One of the most asked questions from backpackers on a working holiday is: Where should I start my Australian Working Holiday? Which city should I choose for my arrival in Australia? Of course, every big city has its advantages and disadvantages, so it’s not always the easiest choice to make. This article will provide you with the most important criteria and facts you need to know in order to make the right decision based on you and your personality!!
Select your city depending on Seasons in Australia
The first aspect you will want to consider is the season of your arrival. Note that the seasons in Australia are reversed in comparison to the northern hemisphere, so keep in mind that while it might be summer in your home country, it’s winter in Australia.
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 a lot, as the intense heat waves can cause rain and thunderstorms. But, as you might have guessed, the weather is normally very nice and warm.
March to May: Autumn
During autumn, you can move around more or less the entire country. Most of the southern areas of Australia will be facing between 20 and 25 degrees. It is also when the wet season in the northern part ends, though it will still be very hot and humid. The risk of floods will nevertheless continue to exist, so be careful!
June to August: Winter
During winter, the ideal region is the Top End, so the 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 (still 30 to 35 degrees though).
The southern part of the country can get pretty cold, resulting in snow in Victoria’s alps!! In Sydney or Melbourne, winter knows reasonable temperatures, ranging from 10 degrees in the morning t0 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. It can be very dangerous in the north, as wet season officially starts in October. Thus, 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 the vast number of tourists.
Good to know: The big holidays in Australia start in mid-December and finish at the end of January, so that is when there are enormous amounts of tourists accompanied by higher hotel and camping prices.
Your trip – What places do you want to see?
You can also pick your city of arrival based on your itinerary in Australia. Thus, it is 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. You wouldn’t want to miss out on anything, would you?
Also, don’t underestimate the distances within the country!! Don’t count with 100km=1 hour of driving. You are here to enjoy the landscape and the culture, not to hurry through it as fast as possible!! It’s not a race 😉 . Sometimes it’s better to sacrifice seeing one part of the country to really enjoy the rest. If you don’t have time to stop at interesting & beautiful locations, it’s not worth your time…
If you are here for a year and you plan to tour around the entire country, divide Australia into four parts. Give yourself three months per quarter, that will be sufficient time to discover it. 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 consider 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.
Your working holiday budget
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.
Buying a vehicle in Australia: The best time and the best place
The next choice you will have to make is the following: Do you want to buy or rent a car/campervan for your travel? If you choose to buy one, know that vans will be more expensive if you land in Sydney during the high season (October to January). And yes, the famous rule about supply and demand really does apply!! That’s when there are a lot of potential buyers, so the prices go up!! On the other hand, if you arrive in June, you can make very good deals, some vans are sold from as little as $1000 onward s because the sellers can’t find any buyers. But if you arrive in a smaller city or mid-season, you might have troubles finding a vehicle at all.
For more information on the budget: Budget for your working holiday in Australia
Your wishes & desires
The choice of your arrival city in Australia very much depends on your taste. Some people dream about Sydney, others want to discover Melbourne… It also depends on what you are expecting on arrival!
Sydney seems like the logical city to start in. It’s the best known and most touristy city in Australia.
Melbourne comes in second place, it attracts a lot of Europeans thanks to its small streets and laneways and its Victorian charm.
Brisbane is often chosen by backpackers because it is very, very sunny (300 sunny days per year!!) and only two steps away from the Gold Coast.
Perth is very isolated due to its location on the west coast, but it is growing!! Perfect for those who wish to get away as fast as possible and discover the wildest part of Australia.
Adelaide, the city of churches, is a small city that let’s you escape the crazy backpackers.
Cairns, on the north-eastern coast, is a small, tropical city and the main point of departure for the Great Barrier Reef.
Darwin, in the Northern Territory, could also be an option if you intend to arrive in Australia during winter months (June to August).
Good to know: If you want to discover more abandoned and less packed places, aim for Australia’s north and west coast. On the other hand, those who are not comfortable camping should probably start on the east coast. It is more civilised, you will have access to more services (like showers, toilets, supermarkets…) and it is less isolated.
Finding a job in Australia
If you want to work in fruit picking, it is inevitable to have a look at the fruit picking calendar to arrive at the right place at the right time for seasonal picking. It is also recommended arriving two weeks before planning on starting work, so you can sort out all the paper work, maybe find a car and, most importantly, find a farm before they are full!!
If you want to work in the city, you don’t have to be as cautious. Generally, we would advise you to avoid Sydney and Brisbane during high season, as you will encounter a lot of competition (without taking all the students on their summer break into consideration). But those big cities are also the places that offer the most opportunities and jobs. Nevertheless, cities like Adelaide and Perth can also be good to relax and work at the same time with less backpackers looking for work.
I think you now understand that there are numerous criteria that can be taken into account when picking your city of landing. It’s an important aspect of your travel in Australia, but our last advice is the following: