How To Start Your Working Holiday

Before starting my trip down under I was panicking about finding work and managing to get settled. There are a range of companies which will offer to help with both. My time down under has made me sceptical of some of these companies. I remember talking to an employee working for one of these companies prior to my trip. On any salesmen’s breath you can smell the scent of commission, on this particular occasion the individual stank of it. It was highly cringe worthy. Its unfair to suggest that this salesmen represents the whole industry, naturally some of the companies offering the service will be better than others. If you are considering using one of these companies then consider the below.


You can apply for the visa here. Select the working holiday visa. This form just asks you a lot of personal questions. It baffles me how a third party could help make this process more stress free and simple. You know your personal information but the third party will not.

Bank Account

These services usually promise to help you get an account set up. To set up my Commonwealth Account I just went into a branch in Melbourne with a passport, they asked a handful of questions then the process was complete. It was quick, straight forward and easy. I was in the branch for around 15 minutes. The bank will ask you for your Australian address, my first hostel let me use their address.

The company may assist you in getting, your account set up and money transferred into your new account prior to you arriving in Australia. The company itself will likely be unable to transfer your money. I am not sure if they provide you with a guide on how to do it or if they partner with a financial institution. When your money is being transferred internationally, it is worth checking on the transfer fees. TransferWise charge a 0.5% transfer fee for money being sent from England to Australia. Other companies can charge considerably more for the same service. Time and time again I have seen back packers recommend TransfireWise.

Tax File Number

When applying for jobs you will need a tax file number. You need to fill in this form. The form is straight forward and takes around 15 minutes. Likewise with the visa it is unclear to me how a third party can offer you any meaningful assistance.


In my eyes, being given a boost in the job market was the biggest selling point of these services. Bear in mind though that there are many free ways to find jobs. Jobs are advertised on GumTree,  Melbourne BackpackerThe Melbourne Bartender Exchange  and at  working farm hostels. You can also hand out CVS and register with recruitment companies such as Reed and Seek.  When one of these services guarantees you a job on arrival, it is worth asking a couple of questions. Where will the job be, in a bustling city or in the outback. What are the hours and hourly pay. If you want to be able to save up money and are living in Melbourne, then you will need to do 20+ hours a week. You have come to Australia to travel, what will happen when you want to change locations.  Will the company help you find a job in your new location.

On Facebook I have seen backpackers discuss whether they should pay a job agency to help them get work. Some individuals completely object to the idea. In Cairns I was very low on money and frantically looking for work. A Brisbane based job agency found me my current job. They only required a payment once they had secured me a job. In my case the £60 fee has been absolutely worth it. Remember that when you are unemployed you still have costs such as food and rent. Spending three full days in a hostel applying for jobs could set you back £60. Before turning your nose up at these fee charging job agencies, just do a bit of research and consider all your costs.

I have been travelling and working in Australia for nearly a year. In my experience common jobs backpackers do include,

  • Working in a bar
  • Being a kitchen washer (people who wash the plates etc)
  • Over the phone and door to door selling,
  • Farm work
  • Working for a travel company

Employers know people on the WHV either can not or will not stay in one job for a long period of time, so jobs which require months of training will not be advertised to backpackers.

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