Australian Working Holiday Visa: A No-Brainer for Backpackers

Australian Working Holiday Visa Australian Working Holiday Visa: An Awesome Opportunity

What if I told you that you could travel to Australia, see Uluru, visit the Sydney Opera House, hike the in Blue Mountains while working and making money for whole year while you traveled? Sound awesome? You can do all of this with the Australian Working Holiday Visa.

An Australian Working Holiday Visa is more than just permission to work and travel in Australia. It’s an invitation to learn Aussie culture, explore its vast landscapes and make some money while doing it. It’s a dream for backpackers looking to travel long-term. You can use your earnings to see all of Australia. Or, you can save your $tash for onward travels to other destinations.

The Australian Working Holiday Visa is the perfect way to fill a “Gap Year” for University and College students. We met heaps of backpackers and young people traveling Australia on the Working Holiday Visa.

See Uluru when you've got an Australian Working Holiday VisaBlue Mountains. See them when you've got an Australian Working Holiday Visa

“Can I Get an Australian Working Holiday Visa”?

Here are the basic eligibility requirements for Australian Working Holiday and Work and Holiday Visas:

*You are 18, but not yet 31 year of age.  

*You will not be traveling with a dependent child while in Australia.

*Be from a country that’s eligible for the visa (more on this later)

*Have enough money to support yourself while in Australia (approx $5,000 USD)

*Have enough money to purchase a ticket home from Australia

Those are the basic requirements. Beyond that you must figure out which subclass of the Working Holiday Visa you are eligible for,  417 – Working Holiday or 462 – Work and Holiday. These are differentiated based on your country of citizenship and what the visa allows a person to do while in Australia. Be sure you check all the requirements to see which subclass you’re eligible for

Once you’ve found your subclass, you can apply for the visa online. You may be required to provide some documents that can be uploaded to the Australian Immigration website. Simply follow the prompts on the site to complete your application.

Our Working Holiday Visa Experience

For us the Work and Holiday Visa was a nice luxury. We didn’t need to work, but when funds began to run low, it did allow us to find work and make money. It was also, about us doing something different and having an excuse to stay in one place for a while. We loved Tasmania when we were in Australia. We wanted a reason to stay there for a while so we could fully explore the island state. The working holiday visa allowed us to do that when we got a job picking grapes at Goaty Hill Wines in the Tamar Valley.

We visited Tassie just two months after we started traveling full time. During that first visit, we felt Tassie was exactly the sort of place that we wanted to have time to explore. However, when traveling on a budget, sometimes it’s hard for us to justify staying in one area for a long time. We needed to find a reason to stay in Tassie so we could explore it properly. The working holiday visa would allow us to do just that.  But how to find work….

Exploring Tassie
Exploring Tassie the first time around

Finding Work With a Working Holiday Visa

In my honest opinion, the Australian Working Holiday visas are designed to create a workforce to perform the jobs that most Aussie don’t want. Australia is a fairly educated country with a thriving mineral industry and growing metro areas. People are moving to the cities for more white collar jobs or heading off the grid for big bucks in mines. This leave farmers with a need for a blue collar workforce. There’s also a need for lower level hospitality workers. To draw parallels, Australia uses backpackers like US uses migrant workers. Backpackers will do the jobs that people think are below them or don’t pay enough. The thing that makes this situation great for backpackers, is that Australia has very fair labor laws and great wage compensation.

Finding work you’re eligible for under the Australian Working Visas is a pretty casual affair. Employers realize it’s a transient talent pool and are keen to go with the flow. Most people find work either via job boards, like the one found on Gumtree. You’ll also find posting the old school way, on physical bulletin boards.

The Australian government supports the migrant work force that comes into the country to work. They have established a website and literature to help people find jobs on, what they refer to as, the “Harvest Trail”. The Harvest Trail refers to the different crop harvest seasons that occur in the massive country. It’s possible to follow the seasons to where the work is. It’s possible to work your way around Australia for an entire year if you’re ambitious. Farm work is a large percentage of the type of work opportunities for those traveling on a Working Holiday Visas.

How We Got Our Gig Picking Grapes

As I mentioned earlier, we picked grapes at a winery in Tasmania. We were tasting wine at Goaty Hill Wines about 25 miles north of Tassie’s second largest city, Launceston. We got the job by chatting with the owner. He was pouring us wine for a tasting during our first visit to Tassie. We told him how much we loved the island. He asked if we had Working Holiday Visas…We exchanged info and kept in touch.

When harvest season arrived, he reached out and offered us an opportunity to work. When we got the call, were were in Sydney about to see La Boheme at the Opera House.  He asked if we wanted to work. “Of Course…only problem is that we’re in Sydney,” I told him. He replied, “Well, if you can get here in the next couple of days, we’ll have some work for you.”


Australian Working Holiday Visa
Smiling after we got the call to pick grapes at Goaty Hill

We hightailed it back to our accommodation, packed, slept and headed for Tassie the next morning. After a 8 hour drive to Melbourne and 10 hour ferry ride, we arrived in Tasmania and headed to Goaty Hill, ready for work! Despite the distance, we wanted to go back to Tasmania and this was our chance. You can see we got the work in a very casual manner. Other backpackers we worked with were in Tasmania when harvest started and just rolled up to the cellar door to inquire about work. I would venture to guess that’s how a lot of positions are filled along the Harvest Trail.

How Much Money Can You Make?

We worked at Goaty Hill for 6 weeks picking grapes from their various vineyards and even a few other vineyards in the area. We were paid minimum wage. At the time minimum wage in Tassie, was $22.50 AUD per hour. Our hours weren’t always on a set schedule. It was sort of an “on-call” situation. We sometimes worked 3-4 days in a row followed by a few days off. This was great because it gave us time to explore all the corners of Tasmania. Even if we were exploring and needed to be back at the vineyard, Tassie was small enough that we could be back in the area in just a few hours from anywhere. I’d say we worked an average between 25-30 hours per week. It wasn’t quite a full time gig, but it worked for us.

Australian Working Holiday Visa
Getting dirty and working the vineyards was heaps of fun!

There are tons of work opportunities offering a wide range of hours and compensation. I suggest setting a goal for how much you want to work or how much money you’d like to save and just go for it. Once in Australia, if you’re ready to be nimble and go where the work is, you can make a stack of cash in a month or two. You could keep doing that job or pack up and head for another part of the country and look for a different opportunity. It’s a great way to travel and work because it give you a lot of freedom to roam.

The Australian Working Holiday Visas are a No Brainer for Backpackers

Simply put, there isn’t a better place to work and travel than Australia. The country is safe, the pay is good and the exploring is unparalleled. With a whole year to work and travel, you’ll have a chance to explore as much of Australia as you like. There’s not shortage of amazing nature or stunning cities. You can scuba, ski, surf, camp, climb to your heart’s content. Australia is awesome. We highly recommend anyone looking to travel and make some money to fund it, to consider the Australian Working Holiday Visa.

Australian Working Holiday Visa
Kari with Wombat. Our working holiday visa gave us the chance to see so much of Australia.


Want to know more about our time in Australia?  Check out what we loved & hated in the Best & Worst of Australia.

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