Gap years are becoming ever more popular with students finishing their A-levels, wishing to mark their new found independence with a jaunt into the unknown, before committing to university life or employment. Who can blame them? There are hundreds of countries across the globe calling out for exploration. Perhaps none more so than Australia, complete with its limitless sun, sea and surf, outstanding architecture, unconquerable wilderness and sheer massiveness. However, it is the very scale of Australia that makes it somewhat daunting for many would-be travellers. Seeing it all, or even a decent portion of what Australia has to offer, is simply impossible in the 3 months offered by a standard travel visa. Sure, you can apply for an extended travel visa but these are hard to come by and few are lucky enough to have the savings to be able to support themselves over such a long period of time. Fortunately there is an alternative.
Many gap-year students are now taking advantage of the working holiday maker visa. The United Kingdom is one of 23 countries with which Australia has a reciprocal relationship whereby residents of one country can travel to the other for a period of 12 months and supplement their travel funds with wages earned from temporary employment. To qualify for this special visa applicants must be aged 18 to 30 and single or married without children, it is fair to say that most gap-year students would meet these requirements. However, there are a number of more subjective conditions that may exclude some candidates, for example, you must show that you have a good chance of finding temporary work (experience working in a bar or as an outdoor-activity instructor may be helpful) and must also have a return ticket or prove that you have sufficient funds to purchase one. To check if you are likely to qualify for such a visa http://www.visas4australia.com may be worth a visit.
Even if you do qualify for the visa there are restrictions – you are only allowed to work for a single employer for a period of 3 months, this is to encourage travel and to ensure that you do not become too settled in a single place. Of course you could get around this restriction by accepting employment in the same area but with a different company, however, surely the whole reason for a gap year is to seek out new experiences, new people and new places.
So, let’s assume that you qualify for a visa, what is there to do once you have reached Australia? Must see cities include; Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, Cairns and, of course, the capital itself (in fact entirely built for this single purpose) – Canberra. Famous tourist attractions such as; Ayers Rock (or Uluru to give it its Aboriginal name), the Sydney Opera House and the Great Barrier Reef are also more than worth a visit. There is undoubtedly enough here to fill 12 months with unmitigated adventure and the experiences of several lifetimes.
Australia is amazing and the working holiday maker visa means gap year students can experience more of it for longer but, as always, it is important to be safe and plan your journeys carefully. Now that you know all you need to for an enjoyable gap year tip down-under, all that remains for me to say is: good luck, have fun and always remember to wear sun screen!