Travel Advice

Australia – The Essentials

September 11, 2015

So you’ve booked your flight to Australia after months of planning and now you can’t wait to arrive and start the trip of a lifetime! Before you get too carried away though, there are a couple more things to think about before you get to the land down under. Nothing annoys me more than seeing companies charge you for this information. It’s all so easy to do yourself! If you have any questions on the information below just contact me here.

This information is for UK Citizens and may differ for all other nationalities.


The type of visa you need depends on how long you plan on being in Australia for and why you are visiting the country. There are student visas, tourist visas and business visas. The most popular for backpackers is the working holiday visa (417) where you can stay for up to 12 months and work to fund your stay. You can only work for any employer for up to 6 months but hopefully you’ll be travelling around this amazing country too much for this to ever be an issue! Check out the Australian government website for up to date information on visas including the cost and apply directly on the website.

Bank Account

If you’re going to staying in Australia for an extended amount of time, you’re going to need a bank account. Overseas charges can be huge and if you’re going to be working, you’ll have to get paid in to an Australian account. Stu and I used Commonwealth and set up our accounts so they were ready to use the day we landed in Melbourne. You can set up your account on the Commonwealth website and then arrange a meeting with bank manager to pick up your card when you arrive. If you wait until you get to Australia to set up an account, you’ll be waiting a few weeks for your bank card to arrive and then it will take a few days for your funds to transfer from your UK account to your Australian one. Commonwealth also have a great savings account so you can earn a decent amount of interest on any money in there!

Tax File Number (TFN)

Unfortunately, you will get taxed on any money you earn in Australia. The good news is that you can claim it back at the end of the financial year (June). Just think of it as an extra savings account, it’s a great feeling getting all that money back in one go. In order to get taxed the right amount you will need to give your employer your TFN. You can apply for this online and you’ll be sent your number in the post after a couple of weeks.

Mobile Phone

If you’re going to be using the same phone that you have at home you need to make sure that it’s unlocked so you can use an Australian sim card when you arrive. Your operator should have information on this on their website. O2 unlocked mine for free but EE charged Stu about £20 so check if you will be charged or not.

Like anywhere, Australia has a choice of networks for you to go with. Shop around for the best deal but I always found Optus to be the best for coverage and value.


Goodbye beloved NHS, healthcare isn’t free in Australia! Fortunately there’s a handy little scheme called Medicare which can help you with any medical issues whilst you are in Oz. You apply for your card, visit a Medicentre and have a chat with the staff in there. You’ll need your passport and details of where you are staying and then you’re good to go!

So there you have it, some important essentials to think about if you’re heading to Australia for a year. Get those sorted as soon as possible and then you can do all the fun stuff like booking your East Coast Trip!


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  • Reply Danielle September 19, 2015 at 11:18 am

    Thanks for the info. I was wondering if you are able to leave the country within the year and return on the same working holiday visa?

    • Reply frandrews September 19, 2015 at 12:23 pm

      Hi Danielle! You can leave Australia whenever you like and return on the same visa. The only thing to bare in mind is that your year doesn’t pause when you leave the country so your visa will still end a year after your first entry date so don’t leave for too long!

      • Reply Danielle September 19, 2015 at 12:24 pm

        Ok great. Thanks for clarifying for me ☺️

  • Reply Gemma January 9, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    Really helpful info 🙂 Im heading to Oz in March to start my 12 months!

    • Reply frandrews January 9, 2016 at 2:52 pm

      Hope you have an amazing time Gemma!

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