How to find work in Australia

When I tell people that I spent 18 months in Australia and I drove around the entire country in a campervan they automatically assume that I must be loaded. Australia is an expensive country for us Brits so, while I wish I was loaded, I had to work really hard to be able to do that.

Before travelling to Australia I spent three months in Asia so I arrived with very little money. I had about £1,500 and anyone who has been to Australia will know that this won’t last you very long at all.

I ended up having a few different jobs in Australia and thanks to the exchange rate I actually left with a healthy bank balance. I even saved enough to spend a further three months in Asia on the way home and then I arrived home with enough to set myself up and buy a car etc too.

I want to tell you about the jobs I had in Australia to show that anyone can work out there. I hear lots of travellers saying that it’s hard to find work and it’s impossible to get your second year working holiday visa (you can get a second year by working somewhere rural for three months). It is difficult but it isn’t impossible. The jobs I had weren’t skilled at all but I did have to work hard for them. Wages in Australia are brilliant so even my basic waitressing jobs paid around $23 an hour with tips on top.

Campervan in Australia

Our wheels (and home!) for 18 months in Australia

I also want to show that you don’t need to save tens of thousands of pounds to travel. Of course, you need some money saved in case of emergencies and in case it takes you a few weeks to find work but working and travelling at the same time is a great way to see the world.

While I was in Australia we would work for about 3 months and then travel for 2-3 months before settling somewhere else and working again for a few months. I was with my boyfriend so travelling in a couple or a pair can cut costs.

My jobs in Australia

Job #1 – Waitress for events and parties, Sydney

The week I arrived in Sydney I did the Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) course which enables you to serve alcohol in Australia. If you haven’t done this course you can’t serve any alcohol at all so you won’t be able to work in bars and restaurants. Its super simple, you’re basically just told not to serve people who seem drunk. Remember that you need a different RSA in each state.

Once I had my RSA I signed up with Troy’s Hospitality, a company that organizes business events and parties. Working for an agency means that virtually anyone is given a first chance and you’re then offered more work based on your performance.  I’d worked as a waitress since I was 14 so with seven years experience I was quickly booked up. I worked everything from 21st birthday parties to sports events to corporate events. It wasn’t the most exciting job but it gave me an insight into the rich, famous and wealthy lives in Sydney so I had a lot of fun.

Job #2 – Magazine subscriptions

OK, this one sounds a bit weird but for six weeks I worked in an office doing magazine subscription renewals. It was just before Christmas so all I was doing was renewing the orders from people who bought magazine subscriptions as Christmas presents. It was basic data entry but the entire team were backpackers so we had a lot of fun and it was very well paid at about $26 an hour.

This job also fed my magazine addiction!


Work for a few months and then spend a  few months hanging out on beaches like this. Not a bad way to travel. Photo taken in Exmouth, Western Australia.

Job #2 – Waitress in a café, Melbourne

After a few months in Sydney we spent three weeks relaxing and travelling before settling in St Kilda on the outskirts of Melbourne. It was harder to find work in Melbourne and there just didn’t seem to be much available.

I ended up working the morning shift in coffee shop that overlooked St Kilda beach. I began work at 6am and finished after lunch so had the rest of the day to chill out on the beach. Again, this was well paid and the tips were high too. I also got my breakfast and lunch every day so that saved me some pennies.

Job #3 – Waitress in a restaurant, Melbourne

I was always finished with job #2 by 2pm so 2-3 evenings a week I also worked in a restaurant for another 6 hour dinner shift. This was tough doing the two jobs in one day but each shift brought in an extra $150 that I couldn’t turn down.

Job #4 – Working on a scuba diving and fishing island, Mackerel Island

This is where the jobs get interesting as I spent five months working on an island that people visited for scuba diving and fishing. My jobs could include anything from waiting tables, serving behind the bar, cleaning, driving people across the island in the 4x4s, helping people unload their boats when they arrived at the island, going on fishing trips or serving in the shop.

It was so hot on the island so we only worked in the mornings and evenings which gave us the entire day to scuba dive, swim, take walks and generally hang out and experience island life.

Just 8 people worked on the island so we became a close group and had a lot of fun together.

One of the main benefits of working on the island was the food and accommodation was included so we saved virtually every cent we earned over five months. We had to buy our own beers but more often than not the guests would buy them for us so my boyfriend and I left with close to $20,000.

The reason we got this job was because they were looking for a couple. The island was very isolated so couples work best and it means they save on accommodation too. They wanted a female with hospitality experience and a male with a trade (my boyfriend is a plumber). The island was very much separated by ‘boy jobs’ and ‘girl jobs’ which suited me perfectly as I got to work in an air-conditioned shop while the boys fed fish guts to the sharks.

Mackerel Island

Sunset on Mackerel Island

The Travel Hack Mackerel Islands

Life of Mackerel Island

Job #5

The fifth and final job was the hardest but the best paid. The previous year my boyfriend had worked as a delivery driver delivering Christmas hampers. They asked him to go back the following year as a warehouse manager during the Christmas hamper delivery period. I went along with him for the interview and they asked me to be the receptionist/assistant manager/admin person.

I was in charge of making sure the drivers knew where to take the hampers and sorted out any damages or complaints.

If there weren’t any problems I had very little to do so this is when I started blogging properly!

The reason this job was so hard was because we worked 12-14 hours a day, 7 days a week for 8 weeks. We were paid really well and had very little time to spend our hard earned money so we saved up another hefty chunk.

How to find jobs in Australia

[icon_x] Don’t bother applying for jobs before you arrive. No one will offer you an interview so you’ll be disheartened and get worried.

[icon_x] Don’t apply for anything but it’s worth searching to see what’s out there.

[icon_check] Once you arrive, apply for as many jobs as possible online. You’ll find that most jobs are advertised through agencies who will call you in for an interview and they’ll see if they have anything else that is suitable for you.

[icon_check] If you’re looking for bar/café/restaurant work then you should go in in person. Print off 50 CVs and take them into all the bars in person. Ask to speak to the manager and introduce yourself and you’ll get a much better response than if you just phone or email. Go in when they’re quiet (opening time is always good) so they have time to speak to you.

[icon_check] Check hostel boards for jobs. Many businesses looking for casual workers will advertise in hostels where they know they have hundreds of people looking for work.

[icon_check] Stay in hostels to hear word of mouth recommendations.

[icon_check] Check Gumtree – we found out jobs on the island through Gumtree so don’t discount it as a spammy website.

The Travel Hack in Australia

Tips for working in Australia

You need to have a working holiday visa or a student visa to work in Australia

  • When you arrive, set up a bank account and apply for your tax code. You need an address for both of these but you can use a hostel if you need to.
  • Don’t be a typical backpacker by turning up to work hungover and generally being unreliable. Backpackers come and go really quickly so it can only take a couple of months to be promoted to a managerial position when you’re working somewhere with other backpackers.
  • To get your second year working holiday visa you need to work somewhere rural and not in hospitality. This doesn’t mean you need to work on a farm picking fruit, I got my second year through working on the island.
  • Claim your tax back before you leave (I used Peter Pan’s travel agency) and you’ll have a lovely chunk of money in time for when you get home.
  • Have fun! It isn’t all doom and gloom when you’re working in Australia. I had some of the best times ever while I was working and it’s a great way to make new friends and meet the locals.

If you have any questions about working in Australia, just let me know in the comments below and I’ll get back to you.

And if you’ve worked in Australia, tell us about your jobs!

My friend and fellow travel blogger, Beverley from Pack Your Passport, has made a really useful video about working holidays visas in Australia. Definitely give it a watch if you’re planning to work in Australia.

Monica is the founder and editor of The Travel Hack. She began the blog in 2009 when she left the UK to travel around Asia and Australia for two years. She's now a full time blogger and has travelled around the world in search of the best holidays. Monica lives in Wales with her growing family and now also blogs about travelling with young children!


  • February 26, 2014

    Australia is a nice place to live and work. I am not sure what the job situation is over there but whatever the case maybe, it certainly is a nice part of the world.

  • Stef
    February 26, 2014

    Great and very helpful post! I love what kind of jobs people actually find in Australia. I once worked as a car washer. It’s funny how you try the most different things. That’s what I really liked about my time in Oz. The tips in the end are very useful for people planning to go there!

  • AkwaabaGolden
    February 26, 2014

    Very helpful & enlightening post! Thank you very much! I’m not planning to go to Australia right away, but I’ll pin this and keep it in mind, should I ever need it. 🙂

  • February 26, 2014

    Two points you made I disagree with:
    “* Don’t bother applying for jobs before you arrive. No one will offer you an interview so you’ll be disheartened and get worried.
    * Don’t apply for anything but it’s worth searching to see what’s out there.”

    If you’re applying for cafe work online, that’s fair enough but if you want to work in a more specialised job (Eg. a trade, using a specific skill set, etc.) approach companies BEFORE you get to Australia, but don’t start no more than 2-months out.
    For example, both of my parents businesses are always looking for staff to train and, should they want to, keep on after their interim period. This is a mechanical job and they are happy to hear from people before they arrive in the country (or even better – phone them!) but would prefer a face-to-face meet with them upon arrival.

    Also, what I advise friends – if you’re having trouble finding work in the city move into the country and get your country work done (should you want to extend your visa past a year). Too many times friends have done that, fallen in love with the country and then instead of coming back to party in the big city with me they stay in that gorgeous, scenic country town.

    Know it’s not exactly about job hunting but ANOTHER thing, consider applying for jobs in the outer suburbs, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne where it’s harder to get jobs and the public transport connections are still great!

  • March 10, 2014

    Very impressed with your post. Some really good advice for travelers from overseas wishing to work their way around Oz. Its nice to see such positive and encouraging information getting out to others. Sounds like you have a great personality to go with your hard work. Well done!

  • March 17, 2014

    Thanks so much for including my video Monica! 🙂

  • November 25, 2014

    Great post, very helpfull and nice to read!

    I’ll be leaving in April next year to work and travel in Australia for 6 months! After that I’ll be going to many other places, staying away for 2 years. Ahhh so excited!!

    I will start in Melbourne for a couple of months and after that I’d like to travel and work. I do have a question. I heard that if you work 6 months or longer that you will receive your tax back. Where can I find the exact rules for this? Because I don’t want to stay to long in Australia.

    Maybee I’ll stay 3 months in Melbourne and after that travel and work. But what if it will take me a week or so before I find a new job. Will I have to stay 6 months and 1 week in Australia? Or don’t they look this carefully?

    Hope to find some answers. Looking forward to your reaction, thank you!


  • Ella
    January 7, 2015

    This makes me even more motivated to move to Australia on a working holiday visa! Thank you so much for this post and all of these helpful tips! I will definitely be referring back to this post when the time comes to make the big move ????

      • Ella
        January 9, 2015

        That’s so awesome to hear and thank you!! I might just follow you up on that 🙂 haha.

  • Beth
    January 8, 2015

    Hi monica, My boyfriend and I are planning to travel around australia for a year in a campervan as well! You’re blog has been really helpful! We were just wondering about the job and money situation, we have heard that it is quite difficult to get a regular job like the ones you and your boyfriend had, is this really the case? I don’t have any experience with bar/waitressing work, would it still be relatively easy to find bar/waitressing work without this experience? You said in this post that you don’t need tens of thousands of pounds to travel around Australia, however you did work a lot during your time travelling. We were only planning on doing our three months rural work, how much money would you suggest we should take with us, we are also wanting to go to New Zealand and planning on spending a few months travelling around south east asia? thanks 🙂

  • Shaye
    March 29, 2015

    I am doing my masters in Melbourne which is a two year program, and would like to work part time while there. Can you explain the tax back concept? Why do you get tax back? Just for not being a citizen? Will I still get a tax refund if I am there as a student?


  • Remy
    April 7, 2015


    Me and my boyfriend are looking to travel to Australia for 6 months if possible then look at travelling to asia for 3 months then Thailand then back to Australia for a year.

    Is it possible to do this and how much would we need? Can we stay in private rooms or a camper van we dont really want to share in the dorms.

    Any advice will be great 🙂 thank you

  • October 31, 2015

    I’ll be going to Australia next year and I’m really worried about finding a job. Hopefully everything will go well, but I’m having sleepless nights haha!

  • Fatima Naqvi
    March 15, 2016

    The only positive feedback I have read so far. Such a motivational blog.

  • Alex
    May 23, 2016

    Very good post, very informative! I’ve been living in Sydney without a job for a few months, and it was difficult. But I managed to make money on the side to survive:)

  • Lauren
    March 13, 2017

    I am finding your blogs so helpful!
    Me and my boyfriend are 23 and thinking of going to Aus for a year on working visas. Its all a bit daunting and i am worried about one of us getting a job and the other not. Or getting totally different shifts! How dd you overcome this? Is there any easy way of finding work as a couple?

  • Courtney Griffiths
    March 20, 2017

    Hi Monica,

    Your blog spurred me to move to Australia and now I love Sydney! I am planning to begin my regional work in two months and loved the sound of Mackerel Islands I know you did your trip around 4 years ago but I wondered how you managed to pass it as regional work as the conditions are you are not allowed to work in hospitality?

    I hope to hear from you.

    Courtney xxx

  • Lucy Cridge
    April 11, 2017


    I’m planning on going to Australia next year for a year. I want to travel in a camper van but wondered how easy it was to find camp sites down the east cost? Are there loads or do you have to work hard to find them?

    Hope to hear from you!

    Lucy xx

  • Oded
    May 15, 2017

    Hello Monica!

    We are flying to Australia tomorrow, and as we searched the internet for information we saw your blog. We were very inspired by what you wrote, and we were wondering if you could share with us the name of the place you worked at in Mackerel Island? It sounds incredible, and since we are a couple, and have experience both in hospitality and in working with our hands – we think we can be a great match (and of course – we would love to live on an island!).

    If it’s possible, please let us know here or in this email – [email protected]

    Only the best and continue to travel,

    Oded and Hanna

  • Ami Jaafar
    October 2, 2017

    Hello I just want to ask regarding visa. I will travel to Perth on January 2018 and having tourist visa. Is it possible to get bridging visa after Im arrived and is it easy to find work using tourist visa

  • Zoe
    December 7, 2017

    Hi, this blog was so helpful as We’re considering buying a campervan and travelling/working around Australia too.
    When you were working, we’re you staying in a campervan or in property? I wondered of you needed an actual address for pay/tax reasons. Or was it acceptable to put a campsite as your address?

  • Diane
    November 28, 2018

    Hi my son is in Sydney and rapidly running out of money. He’s waiting for his tax file. Is it possible to get any work while he’s waiting for this? Where could he find those kind of jobs? Regards Diane

  • Georgina
    January 13, 2019

    Hey! Did you have your camper van the whole time in Aus? Whilst you were working etc… Or did you work and then get the camper van to travel after? 🙂


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