Today I’m gonna share with you the interview with a German girl – Stefanie who spent one year working and travelling in Australia. She told me a lot of useful information: how to find a good job there, which professional certificates do you need to work in Australia and how to travel as a backpacker. Just remember that this is another continent, completely different time zone and I think the story is so motivating for everyone to start fighting for your dreams.
What to Do before the Trip to Australia
I finished my apprenticeship in media design and I didn’t really like it. That is why I’ve decided to do something completely different. I needed to go somewhere where I can be on my own. I wanted to experience new things.
Why Australia? I’ve heard from friends that they went to Australia or New Zeland. That time I broke up with my boyfriend and was completely free. I said that now it’s time to leave!
I took a Work & Travel program because I wanted to go for a long time. As a student, you don’t have enough money to pay just for travelling. Therefore, this program is a good chance for everyone.
Before the trip, I was trying to save some money and lived very cheap. I had 3 jobs to earn money: apprenticeship, waitress, and dancing trainer. It was a really hard time but I wanted to experience something different and go to Australia for sure. I wanted to have something to talk about.
I personally recommend saving money before the trip. However, I met in Australia a lot of people that haven’t had anything, just enough money for the flight. You have to look for a job straight away in that case.
I knew that I wanted to have free time at the beginning of my trip. That’s why it was necessary for me to have savings.
What was the first thing after your decision to go to Australia?
I bought a book! It’s called How to organize work and travel in Australia. It was everything inside the book from the beginning to the end. I googled some parts as well. I read that you can hire a company, which does everything for you. This costs around 600 EUR more. I think that everyone can manage on their own. You just need to spend more time for planning.
These were my STEPS before going to Australia:
- Remove all the contracts in your home country (phone contract, apartment contract, etc.)
- Plan your stopover, good possibility to see another country (I had 3 days in Singapore)
- Book a flight
- Apply for a VISA (actually, it can take up to 1 month, but I’ve got it in a few days)
- Buying a backpack, adapter for energy, rain clothes, hiking stuff/clothes, a lock for backpack, sleeping bag, etc.)
- Book a hostel for the first days
I was applying online. It’s called Work and Travel visa. You can only get it before you’re 30 years old. I was filling in some form on the webpage of the Australian embassy. It took them 3-4 days to check it and I’ve got the visa via email.
As special requirements, you need to have 5,000 AUD (3,500 EUR) on your account or a ticket back home. They can check it when you’re crossing the border.
Looking for an Apartment
First of all, I would recommend everyone to check different Facebook communities. There are a lot of backpackers who are leaving their apartment and giving some good offers. The second option is Gumtree webpage. There are not only apartments, they have everything: furniture, cars, some service offers, etc. I found my car there, for example.
Travelling in Australia and New Zealand
The first impression about Australia
The first city I came to was Melbourne. I was feeling myself a little bit lonely because I’m a shy person. Normally, I wait until some people talk to me. I had to change my attitude to that situation. I have understood that life is not about waiting.
It’s easy to book everything in Australia via Hostel World or Booking. I found a really good rated hostel on the beach. I met some nice people, who wanted to go to New Zeeland and asked me if I want to join them and I did! After 2 weeks I already left Australia and went to New Zealand.
One month in New Zeeland
New Zealand is divided into 2 big islands. If you have only 2 weeks you need to decide which one, North or South Island, you would like to visit.
We travelled by bus, which is a really comfortable way for driving around the country. This is so common in Australia and New Zeeland that you’re joining some other backpackers for travelling. I was not scared to go with strangers. Anyway, you’re on your own and you just need to trust intuition about other people. You get to know them for one evening or maybe 2 days. You spend time with them on the beach and you can just feel if you’re the same interests.
As I told it’s two different islands. South part is more for adventures and adrenalin things. You can swim with wild dolphins if you go to the sea. They are so curious; they wanna see what’s going on and come really close to you. Of course, you’re not allowed to touch them but it’s an amazing experience to see them so close to you.
On the North Island, I’ve visited a lot of beautiful beaches. Also, I went on an 8-hour hike at Tongariro Crossing and decided to climb up the volcano. It’s a really beautiful nature around. You can go hiking everywhere, it’s a perfect place for adventurous people.
You can also visit the places where Maori (indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand) are living. You can try their food. They show you how they are performing and their living conditions. The interesting part that some of them are still living in their old cultural heritage. Of course, most of them are adjusted to modern life. I learned what’s a HAKA. It is a male traditional dance (check it on YouTube), where they are performing together and making really weird faces.
The bus is for people who don’t have a car but if you really want to see the whole country you really should get a car. I did a bus tour in New Zeeland because I knew that I just want to see everything without living and working there.
The whole trip in New Zealand cost me around 2,000 AUD (1,270 EUR). I did a lot of extreme things there, which are quite expensive. I did Skydiving and the Canyon swing there.
TOP 10 places in New Zealand
- Queenstown for a lot of adrenalin (skydiving, bungee jumping, canyon swing)
- Tongariro Crossing (8-hour hike)
- Kaikoura (Swimming with wild Dolphins)
- Cape Reinga
- Abel Tasman National Park
- Milford Sound
- Franz Josef
- Rotorua and Tamaki Maori Village
Back to Australia
What was different when you just came to Australia?
I definitely felt that it’s a completely different culture compared to the German one. The people there are quite “English”. They have English culture: for example, type of food they eat for the breakfast or the fact that they like to do a lot of sports. Australians are probably the friendliest people I’ve ever met.
For instance, I was travelling with a friend and we came to the campsite on the beach and it was already full. We didn’t know what to do in this situation because we wanted to see the beach at the next day. So we just knocked on a random house and asked if we can stay with our car on their countryside, they had a really big place.
They were so nice and said that yes, you can park your car over there and it’s fine. Then, they even invited us for a barbeque-dinner afterwards with a lot of homemade products like self-made sausages.
In Australia you cannot just park your car everywhere, police or rangers will give you an extremely high fine. I really love nature in Australia and it’s so different everywhere. You can see beaches, lakes, absolutely dry places, and tropical areas.
The East Coast of Australia is an extremely popular place for backpackers. Travelling there is really easy and you can experience a lot of adventures.
TOP 10 places in Australia
- Sydney (Coogee Beach & Bondi Beach)
- Esperance & Cape Le Grand National Park
- Melbourne (St. Kilda) and the Great Ocean Road
- Great Barrier Reef & Ningaloo Reef
- Whitehaven Beach
- Wilsons Promontory National Park
- Perth & Rottnest Island
- Exmouth & Cape Range National Park
- Byron Bay
- Fraser Island
- Monkey Mia (Dolphins)
- Daintree National Park
- Gold Coast
Traveling in Australia with a Car
After 9 months I’ve decided to travel through whole Australia. Then, I’ve bought a car, which was my dream. I really wanted to travel everywhere in Australia with my own travel and time plan. I bought a car for 5,000 AUD (3,200 EUR). This was a good one, I wanted to feel myself save while travelling.
It’s pretty easy in Australia to buy a car for travelling and sell it afterwards. There are a lot of backpackers who are looking for cars. Most of the cars are already prepared for travelling; they have beds inside and things for cooking. It’s a really big community; you’re always meeting with other backpackers and sharing experiences.
Working in Australia
The Work & Travel program is giving you a lot of different opportunities for working. You can work everywhere (restaurant, farm, office, babysitting job, etc.). I’ve even worked as a package designer there, which is my normal job in Germany (media design).
I would say that it took me around 4-5 days to find my first waitress job. The advice here is to keep pushing.
If you want to work in the restaurant, for example, just go there and put your CV on the desk saying “I wanna work here!”.
I recommend you as well to communicate there a lot with different people, you can get a job through someone who has been there for a long time.
It’s really easy! You just go to the bank. They have 2 big ones: Westpac and Commonwealth. I would recommend one of them. I had my account with Commonwealth bank and I was absolutely satisfied with it.
You don’t have to pay anything; you only need to have Australian address. However, it’s even okay if you are living in the hostel, you just give the hostel’s address.
Working as a Waitress
I had 3 different jobs in Sydney. I was working in a Café on the beach but they didn’t have a lot of work during winter time and I didn’t have enough salary for the normal living.
Then, I applied for an agency Troys Hospitality Staff (Sydney), which is providing people with waitress job all around Sydney. That agency is a service for employers who need some extra workers immediately for some events. They are cooperating with fine dining restaurants. However, you need to have waitress experience to work there. They sent me to incredibly beautiful places.
Finding work was quite hard for me in the beginning because of cultural differences. Moreover, my English was not perfect but after a few months, I extremely improved my English.
It’s better to have advanced English level and working experience if you want to work with people in the restaurant. Overwise, you can just work in the kitchen for less money.
I have no official English language certificate. You have to prove your language skills at a personal interview.
RSA Courses for Waitress
When I decided to work as a waitress I went for a one-day course to show the certificate to employers. You have to take this course if you want to work as a waitress in places that sell alcohol. You have to take a test at the end of the course. It costs around 100 AUD (64 EUR).
Working on Farms
This is another really popular job in Australia for W&T tourists. Especially, it’s good because you can save some money for travelling. You’re living outside the big cities and civilization.
I would recommend it to the people who have no savings when they are coming for W&T program.
One more important thing, if you work on a farm for 3 months and you can prove it with an official paper, you can apply for a second-year visa for Australia.
Working conditions really depend on the type of the farm. I’ve met some people who were working on avocado, strawberry, banana or orange farm. Some girls were doing horse riding on farms. They were taking care of the farm animals.
You need to pay taxes at the end of your working period. It’s called tax return to reenter the country. It depends on how much you have worked. I really didn’t know how to do that and I did it online. I just paid a company who made that for me. It was something like 100 AUD (64 EUR) for their service.
You get your salary papers from your boss and give it to this company. They will send you a letter or email with a result.
Better to keep your Australian bank account for few months (even when you’re already back home). Then, it is possible for them to send your payment back if you paid too much of taxes.
I would say that if you’re just going there for travelling it’s an expensive country. However, if you’re working there, that’s completely fine. You’re earning a lot! As a waitress, I was earning 20 AUD/ per hour (13 EUR), 23 AUD/per hour (15 EUR) during the weekend and 46 AUD/per hour (30 EUR) during the holidays.
Australians think that their country is very cheap. They are just earning a lot! 😉
It was an amazing 365 days abroad but I was missing so much my friends and family! It’s nice to be back home!
I’m sure you liked the story about Stefanie.
♥ You can read as well some stories about Exchange semester in Budapest or Augsburg, a trip to Dresden, Hamburg or Milan. Everywhere you will find interesting places to visit and amazing pictures. Check the TRAVEL part of the blog.