“The Outback is any place no one stands behind you.” At least, that's one way to describe Australia's vast, empty spaces. “The Red Centre,” is what tourism brochures call it but the locals will say “The Middle” or “The Middle of Nowhere.” It's basically any place with more flies and kangaroos than people. Remote outposts can be found around the country, not just at its center and though such positions are far from the eternal bustle of Sydney or Melbourne, they offer backpackers a chance to “go bush” in a unique rural location.
Out where few humans have settled, the wages are higher and the financial distractions are less. Contracts typically run from 6-12 weeks, providing enough time to save money before the lack of television channels or takeaway restaurants drives you crazy. Here, the stars are brighter, the locals are kinder, and the wildlife's wilder.
Whether you’re interested in a paid seasonal position or a short-term gig in exchange for room and board, here are five jobs that will place you in the beautiful isolation of Australia. An important fact to know, is that anyone under 30 (inclusive) is eligible for a Working Holiday Visa in Australia. This means that you can work and even do a little study on the side if you would like very easily in Australia.
1. Station Hand
Australia has over 29 million cows – that's more cattle than people! Ranches, or stations as they're called here, cover much of the country, and a single one can extend for thousands of square acres. That's a lot of land to look after, requiring so many staff members that some stations are like miniature companies. A job as a station hand can thus include a bit of everything: from riding horses and mustering cattle, to mending fences, driving tractors and looking after other station livestock. Expect a bit of dirt under the fingernails and a few very early morning chores. Positions do not always require previous rural experience. Many are paid 2-3 months of work, though stations often provide food and board in exchange for a short-term period of help. Ultimate Oz offers these types of positions and more that range in location and duration of stay.
2. Hospitality Representative
Bondi has nothing on the soft white sand beaches of the Whitsundays. Tourists may flock to these islands in the Great Barrier Reef for a day of ocean exploration, but few are lucky enough to stay for a season. A hospitality job at any of the area's resorts provides quality service experience in one of the country's prettiest locations. “Hospo” employment depends on customer interaction, such as: food and beverage servers, bartenders, front desk and reservations attendants, and housekeepers. Extroverts and confident English speakers are especially good in these positions. Experience is rarely required, though each state – including Queensland – requires anyone working with alcohol to be properly licensed with a Reasonable Sale of Alcohol (RSA) certificate. Wages are lower than similar positions out west, but the surrounding environment more than makes up for the decrease in pay. Alliance Abroad Group offers positions in Brisbane, Perth, and Sydney in a variety of hospitality areas.
3. Roadhouse All-rounder
Much of the country's geography is determined by its vast stretches of land, something often referred to as “the tyranny of distance.” While lonely highways wrap around the edges of Australia, the space between communities is too far for one vehicle's gas tank. Roadhouses are all-in-one stores, service stations, caravan parks, cafés and motels that replace populated towns along the road. Due to the typically small numbers of roadhouse staff, an all-rounder is responsible for a variety of activities: from serving beverages, making coffee, cleaning accommodation, selling souvenirs, and even cooking meals!
Though often too remote for WiFi or mobile cell phone coverage, roadhouse locations put backpackers in a prime position to save money and focus on more relaxing activities, such as reading and wandering the bush. Females are especially encouraged to apply for these positions. Choose the right position with Twin Work & Volunteer.
4. Aboriginal Community Shopkeeper
Australia's indigenous peoples belong to some of the oldest, most continuous cultures in the world; and yet, travelers who stay in big cities may never have an opportunity to interact with a true native. Working on an Aboriginal reservation is thus one of the most unique ways to experience the country’s original peoples. While foreigners are not typically allowed on reservation land, backpackers with a working visa may find employment in a community store.
These positions are especially remote and best suited for an open-minded individual who is comfortable working independently. Daily tasks include stocking shelves and ordering supplies, serving customers, maintaining store policies, and cooking takeaway meals. Some previous retail experience is encouraged, and positions tend to be contracted for 3-12 months.
5. National Park Ranger
Hundreds of unique species call Australia home, and more are discovered every year. While some of these creatures may cross your path in a remote workplace, nothing puts you in the heart of a native environment like a job at one of the country's 500-plus national parks. Though paid, contracted jobs usually require a relevant degree and previous experience, volunteer positions and short-term help are always available.
Skill-specific positions focus strictly on in-depth conservation and preservation efforts, while jobs for eager but inexperienced applicants apply to a wider range of basic activities. Most national parks have an information office and shop, where workers may sell souvenirs, clean facilities, monitor trails, and provide educational materials.