jobs you’ll come across.
4. Hostel or other Accommodation Job – Your accommodation can also be a good source of employment. Many find employment in hostels and caravan parks working on reception, cleaning or has handy people. Read my post on Working in Australian Hostels. But simply on arrival at your accommodation, make it be known that you are interested in work and you never know what opportunity might arise. There are also plenty of Facebook pages designed for people working and travelling around Australia where you can find work. Some I have seen are Working While Living On The Road and The Grey Nomads. I suggest you search through the Facebook groups and join those that catch your eye.
READ MORE: How to get a Hostel Job in Australia
5. Work Online
After spending at least a year living and working in Australia, you will most likely have seen a lot of the country! You may want to start a blog to share your experiences with other travellers, answering specific questions they may have. It’s a great way to connect with others who love to travel and create a community. However, there are many other online jobs you could do. They include but not limited to, Doing Surveys Online, Online Trading Shares or Cryptocurrency and being a VA (Virtual Assistant).
READ MORE: How to start a Blog
6. Become a Digital Nomad
Australia is not known for being a digital nomad Mecca such as other countries like Bali, Mexico, Georgia and Spain but, if you want to work and travel Australia, why not be a digital nomad? Australia has a pretty good Internet service and other infrastructure for digital nomads. So like many who make a living from working on line already could easily travel around Australia and continue working on line. There is plenty of accommodation, coffee shops and co-working spaces where you could work.
READ MORE: How To Be A Digital Nomad In Australia
7. Work a season in a ski resort
What’s that? Australia has ski resorts! Yes they do. The two main states where ski resorts are, are in NSW and Victoria. The season officially starts on the June Queen’s Birthday Long Weekend (usually the second weekend) and ends on the Long weekend in October (usually the second weekend) but it does depend on the white stuff. You could spend 3-4 living and working in a ski resort.
Step 6: How to Travel Australia and What to See and Do
So much to see and do in Australia – I hope you have enough time! I designed this map based on my first big lap around Australia
Arguably the best part of any working holiday in Australia is the travelling and experiencing everything Australia has to offer. As the country is very big and has so much to see and do it would be easy to spend three months (minimum) travelling the country. Check out the map above that has suggestions of what to see and do in Australia and how long to spend in each place. I designed this map based on my own travels around Australia. These are only my suggestions because as you travel around Australia you will find many other fabulous spots to spend your time. Plus it depends on the time you have available for your travels. You could either work for 6 months then travel for 6 months. Or perhaps you are working your way around Australia spending a couple of months in different places.
There are a number of travel options for getting around Australia. Here are the most popular.
My Top Suggestions of Places to Visit in Australia
- Each capital city in each state and territory in Australia has plenty of things to see and do.
- Drive the East Coast from Sydney to Cape Tribulation.
- Spend a few days chilling in the ‘Hippie Capital of Australia’ – Byron Bay
- Snorkel or Dive the Great Barrier Reef.
- Spend a few days in Kakadu feeding crocodiles and discovering the Indigenous Culture through the Rock Art.
- Visit the centre of Australia – well roughly – Alice Springs.
- Stand in awe and watch a sunset or sunrise at Uluru (formerly Ayers Rock).
- Discover underground buildings and opals in Cooper Pedy.
- Swim with Whale Sharks in WA
- Have a selfie with a Quokka.
- Drive along the Great Ocean Road to see the 12 Apostles.
- Enjoy a sporting match at the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground).
Transport Options to Travel around Australia
There is an extensive bus network in Australia. Greyhound Australia is the biggest bus company in Australia and they have many tickets available including hop on hop off passes that will take you around Australia. Their network of buses include free Wifi for those who want to work online. They also have bus and accommodation packages. For more information visit the Greyhound Australia website www.greyhound.com.au.
There is a train network but the trains don’t go everywhere. There are some great train journeys. The Indian Pacific running from Sydney to Perth is 4352km long and takes 4 days. The Ghan that goes from Adelaide to Alice Springs to Darwin. The journey taking 54 hours to travel the 2,979 kilometres between Adelaide and Darwin with the one stop in Alice Springs. There is the shorter Overland train trip between Adelaide and Sydney only taking a day. And lastly, the Great Southern taking you from Brisbane through NSW country to Adelaide. All these great trips can be booked at Journey Beyond Rail.
You can also fly. Each major city has its own airport and there are plenty of regional airports as well. The biggest airlines include QANTAS, Virgin Blue and Jetstar. You can book a flight directly through the airlines.
Cars, Vans, Caravans
Many buy or rent a vehicle like a van and take their time travelling around the country. After all, this is the best way to see Australia, on the ground, being able to deviate when you see something that interests you. Australia has many great road trips to undertake. One of the most popular with working holiday makers to Australia is the Pacific Highway road trip along the East Coast from Sydney to Cairns. If you want to rent a vehicle check out types of cars and their pricing at major rental companies such as Budget, Avis and TravellersAutobarn.com.
What Are You Waiting For? An Australia Working Holiday is the right move!
With nothing to lose and everything to gain, why not try a working holiday in Australia? You’ll gain valuable work experience, make lifelong friends from around the globe and have a chance to experience all of the beauty Australia has to offer. Oh, and you might also see a couple of kangaroos along the way! And after Australia, why not look for another country to work and travel? Here’s a list of potential working holiday destinations.
For more in depth information on living, working and playing in Australia visit my niche website www.liveworkplay-australia.com. Come discover Australia now.
I hope you have a great Australian working holiday. Even if you don’t do much work, but do a lot of travelling around Australia, I’d love to hear about it in the comments following. Or if you are in the planning stage of your working holiday in Australia, feel free to ask a question.
More Working Holiday Visa Guides to Help You Travel and Work Abroad
Bonjour France! France is the largest country in Western Europe and it has long been a gateway into Europe, particularly from the UK. It has a number of borders, with the countries of Belgium, Germany, Italy and Spain plus borders with oceans, the Atlantic and the...
Sweden is known for its beautiful people, Viking history and having over 100 museums too enjoy. If you would like to experience all Sweden has to offer why not consider the Sweden Working Holiday Visa. With one of these, or EU heritage you could work and travel in...
Estonia is one of three Baltic States. It borders Latvia and Russia with a coastline on the Baltic Sea and is often one of those countries that travellers visit after they have visited Central Europe. If you’re thinking about traveling and working abroad, Estonia is a...
Thinking about living and working abroad? Why not try Germany? Germany is packed full of history, beautiful cities and towns, mountain ranges, lakes and so much more. With lots to see and do, you’ll need more than a few weeks to explore the country. Depending on where...