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Travel jobs in Sydney Australia, how to make money in Australia with travel
By: Richard Steel (justin) 2012.01.04



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There is no motivating factor like desperation. I had been traveling for some time through travel jobs in Sydney, Australia to extend my stay. That meant Work. A Job. The Daily Grind. Of course, working in Sydney was never a grind, in fact, the jobs I held during my year Down Under were some of the best and strangest I have ever had. Finding a job was easier than I thought it would be, and you can benefit from my experience because there were some snags along the way that you can avoid. For those of you who think that you have to save up for months in the U.S. before starting your journey, don't wait. Throw some clothes in a bag, buy the ticket and just leave! Of course, be ready for desperation, just in case.

The variety of jobs I found astounded me. What linked them all was my flexibility. I worked as a waiter in the oldest restaurant in Sydney. I taught little kids how to swim three mornings a week in a pool overlooking Bondi beach, the world-famous surf spot, and spent a few weeks packing wine for a merchant in Double Bay (the Beverly Hills of Sydney) where we savored a few rare vintages in our spare time. Considered an expert simply by virtue of my Americanism, I was chosen to coach a softball team and led them to the championship game. For several months I tended bar at a pub, serving to and drinking with the locals. I also worked as a tour guide in the tallest structure in the Southern Hemisphere for a while. Seeing the bewildered faces of the visitors as they tried to figure out what an American was doing up there was just too good, not to mention the view from my office. All this was borne of desperation and accomplished in a few fleeting months.

Granted, none of these were career-track positions but as a way to not only visit, but really experience Australia, it was a fantasy come true for me. If your goal when traveling is to gain an appreciation for the culture, the people and their way of life, you must surround yourself by them in the working environment.

As a working traveler, you should plan to stay in a city or town for at least a month if you want to work. Most travelers who work in Australia start in Queensland, the North-Easternmost state in the country (where there are many farm and laboring opportunities) and work their way south, along the Gold Coast, Brisbane, Sydney, and finally reach Melbourne. Before this working journey can begin, there are some points to take into consideration. The big problem is that Americans can't work in Australia without a prearranged visa. Well, not legally anyway. The Australian Government requires visas to enter the country. These electronic visas (which allow the visitor to remain in Oz for three months) can easily be obtained free of charge from your travel agent when you buy your ticket, but do not permit work of any kind.

If you arrange a job from the States and the employer secures a visa for you, they will still ask any non-Australian if they have a tax file number (TFN) as well. This important tax information is only used at the end of the fiscal year (June 30) but must be produced before your first payday, so plan ahead. A TFN is a nine-number code broken up into groups of three digits. You may apply for one at the Australian Taxation Office only after your arrival in Oz. The office is located at 100 Market Street GPO Box 9990, Sydney NSW 2001. They can be reached by phone at 132 869, fax (02) 9374 8150.

Do not let these regulations deter you in planning your Australian working holiday though. There are, as with any regulatory restrictions, ways around the system.

Jobs that pay under-the-table (Aussies refer to them as cash-in-hand jobs) are the only easily attainable work if you only hold an American passport. Professional and skilled positions are typically difficult to get visas for, as in the European Union (EU). As usual, if you have any contacts in Australia, use them! Also, don't be fooled into thinking that cash-in-hand positions are limited to the jobs that no one else wants. Laboring, child-care, restaurant or bar (pub) work, farm work, and any businesses that have odd-shift hours are all good bets.

If you can stand hard work and the heat of the Australian sun, laboring is the best way to earn great money fast. They will usually pay a flat rate of one hundred dollars per day (about $65 U.S.), but forewarned is forearmed, so remember laboring work starts at 7:00 am and is backbreaking. To find this type of employment, your best bet is to go to the closest pub any weekday between three and four o'clock in the afternoon and look for the dirtiest men in the place. These are the guys you'll need to speak with. The Aussies love a schooner at their local pub after work, and usually frequent them every day. Remember too, that it is best to establish a report with anyone before simply asking for a job. The division of work in the laboring trades is typically spread between painters, general on-site day laborers, and brickkies (masons). You might easily find work with any of these tradesmen.

If gritty manual labor is not your cup of tea, try the pub route. Australian pubs are open all day until the early hours of the morning, so there are usually split shifts available as a Barman or Barmaid, (the p.c. terms have not made it to Oz yet). You could also apply as a cellerman and take in the day's orders of beer, wine, and spirits - all by hand, though. There are usually shifts available in the gambling booths (known as the TAB) which are the mainstays of Australian pubs. Gambling is legal in Australia, and the horse races are broadcast to the pubs via satellite TV all day long while punters (gamblers) place and loose their bets. Another service industry you might consider is the restaurant business. There are usually many restaurants willing to hire travelers as long as they can handle a tray and know their drinks. Since tipping is not required or even common, the hourly wage for restaurant and pub work is between 11 and 15 dollars per hour.

Still not satisfied? If you have worked with children in your life, you will always have a marketable skill. Put this to work for yourself in Oz. The greatest concentrated source of potential earning is in the classroom. If you can coach a sport, teach an activity, or just be a responsible caregiver and make a healthy lunch, you will find cash soon enough. Parents are always on the lookout for babysitters and tutors. Since there are no language barriers in Australia for English speakers (unlike most of the rest of the world), almost any job available in the States can be found on Oz.

Besides experience, friendship, and culture, of course, there's money. Pay rates in Australia are higher than in the United States, which make for a generally higher standard of living for the working traveler. Affordable things like rent, modest dinners out, drinks at the pub, and taxis all combine to make for an increased level of comfort and happiness. Australia is a very livable society. There is a large working class, and an infrastructure in place to accommodate this class. Rent is paid by the week, as are you. The Aussie dollar fluctuates around 65 cents to the U.S. dollar but constantly figuring out the difference is pointless; when earning and spending Australian money, you soon learn your budget.

Whether you look to establish a career in Australia, or simply fund an extended excursion, there is work waiting for you. The red tape and bureaucracy are worth the payoffs for the visa-holding traveler, and the challenge of finding cash-in-hand work only enhances the adventure for the traveler without a work visa. There is no better way to immerse yourself in the culture while having the time of your life than to work with the Australians. I found that I learned the most about their attitudes and values through the daily interactions of working together. There are very few sure things in life and rarely any while on the road, but one thing I can guarantee the working traveler is a great time Down Under.

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