4 Months in Australia and NZ: Photo Essay

“Where flowers bloom, so does hope.” – Lady Bird Johnson

Wasn’t initially planning to do a Great Ocean Road Trip to see the Twelve Apostles, but I did. 🙂

Tatura Fresh Pty Ltd. Scientifically speaking, a tomato is definitely a fruit.

The bridled nail-tail wallaby (Onychogalea fraenata) is one of the endangered macropod species in Queensland.

Mount Larcom outback?

The mountains are calling, and I must go.


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The Ultimate Guide to Your Australian Work and Holiday Visa for Singaporeans (Part II)

So, you’ve decided that you want to embark on a journey of a lifetime on a working holiday to Australia? You’re thinking, where do I start? How much should I bring? What kind of jobs are out there? I spent days and weeks trawling the internet to answer all worries and questions, but there just doesn’t seem to be a complete, essential guide. Hence I crafted out this post to hopefully help you out there, on how to start planning for a work and holiday adventure!

Your Work and Holiday Visa 
Before you leave for Australia, ensure you have a visa to actually pass through the immigrations! Start preparing and planning early when you want to start your working holiday and once you’ve obtained your visa, print it out. Yup, it’s an electronic visa but it’s always wise to carry a hardcopy of your visa 😉

Finances 💸
No doubt that Aussie is a dream travel destination for many, but chances are you have heard how shockingly expensive the country is. A meal at a restaurant can set you back at 20AUD and coffee at 5AUD. Cooking your own meals will be the best option to save! Go there prepared and know where your money will be spent. There are several free e-books out there on working holidays which will compare the best ways to save and different costs of travelling (campervan vs car vs public transport), accommodation (hotels vs hostels vs camping vs help exchange) and food, so you can have a rough idea on how to save.

To enter Australia on a work and holiday visa, you will need bank statement with sufficient funds, and on top of that, sufficient funds to purchase a return ticket out of the country. So my advice to you is to save, and when you think you have enough, save more!

Mobile Carrier ☎️
You will be living abroad for a year (or more if you have that second year visa) so best is to cancel your subscription with your mobile carrier if your contract is almost up. Different carriers (Starhub, Singtel, M1 etc) will have different cancellation fees, and if you are on Circles.life (lucky you!) it is not contract based. Otherwise, you can suspend your line, but even then there will be a monthly fee (at least for Starhub). If you are using Starhub, simply call them to suspend your line on the day you are leaving Singapore. There is a monthly fee of $5 though.😱

Another thing to take note of is you need to bring over an ‘unlocked’ phone to Australia. An unlocked phone means that the phone will be able to work with any network provider. When you are at the immigrations, the officers may ask to take a look at your phones (I got this information when I was asking some queries on an international Working Holidaymakers to Australia).

Call your Aussie friends or relatives! 🏡

Contact your friends or family members who are staying in Australia to help you settle in on your first week. Otherwise, book yourself into a hostel where you will be able to meet tons of friends and travel/job-hunting buddies!

Health and Travel Insurance 🚑

Singaporeans do not have Medicare or any sort of reciprocal health agreement with Australia, so I had a bit of a trouble finding resources on the internet about this and searching for an appropriate insurance to take to cover my stay in Aussie.

For health insurance, a mutual friend of mine on a working holiday took up BUPA. Other health insurance available in Australia (according to my cousin) are GMHBA, Teachers’ Health and World Nomads. To compare health insurance in Aussie, you can take a look at www.iselect.com.au/health-insurance/, and for more information of healthcare in Aussie, check out this link which is provided in the Australian Embassy website.

Setting Up your Bank Account 💵
One of the first thing you would want to do is open a bank account. The following banks are the best options for backpackers.

  • Westpac
  • Commonwealth
  • ANZ
  • NAB

These are the biggest banks in Aussie and all you need is your passport, visa letter, an Australian number and an address (you can use your friends/relatives address provided you’ve asked them first, or your hostel address). There are a number of agents and companies such as STA Travel and OZ Backpacker which offers Australia Arrival Packages, Basically they help to sort out your bank account, Tax File Number, super account, but it isn’t too difficult to do it yourself!

What you also need is a superannuation account, preferably with the same bank that you have.

Setting Up your Superannuation Account
What is superannuation, you ask? It’s basically something like CPF – it is a percentage out of your salary that is set aside for a retirement fund. As a temporary resident, you can claim back your superannuation (also known as super, for short) when you have left Aussie. Simply set up your super account with your bank, and pass your super account details to your employers.

Apply for an Australian Tax File Number (TFN)
You will need this for any job! Apply for one online here https://iar.ato.gov.au/IARWeb/default.aspx?pid=4&sid=1&outcome=1. You won’t be able to apply for this when you’re still in Singapore though. It will take a week or two by post, otherwise you can also call Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to get your number, if you are moving elsewhere after a week.

Call me, maybe? 📞
You will need an Australian number so your future employers can contact you! The main phone networks that you can choose from are:

  • Telstra
  • Optus
  • Vodafone
  • Virgin

Telstra has the best network coverage, and also the most expensive. If you are planning to work remotely, your best option would be Telstra.

So here’s the fun part! Before your start applying for jobs, brush up your résumé and CV. A tip I would give is check out samples of Australian résumés  online (slightly different)! There are heaps of jobs but keep in mind that employers may be more reluctant to hire working holidaymakers, hence it could be better to focus on finding ‘backpacker jobs’. You can find work in hospitality or tourism sector, sales, temp work in office, farm work, fruit picking and au pair aka being a nanny. Some of the common ways to find a job are through Facebook, websites, job agencies, working hostels and bringing your resume into local businesses such as cafes, restaurants, hostels, travel agencies and shops.

Thanks to social media, there are now many groups in Facebook where you can search around! Who would’ve thought it could be very productive scrolling on Facebook huh. Here are a few groups to get you started:

Australian Backpackers 2017
Backpackers 88 days and counting
Backpacker Jobs Australia
Australian Backpacker Jobs
Jobs for Backpackers – Melbourne

As for website resources, it is worth checking these links:

Backpacker Job Board
Fruit Picking Jobs
The Job Shop
The Harvest Guide
Travellers At Work

The last two links are not specifically for backpackers so there could be higher competition for those.

Most importantly, exercise caution and be wary of dodgy adverts. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! There is one site which has been circulating in a number of Facebook groups, www.ibackpackers.com and it is said to be a scam so watch out for those!

I have also read that in Aussie (and also applies in Singapore), it is about networking and who you know, and recommendations, which can help you land a job.

Alternatives: WWOOF, Workaway and HelpX

I’ve met several Singaporean backpackers and working holidaymakers who have used these useful sites before. These are all amazing platforms for you to find a place to stay with food in exchange for 4-6 hours of work. The work can range from working on organic farms to housekeeping, handyman and au pair. All three require a membership fee but I’ve gotten feedback that HelpX is easier to navigate! I will be trying out the WWOOFing scheme!

Second Year Visa

I did not know about this until I started my proper research, and it sounds all so interesting to me, but I am still not sure if I will end up doing it!

So you can actually apply to extend your visa for another year if you manage to complete 3 months or 88 days of regional work, in some industries. There can be a huge competition to get this 2nd year visa, or notoriously known as “88 days” so please be very careful!

Without any experience and skills, working in a farm or in fruit picking are two of the most popular ways to complete your regional work. As Singaporeans are only eligible under the visa subclass 462, the areas that you can work to obtain the second year visa are Northern Territory (NT) and parts of Western Australia and Queensland. Be sure to check out the exact postcodes on the embassy website. I will leave this whole portion for another post if I decide to go ahead with the second year visa.

As mentioned before, there are a couple of free e-books on Working Holidays and Backpackers Guide in Australia, and if you would like me to send them to you, drop me an email. These useful resources cover almost everything from how to get settled down, budgeting, searching for a job, second year visas, what is the best way to move and travel around, fruit harvesting calendars, contacts and many more. Who knows I might even write my own e-book at the end of my adventure

Now, you’re ready to enjoy the journey. Make the most out of it!

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The Ultimate Guide to Your Australian Work and Holiday Visa for Singaporeans

G’day! Many have been asking me about the process to obtain the Work and Holiday Visa (subclass 462) to Australia so I’ve decided to write this post with a step-by-step guide. It is quite a straightforward process, and as long as you meet ALL the requirements stated in the Australian Embassy website, you have a high chance of getting your visa! Take note that there are only 500 places every year for Singaporeans.

I will not be covering on why you should go for this Work and Holiday Visa, as I can go on forever on this. Each and everyone of you will have your own reasons why that sound in the back of your mind is screaming ‘Yes, I just HAVE to apply for this working holiday!’. This visa is a great opportunity for those who want to travel, and at the same time legally be able to work and earn to support yourself. It will definitely allow you to gain insights to the lifestyle and culture of Australia, and you will probably return with a different, fresh and new perspective of everyday life. Personally, I got to know about the working holiday visa (WHV) even before my graduation from college and the only place for Singaporeans on a WHV was New Zealand. And when the golden opportunity for a WHV appeared in August to a favourite country of mine – Aussie, I jumped at that opportunity.

So now, this is an ultimate guide for you out there to obtain that Work and Holiday Visa to Australia for an adventure of a lifetime!

These websites below will be your best friend. All the information that you need are all here, and please do your own research as well! I find the FAQs at the embassy site pretty useful, but if you still have enquiries you can contact the VFS helpline at 6224 1732 or email them. They will reply to your queries pretty quick, albeit short answers.

  1. Australian Government DIBP https://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Visa-1/462-
  2. VFS Singapore http://www.vfsglobal.com/australia/singapore/
  3. Information on panel physicians and police checks http://www.border.gov.au/Lega/Lega/Help/Location/singapore

I think the most important thing is to ensure you have all the necessary documentations for your application, and that all the requirements are met. The following below are the requirements, from the Australian DIBP website:

  • are at least 18 but have not turned 31 years of age at the time you lodge your application
  • have a valid passport from a country involved in the Work and Holiday program with Australia
  • will not have a dependent child with you while you are in Australia
  • have enough money to support yourself on a working holiday (about AUD 5000)
  • have enough money to buy a return or onward travel ticket at the end of your stay
  • have not previously entered Australia on a Working Holiday visa (subclass 417) – take note that 417 and 462 are different
  • meet character and health requirements
  • are a genuine visitor.
  • meet the educational requirements
  • have functional English

So did you meet all the criteria? SWEET! Next, find out when is the next opening window for applications. The application window opens quarterly. For this year, the first round of application was on 1 August 2017, and the second one opened in 2 October 2017, and next on 2 January 2018!

This is the general flow of your WHV application.

  1. Preparation of documents, forms and payment

Fill up your Form 1208, prepare ALL your necessary documents and set aside the application fee of 440AUD (SGD 484) and another SGD45 for biometrics fee. Below are the documents that you will need (taken from the Australian Government DIBP site). You will also need to print a “checklist” that you can find on the site, and ensure that you have all of the documents required before you attend your appointment.

  1. Booking an appointment on the VFS Singapore website

On the application day, go to VFS Singapore website at http://www.vfsglobal.com/australia/singapore/index.html  and register for a new account. You can do this before the application window opens. Then, book an appointment on your preferred date. You can book a slot from the following day and there are only 4 slots per day when I applied (8AM, 9AM, 10AM, 11AM).

  1. Attend the appointment that you have booked on the VFS website

Ensure all your forms, documents and payment are ready on the day of your appointment. You will also need to bring your original passport, NRIC and birth certificate (if you want). You don’t have to arrive there too early, otherwise you will have to wait till 10 minutes before your appointment time. The VFS staff there will go through with you all the documents, one by one. After making your payment of application fee and biometrics fee, you will then take your biometrics in another room. *Please take note that NETS is not available, so you can only bring cash! This whole process only takes 15 minutes of less, after you take your biometrics, you’re done!

  1. Go for a health check-up at one of the approved clinics

You will receive an email for the embassy to inform you to go for your health check-up and obtain your COC (see point 5). I received the email the day after my VFS appointment, booked an appointment with SATA Commhealth Medical Centre at Ang Mo Kio, and went for my check-up. It consists of a general health examination and chest X-ray and costs about $150-$200 (I can’t remember the exact amount again). If you can attend the morning slot, it will be slightly cheaper. Once you are done with the check-up, you won’t need to submit anything, as the clinic will submit the health report to the embassy.

Here are the approved panel physicians (from DIBP website)

  • SATA Commhealth Ang Mo Kio Medical Centre (6244 6688)
  • SATA Commhealth Bedok Medical Centre
  • Point Medical Group (6235 2343)
  • Radlink Diagnostic Imaging Pte Ltd (6836 0808)
  1. Book and attend a slot at Singapore Police Force to get your Certificate of Clearance (COC)

This step will take the longest! But don’t worry, patience is virtue. 😀 Book a slot at the website here and make payment of $55 to obtain your COC. For some people, you may have to wait one month before there is an available slot. Again (yes more bookings and appointments) attend your slot to take your fingerprints, and you may receive your COC. Otherwise, you have to go down to SPF again to collect your COC.

Once you have your COC, you will need to submit the original COC to either the Australia Embassy in Singapore at 25 Napier Road (24-hour drop-off box), VFS office or mail it. You’re almost there!

For enquiries pertaining to this, you can contact them at SPF_CID_COC@spf.gov.sg or call them.

  1. Wait for your email from the Aussie Embassy with your Work and Holiday Visa! 😀

Visa processing time is about 12 to 30 days. Others may get it earlier, or later. And for some people, the Aussie Embassy may email you to request for further evidence or documentations, or even an interview. I’ve received information that if you studied in Australia before, you may need an extra Police Check from Australia, which takes about two weeks.

To recap, these are the fees needed for the overall application.

Application Fee AUD440 / $484
Biometrics Fee $45
Medical health-check up About $150
Certificate of Clearance application $55
Total $734

So what’s next?

Once you’ve obtained your visa letter, congratulations! Your next step is to decide when you want to embark on your adventure, as the WHV lasts for one year. Also, this visa is an electronic one, and multi-entry, meaning you are allowed to enter and leave Australia as many times as you like, until your visa expires. If you’ve obtained your visa, you can email me your number and I will add you to the WHV to Aussie for Singaporeans WhatsApp group to share tips and help each other out etc! I’m also in the WHV to NZ for Singaporeans WhatsApp group, and the members really share informative tips, facts, job opening, selling of their cars in NZ and many can ask questions there. There is also a Facebook group which you can join here.

In my next few posts, I will be covering on what you need to do before you fly and essentially how to start planning for your trip! This will entail health insurance (very important!), research for jobs, packing your backpack, what you need to do when you arrive (TFN number, Bank account, SIM card, superannuation) and yessss….cars. Can’t wait for the day when I purchase my very first car (bucket list).

Thanks for reading. See you at the other side and happy travels! x

Disclaimer: I will definitely try my best to provide up-to-date information, and reliance upon the information provided by this website is solely at your own risk.

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