07 January 2010
Unless you have a trust fund, nest egg, or your parents have trusted you with their credit card, funding a gap year could be a challenge but a working holiday gap year can mean you can earn as you travel around Australia.
The Australian Working Holiday Visa enables passport holders aged between 18 and 30 years inclusive, to visit Australia for up to 12 months and take up temporary employment. You do need to apply for the Working Holiday Visa before you get to Australia, but the online application is straightforward.
Once you have your visa you are free to enter Australia any time within 12 months of the visa grant date, and you can leave and re-enter Australia any number of times during the 12 months.
But the best news is whether you’re looking to base yourself in one place and really get to know it, or to work and travel all across the continent, the range of jobs available is as large as your imagination.
There are opportunities to do work just for the fun of it; gain some professional experience and take a few steps down your career path; or challenge yourself doing something truly adventurous. Working along the way will give you the chance to really get to know a place, to find the secret surf break or the creeks where the platypus like to swim in the afternoons.
Many travellers find work within the tourism and hospitality industry, which may see you working the summer months in a seaside bar, hotel or restaurant and gaining a tan along with the cash. Or you could be working at one of the famous tourism destinations, like Uluru or on the Great Barrier Reef.
Often backpacker hostels have jobs available for front counter staff and other positions, so inquiring is often well worth the effort.
Those with office or transferrable job skills can find temp work in the cities and larger regional centres, and many online recruitment agencies have temporary placements in a large range of industries like construction, administration or trades.
If the Australian Outback is your destination there are plenty of resources to help you find jobs as a jack or jillaroo on an immense cattle or sheep station in the middle of Australia, a harvest picker, or working on smaller organic farms.
The Harvest Trail is a government website that helps travellers find work all around Australia picking the fruit and vegetable harvests.
You could end up picking oranges in Mildura, mangoes in Mundubbera, wine grapes in the Hunter Valley, or harvesting peanuts in Kingaroy... and because the seasonal harvest changes in each different region is it possible to work all around the country at your own pace, picking up harvest jobs along the way.
The organisation WWOOF (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) helps travellers find work on organic farms in exchange for accommodation and meals, rather than a wage.
Australia is a large place, and after a year you might find that you have not done nearly as much as you had hoped. If you have worked in a regional area, doing seasonal work for a minimum of three months in a specified job, you may be eligible for a second working holiday visa and an additional 12 months.