How Do You Get Started In Australia On A Holiday-Working Visa?

I left the United States at the beginning of August to arrive in Brisbane, Australia. Why Brisbane? I am a ocean lover and knew I wanted to be near the beautiful sea. With that goal in mind I decided on the beautiful Gold Coast (originally thinking the Gold Coast was an area and Brisbane was the city inside it, rather they are two separate cities.

I should mention that we were a ball of nerves at the border thinking we’d be questioned and have to show proof of everything. We spoke to all of NO ONE. Instead we used a computer which printed out a ticket, scanned it, collected our suitcase, and walked out. It was literally the most efficient and straight forward border entry ever.

Once we arrived we had to take a train to our airbnb in Tugun, a town near the border of New South Wales. Our airbnb was lovely, but not the most practical without a car. It was surrounded by jungle and in a location with the longest steepest hills I had ever encountered. The following day we went to set-up our bank accounts at WestPac and get SIM cards for our phones. This part was a nightmare.

We went to the bank first and were told we’d have to come back at 14:00 because they had no availability. So, we went for a phone SIM card. The phone company, Telstra, wanted the bank info, so we had to go back to the bank and wait for our appointment only to discover it’ll be 5-7 business days until we receive our card. After which point we ended up having to put $150 AUD down to get a contract for 12GB a month. In the end they ended up giving us two months free, so we basically have the first five months paid for, which is great, but took a huge blow to our planned budgeting prior.

The next few days we focused on getting comfortable and we started applying for jobs. In the respect of jobs being available, they are incredibly available and easy to get-the question is purely dependent how open you are to it. For example, I applied for what I did not realize initially was a telemarketing role, but was, and I got hired during my interview to make $24 AUD an hour, plus commission. The only downside was I wasn’t in love with it.

The following week we went to Surfers Paradise, which is a phenomenal area in central Gold Coast, not in the little town of Tugun. While I was wandering around I saw a sign for an interesting company, walked in, got an interview, had the interview, and was offered the job that evening.

Almost perfectly timed our cards arrived, I now had a job, not long after Adam got one in the building right next to me, and all we were left with finding was accommodation. I messaged several people and all I can say is that accommodation was the most stressful component. Many places are specific about whom they want, i.e. Asian female. On top of which they all charge a deposit in shared housing which was not something we had planned for. After a week of freaking out and Adam had seen two houses we were lucky enough to get a room all included for $240 AUD in Surfers Paradise, 5 minutes from our works.

Everything slowly was coming together, but SLOWLY. We have learned that Australians are certainly never in a hurry, and the little things can’t be rushed. For example, Adam got his tax-insurance number in a week, and I’m still waiting on mine 3 weeks later, even though ours went through at the same time. Transport is awesome once you figure it out and time it right and with one Go card you can put money on and use any transport (ferry, tram, train, or bus), but still takes a chunk out of your day. For example, I had to take my suitcase for repair to Brisbane and it took me 6 hours to and from in total.

However, despite all this we are starting to explore even after not having been here for a month, and I suppose if you think about it we have accomplished a lot in the matter of 3 weeks, but that’s in retrospect. In between our time in Tugun to moving to Surfer’s Paradise we have seen bats every night that are the size of hawks (the Australians hate them and say they ruin there cars), a half eaten grouper dead on the beach (most likely a shark), cockatoos hanging out in the middle of the city, and we know there is so much more, like whale watching now because all the humpbacks are passing. Hopefully in a week when we get our first real pay-check we will be able to go whale watching and indulge some more, as right now we are being budget conscious having been paid a small amount from our first pay-checks. So slowly, slowly our Australian adventure is coming to life.