Introducing Destination Australia
Australia, known for icons like the Opera House, kangaroos and blood-red Uluru is hot! And not just when it comes to scorching summers in Melbourne or an afternoon in Cooper Pedy. It is, and not without reason, a ‘hot travel destination’; popular for trips ranging from a couple of weeks to several months.
The Olympic Games of 2000 in Sydney have only served to fuel the country’s image as a great travel destination and the travel industry continues to thrive on large amounts of travellers each year. Given the distances involved when travelling to Australia from most of the world and the amount of money spent to get there, this might seem like somewhat of a luxury dream destination. Not so as a visit to Australia need not cost you a fortune at all. Besides cheap accommodation and trips in Australia and an exchange rate that is favourable to most foreigners, there are also many attractions, especially when it comes to wildlife, that can be enjoyed for free or at a minimal costs. Whether enjoying one of Australia’s dozens of national parks (many of which have been dubbed World Heritage areas), its coastline with over 7000 beaches, the spectacular Great Barrier Reef, the ‘Red Centre’ or stretches of rainforest in the north, you will find that these are accessible, no matter what budget you are on.
With a population of 19.5 million living in a country of nearly 8 million square kilometres, Australia boasts the world’s lowest population density at only 2 people per square kilometre. Perhaps it is the sheer vastness of Australia that in some way has influenced the population and helped create easygoing and friendly locals with a warm “no worries” attitude that helps make any trip to Australia an unforgetable experience. Not to mention the climate of course that encourages an outdoor lifestyle and inspires a thriving beach culture in large parts of the country.
Whether you are looking for peace and quiet and a chance to get away from it all, or an all-inclusive experience with luxury and style, you will find Australia offers both and more. A perfect destination for young and old, rich or poor, Australia has something to offer for everyone.
This feature focuses on young independent travellers and includes the most important things to know before departing, while you are working and travelling in Australia and after returning home. There is a lot more to travelling to Australia than included here; the kind of ‘more’ that you will only experience if you pick up your things and try it out for yourself!
Independent travellers or ‘backpackers’
Travelling, (a little) work and ultimately having fun in the sun, this would characterize the idea most people have of what independent travellers, commonly known as backpackers, do during their time ‘Down Under’. And to be honest, they should be proven right!
The once in a lifetime opportunity that the Working Holiday Visa offers young people between 18 and 30 is all about getting to know a beautiful, culturally diverse country, seeing sites you only dreamed of, making friends from all over the world, enjoying some fantastic partying, lazying on beaches, working jobs that you would otherwise never do and basically having the time of your life. And, as if that isn’t enough reason to pack your bags and go, you will find that the time in a different country will let you experience a level of independence and responsibility that will stick with you, ultimately shaping you as a more open minded, culturally diverse and responsible person. All in all, it is the kind of experience that staying at home will never teach you, no matter what degree you are completing, job you are in or amount of money you are making.
So, who is this experience set aside for? Unfortunately not for everyone! The visa requirements stipulate that this visa is only available to passport holders, without dependent children and between 18 and 30 (incl.), from the United Kingdom, Canada, the Netherlands, Japan, Ireland, Korea, Malta, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Hong Kong SAR, Finland and Cyprus. Of course this doesn’t mean you can’t travel to Australia and backpack the country …
Workwise, it is important to remember that you are travelling to Australia on a visa that will only allow you to work for one employer for a maximum of three months. This inadvertently will mean that you won’t be getting the ‘crème de la crème’ of jobs, as you will be seen as a temporary worker. And in that regard, employers worldwide feel the same; “why pay someone who is only going to stick with me for a maximum of three months a great salary if I can get a local to do the same work for longer?”. So, if you are looking at your time in Australia to give you work experience that will be beneficial to your career, you should rethink your motives for travelling Down Under. Another thing that unfortunately is not in favour of those backpackers looking for short term work …
When you work in Australia, you are obliged to pay tax like everyone else in Australia. The regular tax rate for travellers on the Working Holiday visa is 29%, although some employers have been known to work with different rates depending on the work you do. For example, a lot of the fruit picking and farm work is taxed at only 15% in an effort to make this a more attractive option for backpackers seeking work. Just a couple of years ago it was common practice among backpackers to file tax returns for the full amount of tax paid in Australia. This was usually done …