My Best Travel Tips
Looking at taking a gap year to Australia? Fancy travelling, exploring and maybe working DownUnder? After having spent one year in Australia, Max and I have put together some information which may be useful. Here we will talk working holiday visa, bank account, how to get your tax back, find an internship or even where to go grocery shopping! Hope this helps you planning your fabulous adventure in Australia.
Australia is a country with a very selective immigration. Ten years ago, Australian Government has signed special agreements with different countries around the world allowing young people between 18 and 30 to come and work in Australia for a year. Check out the list of nationalities involved in the Working Holiday Program (WHV) here.
As a less than 30 year old French national, we were allowed to get this sesame.
A few conditions have to be respected to be able to apply (age, no dependent child, enough money to support yourself during the year etc), see the full list here.
To get the visa, it's very easy, just go online on the Australian immigration website, set up a personal account and then follow the different steps. You will be asked a few questions, pretty straight forward and simple. To complete your request, you will be required to pay about AUD $365. After that, the request is finished, you just have to wait and see for its approval. If you respect all the basic conditions, you can get it within a few hours or couple of days. As for us, we received an email from immigration within 12 hours after lodging it online.
Once you got your visa, you can start planning your exciting trip. Yes! Your time in Australia (max 12 months) will start once you land there. Your passport is stamped and from there you are allowed to visit, work, come and go for 12 months in a row. You can leave and enter the territory as many times as you wish, which is very useful if you want to explore the world around Australia as well! (We went to Fiji for example, New Zealand is just at the corner).
Check out our article about Fiji.
Regarding the work you can do, it is important to keep in mind that this program has been created in order to supply temporary workforce in a few sectors, such as farming and tourism. Restrictions apply. For example, you are entitled to work for a maximum of 6 months for the same employer. Your main goal for coming to Australia has to be travelling and not working. This is what it is said but then you are free to work for 12 months as long as it is with different employers.
You will find all the details here.
THE (long) Journey
Flying to Australia is a pretty long journey! Departing from France, we are talking of a 25 hour trip minimum! I know it is long but the journey is part of the adventure I would say! And nowadays the trip is convenient and easy thanks to good international airlines.
I look forward to sitting on the plane just to watch TV series and the last movies! J At the end, I arrive faster than I expected :-)
During the flight, you will be given a incoming passenger card to fill in for the customs. This is mainly focused on what you are carrying in the territory. As a island, Australia protects with care what enters its boundaries. If you are not sure of what to declare or not, always think “declare more and see”. They are more accommodating if you had declared goods you were not sure were allowed than if they find out about something you didn't declare and was important...
Note that French cheese is allowed as long as it is made in France and vacuum-packed. My parents came for Christmas with 10kg in their checked-in suitcase! They declared it on the card and it was fine. But forget about cooked meats, that's not even a possibility!
Kangaroo island Wildlife Park
WORKING: Find a basic job or have you thought of an internship placement?
Travelling and living in Australia is rapidly expensive that's why working is a necessity for many of us.
Like I said previously, the Working Holiday Visa has been created to help the farming and tourism sectors to find temporary workforce. But what if instead of picking fruits or milking cows, you are looking for a real professional experience?
There are solutions such as working as an intern in an Australian company. Because the idea of internship is not very common in Australia, you need to go through a specialised agency to find one. On your own, it will be almost impossible to find a position.
Oztimum is one I recommend. Mainly focused on Australia and New Zealand, they know very well the market and have developed strong connections with locals companies. You can go online on to see their current internship offers. There are positions for everyone, from Marketing to Tourism or Finance and Communication. A few offers are also for paid internships, so even better :-).
If this is something you would be interested in doing, feel free to get in touch with them, they would be happy to help. I like this concept and this is what I chose to do a few years ago. I spent 6 months in New Zealand working as a Marketing intern for a funky tourism brand. A true immersion perfect to improve my English and add value to my gap year overseas.
Finding a place to stay:
Of course, depending on your project, you will be faced with another question: where to live?
It's important to know that the rents are pretty expensive in Australia, generally paid every week.
Big differences exist between the regions and Sydney is the most expensive (the city is often classified amongst the 10 most expensive cities in the world).
As a consequence, sharing flat is a very common practice. If you don't want to stay for weeks in hostels, sleeping in 16 share-dorm, finding an house with roommates will sound like a good plan!
You can share the space, the rent and even make new friends!
Good to know that Oztimum does also offer villas to share and rent in Sydney. You can stay for a week or a few months. Their villas are located in the neighbourhood of Glebe and Surry Hills.
The renting price starts from AUD $190 for a shared room to AUD $390 for a double room.
If you want more info, you can call them or directly go to their office at 65 Edward Street Pyrmont NSW 2009 (very close from Darling Harbour) opened from 8:30am to 6pm.
Ok better to let you know that internet is not the vantage point of Australia. Connection is often slow and never unlimited. You pay for every Mo and believe me they go so quickly!!
Wifi hotspots are not that easy to find and again often so slow...When internet is a necessity for your job, you will experience some hard times if you travel around.
We found a good solution, expensive but efficient: we bought a 3G mobile device with Telstra, we could connect up to 5 devices at the same time on it. This device was working wherever we got a phone reception with the operator. We could choose online how many Go we wanted. To give you an idea, we has a credit of 3Go for AUD $30 (1month time to use it). Because we were a lot on social media, posting photos, uploading, sending photos, this was our average data used weekly.
So staying tuned in Australia is an expensive affair!
In Australia, there are 3 major operators: Telstra, Vodafone et Optus. Telstra is the national operator, the one offering the best coverage but also the most expensive. If you know that you are going to go off the beaten track (go bush and leave the coast), Telstra will be the most reliable option.
Then if you don't mind not to be connected everywhere you go, Vodafone and Optus would be a cheaper option.
Two options will be to choose from: a prepaid card to top up whenever you need to or a plan with no engagement. If you like surfing on the web a bit, using a few apps, better go for the second option. The first one will quickly be too expensive.
What I like in the Australian system is that you got a credit to spend every month. If you call overseas, the minute would be more expensive, but it's possible (not like in France, where every minute called overseas is billed as extra).
For example withVodafone, I used to have a AUD $45 plan including 3Go and $700 to spend in calls/texts credit. I could at least spend 2 hours per month with my family, easy :-)
You just have to remember to cancel it when you leave the country.
SOME MORE PAPERWORK...
If you wish to live for a while in Australia, even if only for a few months, find a job for example, you will need to open a bank account.
You will have plenty of banks to choose from! But so which one going for?
To start with, open a bank account is very simple and will take you 5 minutes, if you have your passport and current valid visa. Better going to the bank within the 6 first weeks of your arrival down under, afterwards, they ask for additional papers. Then, it's good to be aware that some banks will charge you every month depending on the credit card you choose whereas others will be free of charge. For instance, ANZ was $5 every month just for the debit card, at the end the service is more or less the same, so no need to pay.
It's important to know that some banks are not very well implanted on the territory. For example, Citibank is found in Sydney but in Queensland, there is only one branch in Brisbane! This is not practical at all when you are travelling all around the country. Personally it was often painful to deal with Citibank, so I would not recommend it!
Better opting for Westpac, one of the biggest banks in Australia. In addition, if you are client of BNP Paribas in France, there is no fee to withdraw money on their ATM with your French card, which is very convenient and economic!
TFN - ABN Numbers:
*If you want to find a job, you will need to have a TFN (Tax File Number), which is mandatory to be legally hired and paid in Australia. This number is issued by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to each taxpayer (individual, company, superannuation fund, partnership or trust) to identify every one. This number is essential to be able to claim your tax back when you return to your country.
Once again, this will require 5 minutes of your time, the only thing you need is to answer a few questions following this link.
Your TFN will be sent to your Australian address within 28 days. It's free but you do need a postal address.
*If you want to work as a sole trader and lead your business, it's not complicated in Australia. You need to answer another few questions about your situation and business model to apply for an ABN (Australian Business Number). It's free and takes 5 minutes here!
For example, Max got his ABN very quickly online and thanks to this could bill his clients for his photography and film-making services.
In Australia,financial year goes from 1st of July to end of June. You have from July to end of October to lodge your tax for the year just finished.
You are employed: taxes are taken off your income automatically. Your employer has the obligation to give you a PAYMENT SUMMARY at the end of the financial year. On this paper, you see your global income and how much taxes you paid over the past year. If you have paid more than required you will get a refund from the ATO.
You are a sole trader with an ABN: my advice, make an appointment with an accountant. In Australia, there are two level of taxation depending on your situation. Whether you are defined as a Resident for Tax Purposes and thanks to this your first $18,000 earned during the past year are free of tax. Then the tax percentage is weak. But to be able to be defined as such, you need to prove an habit while living in Australia. Same postal address for at least 6 following months, having occupied the same job for a minimum of 6 months, example and all this for the financial year you are lodging your taxes for.No need to say that when you are under a Working Holiday visa, this can be something tricky to prove!! It all depends on what you have achieved during your time in Australia. Or you are seen as a Foreigner for tax purposes and in this case, you have to pay tax on every cent you earned. Tax rate is around 30% which hurts...And note that you can't claim for your tax back once you leave the country.
Lodging his Tax Back :
In most of the cases, foreign travellers who have worked in Australia during their gap year will be able to claim their tax back when they leave the country. This is called “tax back”.
You can't get all the taxes back but a percentage of it. You can do it online via E-tax.
Max and I got two different profiles. Max with an ABN, whereas I got an TFN and was employed for 6 months by the same company. At the end, we decided to see this with an accountant, to make sure we did the right calculation and declaration. We also wanted to get the most out of our situation.
We found businessDEPOT based in Brisbane. businessDEPOT is an accounting and business consulting firm that helps small businesses and individuals reach their potential. They provide targeted specialist advice without the technical jargon.
Their accountants are great and efficient and we were reassured to have lodged our taxes with them. We left the country with no stress!
More info on:
Superannuation in Australia refers to the arrangements which people make to have funds available for them in retirement. Superannuation is government-supported and encouraged, and minimum provisions are compulsory for employees. For example, employers are required to pay a proportion of an employee's salaries and wages (9.5% as of 1 July 2014) into a superannuation fund, but people are encouraged to put aside additional funds into superannuation.
Many people don't know but you can actually claim this money back (superannuation refund) once you leave Australia and know that you are not coming back.
This is your money. The process can be a bit painful but ATO offices are here to help you, you can make an appointment.
More info: ato.gov
Note that you will need 3 things to claim your refund:
-name of your superannuation fund
-ABN of the superannuation fund
-Member account number
The first two are found on your payment sheet, but not the 3rd one. If you don't feel like doing this all by yourself, an accountant can again help you with.
Great Ocean Road
TRAVEL IN AUSTRALIA
Working is often essential but if you go to Australia, I reckon it is also to visit its amazing landscapes and great outdoors!
Driving a van:
What I love about Australia is that it is a convenient country to travel around by van. Road tripping the different regions is the best! You will find all the amenities needed (free showers, toilets, free campsites etc) and even public BBQ everywhere!
You will quickly see that there is a lot of rental companies to choose from there and a as consequence, it can be a bit confusing...which one to choose?!?
Personally, I rented a funky young brand: Jucy. Their green and purple camper vans with a pin up on it are flash but cool! Of course hard to be discreet with such a campa but it was so much fun!
We had the biggest available, the Jucy Condo. Spacious, very well customised and organised inside, it was cosy. Our battery lasted for 8 hours if not plugged in and if we were not driving. Enough not to have to pay constantly to a powered campground. A little trick: freeze a water bottle during the day and put in in the fridge at night to make sure your food is kept cool.
On top of that, Jucy is one of the cheapest camper van rental companies!
To find your next campsites, we used the appli wikicamps, very practical.
Fuel will be the major issue as a camper van consumes a lot. Expect to go very often to the gas station.
For those who can't afford this kind of rental, it could be an amazing deal to get a relocation deal
Because they have to move vans from north to south of the coast, they sometimes offer the van from $1 per day, fuel free of charge but you do have a very limited time to drive from A to B.
It's a good option for a last minute trip but you can't rely on it.
More info on: www.jucy.com.au
Renting a car in Australia is cheaper than in Europe, so it will be a pity not to make the most of it!
But who to rent it with? We tried Jucy Rentals again as they just acquire new cars on top of their campervans. We were more than happy with the service. For AUD$23, we got a brand new Ford. Forget the flashy purple and green of the van, the cars are simple and unicolour
, just cheaper than anywhere else.
Another good company, which got more to choose from (they got all kind of cars) is East Coast Rentals. They are located all along the East Coast and they offer very competitive prices.
Buying a car:
We didn't buy any vehicle while living in Australia, our profile was a bit peculiar and even if it was tempting, we were free with no car, to travel with whatever was possible (plane, train, bus etc).
But if you are staying a few months or more, buying a car or a van will be an good investment.
You just need to be careful where you buy it with, who you buy it from. Legislation in terms of registration varies by State. We heard some bad stories...Be sure you will be allowed to sell your car anywhere in the country if you need to. Check registration laws before in order to avoid bad surprises.
YHA Railway Square - Sydney
Travelling in Australia is costly, especially accommodation wise. But don't panic, easy going youth hostels are widespread. Indeed there is a great national network of friendly hostels, where you can decide to share a dorm with other fellow travellers or stay in a single room. YHA hostels, for example, are very well implanted in the country. Hostels of this group are often nice and chilled out. All are clean and safe. A few are even quirky like the one on Magnetic Island, it has its own wildlife park and you can have breakfast with some Australian iconic animals :-)
Xbase are found on the East Coast in the biggest or most touristic towns. Always a cool bar is associated to the hostel, and I'd say that the party people will love it!
More info: and www.stayatbase.com
Everywhere in the country, you will see mainly two channels Coles and Woolworths.
Ask for their member free card, it will be worth it. Good to know that if you spend a minimum of $30, you will get discount on fuel bought in some stations.
Something I didn't expect is that in big pharmacy, you can find a bit of everything and anything, even chocolate bar, coffee, tissues etc. The advantage: a very discounted price! Of course you can't do all your grocery shopping there but it's worth it to check it out sometimes.
Now click on the map to organize your trip!
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