For decades, Australians have been known as great world travellers and anyone who's spent any time on the road has probably bumped into more than a few Aussies in the middle of an extended world tour.
In recent years, the tide has been flowing the other way as well. People have discovered that Australia is one of the hottest tickets going and even though it's a long way away for us North Americans, a visit to Australia need not cost you a fortune.
Good exchange rates, a cost of living that is generally lower than in North America or Europe, and tons of things to do, especially if you're inclined toward outdoor adventure, make travel in Australia a pretty good deal.
Picking up casual work is a great way to top up your travel funds and allow you to stay longer than you normally could. American and Canadian travellers aged 18 to 30 can apply for a Working Holiday Visa before leaving home. The visa allows travellers to spend a year in Australia and work for up to six months at any one job. Prior to July 2008, Canadians could only work at one job for a maximum of three months.
Canadians can also apply for a second Working Holiday Visa while in Oz allowing them to stay another year. To qualify for a second visa, you must have worked at least three months doing jobs the Australian government lists as “specified” work. These jobs are in certain target sectors—farming, fishing, forestry, and construction, for example—and whether or not they are eligible varies from region to region.
If you’re over 30, don’t fret. People with a skill in short supply—anything from carpentry to IT to dental hygiene—may be eligible for the General Skilled Migration Visa programme. Anyone who has been offered a qualifying job by a sponsoring Australian employer (or employment agency like Geoffrey Nathan) can apply for a Temporary Business (Long Stay) Visa. All of these visa programmes and the Working Holiday Visas are described on the Department of Immigration site.
As if the beaches, the climate, the landscape and the lifestyle weren't enough...
Getting an international education allows you to immerse yourself in a culture like no holiday can and more and more North American students are taking advantage of Australia's excellent, internationally-recognized universities to earn their undergraduate or graduate degrees. Australian universities offer a high standard of education in a learning environment that is not dissimilar to our own. If you are attending university or college, stop in at the international or study abroad office and inquire about exchange agreements your institution may have with Australian schools. Visit the Australian Government’s study abroad website for additional information.
Volunteering in Australia is hugely popular and there are some great networks available to provide information and hook you up with a wide variety of volunteer opportunities, from community work to conservation. For more information about volunteering in Australia, visit the Go Volunteer site or the Government of Australia volunteer search site.
If you’re interested in animal conservation and zoology, consider contacting Sydney’s Taronga Zoo and apply to become a volunteer zoo keeper or a member of the Bushcare Volunteer Team. For information, visit their website and follow the links.
Qantas flies to Sydney and Melbourne from Toronto, Vancouver and more than 30 cities in the United States.
Bonus factor: For us mere mortals who don’t typically travel in business or first class, Qantas’ new AirBus A380 goes a long way to easing the strain of a 20-hour flight in economy class. A new award-winning seat design allows way more legroom and incorporates a nice little footrest. This means you’ll actually be able to stand upright when it’s time to deplane. If you’re someone who just can’t sleep on a plane, you’ll have lots of time to check out the thousand-plus options on your personal entertainment unit or hang out at the self-serve snack bar, open for the entire flight.
More Destination Australia:
9 Great Things to Do in Australia
Don't Spit the Dummy, It's Just Strine: A Guide to Australian Slang