Summer is here and your next few months may well look a little like this: countless hours spent on white beaches next to crystal-clear waters (as sunburnt as an embarrassed lobster); or with new friends made at great pubs and random parties (and some interesting new rashes); roadtrips across insanely long distances (I Spy, anyone?), and before you know it, your budget hasn’t even got you past Christmas.

Running out of cash is a gloomy feeling – we’ve been there so that you don’t have to. This is when you withdraw from dreamland and start searching for… [tortured yell]… a job. Chin up – you just need to incorporate moneymaking with, er, fun making! The cracking news is, in the lead-up to Christmas Down Under there is as much demand for travelling workers as there are sunny days.


When the cash runs out, why not try and claim it back from where it was all spent: in pubs and restaurants? There are plenty of vacant positions being advertised in Sydney at the moment.

To get my first position behind a bar, I simply strolled into a pub and asked if they needed anyone. The manager gave me a trial run that night – the job was mine (though I did have to put up with occasional “encouraging” pats on the lower back region).

That was a few years back though. Today both employers and employees have been elevated to the civilised, and in order to serve alcohol in Tasmania, NSW and Queensland, you will have to do an (easy) one-day course in Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA). If you are working near the “pokies” or other gambling devices in NSW you must also complete the Responsible Conduct of Gambling (RCG). This costs around $65 and takes between four and six hours (online certificates available). Unfortunately this certification is only valid within the state it’sobtained in.

As with all casual jobs, chances are there will be an offer of cash-in-hand. But although it seems like less fuss, it can turn out to be twice the fuss; essentially, you’ll have no workers’ rights.

Other than simply pimping yourself from door to door, the best thing is to saturate the market by registering your CV with recruitment agencies. Christmas is nuts-busy, and by walking into a busy bar/restaurant (looking somewhat decent) chances are good you’ll get a trial at least. But make sure you get paid for the trial if you don’t get the job, and make sure you get paid at least $13.47 an hour, as this is the minimum wage by Australian Law.

You can get a healthy cashflow quite fast in hospitality with tip money and with extra pay on weekends, public holidays and late nights.


My recipe for success in the work/travelling/fun conundrum is to get a job in retail as well as in hospitality on a casual rate. This way you will: get to choose your own hours, work the highest paid hours (casuals often do all Sundays and public holidays, and the casual rate is always a few dollars more than full-time or part-time), get discounts on clothes and shoes, and get cheap meals and free drinks.

Also, because you’re so casual, you can travel the days you choose not to work. Most retail jobs are only advertised by a note in the shop window, so again, check out the good shops and hand in your CV to the manager with a smile.

Harvest Work

If you’re not afraid of both getting your hands dirty and meeting some truly original characters, there’s a golden opportunity to work on a tan and get fit for summer with harvest work. You can pick, plant, strip and sort just about everything that grows all around Australia. Pack up your campervan and do the Harvest Trail, following the harvesting seasons as you travel.

Better still, should you be getting angsty about returning home, you get to extend your Working Holiday Visa, providing you have worked a minimum of three months in harvest or in a rural Australia. For information, visit

“Rural Australia” is everywhere except Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong, the NSW Central Coast, Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Perth, Melbourne and the ACT. Visit to find what’s on where and when.


Although office space is not as glorious as running barefoot on a deserted beach, the money is a lot better, and the hours pretty much allow for a morning and afternoon dip in the ocean. Temping pretty much means good money without all the responsibility, and if office is your cup of coffee (loads of coffee in offices, not so much tea it seems), then you’ve got the added bonus of something relevant to put on your CV afterwards.

Best of the Rest

There is always a boom in some employment sector in Oz. Lately, with the economy continuing its strong growth, Australia has jobs in everything, from mining to skyscraping office jobs.

Getting it Thong

A word in your ear though. Travellers have a bad reputation in some quarters, for having an unprofessional attitude towards the job market. Unless you are auditioning for the position of circus clown, don’t for example, rock up in shorts and “thongs”.

And make sure your CV (usually called a resumé down here) looks pukka. Recruitment expert Mats Eriksson says: “Experience is sure to get you an interview. Personality will win you the position. Professionalism will ensure you of a job. Turn up neatly dressed even if you are only registering with an agency. If you look like you are serious, the potential employer will also take you seriously.” And remember, a smile goes a long way.

… and Lastly

It may seem depressing having to look for a shitty job when you’re in a beautiful place and blessed with stunning weather, but we assure you the time will pass quickly. You may well make new friends and – heck – even have some fun.

Be prepared to open your mind a little, too – would dressing up as Santa really be so bad? Travel jobs are the stuff stories are made of (see sidebar, right). Trust us – we’ve all been there. It’ll all feel worth it when you’re kicking back in a hammock on that island paradise, cocktail in hand and not a worry in the world.