Backpacking in Australia

The survival guide

Backpacking in Australia

Australia is one of the most popular destinations for backpackers, with a mix of students, graduates, gap-year-travelers and others heading there for a year of working, partying and exploring. We’ll let you in on the secrets of planning your backpacking trip in Australia so you can have a g’day every day, mate!

Getting to Australia

Booking your flights

Australia is far away from pretty much everywhere else in the world. While that may be part   its appeal, it also means that getting there can be pretty expensive.

Because Australia’s winter runs from May until July, it’s actually cheaper to fly to Australia during that time. This is great news for university graduates and those who have just finished school and are setting off on their gap year, as it coincides perfectly with their new-found freedom.

You should book your ticket as far in advance as possible to save on expensive last-minute fares. However, if you’re heading to Australia soon and still haven’t bought your flight, check the main airlines operating in and out of Ozfor flash sales. You could get pretty lucky!

Working Holiday visa

If you want to work whilst backpacking around Australia, you’ll need to apply for a Working Holiday visa . You can do this if:

  • You’re from a country that is involved in the Working Holiday Program with Australia 
  • You’re between the ages of 18-34
  • You don’t have a dependent child accompanying you to Australia

A working holiday visa lets you work for up to one year in Australia. Typically, you can only work for an individual employer for up to 6 months. However, if the work takes place in different locations, it’s possible to work for an employer in Australia for an entire year .

When you arrive in Australia

Get a Medicare card

If you’re from one of the countries that Australia has a Medicare agreement with, you should register for a card as soon as you can on arrival. The card gives you access to Medicare , which helps to cover the cost of essential medical treatment.

The countries that are included in the agreement are Belgium, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.  

Get a travel card

When you’re traveling through Melbourne or Sydney, make sure to pick up a travel card to get a discount on public transport. In Melbourne, look out for the Myki card , or the Opal card  in Sydney.

Open a bank account

Anyone backpacking in Australia and working will need to open an Australian bank account. You’ll also need to get a Tax File number , which you’ll need to be paid and to claim tax back.

Finding a job in Australia

A lot of backpacker jobs in Australia are farm-based, meaning that work is very seasonal. In spite of this, you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding work at any time of the year.

The easiest way to find a job is probably by signing up to job boards aimed at backpackers, such as . There, you can browse jobs and even receive job offers from employers. Remember that you can usually only work for one employer for 6 months, unless the job takes place in two different locations.

Leaving Australia or renewing

After you’ve worked in Australia, you should claim your tax back. You will have been paying 19% on everything you’ve earned up to AUD 37,000, and you’ll probably be able to claim a fair bit back. Backpacker tax company Pinkcow  say that their average refund is AUD 2,500.  You can find out how much you’re likely to be eligible for with their tax refund calculator.

If you want to stick around for a second year, that extra cash will definitely come in handy. If you are renewing for your second year, there is one key thing to be aware of: if you apply in Australia, you have to be in Australia when the visa renewal is granted; if you apply outside Australia, you must be outside Australia when it’s granted.

For any other information about Australia, check out our country guide on Just Landed. Have a great time, and don’t do anything we wouldn’t!

Further reading

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