8 Things To Do In Your First Week In Australia

You've arrived in Australia, probably tired and jetlagged, depending where you've flown from. Depending on your plans for your working holiday you may be settling in one city and getting a job to start with, you may be travelling for a bit or working your way through Australia, making shorter stops for work.

Whatever your plans are there are some "Life Admin" tasks that are handy to get done in the first week.

1. Open A Bank Account

Opening an Australian bank account is one of the most important things to do, in my opinion, when arriving in Australia. It may sound simple, but it will make everything so much easier for you.

You'll be able to pay for things in local currancy, meaning no high exchange rates, can get paid, and you can set up things such as auto top-ups on travel cards.

If you're not looking to get a job straight away then you will probably want to put some money into your Australian account. I have always used Transferwise, and so have so many other people. If you use my invite code here, then you can get the first £500 gbp transfered, free from fees.

I went for Westpac on recomendation of my mums cousin, however Commonwealth is also a reputable and popular bank for both Australians and backpackers, although I didn't see as many people use ANZ, it still wasn't uncommon and holds a good reputation.

It was a really simple process, and once you get your TFN then they can set up a super account for you too, which is essentially the same as a pension in the UK. If you earn over £450 a month, your employer is legally required to pay at least 9.5% of your earnings, not deducted from your income, into this. This means that say you earn $100, your employer has to pay $9.50 into your super, this does not come out of your $100 earnings, so you get paid $100, and your super gets $9.50.

It is a good idea to make sure this is all set up, as if you do end up settling in Australia you can use it then, if not, you can claim it back upon leaving the country, it will be taxed, but you can get some back.


2. Get Your TFN

TFN stands for Tax File Number. You can work without this, but I wouldn't recommend it as it means you get taxed 47%, it also means that you can't get an ABN (Australian Business number) which is required for some jobs, such as construction. Don't worry, even though your TFN can take a while to come through it shouldn't take more than 28 days to, and you can work for 28 days without the effect of having almost half your earnings going to tax. If you have applied for one and its not come through but you've found a job, let your employer know, they're more than likely used to hiring backpackers.

Applying for a TFN is so easy and can be done by going to the Australian Tax Office website, or you can just click here

3. Get Connected

Getting a sim card in Australia is really easy. Just like the UK there are loads of options that you can go with. Personally I got a 12 month long contract as this worked out cheaper than a monthly rolling one, and I like having the peace of mind not being on pay as you go, which is also an option. I was required to pay for a few months upfront because I was not working at the time, but that was no problem.

Optus and Telstra are the two biggest network providers in Australia, although Vodaphone is often commonly used by backpackers. I went for Telstra on the grounds that so many people told me their coverage was the best.

The phone I had in the UK was unlocked so I could use any network, as some, when buying through a provider can be locked so you can only use them. Make sure your phone is unlocked before leaving home, or you may find you have to find somewhere to get this done once you arrive!

4. Medicare

If you're from the UK, like me, or Belgium, Finland, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Ireland, Slovenia or Sweden you've got it good as you are eligible for medicare. These different countries have slightly different coverage conditions, you can check here to see what yours are.

To get your Medicare card you will need to go to a Centrelink Service Centre. find your closest one here You will be required to fill out a form, and your Medicare Card will be mailed to you. Take your passport with you as a form of ID and to prove you are from the country you say you are from, and that you have a valid visa.

Medicare meant I could go to bulkbilling doctors with issues I had, for me whilst I was over there this only meant getting birth control prescriptions, however it covers all urgant care. Although seeing the doctor was free, the prescription for the birth control was not, like it is in the UK. Saying this is did only cost me less than $13 for 4 months which is nothing in the grand scheme of things (considering $13 is less than the hourly minimum wage, and spread over the course of 4 months? Easy). Its important to note that Medicare is not exactly the same as the NHS and there may be things in Australia that you have to pay for that we don't in the UK, like I mentioned above. If you're unsure, ask the provider you are going to if there is a "gap" you need to pay.

5. Join Facebook Pages

On these you will see anything from accomodation posts, job adverts, people selling furniture and all kinds, depending on what the group is. In Sydney "Irish Around Sydney" and "Bondi Local Loop" are two good and well used pages. For whatever you want and where ever you are you'll be able to find a facebook page for it, simply enter the location and a key word.

6. Change Your License

This completely depends on if you intend to drive and what state you are in. Each have their own and different rules regarding driving on an overseas license. As a general rule of thumb, if it is in a language other than English, you are expected to carry an official translation with you. Some states allow you to drive on your overseas license, and others do for a limited time, check the information for the state you are planning to live in here.

7. Get Your Cards

Depending on what industry you plan to work in, there are specific courses you have to take before you even apply for a job, otherwise you won't even be considered. These aren't courses your employer puts you through as they are legal requirements before you can even clock in.

Two common jobs for backpackers on a working holiday are hospitality and construction jobs.

If you want to work in any industry involving alcohol you will need to obtain an RSA, if gambling, such as pokie machines in a bar, are present you will need an RCG.

If you want to work in anything to do with construction, you will need a White Card, which is a general construction induction card.

The cost of these and how long it takes, often only a full day, depends on what state you are in, my RSA cost me around $110 with CBD College in Sydney. Have a search for where you are plus whatever course you need to undertake. Different providers will often have different offers on, and there are so many about that cover different areas.

It is worth remembering that one of these courses done in one state, will not be valid in another, so if you wish to work in another state after a while, you will have to do it all over again once you get to the new state.


8. Get Your Travel Cards

This one is entirely city dependant on what card you get, and a very obvious thing but getting a card for the public transport saves you so much time and money that buying individual tickets all the time. Each card works slightly differently, cover different things, have different perks and ways in which you can top them up.

Here is a list of the different cards used in different cities and states:

Sydney - Opal

Melbourne - Myki

Brisbane, Gold Coast, Ipswich and Sunshine Coast - Go Card

Perth - Smartrider

Adelaide - Metrocard

Tasmania - Greencard

Darwin uses single use tickets or a tap and ride card, you can either get a 10 trip card, or a 7 day card, both costing $20.

If you're looking at travelling around Australia, particularly the east coast, Greyhound offer some pretty good deals on hop on hop off bus passes.

What else did you find handy to organise once you landed in Australia for your working holiday? Let us know in the comments!


2 thoughts on “8 Things To Do In Your First Week In Australia

  1. Great tips for anyone arriving to Australia for an extended stay! I think it would be really cool to go there and work in the hospitality industry, hopefully the courses that you mentioned aren’t too difficult.

    1. I did a bit of work in the hospitality industry in Kings Cross Hotel in Sydney, amazing place for both work and a night out! It was so much fun (and not bad pay) the RSA and RCG I did was super easy and a lot of it was common knowledge! You’d have to really screw up to not pass them.

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