Ask anyone who has decided to make the big move Down Under and they’ll tell you that it can’t be 24/7 beach, barbie’s and boozing. You’re setting yourself up to love on a completely different continent. While it’s less daunting than doing so in other parts of the world, it pays to be informed and have your smarts about you.
For irish travel blogger and current Working Holiday Visa participant Judy Li, she absolutely had this base covered when heading for Perth last November. These tips on a day in the life of an Irish gal in Western Australia aren’t to be missed…
A Break Down of the Working Holiday Visa
When on a WHV (Working Holiday Visa) in Australia, this allows you to live and work in Australia for 1 year. You can work for any 1 employer for only 6 months. If you wish to stay for a second year, you must go and carry out 88 days/3 months regional work. This can be anything from farm work, fruit picking, construction work and many more, and must be a certain distance from the city. Another option you have is to get employed by someone who is willing to sponsor you. If you can find a suitable company and chose to get sponsored by them, you must work for this company for 2 years. I am sure there’s more to it but I am only aware of the basics as we won’t be doing this!
Anyway, our choice is to go and do our farm work, which we have just been accepted to! Yay!!! 🙂 As we wouldn’t like to be bound to any company for 2 years because we wish to go travelling and be able to come and go as we please, but everyone is different and it is your own choice. 🙂
It took us a good few weeks to get our regional work. A lot of online research, speaking to people who have already done it and getting their contacts, and unreturned phone calls. A lot of people rely on Margaret River as there are so many wineries and vineyards down there, but they book up quickly. You really need to keep the seasons in mind and apply at the right time in tandem with what fruit is in season if that is what you wish to do.
We weren’t having a lot of luck in Western Australia so were considering going to the East coast or Darwin in order to get something decent. Websites such as gumtree, and backpackers job club are helpful as well as keeping an eye on the Facebook pages. Luckily, we got confirmed this week and are beginning tomorrow down south!
Keeping these in mind there are a lot of scammers when it comes to regional work. A friend of mine travelled across the country to Melbourne to be told she wasn’t needed anymore! It helps to go somewhere that is recommended by someone who went to the particular farm/region.
On The Job Hunt in Perth
Experience & References
In relation to job hunting in Perth, the Irish are perceived as very hard working and are generally liked by employers! Experience is always helpful in relation to the job in which you are applying for. But not always necessary. Keep in mind references, they may take a few weeks to get your hands on, and due to time difference, companies in Perth can’t call Ireland so need to rely on e-mails. So it will speed up the process if you can inform your previous employers at home to keep their eye out for e-mails coming from Oz.
If you are hoping to go into the hospitality sector, mainly where the serving of alcohol is involved then you will need to complete an online course called RSA (Responsible Serving of Alcohol). This costs $50 and will take about 2 days to complete, unless you go flat out for a whole day and you’ll receieve a certificate to print out at the end. There is also a course for Gambling if you wish to be employed in a bookies/the casino. This will be handy to have when applying for hospitality jobs as it is one of the first things the employer asks for.
Luckily for us backpackers, we receive tax back. As far as I know, the end of the tax year is in June here, so don’t forget to apply for that tax and you will receive it whenever you leave the country!
The Cost of Living
The dreaded question when contemplating moving down under, is it not crazy expensive over there?
Everyone at home has a crazy perception of the cost of living. Don’t get me wrong, it is pretty expensive to live here. The nights out more than anything! But to put it into perspective, minimum wage here is around $18 an hour give or take. When you convert this to euro, it is about €12-13.
So say you get a job in a coffee shop, restaurant, convenience store or bar, the hourly rate is in or around $19-$23 per hour, with an extra $3-5 on a Saturday and time and a half/ double rate on a Sunday! Win win. (This is just an average little scale of everyone I know). And if you are lucky enough to get a really good job, your wage can be anywhere from $25-35 per hour!
So depending whether you work part time/full time, and where you work, your income will more or less counteract the cost of living. Savingpossible if you really put your mind to it and want to go somewhere/something bad enough!
Perth has a lot of ‘free’things to do l if you are on a tight budget, such as beaches, national parks, lakes and rivers with BBQ facilities, there is also a month-long festival called Fringe with lots of free shows, weekend markets and snorkelling spots such as Yanchep.
Food & Drink
To go out for a decent dinner and a drink would cost you in or around $25-30 per person depending on what you fancy, which translates to about €17-21 and can be quiet expensive. But there are more reasonable places if this isn’t in your budget i.e. china town is quiet cheap and the food is amazing.
As well as the hawkers market every Friday evening in CBD. I would normally use a website called Zomato for an online idea of the menu and prices if I wasn’t sure where to go. There is also a website called Urban List Perth which is absolutely brilliant for giving lists of EVERYTHING you might want to do/see/eat/drink.
In relation to going on a night out, there is no point in denying it is very expensive. If you’re not pre-drinking goon (wine in a box) from Dan Murphys offl icence, you will know all about it.
Taking into consideration your Uber to and from Northbridge which is the main going out spot, drinks for the night (minimum $10 a drink mind you!), nightclub access and of course food, you would want to have about $150- $200 on me. I will never forget our first proper night out here… we thought we lost money until we checked our account transactions!
At home after buying pre-drinks, about €70 would actually be loads for me for a regular night out in town. So spending the equivilant of €100-€150 was a bit of a shocker.
To go clothes shopping is more expensive here in my opinion. Especially if you are looking to shop in Topshop or Zara like at home. Even their sales items are crazy expensive, I don’t even bother going in anymore! There is no Penney’s here (WHYYYY) or River Island unfortunately. But there are good Australian clothes shops which re very well priced and have fab clothes such as Valley girl, Factorie, Cotton on and Dotti.
A typical Irish girls day in Perth
On our days off we absolutely love going out for breakfast, it is a really big thing here to be up early and be in bed early. There is a great emphasis on breakfast, more so than any other meal. There are also so many healthy food options here! Everywhere you go you will see sourdough bread, eggs, spinach, salmon, acai smoothie bowls, they are all statement pieces. There is also your fair share of bold food if you want!
I love having my ‘me’ days, I usually head off into the city myself for the day. There are so many options for a girl travelling on her own. My favourite thing to do is to just grab a coffee and a good book, and chill outside a coffee shop or one of the parks, or just sit and watch the world go by.
The weather here is a huge factor for me personally, I love sitting outside to eat as it really puts me in a good mood, even at home in Ireland, the smallest bit of sun and I would have my meal on the table and chairs out the back!
Perth’s Central Business District (CBD) is also good for shopping and has the main Topshop, Zara, Aussie clothes shops, Lush and Myer – which is the equivalent to Debenhams with all the main make-up counters!
Margaret River is about a 3-hour drive down south and has over 200 wineries. It is such a good spot for a day out with a group of girls/lads. We went down camping for a few days and went on one of their wine tours, had an Aussie lunch and to a chocolate factory! It was such a brilliant day, the bus picked us up and brought us to about 5 wineries for wine tasting. A tour bus can be organised from Perth city also if you’re not planning on going down for longer than a day.
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