By Sarah Hall
- I had always been massively into travel, using my long university summers to work in the USA and Spain. So, it followed naturally that upon graduation I would embark on my biggest adventure yet. The only question was, where to go? My final semester at university saw me make an untiring commitment to the four walls of the library. This, combined with the great British weather I could see from the window, made Australia, land of sun, sea and surf, an obvious, if slightly clichéd, choice.
Upon arrival in Sydney, after a three-day tour of Hong Kong with fellow travellers on BUNAC’s group flight, reality struck. I had to find a job, a place to live and have the best year ever. Easy peasy, right? As it happens, yes it was. Australia is well equipped for all of the above, rammed with hostels, backpacker bars and plenty of travellers. As a happy-go-lucky traveller myself, I managed to walk straight into a job in my second week, and so began my first big experience in Oz.
Face-to-face charity fundraising on the streets of Sydney was a hugely challenging addition to the CV. However, it allowed me to live in Bondi, Sydney with an amazing group of people who are now friends for life. Something to bear in mind is that Australia is expensive and the cost of living in Sydney really adds up. After five months, it was time for me to hit the road. I bought a little 4 x 4 (cheap second hand cars are relatively easy to come by in Oz) and set off towards Melbourne. I decided to embark on four months in ‘the bush,’ which would test me to the limit but would also ultimately allow me to secure a second year visa (backpackers who want to stay in Oz beyond 12 months must complete 88 days of regional work).
Initially, I spent two months harvesting potatoes in Victoria before heading to the Adelaide Hills and joining the WWOOFing (Willing Workers On Organic Farms) programme. I can highly recommend the latter to all backpackers; it’s well organised and opens the door to a wide range of farms. I never knew I would be a dab hand at milking cows, herding sheep, tending the orchard, tree planting and many other jobs.
My highlights of Australia include a visit to Uluru (Ayers Rock), a week at Surf Camp (yes, I am now a pro), driving the Great Ocean Road and generally meeting a lot of amazing people. I would recommend a year abroad to anyone looking to step out of their comfort zone and into a life of independence and excitement. Any time abroad looks fantastic on your CV; it shows initiative, motivation and a certain amount of tenacity. Following my fundraising work, I have developed key experience in sales, a valuable skill in today’s job market. I have also developed the ‘working holiday visa bug’ and hope to spend a year in Canada next!
BUNAC's 12-month Work Australia programme is for 18 to 30s, costs from £339 and includes travel advice, arrival orientation, full job-hunting support, accommodation listings and ongoing assistance for the whole year. Working Holiday visa processing and group flights with a Discover Hong Kong stopover are optional. BUNAC also offers a range of great add-ons, from Surf Camps to Barista courses and membership of WWOOF (Willing Workers On Organic Farms). Visit www.bunac.org/uk or call 020 7870 9570.