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Working and volunteering


Lonely Planet's Volunteer: A Traveller's Guide to Making a Difference Around the World provides useful information about volunteering.

See also the following websites:

Conservation Volunteers Australia (www.conservationvolunteers.com.au) Nonprofit organisation involved in tree planting, walking-track construction and flora and fauna surveys.

Earthwatch Institute Australia (www.earthwatch.org) Volunteer expeditions focussing on conservation and wildlife.

GoVolunteer (www.govolunteer.com.au) Thousands of volunteering opportunities around the country.

Volunteering Australia (www.volunteeringaustralia.org) State-by-state listings of volunteering opportunities around Australia.

Willing Workers on Organic Farms (WWOOF: www.wwoof.com.au) WWOOFing sees travellers swap a day's work on a farm in return for bed and board. Most hosts are concerned to some extent with alternative lifestyles and have a minimum stay of two nights. Join online for a booklet listing participating enterprises.


If you come to Australia on a tourist visa, you're not allowed to work for pay: you'll need a Working Holiday (417) or a Work and Holiday (462) visa – see www.homeaffairs.gov.au for up-to-date information.

Tax File Number

If you're working in Australia, apply for a Tax File Number (TFN) online through the Australian Taxation Office (www.ato.gov.au); it takes up to four weeks to be issued. Without it, tax will be deducted at the maximum rate from any wages you receive.

Finding Work

Backpacker magazines, newspapers and hostel noticeboards are good places to source local work opportunities. Casual work can often be found during peak season at the major tourist centres: places such as Alice Springs, Cairns and resort towns along the Queensland coast, and the ski fields of Victoria and NSW are all good prospects during holiday season. Other possibilities for casual employment include factory work, farm labour, bar work, waiting tables, domestic chores at outback roadhouses, nanny work, or as a fundraiser for charities. People in skilled professions from IT to building can find work temping in the major cities by registering with an industry agency.

See also the following websites, which are good for opportunities in metropolitan areas:

Seasonal Work

Seasonal fruit-picking (harvesting) relies on casual labour − there's always something that needs to be picked, pruned or farmed somewhere in Australia year-round. It's definitely hard work, involving early morning starts, and you're usually paid by how much you pick (per bin, bucket, kilo etc). Never put a deposit down to reserve a fruit-picking job and never pay for fruit-picking accommodation in advance.

Seasonal Work Hot Spots

NSW The NSW ski fields have seasonal work during the ski season, particularly around Thredbo. There's also harvest work around Narrabri and Moree, and grape picking in the Hunter Valley. Fruit picking happens near Tenterfield, Orange and Young.

NT The majority of working-holiday opportunities in the NT for backpackers are in fruit picking, station handing, labouring and hospitality.

Queensland Queensland has vast tracts of farmland and orchards: there's fruit-picking work to be found around Stanthorpe, Childers, Bundaberg and Cairns. Those looking for sturdier (and much-better-paying) work should keep an eye on mining opportunities in towns such as Weipa and Cloncurry.

SA Good seasonal-work opportunities can be found on the Fleurieu Peninsula, in the Coonawarra region and Barossa Valley (wineries), and along the Murray River around Berri (fruit picking).

Tasmania The apple orchards in the south, especially around Cygnet and Huonville, are your best bet for work in Tassie.

Victoria Harvest work in Mildura and Shepparton.

WA Perth usually has temporary work available in tourism and hospitality, administration, IT, nursing, child care, factories and labouring. Outside of Perth travellers can look for jobs in tourism and hospitality, plus a variety of seasonal work. For grape-picking work, head for the vineyards around Margaret River.

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