14th November, 2011

How to Work and Travel in Australia

Australia is a diverse country with lots of great opportunities for travellers from abroad. If you’re looking to work and travel around Australia, read this guide to working and travelling in Australia.

Popular Work and Travel Areas

There are many popular work and travel areas from the Gold Coast to other major capital cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. Working holiday makers can work for a few weeks or months in each area as they explore Australia. Many working holiday makers stay at one of the Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, or Surfers Paradise apartments or hostels that can provide comfortable short to medium term accommodation.

  • The Gold Coast. Administrative support and hospitality are just some of the popular industries for finding temporary work. For example, you may be able to find work in the Surfers Paradise accommodation, office support, or other industries.
  • Sydney. Australia’s financial and IT centre, Sydney has lots of opportunities for temporary workers.
  • Melbourne. Melbourne is also a popular destination for working travellers.
  • Other Capitals. Perth, Adelaide, Hobart, Darwin, and Canberra are also great cities to include in your travels.
  • Rural Areas and Specified Work. While working in rural areas are probably not the first thing that comes to your mind, clocking up some time working rural areas such as fruit picking, crop work, fishing, construction, mining, and other specified work can be helpful when you want to extend your working holiday visa for another year.

Understanding Visas

As long as you have a valid working holiday visa that allows you to work, there are no restrictions on where you work, your work type, or how many different places at which you work.

However, it may be a condition of other work visas that you remain with the same employer and/or in the same occupation. If you have any doubts, always clarify your concerns with a visa consultant or check with the Australian immigration department. If you are on a sponsored visa you may need to transfer that visa to a new employer if you change jobs.

Some of the most common working visas include:

  • Working Holiday visas. You need to hold a passport from a qualifying country and be aged between 18 – 30. You can work anywhere in Australia and do absolutely any type of work during the one-year validity period as long as you don’t stay with the same employer for more than six months. If you wish to stay longer, you can apply for a second working holiday visa if you’ve done at least three months of specified work in regional Australia during the validity period of your first visa.
  • Business Short Stay visas. You can apply for an Electronic Travel Authority 977 or a 456 visa, depending on which passport you hold. These allow you to travel to Australia for up to three months. You can conduct business activities such as meetings, conferences, and negotiations on these visas, although you’re not permitted to undertake work.
  • Temporary Business Long Stay visas. You can work anywhere from one day to four years on this visa. You must be sponsored by a business with operations in Australia and meet other visa requirements.


If you’ll be working in Australia, you should apply for an Australian Tax File Number from the Australian Tax Office, ideally before your trip. This allows your employer to withhold tax on your behalf and helps you meet your tax obligations.

You need to lodge a tax return by 31 October of every year for the previous financial year (from 1 July to 30 June of every year).

  • Foreign residents are taxed at different personal income tax rates to Australian permanent residents and citizens.
  • It can take up to six weeks for the Tax Office to process your return.
  • You may have to pay more tax or you may receive tax back, depending on how your total income works out for the year.

The Tax Office has many information brochures about tax issues for foreign residents. If in doubt, consult an accountant.