After nearly two years in lockdown, Australia has finally opened its borders to fully vaccinated travellers on a Working Holiday Visa. The Working Holiday Visa allows Canadians to live and work in Australia for up to 12 months, and with so much to see and do, now is the perfect time to escape winter’s icy grip and embrace life down under. So, if you’re planning on making the big move to Australia from Canada, here’s everything you need to know.
Since 1st December 2021, Australia has extended its travel bubble to fully vaccinated eligible visa holders, which includes the Working Holiday Visa.
Travellers will need to be fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine, provide proof of their vaccination status and have a negative PCR test within three days of their entry to Australia. A PCR test will also be required within 24 hours of landing, and another will need to be taken on day seven.
Travellers can land in New South Wales in Sydney, or Victoria in Melbourne, however be aware that if you fly into Melbourne you will need to fill out an additional form.
Great, so you’ve decided to move to Australia. First things first, you will need to get the Australian Working Holiday Visa. In order to apply, you will need to have the following:
Australia is incredibly varied – understandable considering its whopping great size – with something to suit every interest. Wildlife lover? Volunteer with kangaroos, koalas and more. Cultural connoisseur? Be inspired in Melbourne, Australia’s creative hub. Learn to surf in Sydney (as well as a whole lot more – check out our Sydney Adventure Program); scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef, sail the Whitsundays and navigate Fraser Islands’ golden dunes on your own 4×4. Did we mention the fantastic weather? Plus, the wages aren’t too shabby either…
Making the move to Australia from Canada can be profitable, as the minimum wage in Australia begins at $20.33 an hour, which is already far higher than in Canada. However, often penalty or award rates bring this wage up even further. Even entry-level positions in hospitality and construction can pay a pretty penny, as many states increase rates to 1.5, 2 or even 2.5 times the standard amount for those working evenings or weekends. An average office worker will receive around $25 an hour, and those with trade skills can expect an hourly rate of $40+.
Provided you keep your living costs low, this makes Australia a perfect place to save funds so that you can continue your travels. Many people spend a year working in Australia, then live like royalty in South East Asia for several months off their savings thanks to the reduced living costs.
We cover this extensively in our blog on Working in Australia as a Canadian, but if you’re looking for inspiration, our all-around Australia expert Robyn has a few suggestions for a real Australian experience; she should know, she lived there for four years.
For those looking for a unique experience, living and working in an outback pub can be an incredible way to get to know “real” Australia. In small towns and villages, the local pub is usually the hub of the community and working as a bartender will really immerse you in small-town life. Often bed and board will be included in your compensation, and as these are usually remote, they are a great way to save money quickly while still having fun and getting to know the local community.
Australia is full of vineyards, and for anyone interested in learning more about wine (or tasting it) there are many that require staff at various times throughout the season. In New South Wales popular wineries can be found in the Orange, Yass, Griffith and Wollongong areas. Outside of Melbourne, the Yarra and Goulburn valleys offer great variety, while the Mornington Peninsula also offers a taste of coastal living. In South Australia, the Barossa Valley is a bustling hive of activity and in Perth, Margaret River has countless wineries to choose from.
Usually, the harvesting season is from February to April, and bottling peaks just before this around December to February. No experience is necessary for most roles, as long as you have a positive attitude and are willing to work hard.
Australia is big. Really big. While most travellers stick to the East Coast, there is so much more to discover – which is why a move to Australia from Canada is so necessary, as you’ll need at least a year to unpack it all. Whether you want to work in lesser-known parts, or inspiration on epic trips to take on your time off there, add these lesser-known areas to your bucket list.
You’ll have likely heard of the Great Barrier Reef on the East Coast, but very few know about its West Coast sister. Ningaloo Reef is a World Heritage site and the largest fringing reef in the world. This means, unlike the Great Barrier Reef, it is accessible from the shore and great for those on a budget. You can literally swim out from the beach with your mask and snorkel and be surrounded by turtles, corals and a huge variety of fish. For those hoping to see something bigger, there are humpback whales, manta rays and whale sharks that migrate along the coast at various times of the year. There is some overlap in their migrations, and from June to September you are likely to see all three off the coast of Coral Bay. Due to its remote location, far less tourists visit (meaning the reef is in better condition than its eastern counterpart) but it is a 12-hour drive from Perth so be prepared for a road trip!
Off the coast of Darwin, you will find the Tiwi Islands – also known as the Island of Smiles. Consisting of two main islands, they offer an insight in to Indigenous Australian culture, art and tradition. If you’d like to learn more about Australia’s native people while avoiding the tourist traps, then the Tiwi Islands are a great destination to visit.
To the west of Darwin, in arguably the “wildest” area of Australia, lies the Purnalulu National Park. This is home to the recently discovered Bungle Bungles, which are a giant network of sandstone formations thought to have been forged almost 350 million years ago. They are a striking sight, especially when seen from the air.
During the dry season, adventurers can also drive the Gibb River Road. This 4WD-only road stretches for 660km, passing countless beautiful waterfalls and gorges. The road is incredibly rough, making it fun for experienced off-road drivers, but it is important to check the weather conditions before departing. During the wet season, the entire road floods and becomes infested with saltwater crocodiles – not somewhere you’d like to break down!
Ever been to an underground town? Coober Pedy is located halfway between Uluru and Adelaide in the middle of the Australian desert. Historically famous for opals, miners moved to the town in the hopes of finding the precious stones and making their fortune. Rather than build normal houses in the scorching desert heat, they decided to repurpose the mines they had already dug into homes. The temperature underground is much cooler and easier to regulate, so they also built a pub and church into the network too. Even today, 60% of the town still lives in these traditional dugouts, making it a unique destination to visit. You can even try your luck at opal mining, you never know – you might find one with value!
It is easy to forget Australia’s sordid past, but Port Arthur in Tasmania is an important heritage destination showcasing the country’s colonial history. For those interested in dark history, the property is one of few places where you can practically feel the stories seeping out of the building and into the atmosphere. For many years it was considered an inescapable prison and a terrifying place full of hardship, punishment and mistreatment of convicts and those deemed “criminally insane”. More recently, the Port Arthur massacre of 1996 shook the country to its core and triggered huge changes to gun laws. This has led to Australia having one of the lowest rates of gun violence in the modern world.
In Australia, kangaroos are seen as pests and often farmers cull them to prevent them from eating their crops. This, coupled with bushfires and road traffic accidents means that there are countless orphaned Joeys all around the country. Thankfully, many kind souls have taken it upon themselves to rescue, raise and release these babies back into the wild. Often, you can find unpaid volunteer opportunities on HelpX or Workaway to assist at wildlife rescue centres around the country and make a difference to the lives of these animal’s care.
Get in touch to plan your adventure Down Under.
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