Home Travel Tips Which city is best to start your Australian Working Holiday?

Which city is best to start your Australian Working Holiday?

Which city is best to start your Australian Working Holiday?

Embarking on a Working Holiday in Australia presents a unique opportunity to explore the diverse landscapes, vibrant cities, and rich cultural heritage of the land Down Under. With a Working Holiday Visa, young travelers can experience life in Australia while working to fund their adventures. However, choosing the right city to start this journey is crucial. Each city offers a distinct vibe, job opportunities, and experiences, making the decision both exciting and challenging. This article delves into the top Australian cities to consider for your Working Holiday, helping you make a choice.

Determine your priorities

First and foremost, consider what you expect from your stay in Australia. Are you looking for work opportunities, outdoor activities, a vibrant cultural scene, or perhaps a specific climate? Your priorities will greatly influence your choice.

💡 Good to know

If you want to start your stay by discovering particularly exotic regions, then start with the west coast or the north of Australia. For those who are not comfortable with camping life, start with the East Coast. Being more populated, you will have access to more services/comfort (showers, toilets, supermarkets…) and will experience less isolation.

Main cities in Australia

The choice of your city of arrival in Australia is first and foremost a matter of taste! Some people dream of discovering the iconic Sydney, others Melbourne etc. Each city has its own unique qualities. Some are more famous than others, some are more expensive… so it is important to ask yourself the right questions before you depart for Australia.

We asked the Australia Backpacker’s Guide community about their choice of arrival city. Here are the results:

Sydney (NSW): The Iconic Metropolis

Sydney, the bustling capital of New South Wales, is often the first choice for many. Known for its iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge, Sydney offers a blend of urban lifestyle and beach culture. It’s perfect for those seeking hospitality or corporate roles, as well as anyone wanting to immerse themselves in a cosmopolitan environment. However, it’s worth noting that Sydney’s living costs can be high, which may impact your budget.



Cost of living


  • Popular attractions (Opera House, Harbour Bridge, famous beaches..)

  • Dynamic city with convenient public transport

  • Lots of parks and beaches

  • Surf culture

  • Night life

  • Economic centre of Australia

  • Lots of work opportunities but more competition

  • Salaries are a bit higher than in other cities

    Score : 5/5

  • Housing: The most expensive city to live in in Australia, but it is possible to find affordable house shares. (A house share with 4 people is at least $350 a week).

  • Public Transport : Expensive, expect to pay $4 per train journey.

  • For more information see: Accommodation in Sydney

The weather in Sydney is temperate with mild winters and warm summers :

  • During Summer (Dec – Feb) average temperatures range from 18° to 26°. Average humidity spikes to 65%. Water temperature ranges from 21° and 24°.

  • In Autumn (March – May) average temperatures range from 14° and 22°.

  • During winter (June – August) average temperatures drop between 8° and 17°. Sydney’s rainfall is generally highest in June.

  • In Spring (Sept – Nov) Average daily temperatures range from 11° to 23°

Melbourne (VIC): The Cultural Hub

Melbourne is the second largest city in Australia. It is the capital of Victoria, renowned for its art, coffee, and tram-filled streets. The city is a paradise for foodies, artists, and musicians. Known as Australia’s cultural capital, Melbourne is ideal for those looking to work in cafes, bars, or the creative industries. The city’s diverse neighborhoods offer a range of lifestyles, from the hipster Fitzroy to the beachy St Kilda.



Cost of living


  • Second city in the country

  • European culture vibes

  • Numerous cultural events all year long

  • Beautiful city with architectural diversity

  • Cosmopolitan population

  • Amazing street art

  • Night life

  • Good cycling infrastructure makes it easy to get around

  • Lots of work opportunities but more competition

  • Lots of work in hospitality and tourism (especially in summer). Start your job search a month in advance.

    Score : 4.5/5

  • A bit cheaper than Sydney

  • Housing is quite expensive but you can find affordable house shares. Expect to pay about $300 for a house share with 4 people.

Melbourne is well known for its changeable weather conditions.:

  • During Summer (Dec – Feb) Temperatures range between 14° and 25°. Tops temperatures are in January and Feb.

  • In autumn (March – May) The weather is cooler with average temperatures ranging from 10°and 20°.

  • In winter (June – August) Temperatures range between6°-14°. Heavy rain is rare at this time of year but the weather is cold and cloudy.

  • In Spring (Sept – Nov) Average temperatures range from 10° and 19°. This season is known as the most variable of the year, it can be sunny for an hour and cold and windy in no time. October is the wettest month with at least 10 rainy days.

Brisbane (QLD): The Sunny Gateway

As the capital of Queensland, Brisbane is known for its sunny weather and laid-back vibe. It’s a gateway to iconic destinations like the Gold Coast and the Great Barrier Reef. Brisbane is ideal for those seeking a balance between urban living and nature. Job opportunities are abundant in hospitality, tourism, and retail sectors.

Brisbane is a city on a more human scale and has many advantages. It can be a good starting point for a road trip in Australia (check the seasons) or even work in the city and discover the surrounding regions (Great Barrier Reef, Fraser Island, etc.).



Cost of living


  • Small city

  • Nice CBD with shops and restaurants

  • Nice beaches close to the centre

  • Nice weather all year round

  • Perfect starting point to visit the West Coast

  • Less competition for jobs than in Sydney and Melbourne

  • Growing city with lots of opportunities in the construction industry

  • Surrounding areas eligible to renew your WHV

  • Close to farms

    Score : 4/5

  • Cost of living more affordable than Melbourne and Sydney

  • Housing: Cost approx $280/week for shared accommodation

  • During Summer (Dec – Feb) The weather is hot and dry with very little rainfall. Average temperatures range from 17°-30°.

  • In Autumn (March – May) Average temperatures range between 13° and 26°

  • In Winter (June – August) temperatures are ranging from 8°-19°. The weather is cold and wet.

  • During Spring (Sept – Nov) days are warm and sunny.

Adelaide (SA): The Wine and Festival City

Adelaide, South Australia’s coastal capital, is known for its festivals and proximity to world-famous wine regions like the Barossa Valley. It’s ideal for those interested in the food and beverage industry. Adelaide’s lower cost of living compared to larger cities is a plus for budget-conscious travelers. It can be a good choice of arrival city if you want to work in the city or on the surrounding farms (Adelaide Hills, for example). It is also a good choice for carrying out all your administrative procedures, your vehicle purchase, etc.



Cost of living


  • Small and welcoming city

  • Numerous festivals

  • Wineries and lors of farms in the area

  • Easy to find a job

  • Salaries are lower than in other cities

  • Work available on surrounding farms

    Score : 3.5/5

  • Cost of living is lower than in other big cities

  • Housing is also more affordable. Expect to pay about $220 a week for shared accommodation.

Adelaide has mild winters and a warm summers.:

  • In summer (Dec – Feb) average temperatures range from 16°- 29° The city enjoys the lowest humidity of any Australian city.

  • In Autumn (March – May) the weather is nice with average temperatures between 12°- 23°.

  • In Winter (June – August) average temperatures drop to between 8°-16°. June is the wettest month.

  • In Spring (Sept – Nov) average temperatures range between 12°-22°

Cairns (QLD): The Tropical escape

Cairns is located in the far northeast of Australia, in the state of Queensland. It is a small tropical city and the main access point to the Great Barrier Reef. An international airport allows you to arrive in Cairns from abroad, however you will find fewer flights to this destination.

Cairns can be an ideal arrival city for those looking for sunshine and a quick change of scenery! Remember to check the climate carefully because the city experiences a rainy season, so avoid arriving during the Australian summer.



Cost of living


  • Perfect gateway to the Great Barrier Reef

  • Tropical area

  • Excursions and national parks to discover

  • High demand for manpower for high season

  • Lots of opportunities in tourism and hospitality

Score : 3.5/5

Housing : Affordable compare to other cities.

Cairns experiences hot summer and mild winters :

  • In Summer (Dec – Feb) temperatures range between 24°-31°. The wet season begins building up in December.

  • In Autumn (March – May) it is still warm and temperatures range between 21°- 29°.

  • Winter (June – August) brings cooler temperatures and lower humidity, it is the best season to visit the area.

  • In Springs (Sept – Nov) average temperatures range from 20°-29°. This is the end of the dry season and humidity starts to build with the onset of the wet season from December.

Darwin (NT): The Tropical Frontier

Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory, offers a distinct experience with its tropical climate, rich Indigenous culture, and proximity to natural wonders like Kakadu National Park. Founded in 1869, the city takes its name from Charles Darwin, a famous naturalist and biologist who studied Australia’s biodiversity during his voyage aboard the ship Beagle. It’s a hub for those interested in outdoor and wildlife jobs, with opportunities in tourism, conservation, and agriculture. Darwin’s laid-back lifestyle and multicultural community make it a unique choice for those looking to experience a different side of Australia.



Cost of living


  • A city on a smaller scale, perfect for a smooth arrival

  • Tropical region

  • Lots of activities and national parks in the area

  • High demand for workers during the busy season (June-September)

  • Lots of jobs in the hospitality and tourism industries

Score : 4/5

Housing : Less expensive than other large cities in Australia. Budget around $180 a week for a room in a houseshare.

Darwin has a dry season from May to September. It is hot to very hot, but dry.

  • The wet season is from October to April. The heat is quite oppressive. You will be assaulted by the rain and humidity every day!

Hobart (TAS): The Tranquil Retreat

Hobart, the capital of Tasmania, offers a tranquil retreat with its charming colonial architecture and access to stunning natural landscapes. It’s perfect for those who prefer a quieter setting. Job opportunities are mainly in hospitality, agriculture, and tourism sectors. However, note that international flights to this destination might be limited.



Cost of living


  • A city on a smaller scale

  • Lots of national parks to explore

  • High demand for workers during the busy season (June-September)

  • Lots of jobs in the hospitality and tourism industries

  • Lots of jobs in farms (north and south of Tasmania)

Score : 4.5/5

Housing : Much less expensive than other cities in Australia. Budget around $180 a week for a room.

Hobart enjoys a mild maritime climate with four distinct seasons.

    Summers are warm and pleasant (but short)

    • Winters are cool and can be brisk, often accompanied by rainfall.

Choosing the City based on your expectations

The Big Cities for Work Opportunities

If work is your priority, consider starting in a big city:

  • Sydney: With its dynamic economy, it’s a popular destination for finding a job in hospitality, commerce, or tourism.
  • Melbourne: Known for its culture and art, it offers opportunities in cafes, bars, and the creative industry.
  • Brisbane: A pleasant climate and a growing job market, ideal for those looking for a more relaxed experience.

Coastal cities for beach lovers

For those who dream of beaches and surfing, coastal cities are ideal:

  • Gold Coast: Known for its spectacular beaches and laid-back lifestyle.
  • Perth: Offers a unique mix of urban beaches and natural parks, with sunny weather.

Regional opportunities for a unique experience

If you wish to explore the “real” Australia and earn extra days for your Working Holiday Visa, consider more remote cities and regions:

Adelaide or Darwin: Less frequented by tourists but offering a genuine Australian experience.

Cost of living

The cost of living varies significantly from one city to another. Sydney and Melbourne are generally more expensive, while cities like Adelaide and Perth are more affordable.

Choose your city of arrival depending on the seasons in Australia

Australia is a huge country, and the climate varies hugely from one region to another. The first thing to take into account is the season in which you will arrive in Australia. Remember that in Australia the seasons are reversed compared to the northern hemisphere!

December to February: Summer 

Summer in Australia is the time to visit the southern states of the country (NSW, VIC, SA, TAS and the south of WA). Generally speaking, it gets very hot, temperatures ranging from 25 to 40 degrees (celsius), sometimes even higher than that! In Sydney, the weather can vary, as the intense heat waves can cause rain and thunderstorms. But it is normally very nice and warm. Melbourne has a somewhat unusual climate. The daytime can be very hot and then heavy showers can fall, bringing the temperature down by 10°. You should always bring a sweater or windbreaker with you if you’re in Melbourne!

March to May: Autumn

During autumn, you can move around more or less the entire country. In the southern half of the country, temperatures are mild (20-25°C). In the northern half, it will be the end of the wet season. It will therefore still be hot and humid. There is also still a risk of flooding, so be vigilant!

June to August: Winter

During winter, the ideal region to visit is the Top End, the most northern part of Australia (Northern Territory and the north of Queensland). That’s when the dry season starts, and it doesn’t get as hot (it can still be about 30 to 35 degrees though!).

The southern part of the country can get pretty cold, resulting in snow in Victoria’s mountains! In Sydney or Melbourne, winter brings moderate temperatures, ranging from 10 degrees in the morning to 18 degrees during the day. Generally, winter is pretty sunny and temperatures feel hotter than they are.

September to November: Spring

Spring in Australia brings a bit of everything. You have to be extra vigilant at this time in the north, as wet season officially starts in October and it starts to get very hot and humid in that part of the country. This season is ideal for discovering the south without having to suffer extremely hot temperatures and huge crowds of tourists.

⚠️ School holidays in Australia ⚠️

Good to know: School holidays in Australia start in mid-December and finish at the end of January, so that is when there are enormous amounts of tourists as well as higher hotel and camping prices. If you’re renting a vehicle, prices will also be higher during this period.

Your trip – What places do you want to see?

You can also pick your city of arrival based on your itinerary in Australia. It is therefore important to create a travel plan while taking the climate and fruit picking seasons into account. Even if you don’t end up following it exactly, it will allow you to evaluate your progress compared to your initial plans, which will eventually help you with readjusting your route or travel.

A word of warning – don’t underestimate the distances within Australia! Don’t count like this: 100km = 1 hour of driving. You are here to enjoy the landscape and the culture, not to hurry through your trip as fast as possible! It’s not a race 😉. Sometimes it’s better to sacrifice seeing one part of the country to really make the most of the rest.

If you are here for a year and you plan to tour the entire country, divide Australia into four parts. Give yourself three months per quarter – that will be sufficient time to explore the area. Don’t forget the working part of the experience; consider when (maybe even where) you want to earn a couple more dollars to fill up your travel piggy bank and remember that you will be staying at the same place for at least one or two months. Thus, it is difficult to find a really good and trustworthy route.

Prices for flight tickets

Prices for flight tickets to Australia vary from season to season and depend on which city you’re landing in. In the north, for example, high season (= more expensive flights) is during Australian winter. In the south the main season is around and during the Christmas holidays. Your departure date can thus help you make decision on where exactly you want to fly to. If you find a great deal for a flight to Melbourne, for example, that might also help you with your choice. As a reminder, expect to pay at least €1,200 for a flight to Sydney (AR). Ticket prices are currently high, so book ahead if you can.

Read more: Cheap flights to Australia

What are your plans once you arrive?

Stay in town

For those who wish to settle for a few weeks or months in a major Australian city, we recommend that you take a good look at the advantages and disadvantage of each of them. People who prefer a more urban setting will naturally gravitate towards Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or Perth. Depending on the sector in which you want to work, certain cities will be more favorable. Also think about the cost of living and the quality of life that each of these cities offers. If you are a beach lover or surfing fan for example, Brisbane and Cairns probably aren’t the best places for you to live.

Find a job quickly

If you want a fruit picking job, it is essential to check the harvest calendar in order to arrive at the right place at the right time. It is also recommended to arrive two weeks before the start of the harvest in order to carry out all the necessary admin, find a vehicle and start applying to farms.

If you want to work in a city, you can arrive in the one of your choice. There will always be jobs available. We advise you to avoid Sydney or Brisbane during the high season as there is a lot of competition (not to mention Australian students who are on vacation). But these big cities are also the ones that offer the most opportunities. Cities like Adelaide or Perth can be a good idea to start! There will be many job offers and often these cities are forgotten about by backpackers (especially Adelaide).

Go on a road trip

Would you prefer to buy or rent a vehicle to travel Australia? If you choose to buy, vans will be more expensive if you arrive in Sydney during high season (between October and January). The rule of supply and demand always applies. There are a lot of potential buyers, so the prices are higher! On the other hand, if you arrive in June, you could find yourself a great deal! On the other hand, if you arrive in a smaller city or out of season, your choices will be more limited.

If you want to rent a vehicle, then think about doing it in advance. That way you can benefit from better rates and have more choice as to the type of vehicles etc.

In Conclusion

Choosing the best city for your Australian Working Holiday depends on your personal preferences, job skills, and desired lifestyle. Whether it’s the bustling streets of Sydney or the artistic alleys of Melbourne, each city offers a unique experience. Consider what you want to gain from your Working Holiday – be it cultural immersion, adventure, or career development – and let that guide your choice. Remember, the beauty of a Working Holiday visa is the flexibility to move around, so you’re not limited to just one city. Embrace the adventure, and let Australia’s charm unfold!

4.7/5 - (20 votes)
Australia Backpackers Guide
The ultimate guide to work and travel around Australia with a Working Holiday Visa! Get all the tips and advice from other backpackers. The first travel guide written by Backpackers for Backpackers in Australia!!!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here