When you arrive in Australia as a backpacker, it is important that you first arrange a number of things in order to get through your time in Australia. When you arrive on a WHV you will want to start working and for that, you will have to open a bank account, arrange this for the tax, etc. We will tell you in this article exactly what you need to do when you have just arrived in Australia!
Opening a Bank Account
The first thing you’ll want to do when you arrive in Australia, in order to get paid, is opening a bank account. This can be done easily with many Australian banks. The easiest way to do this is to just enter an office and open an account there. You can’t apply online at all banks, and certainly not if you are not a resident. At the office, you give your details and then it’s done quickly. The following banks are good to consider:
- NAB: this is the bank that we used in our second year. An ideal bank: they have a handy app and you pay nothing at all per month!
- Commonwealth Bank: this is the bank we had in our first year. It’s the largest bank in Australia with the most ATMs in the country. You pay 4 AUD per month.
- ANZ: a well-known bank, where an account costs you 5 AUD per month.
- Westpac: another big bank. An account costs you 5 AUD per month.
Tax File Number
If you are going to work in Australia, you need to apply for a Tax File Number (TFN). If you don’t do that, then you pay a lot more tax on your hard-earned money and you can not reclaim tax. The TFN is your personal tax number and you keep it your entire life. You can easily apply for the TFN on this website. Within three weeks you will receive your number by post.
Of course, before your trip, you make sure that you are well insured when you go abroad. However, there is additional health insurance in Australia that you can have: Medicare. Medicare is the name of the health insurance system in Australia. This is not only accessible to Australian residents, but also to travelers from selected countries, including the Netherlands! You can apply for the Medicare pass for free and it can save you a lot of costs when you have to go to the doctor or the hospital. You do not have to go to your own travel insurance first and usually, Medicare pays the costs immediately, so you don’t have to pay anything yourself!
Please note!: you can only apply for Medicare if you still have a health insurance card from your own country. We ran into this ourselves because we had canceled our health insurance in the Netherlands. So, unfortunately, we didn’t have Medicare during our second year.
Superannuation is simply the pension in Australia. When you start working, you often already receive your pension standard on the superannuation fund your company is connected with. Sometimes it can be useful to open your own superannuation fund though so that you have all your pensions in one single fund. We have good experiences with REST. You can easily apply for an account online. You will have to pass on your own superannuation fund to your employer and then a portion of your wages will be automatically transferred to the fund every month. Your superannuation is at least 9.5% of your income. The moment you leave Australia you can reclaim part of your saved superannuation.
We advise you to purchase an Australian SIM card as soon as possible. Firstly, it is better to apply for a job with an Australian number and secondly, it is much cheaper to call with an Australian SIM card.
When you stay for at least one year, or even longer, you can consider getting a monthly plan. This is often cheaper than prepaid. However, prepaid is also great in Australia, especially if you stay shorter. We got a plan with the provider Optus and paid 40 AUD per month. For this we got 10 GB of data, we could make unlimited calls within Australia and we even had a number of international minutes. You’ll have to check the prices right now, as we can imagine you’ll get even more GB of data nowadays for the same price. Optus is an excellent provider because it has good coverage and it is cheap.
However, if you will be mainly in remote places or traveling around, then Telstra seems to be the best option. This one has the best reception throughout Australia and is almost the only one that has reception in the outback, but unfortunately, it is more expensive.
Buying a Car/Van
Australia is, of course, the most fun when you discover the country with your own vehicle. If you stay in Australia for a long time, it’s most profitable to buy your own car or van. A car is fine if you mainly stay in a city and make short road trips, but the best thing is, of course, to buy a van. For a van, you’ll pay a few thousand dollars, but you sell it again when you leave the country, so then you should get back most of that amount.
A van is ideal because you can also sleep in it and can really make it into a little home. Of course, in a car, this is possible too, but then buy a larger car (for example a station wagon). To discover the real Australia, it is best to buy a 4WD. With this, you can really get anywhere in Australia and especially in Western Australia you can use it well. Some roads in the outback are impassable with a normal car and then it’s nice to have a 4WD. Sleeping in a van or car gives you a lot of freedom and is also much cheaper than spending the night in a hostel.
In many hostels you will find a notice board where other travelers offer their car or van for sale. It is a good idea to buy from other backpackers because they are often not too expensive. In addition, there is often also a lot of camping stuff included. You can also check out Gumtree, which contains a lot of ads.
↠ Also read: Buying a Car or Van in Australia: Complete Guide
Arrange Other Transport
Do you prefer not to travel around with your own vehicle? Then there are a number of other options to travel around Australia.
- Bus: on the east coast this is one of the most used and easiest ways to travel around. You have organizations such as Greyhound and Premier, both luxury buses that stop at all well-known places. You could buy a bus pass from an organization in advance that is valid for 12 months. The bus services go every day. Disadvantage is that you don’t really have much freedom, you are stuck with a certain time and place.
- Train: the nice thing about traveling by train is that you can see beautiful landscapes along the way. You usually travel through the outback. There are a number of well-known train routes: the Indian Pacific from Sydney to Perth and the Ghan from Adelaide to Darwin. The advantage is that you quickly reach your destination while traveling on a modern, luxury train. The disadvantage is that you skip huge parts of Australia, which are also very beautiful to discover! For more information about the train network in Australia, visit this website.
- Organized tour: you could also choose to travel to certain parts of Australia via an organized tour. With these tours, overnight stays, food, and excursions are often included. You’ll easily meet new people and have a tour guide that you a lot of information. Ideal for someone who wants an all-in-one package. A good tour operator is, for example, Adventure Tours Australia.
- Domestic flights: if you really want to cover great distances, you could also choose to take a domestic flight from time to time. Note: these flights are often not very cheap! Find all flights within Australia here.
Note!: Do you want to travel around Western Australia? Then the Greyhound or Premier bus is not an option, because you simply don’t have them over there. In this state, it’s really best to buy a car or van. And of course, it also gives you a lot more freedom!
Prepaid hostel passes
Are you not going to travel and camp in your own car or van? Then it’s, in our opinion, best to stay in hostels. You meet so many other people and it is fairly cheap. If you spend a lot of time in hostels, you can consider buying a prepaid hostel pass. You put a number of nights on the pass in advance, and then you have all the flexibility to decide where and when you use the pass. This is cheaper than booking a night in a hostel on the spot.
There are three hostel chains that each have their own prepaid pass:
If you enter Australia for the first time on a WHV or if you just want some extra help, you can also choose to purchase a so-called arrival package. There are various organizations that offer such arrival packages.
What does such a package mean exactly? It basically means that a company helps you with all the stuff you have to arrange. Usually, from the moment you arrive at the airport, you will be picked up by a transfer which will take you to your hostel, often with a number of nights included in your package. On the first day you often have an introduction meeting. In that meeting, you will be given a paper with on it exactly what you have to arrange and where you can arrange it. You get a local SIM card and sometimes there is also a membership of a job agency included.
So if you prefer to have everything in one and do not feel like bothering about arranging everything yourself, then this can certainly be ideal! BUT: of course, all this comes with a price tag! You pay significantly more for such a package than when you arrange everything yourself.
We bought such a package in our first year and found it pretty useful. Only afterward we thought that we also would have been able to arrange all this ourselves and search for information on the internet, so we could have saved a lot of money with it. To be honest, an arrival package is not always worth the money.
Do you prefer to have the certainty of a package? Then we recommend the following organizations:
- Ultimate: 8-day arrival package with literally everything included, even help with finding a job!
- Gap Year: a very extensive package where even your plane tickets are arranged and help is provided with your CV!
- Travellers Contact Point: an organization with a lot of experience in Australia. Gives you a membership on a job agency, help with your CV, nights in the Wake Up! hostel, and cool activities.
For the dutchies:
- Kilroy: offers a very complete starter package in Sydney.
- Xtreme Gap: offers a very extensive starter package with cool activities.
Note: these arrival packages almost all take place in Sydney!
Where to Stay
Need a hostel when you just arrived in Sydney? Then we can certainly recommend the Wake Up! Hostel. A very cozy hostel, with all the luxury you need. Seriously one of the cleanest hostels we have ever been to. There is also a nice bar in the basement, with good food!
Want to read more about our experiences of living in Australia for 2 years?
↠ Also read: 2 Years of Living In Australia: Our Experience
Hopefully, we have been able to give you more information about everything you need to do when you arrive in Australia with this article. We hope it takes some work out of your hands and you now know better what is expected of you. When do you start your Working Holiday in Australia? Let us know in the comments below!