There are many things to know about Australia, and about the Working Holiday Visa. You can already find very good websites about your needs and prerequisites on the internet; I’ve included some links here because they helped me a lot at the beginning.
What to put in your backpack ? How to prepare yourself ? What do you need to do after you’ve landed ? I suggest that you check these websites if you want to bounce through the kangaroo’s country.
This is my personal and objective view on what it really is like once you are in Australia, and there are always differences between reality and expectation !
Your First Day
From my first stop in Australia, I was really impressed about the Australian open-mindedness. I mean, I was new in a new country, in a new culture with a new language and my english wasn’t that great. I was basically lost a few times, and it was a surprise when most of the passers-by stopped to help me !
My first piece advice is : don’t hesitate. Helping and talking to strangers is a part of their culture and way of life. So, even if you don’t want to talk, an Australian will come and talk to you with a friendly “How are you doing mate ?”, and this is going to be the beginning of a 30 minute conversation with someone you’ve never seen before. I have to confess, it was very bizarre for me at the start, and I was on my guard, but no worries mate! Of course there are good and bad people everywhere, but Australians are definitely more open to starting a conversation, or sharing a coffee at an unexpected moment !
Your First Steps
Backpackers will tell you, the first two things to do is to get your TFN and an Australian phone number.
The TFN is your Tax File Number, the number you need to give to your employer, so you can get your pay. If you plan to work, even for one day, do it. It is simple, free, and it takes 2 to 4 weeks to come. Yeah for sure you will meet some people who will tell you that it takes a while, and there is always a problem, but overall it works well.
It’s not complicated, go to this government website : Tax File Number, fill in the requested informations and wait a few weeks.
About your current address, you can use your backpacker’s address. Generally, backpacker hostel has a mailbox system, which allows you to check your mail everyday.
It’s normally not allowed to give mail to someone else other than the recipient. So unless you’ve got a good friend at the hostel who’s agreed to be sneaky and steals your mail (dedication to Quentin), or have a receptionist who bends the rules a bit, it’s probably better to stay until you receive your TFN, or at least carefully plan your receipt address ! Once again, the only thing you need in this mail is the number.
You will start to meet many people, and you will need to contact them for sure. That’s why it’s useful to choose your new phone operator quickly. You basically get 2 big choices : Optus or Telstra.
Both are sort of the same, and offer you a monthly recharge of $30 or over with around 3GB of internet data, free SMS / call and $5 of international call.
Telstra is a bit more expensive, but it has the better coverage outside big australian cities. Telstra has the advantage of larger phone technology, and try to optimizes their performances all the time.
Then Optus, second on the market, is less on the power and technology but more about client satisfaction. It means more offers, (and quite a lot of text messages!), but sometimes they can save you. I remember being in the middle of nowhere, I had used all my data and I still had half a month to go. I was happy to receive this message “ONE DAY ONLY – 5GB FOR $10”. Optus adapts itself and tries to catch up its main rival.
Free Mobile offers you a good deal as well with its “Pass Destination”. This offer is in the 19,99€ / month package, and now allows you to go to Australia without worrying about your cellphone coverage over there. A good option, especially if you are already with this operator!
Obviously, there are quite a lot of other brands, like Vodaphone, third in the market, Virgin Mobile, Amaysim, Dodo and Aldi mobile. Those offers are cheaper, but have lower coverage, which means it’s going to be hard for you to communciate outside the city. It’s up to you and you have to choose according your projects : choose carefully and inquire before to have the knowledge in hand!
Choose your new bank
I didn’t mention this step first on purpose. This is because you’re still able to use your international credit card, and pay for everything you need. But this should still be a priority anyway, because your bank will charge you $3 per withdrawal. And it can quickly cost you a lot.
As with the phone operators, we have the same question : which one to choose ? This time, there is not really a correct answer, except that most backpackers choose Westpac. The administration is particulary easy in Australia, you just have to go to the closest branch of your choice, and ask for a new account. 20 minutes later everything’s done, and you just have to wait to receive your new credit card.
Some banks in Australia have partnerships with banks in other countries. Check if your bank has any partnership, it could save you bank fees. A partnership exist between BNP and Westpac. This allows you to draw money whitout paying any fees.
Also, international money transfers can be very expensive. That’s why I advise you to use TransferWise, this application is fully secured and very simple to use. Most of the travellers are using it, and it’s much cheaper than a normal transfer. I’ve given you the link on the image below.
After completing these first steps, you are now ready to start your adventure on a good base !