The Best Places to Find a Job on a Working Holiday in Australia
Give it a go. Try to think of a country that’s more diverse and spectacular than Australia.
It’s impossible! And it’s for this reason that OZ is so attractive to thousands of prospective working holidaymakers every year.
Australia has it all – stunning nature, fascinating culture and fantastic nightlife. Crucially, there are also a wide variety of jobs on offer. From the office to retail, farm to mine, bars, restaurants….. the list goes on. Regardless of your skillset, you’ll find an opportunity to earn some cash to supplement your trip.
But with so much on offer in Australia, it can be hard to know where to begin! With this in mind, we’ve created this useful guide on the best places to find a while on a working holiday in Australia.
However, before we go any further we must very briefly press pause.
The validity period of a first Australian working holiday visa is likely to be 12 months. If you’d like to extend your time down under you will need to complete three months ‘specified paid work’ in regional Australia while on your first visa.
*It’s important to note that not all of the job opportunities listed below are considered regional work.
Melbourne, Victoria is Australia’s second-largest city (behind Sydney). So if you’re looking for a city with a high volume of employment options for working holidaymakers, setting a course for Melbourne is a pretty smart move.
The most common roles can be found in retail and administration as well as the usual restaurant, café and bar work you’d expect to find in a big city. The entrepreneurial start-up scene is pretty busy here too. Who knows, maybe you’ll land a job with the next tech giant!
Melbourne is Australia’s culture capital. If you’re into music and the arts you’ll feel right at home here. There’s also a fantastic nightlife scene with countless food and drink offerings to pick from.
Melbourne is a sporting hub too. The city hosts the Australian Open tennis tournament every year and you’ll never be too far away from some live rugby, cricket, soccer and AFL.
Realistically, if you’re on a working holiday in Melbourne, you’re going to be spending a lot of time on the beach. A trip to St Kilda Beach, to the south of the city, is a great way to spend a day. The beach hums with activity as walkers, joggers, rollerbladers, windsurfers and swimmers make the waters their playground.
Sydney is the heartbeat of the Australian business. This is likely the reason so many working holidaymakers gravitate towards the city in search of work.
And if you pick Sydney as your working holiday destination, you will find plenty of job opportunities. From office gigs to construction work and from hospitality stints to tradesman shifts. There’s a pretty good chance you’ll land a job in this beachside metropolis.
But with so many fellow working holidaymakers in the vicinity, you may find competition for work to be tough.
If you find yourself struggling to land a job, try looking in one of the city’s suburbs like Bondi, Manly or Coogee. There are lots of opportunities to find work here and experience Sydney’s ‘city beach’ lifestyle.
With a population of over five million, Sydney is famous around the world over for its marvellous harbour and Opera House, picturesque beaches like Bondi and Manly, and the spectacular Blue Mountains off in the distance.
For starters, Sydney is expensive – especially when it comes to renting. You’ll definitely need to have some cash in your pocket to get by, particularly when you first arrive and you don’t have a job.
Sydney is brash and loud. If a quieter existence is what you’re looking for, this city may not be the wisest choice for you.
But if you like living in the fast lane, you’ll feel right at home here. Be careful though. You might just find you fall in love with Sydney and never want to leave!
When you first arrive in Sydney get a crash-course in the city’s layout by taking a trip up to Sydney Tower Eye!
Standing an impressive 250 meters above Sydney’s streets, the tower has been an integral part of the famous city’s skyline for the past 30 years.
With an ordinary ticket (which will set you back $28) you can stroll around the internal observation deck and enjoy the 360-degree views at your own leisure. However, if you’re feeling brave you should opt for a SKYWALK ticket ($70.00 – $60 if you book online). This entitles you to 45-minute open-air guided tour around the outside of Sydney Tower. On the tour, you will have access to an unrivalled view of the Sydney skyline from the highest point in the city.
If you choose this South Australia city for your working holiday base, you’ll find fewer working holidaymakers to complete for jobs with than in Australia’s more heralded cities (think Sydney and Melbourne).
You can find roles in a wide range of areas including office positions, tourism and regional work.
One of Adelaide’s key selling points is its versatility. If you’re looking for a bustling city lifestyle you will not be disappointed. On the other hand, you can enjoy total relaxation on any of the city’s many top-class beaches.
Plus the surrounding hills (known as the Barossa Valley) is one of the biggest wine-producing regions on the planet with more than 200 cellars. Cheers!
Just a short 45-minute journey by ferry you’ll find the breath-taking Kangaroo Island. The island is a pristine wilderness that offers protection to native Australian animals – including koalas, seals, sea lions, pelicans and of course kangaroos.
On a tour of the island, you’ll discover soaring cliffs, dense bushland, towering sand dunes, wetlands and massive arcs of bone white beach.
Brisbane is a compact city, unlike Melbourne and Sydney. Most of the backpacker-oriented jobs here (you’ll find roles in construction, hospitality, tourism and administration) will be found in the Central Business District or Southbank.
Brisbane is Queensland’s (aka the ‘Sunshine State’ – Brisbane enjoys warm weather all year round) capital, Australia’s third-largest city and home to over two million people.
If you’re hoping to explore some of Australia’s best tourist locations – like Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast and Byron Bay – Brisbane is an excellent location to set up a base.
Daily life here is fairly laid back. And because the population density of Brisbane is three times less than Sydney & Melbourne, you can expect less traffic and lower (not low!) rental prices closer to the city.
Nightlife in the city is pretty lively. Brisbane is famous for its live shows. But there is also a great selection of bars, restaurants, and clubs dotted around the city.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is the world’s first and largest koala sanctuary. Here you can hold a koala (there are more than 130 of them here), hand-feed kangaroos and meet a large variety of Australian wildlife in beautiful, natural Aussie bush surroundings.
And if you’re feeling especially brave you can hold a snake!
Tourism and hospitality are the big industries in Cairns and you’ll find plenty of opportunities to work bars, restaurants, hostels, retail and tour offices.
And if you’re looking for regional work, you can find lots of options here (for example on sugar cane farms) while still being close enough to feel like you’re in the city.
Tucked away in north-eastern Australia is the city of Cairns – the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and home to 150,000 people.
Cairns is the biggest settlement in North Queensland but it is nowhere near Melbourne or Sydney in terms of size.
The city enjoys both a coastal location and a tropical climate. Winter (June – August) is peak season here. So if you’re planning to settle in the city for your working holiday it’s a good idea to do so before the high season arrives.
Cairns is also the only place on Earth where two UNESCO World Heritage Sites meet – the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest.
It has to be the Great Barrier Reef! Chances are, if you’re basing yourself in Cairns for your working holiday, you’re doing so with a view to exploring as much of the reef as you can.
The 2,300 kilometre (1,430 miles) Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef system in the world. The reef contains an abundance of marine life and comprises of over 3,000 individual reef systems and coral cays and literally hundreds of picturesque tropical islands with some of the world’s most beautiful sun-soaked, golden beaches.
Thousands of travellers visit the region every year to snorkel, sail and scuba dive. You can also experience the Great Barrier Reef by helicopter, cruise or glass-bottomed boat tour. Just don’t forget your camera!
Darwin is the focal point of trade and commerce in the Northern Territory and working holidaymakers can find job opportunities in hospitality, rural employment (farm work), tourism, and office/administration.
Construction work is available year-round too, with peak demand from April to October.
Plus working holidaymakers can gain regional work experience and sample the real Outback working on a cattle station, picking fruit on a farm, or tending at a local pub or café.
Excluding the wet season of December and January, the climate in Darwin is warm and pleasant.
The climate is complemented by the array of great beaches that working holidaymakers can choose from to while away some quality relaxation time.
A mere 30-minute walk from the city centre, Mindil Beach is a fine example of this. Watching the sun disappear into the sea is a rite of passage for visitors. Mindil Beach provides an ideal vantage point to take in this spectacle while kicking back on the golden sand.
Swimming here is not advised as there are box jellyfish and crocs in the area.
The beach is known for its iconic Sunset Markets (held every Thursday and Sunday evening between April and October). Here you can expect an overindulgence of smells, tastes and colours that can take you anywhere from northern Australia to far-east Asia, the Mediterranean and beyond.
When you the sun goes down you’ll find a range of watering holes to enjoy a beer, with the most popular spots along Mitchell street in the city centre.
Travel 90 mins east and you’ll find Kakadu National Park. It has been home to Aboriginal people for more than 65,000 years – the oldest living culture on earth.
Kakadu is the largest national park in Australia, covering almost 20,000 square kilometres (nearly half the size of Switzerland).
The park is a World Heritage site and you can enjoy croc spotting, fishing and boating, swimming, hiking and much more.
With almost two million people and miles of beautiful Pacific coast, Perth is fast becoming the place to be in Australia with lots of new restaurants and bars opening. The trendiest city down under? Maybe!
Aside from typical big city jobs in offices, retails bars, clubs and restaurants, Perth is known for its large mining industry. If you’re interested in work in this area it shouldn’t be too difficult to secure it.
Did you know that it’s quicker to fly from Perth to Bali, Indonesia then it is to fly to the east coast?
It’s true! Located in Western Australia, Perth is one of the most remote cities in the world.
However, this is not a reason to cross Perth off your list of places to visit. On the contrary. Perth offers something for every working holidaymaker – sun, surf, sand for beach lovers. Cultural staples such as museums, festivals and markets for those that enjoy big city life. Don’t forget the delicious food and wine!
No doubt helped by the pleasant climate, a number of outdoor cinemas have sprung up in Perth’s city centre and surrounding suburbs.
The outdoor cinema season usually runs during the warmer summer months. And no matter if you’re re-watching an old classic or checking out the latest release, this is a fantastic way to spend a warm summer evening.
Tip – bring a picnic, wine and a blanket and really make a night of it!