What do you think are the scariest things about making that life changing decision to pack up and head off on a working holiday adventure in Australia? ‘Will I make friends?’, ‘How will I find a job?’, ‘What if I don’t like it?’
When 22 year old Luke decided to leave the wet and windy streets of Peterborough behind for a taste of the good life Down Under, thoughts like these were understandably whirling around in his excited, yet slightly apprehensive, head.
Matt has no regrets about his move to Australia
Queue the some wise words and sound advice from his STA Travel Expert, who introduced him to the Australian Backpackers Work and Travel Package, and BOOM, Luke is now in Aus and enjoying what he himself describes as ‘the time of my life’.
I caught up with Luke over email (unfortunately the STA Travel Blog budget won’t stretch to a face to face meeting) and he told me the benefit’s of the package and why it’s not anything like your average tour.
Luke takes us through his first few days as a resident of Australia
So, you arrived in Australia for your working holiday and started a 6 night Australia Work and Travel package. Talk us through your first few days
I arrived on the 7 day work and play package, and after getting picked up from my flight with a few other people on the same package, our bus driver Matt decided to take us on a bit of an impromptu tour of Sydney. It was awesome. We were completely shattered after the huge flight but within 2 hours of arriving in Australia, I was at the Opera House taking photos. I completely forgot about my jetlag after that!
That night we had some food and drinks on the rooftop of our hostel, complete with views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and amazing Sydney skyline. An epic way to kick off my trip, that’s for sure!
Over the next few days we really got to know Sydney well. We did a boat tour around the harbour, a walking tour of Bondi, saw some dolphins (a definite highlight) and had some crazy nights out with the group.
On the 3rd day we had a presentation as part of our work and travel package about the best way to find work, an apartment or long term hostel, how to arrange our tax and all the other aspects of living and working in Australia. They even did all the paperwork for tax, bank accounts and Medicare for us, which was great.
Matt had a great time exploring Sydney with his new friends on arrival in Aus
We were also helped us with our CV’s and had them uploaded straight onto their jobs site so we could apply for jobs right away.
Over the next two days we did a tour out to the Blue Mountains just west of Sydney. Doing some bush walking around Katoomba really made me want to go a see more of the Aussie bush and outback, it’s just so different from anything in Europe that I’d been before. We stayed around until sunset which is when all the Kangaroos and possums start coming out to feed, they were really tame and took food from our hands!
The surf trip on the last day was my favourite part of the package – hands down. I’d never tried surfing before but now I’m hooked. We went to a remote beach outside of Sydney so it wasn’t too crowded and, now I don’t want to sound cocky but, I was stood up on my second wave!
There’s a pretty busy social side to the Australian Backpackers Work and Play package did you make the most of it?
Oh yeah. The first night in Sydney on the rooftop was awesome! Jetlagged, trying my first taste of goon (a life changing moment!) and getting to know the other 20 or so people on the trip with Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background was pretty special. That’s when I knew I’d made the right decision to go travelling.
During the next few days we’d all head out most nights, The guys looking after us as part of the package bought us dinner a couple of times at the pub, and then would show us around the local clubs and bars.
The bars put on heaps of free drinks for us too when we went with the guides which was awesome!
Crazy nights out on the town are a regular feature of the Work and Travel Package
Having all those social activities included made the group so much more fun to be with. Plus, having the group there made every night out so much more fun than just going by myself or with strangers from the hostel.
Tell us a little about the group you did your package with. Are you still in touch?
They were a really cool bunch. There were about 20 people in my group and the tour leader was great at helping everyone get to know each other and make friends. I actually met some really good mates and ended up living with them in Bondi after the package finished.
I’ve stayed in touch with some of the others as well and plan to meet up with them in Brisbane later this year and do some more fruit picking together.
Nope we don't want to go to Aus at all - this looks SO boring...*ahem*
Where to from here, work or travel?
After the package had finished, the staff helped me find work at a local gym where I worked for a while. Afterwards I did some farm work up in Queensland to go towards my second working holiday visa then I hit Melbourne for the Grand Prix.
After that, I’m heading up the East Coast with some of my new mates. Not sure if we’ll go by car or bus but it should be an awesome trip however we get there. We’ll take about 3-6 months to do the trip depending on how much we decide to work along the way.
The guides from he work and travel package said they’ll find us work in Brisbane for a while, or a bit further up the coast if we want to do some fruit picking and finish off our second year visa. We’re not sure yet but it’s good to know we can just call them up and they’ll find the work for us anyway.
Why did you decide to travel Oz this way in particular?
I had no idea what I was going to do in Australia so booked the package so that my first week was at least sorted. I’m not really into guided tours but all I wanted was not to have to think about all the boring practical things like bank accounts and tax numbers in my first week, I just wanted to get on with having some fun!
The guy who booked my trip at STA Travel recommended it because he’d had done exactly the opposite when he went to Australia on his working holiday; he said he’d wasted a week trying to get a bank account and all the other stuff because he didn’t have an address, and then got charged heaps of tax for the first three weeks in his first job because he was waiting for his tax number to arrive. It sounded like a nightmare so I decided to have it all sorted out for me.
What kind of work will you be looking for?
I prefer physical jobs, but I’m not that picky. I have worked in a gym already and done a bit of fruit picking. The work is pretty hard but you are out in the sunshine all day which is exactly what I came to Oz for in the first place!
I was offered a few office jobs in Sydney and did one for a few days but it was summer and I didn’t want to be inside all day so the guys from Australian Backpackers found me something else.
Not a bad way to spend a day off from work...
What’s been your favourite part of your trip so far?
I’ve been here for a few months now and in January I went to Melbourne to see the Australian Open which was wicked.
I’ve also done a few weeks fruit picking (aka, playing in the sunshine!) up in Queensland and will go back there to finish my second year visa stint next month. It’s impossible to say which has been my favourite part. Don’t make me decide! I have booked a 5 day surf course next week so it just keeps getting better.
Why would you recommend the Work and Travel package to other travellers?
I’ve not had to think about finding work as the Aussie Backpackers guys have done it all for me. All I do is call them up and then find out what’s available for me.
The first few days of the package were a great experience.
I’m not much of a “tour” kind of guy but having someone there to pick me up, take me around Sydney, sort out everything and then take me to the pub or beach and teach me to surf was a wicked way to start my trip.
Plus most of my mates here in Oz are still the guys I did the package with so it’s a good way to meet travellers who are interested in the same stuff as you and get your social life started straight away.
So, Australia; Expensive destination or good opportunity to refill the travel coffers?
When I arrived in Sydney and looked how much things cost then I thought it was more expensive than the UK. It’s all about the exchange rate though because after I started earning Aussie dollars then it’s about the same as back home. Rent is cheaper, pubs are more expensive, food is about the same, so it evens out.
Luke doesn't think that Australia is that expensive, he loved his time in Sydney
My first job in Sydney I was earning $25.50 an hour which is about £17 and that was just helping out in a gym. Beats working in a supermarket or a pub at £5 an hour back at home to earn your travel money! My mate was working in an Irish bar and was getting $18 an hour and then double that if he worked weekends or holidays.
Rates of pay are definitely better and if you make sure you save a bit each week you can easily earn enough to take a few months off to travel. It’s just like anywhere, you just have to be sensible with your money and not go to the pub too often – just often enough!