Australia Tips

Australian Work Holiday Visas 101

Crash Course for Americans that plan on traveling to Australia

Americans have the ability to apply for a work/holiday visa in Australia for up to one year, as long as, you’re over the age of 18 and under the age of 31. *HOT TIP*  If you’re over the hill, like we are and very close to your 31st Birthday, you can apply before you turn 31--even up to the day before your 31st birthday.  You have one year to use the visa before it expires. So, you can technically go to Australia a few days before you turn 32 and the visa will still be valid.  It’s a very easy process that’s all done online and processed within a few days or weeks.  

Step 1: You’ll obviously need a passport. If you don’t have one, you’ll need to do this ASAP.  Passports can take up to 3 months to process. So, get on top of it.  You can apply for a passport at any post office in the US.  Also, if you’re a current passport holder make sure your passport doesn't expire for a few years, you may not make it back for a while.  If your passport does expire soon, don’t apply with your current passport you’ll need to wait to get your new one otherwise your passport number will be different on your visa and you will be denied entrance.  

Step 2: Visit the Australian immigration website https://www.border.gov.au/

Step 3: Apply for a subclass 462 visa https://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Visa-1/462- you will also be prompted to pay.  The visa runs about $355. (2017)

Step 4: Wait. The processing time is actually incredibly fast and can just take a few days.  

Step 5: Approval!  Once you’ve been approved, it’s time to start saving cash and booking flights.  *Note: Take advantage of the current exchange rates for USD and try to bring plenty of greenbacks with you.  Remember, you have up to one year to enter Australia before the visa expires.  

Working in Australia can prove to be very lucrative. If you’re able to land a job strait away, you’ll be surprised at how much money you’ll be paid.  The Aussie minimum wage is around $18-$22AUD per hour depending on the state you're in. This visa allows you to work up to 30 hours per week and up to 6 months, with one employer.  If you’re able to work with one employer for 6 months and get a good amount of hours, this will most likely be more than enough dough to save for traveling around Australia.  

Common jobs in Australia, for tourists, tend to be in the hospitality industry.  If you have any experience in the service industry in America, you’ll have no problem transitioning into any Australian work environment.  You’ll actually find it to be a much easier, less stressful work environment. We have a high standard of service in America, compared to Australia, so you’ll probably exceed everyone's expectations.  If you don't have any service industry experience, lots of travelers work in agriculture, retail, and hostel work, which usually trades you room and board for your work.  We were able to find work pretty quick, in Surfer's Paradise, working in bars. Note that some clubs in Australia can stay open till 5am. So, be ready for long nights, if you want to work in the bar industry. 

You’ll also be able to find heaps of travel tips and vanlife advice on this blog. So use it as a resource to help plan your trip.   

Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island, Australia

We were welcomed to KI with extreme bipolar weather. Not knowing the area, we went straight to Pennington Bay, where we took the first of many unsealed roads. Pennington Bay is situated on the south side with nothing in between it and Antarctica, but the Tasman Sea. With that being said, we woke up to a shaking van from violent wind. We decided to get up to the protected North Side of the Island. We went to Emu Bay, a beach known for it's tranquil waters and hard packed beach access for most all cars. Being in a 2WD and always dreaming of driving on the beach like the 4WD vehicles, we could not wait to let our van dip his toes in the beach life.

Upon parking at Emu Bay, we had the most relaxing day we have had in a while. We chilled, we read, we cooked, we tanned, we did van life to the max. After being satisfied on our successful beach day, we left in search of a place to crash for the night. We heard there might be free camping opportunities at Stokes Bay so we headed there with plenty of daylight.

Stokes Bay has one of the most beautiful other worldly entrances to the beach. Seriously, I felt like I was in Star Wars or on Mars. We paused and enjoyed the scenery for a bit, but the camping was not really our style. We are more of off the beaten path type campers... where you go camping to get away from everyone. Here, the campsite was full with wall to wall campers with no room in between each campsite. So we moved on to the next beach, Snellings.

We pulled up to Snellings just around sunset. The car park was empty. There was the most amazing beach hut with a table and breakfast nook right on the beach. It was almost like our own personal Air bNb. We checked in with Mother Nature and made some dinner in the shelter. We hung out until the Milky Way came out to play and passed out in the van in the lower car park. The toilets were open all night. So convenient. This was by far the best night on Kangaroo Island.

We woke up in the morning and met another vehicle dwelling couple and talked with them for a bit about their KI experience. After spending breakfast in our breakfast nook beach hut, we moved on to see what else we would stumble upon.

We drove over to Flinders Range National Park to check out all the hype.  Since this is the only national park in KI we had top check it out.  We were welcomed by Koalas in the trees at the visitor center.  We headed out to the coast to check out the seals at Admirals Arch and then on to Remarkable Rocks.  It was incredibly windy. We sought out shelter in the van for a bit and braved the wind.  At the Admirals Arch, there are tons of New Zealand Fur Seals everywhere stinking up the place.  We then headed to the Remarkable Rocks.  We will admit they are some of the most bizarre rocks we've come across in our travels, even more so than the granite boulders in Girraween NP.

The rocks are remarkable, but boy are they crowded. The Sealink bus drops off tons of tourist as well as other busses, we chilled in the van until sunset when all the tourist headed to their accommodations and we finally had the place to ourselves.  You feel as if the aliens created these rocks.  We enjoyed the sunset and slept in the parking lot, at the rocks. We woke up for sunrise and once again had the place to ourselves for about an hour until the influx of tourist started coming through.  We left and headed back to the visitor center.  There's rumors of platypus in a few pools behind the visitors center . So we walked to the pools, but never saw any of these elusive creatures.  Since we didn't see any platypus we headed out.

Next up, was a quick stop to the Little Sahara sand dunes for a quick look and walk around.  It's actually pretty amazing how vast this sand dune section is for being in the middle of the island.  We walked to the top of the largest sand dune, then ran/rolled down it.  After an extensive sand brush off, we headed back to our favorite location on the island, Emu Bay.

We spend the next few days chillin at Emu Bay reading and relaxing. After some chats with some amazing locals, we received an amazing tip on some crown land that was available for camping. This is where we spent the next few nights.  On our last day, before the ferry back to the mainland, the weather finally cleared up on the west side of the island and we were able to get a nice surf session at Pennington Bay. With calm winds and decent swell, we finally felt like we conquered KI.  After the surf, we raced over to their ferry terminal and headed back to the mainland with a very satisfied taste in our mouth from our KI expiereince.  We drove on more dirt roads than we ever had, saw tons of wildlife, and just had an amazing time relaxing and winding down from an amazing road trip across the east coast of Australia.

The most disappointing thing about Kangaroo Island was the price of the ferry. In our ferry  experience, this 35 minute ferry ride was wildly overpriced at $190 AUD one-way. That is an international flight to New Zealand or Bali from Adelaide. But it was also the first time we actually stayed within our weekly budget due to the remoteness and having little access to stores. So that's a plus!

Tasmania

dani sunset dec 6 2016 (72 of 80).jpg


Tasmania in Two Weeks

Tasmania where do I even start? I guess I can start with the advice stay as long as you can. We had a little under two weeks on the wild island and really felt like 12 days just didn't give it enough justice. But if 12 days is all you got and you want to make the most of your time, we can give you the route to see and experience some epic areas. We will also tell you some spots you should spend more time for those that have more than 12 days. Another word of advice, plan it yourself. This is a wild island and traveling around with a bunch of kooky tourists on a tour bus can really take away from the experience as well as your wallet.

If you are taking the Tasmania Spirit Ferry from Melbourne to Devonport, we recommend taking the over night ferry. Not only do you wake up in Tasmania at 6am with an entire day ahead of you, on the overnighter, you also get free comfy recliners with a view, pillows, and blankets all with the base price. You can pay to upgrade to a room, but we felt that was overkill and we save money where ever we can to make the adventure last longer.

On the ship, you can buy a parks pass. It's around $60 and well worth every penny. It lasts for 8 weeks and grants you free access to all Tasmania National Parks. Some parks are $15 a day so if you use it at least 4 times you get your moneys worth.

 Day 1: Cradle Mountain and Dove Lake

There are many day walks around the Cradle Mountain area that have beautiful scenery. Your best bet is stopping at the the information center and talking to one of the friendly knowledgeable rangers. They will give you some good advice for hikes that take into account the weather and your hiking experience.

 Day 2: Nelson Falls and Lake St Clair

Nelson Falls is very accessible and right off highway A10. The walk from the car park to the falls is about 10-15 minutes and is easy as. If you are in this area, stop for this waterfall. The walk to the waterfall is worth it alone. This was our first stop of the day, as we stayed on Lake Burbury in a free camp site right on the lake. Being so close, I think we were the first people there. We had it to ourselves for about an hour.

Lake St. Clair this was also right off the highway A10.

 Day 3: Ben Lamond National Park

In the winter, Ben Lamond is a popular spot for snowboarding and skiing, with the highest peak in Tasmania. In the summer, when we went, the only people you will see at this spot are hardcore friendly-as rock climbers stoked on life. We made the drive from Lake St. Clair to this spot and arrived at night. We parked and camped in the parking lot and woke up to quite a scene we didn't expect. Huge dolerite cliffs jumping out of the earth. Make sure you drive up Jacobs Ladder. It looks intimidating, but if our van can make it up the hill, so can yours. There is a lookout point that looks over Jacobs ladder and the surrounding areas just at the top. It's quite a scene. Once you've sucked in the experience, head to the east coast for some beach life.

 Day 4: Bay of Fires

The Bay of Fires is an awesome and will have you wanting to stay for more than one night. This is a spot recommend staying a couple nights. The white sand beaches, crystal clear water, and huge boulders with red algae make for some eye candy at it's finest. This whole area has free camping everywhere and most have toilets. For the ones that don't, please make sure you have a shovel and bury your black snakes AND ALL toilet paper so that this area remains free for all to enjoy for many years to come. This place is magic please don't ruin it!

 Day 5: Freycinet National Park

Get out your tent and backpacking gear. There's free hike-in camping on Wineglass Bay with composting toilets. This is a very popular national park, with tour buses dropping kooky tourists off from dawn to dusk. But if you hike into the secluded wineglass bay camping area, you won't even realize how many kooks are out there in their heels and white chucks hitting each other in the head with selfie sticks. The hike to Wineglass Bay was short and moderate in difficulty, but the bay, glass pebble sand, and crystal clear water more than make it a must do when in Tasmania.

 Day 6: Russell Falls & Southwest National Park

Russell Falls is easily one of the most photographed waterfalls in Tasmania. When you get there, you will see why. It is enormous. You can end the short walk there or you can follow the trail up to Horse Shoe Falls. The trail is well maintained and doesn't disappoint. There are also glow worms along the trail to Russell if you happen to be there at night.

Southwest National Park There are many free campsites with firewood and curious and friendly wildlife over there. We stayed on Edgar Pond and had the entire campsite to ourselves. The views are spectacular. We were lucky enough to have a clear night where we saw tons of stars and even got lucky enough to see the Aurora Australius! (There is a Facebook group dedicated to reporting on solar flares and the Southern Lights... give them a follow if you want to get a heads up on your chances of catching it while you are down there) We attempted the Mt. Anne trail, but the weather did not cooperate. Sadly, we almost made it to the hut, but we had to turn around due to sever bipolar weather. If I went back, i would do the LAKE hike. You get to see some pretty indigenous plants only found in Tasmania. It's what we hoped to see once summiting Mt. Anne.

 Day 7: Mount Wellington

The Springs to Pinnacle Loop (8.2km)  Steep Zig Zag track where views of Hobart can bee seen from 1270M above sea level. This track is very exposed, windy, and rainy even in summer, which in our case made us skip this epic hike to the summit of Kunanyi (Mount Wellington). There is a sweet shelter at the top to view the city below. Per usual in Tasmania, always check weather conditions at the information center to see if it is safe to summit. And make sure you have the proper attire!

Day 8: South Bruny Island

They Ferry to South Bruny is $30 with free return. This is the only place you can find the white wallabies. It's what I originally went in hopes of finding, but had no such luck. But, as we were leaving, I stumbled across an area where there has been known sightings. We didn't have time to see it thru, unfortunately. There is great surf in South Bruny with the coolest drop toilet I have ever used. If a drop toilet is cool enough to mention, it really is cool. It had a one way mirror where you could see the entire beach while you sat on the throne. There was free camping near by to the surf spot, but it filled up quickly around Holidays.

Day 9-12: Tasman Peninsula (Cape Pillar hike)

This is a 32km hike (round trip) and was probably the highlight of our entire Australian experience. The hike begins from the Fortescue Bay campground area. There is a hikers car park area. Park there. The first night camp, there is a platform campsite at Wughalee Falls with toilets and water (I can't say if the water was drinkable. We brought enough water to not have to test it out) The hike down to that campsite is kind of obnoxious, as it desends down so far that you kinda dread the walk back up in the morning. For the second day of this hike, you can leave your bags at the campsite and just bring a day bag to Cape Pillar with enough water and food for the day and then you can hike back to the campsite. Cook some food and pass out and head back towards the parking lot in the morning, if your legs are beat.

If you slept over night at the same campsite and are still up for an adventure, I reckon you could pack up your bags early in the morning and continue the journey towards Cape Hauy, via the Three Capes Track. This track takes you up a lot of stairs thru a mossy forest that is much different from the terrain on the way to Cape Pillar.  If you want to check out Cape Hauy, you can stash your backpack at the trail head leading towards the Cape. Plenty of people do it this way. That way, you don't have to carry all of your gear all the way to the Cape. I think this is a 2-3 hour detour, but from what I have heard it is well worth it.

On the last day, you will head towards Devonport thru the center of Tassie. We thought it was pretty cool that we zig zagged across the entire state and then went straight up the center on one of the only roads we hadn't driven up on our way out. We hit the free two minute hot showers and stayed near the ferry, as we had booked an early morning ferry out. We even saw the ship pulling in the harbor as we were eating our breakfast. One word of advice about the ferry, bring a jacket or blanket. They keep that thing as cool as a restaurant walk in fridge.

Vanlife Australia Style

Vanlife Australia

What you get when you mix Night Moves, Van life, and some camera equipment and haul it across the east and south coast of Australia for a year. 
 

Music:
Night Moves
Border on Border

Road trip Rainbow Bay to the Sunshine Coast

Sunshine Coast Australia Noosa

Grab your boardies, sunnies, and get ready to slip, slop and slap (Aussie jingle for being sun safe).  The Sunshine Coast is a beach haven serving up plenty of surf, sun, and natural beauty.  

Rainbow Beach - Sand dunes and sunshine - Start this journey off north, in Rainbow Beach, where you will find a quiet town with a massive beach and sand dune section that expands south as far as the eye can see.  Spend a day exploring the dunes.  Release your inner child and roll down the dunes into the beach below.  If your lucky enough to have a 4x4, you will be able to access some amazing camping anywhere along the beach.  If you don't have a 4x4, drive up north a bit and stay and one of the many campsites along Inskip Road. 

Noosa - Right point breaks and national park strolls - Noosa Heads is home to some of the friendliest right handed point breaks in QLD.  If you're luckily enough, you will be able to get some amazing rides here though, I recommend a long board.  If you're looking for more high performance rides, check out Granite Bay and Sunshine Beach on the south side of the headlands.  If surfing isn't your thing, there are plenty of trails to rock pools and more secluded beaches than you will find in Noosa's main beaches.  One of our favorite places to relax and surf was at Sunshine Beach. It was always amazing to us that once you drove to the south side how little people would be at the beach.  Noosa is a tough place for sneaky van camping. So, be careful and check out our guide to sneaky free camping.  

Sunshine Coast - Beach towns and mountains - After a few days exploring Noosa head, an 45 minutes or so down south the the Sunshine Coast where you will find an array of friendly surf and classic Aussie surf towns.  Start at Coolum Beach.  Walk up Mount Coolum (more of a hill) for some amazing views of the Sunshine Coast.  Head down the coast checking out all the small shops and cafes on your way.  We recommend posting up at Kawana Beach for the night, where we had no problems and met some amazing locals.  Wake up check the surf and then head out to the Glasshouse Mountains.  You'll find easy to difficult trails here.  If you're looking for something easy, check out Mt Ngungun for amazing views of the mountains.  The brave can head to Mt Tibrogargan for a rock scramble up to the top.  After this hike, you can head down and check out the Australian Zoo, which was home to to the late great legend, Steve Irwin. 

From here, Brisbane is just a short drive South.  We wouldn't recommend much in Brisbane it's a pretty boring city, in our adventurely opinion.  We say that you just power through and head to the Gold Coast for more options.  

Best of the Gold Coast

Gold Coast Australia Work Visa Travel Backpacker

 Out of all the places we visited in Australia, the Gold Coast is where we spent the most time.  We were fortunate enough to have worked and played in this amazing region for over 8 months.  The GC is perfectly situated near some of the worlds best surf, amazing bush walks, chilled out beach towns, wild night life, and some of Australias best vegetarian cuisine.

 Surf - If you've come to the GC to surf, well, you've come to the right place.  The region host 3 of the Australia's best right handed point breaks.  Snapper Rocks, in Coolangatta, dubbed the "Super Bank" is one of the most incredible waves to surf, when it's on.  Yes, it's incredibly busy but, if you have the patience and don't mind maneuvering through the massive crowds, you can easily get the longest barreling wave of your life.  Don't let the photos of the masses fool you. While this break can be the busiest wave in the world, on any normal day, you would be surprised at how little people are out. Currumbin Alley is the next point you'll come across on your way north up HWY 1.  While Currumbin can't hold as many people as the Super Bank, it's definitely a spot you'll need to paddle out.  Head just a few more kms up north and you'll run into our all time favorite spot, Burleigh Heads.  Burleigh is a far more consistent break and almost has surf everyday.  If you don't find it on the point, just check all along the beach you'll find a wedge somewhere to surf in North Burleigh

 Bush Walks - The Aussie term for a hike is a "bush walk" and the GC has plenty of them within a very short drive.  From lush rainforest to massive waterfalls and even glow worms, the hinterland, just outside of GC, delivers nature lovers much more than they would expect.  If your heading into the bush, I highly recommend Lamington National Park.  This NP is split into 2 sections: Binna Burra and O'Reilly's Plateau.  In our opinion, the O'Rielly's area is far superior to it's eastern neighbor Binna Burra.  Here, you can walk free of charge on the rainforest skywalk and tons of other short tracks to picturesque waterfalls.  Our recommendation is staying at the nearby $8 camping grounds and walking the Wishing Tree walk, at night, to the glow worm viewing area.  While the O'Reilly's visitor center does offer a $50 tour to the glow worm area, this is something that can easily be done for free.  Walk the short track in the day to get familiar with it and by night it becomes a glow worm grotto.  Other awesome parks in the area are Springbrook and Natural Bridge, where you can also see glowworms at night, but is much more popular.

 Beach life - Everyday that passes, I miss the chilled out scene from GC's southern less touristy beach towns.  Escape the madness of Surfers Paradise and head just a few kms down to areas where locals call home.  Out of all the suburbs of the GC, Burleigh Heads has to be our favorite.  The National Park at the Burleigh headland is amazing for afternoon strolls. Walk around the headland to the amazing Tallebudgera creek for a safe swimming haven in the creeks turquoise water.  Before you head out, hit the bottleshop for somesunset beers on the Burleigh Hill andwatch the surf while chatting it up with the locals.  All GC beaches from Miami south have amazing picnic facilities, with clean BBQ's, to throw a shrimp on the Barbie after a classic GC day of surf, sun, and relaxation.

 Night life - If you're on the GC, you have to at least have one big night out in Surfer Paradise. It's definitely one of Australia's premier nightlife destinations.  Down Cavil Avenue, there are plenty of bars and clubs to hop around and wet your pallet.  Out of all the clubs, the best in GC is by far Elsewhere and it's sister club just a few doors down Whereelse.  These two venues have live music every night with some big name DJ's that make Elsewhere a stop on their world tours every year. Acts like RUFUS, Flight Facilities, and Flume, to name a few, are some heavy hitters that come play at this GC underground electronic venue.  If electronic music isn't your thing, check out the newly remodeled restaurant/bar/club, The Avenue just down the way. They serve wood fired pizza into the early hours of the morning for those craving more than kababs.  Most clubs stay open till 3am, but have a lockout at 1am. Which means, once you leave the bar after 1am, you will not be able to get back in anywhere in Surfers. So, your best bet is to stay put. If you aren't into the bar scene, check out Miami Marketta on Friday and Saturday nights. They have live music and pop-up local food vendors serving multi-cultural dishes and desserts. It is an amazing time for the entire family.

 Vegetarian cafes - The GC has got to be one of the healthiest places we've ever lived. If the locals aren't hitting the gym, doing beach cross fit workouts, or running along the amazing coastline, they are eating at some of the countries best plant based restaurants.  If you're craving well crafted smoothies and the most delicious raw vegan deserts, then I highly recommend BlendLove, in Southport, just outside of Surfers.  Greenhouse Canteen, in Miami, has some of the coast's most creative vegan dishes.  Another option is Mandala's, in Mermaid Beach, providing a chilled out dining experience that has live music and events every week.  Make sure you go on a Tuesday night for all you can eat vegan pizza for $25pp. It's easily the best deal on the GC.  If you're going out with you're non veggie friends, go to the Pocket in Burleigh for the best falafel in Australia.  There are so many other options I could go on all day.  The entire coast is full of cafes serving up fresh pressed juices, acai bowls, and almost every cafe has a veggie/vegan options.