Working Holiday 101

You have your visa and flights booked to Australia, now here are a few things that will help with a smooth transition to moving and living Down Under.

Set up a bank account before you arrive. I set mine up with Commonwealth Bank which was really easy to do online. Once I had arrived in Melbourne I went to the branch I had specified when setting up my account. Before you can transfer any money into your account or have a bank card I needed to show my passport, national insurance number and a copy of my visa approval letter. Once I had confirmed my identity my bank card arrived within 5 working days.

It’s worth being aware that international transfers can take a while to be processed. You may also be charged by both your UK (home country bank) and your Australian bank.

I started by having a Revolut card and having pre-exchanged £ into AU$ when the exchange rate was at its best before I moved out. They have a system called vaulting which is effectively like a savings account you don’t get interest but it stays there without you spending it. In addition I used my UK bank cards (it is worth checking what the charges are on foreign spending).

Get a SIM card pronto- if you are getting a prepaid (pay as you go) SIM you don’t need to have an Australian bank card. I went for an Aldi SIM as it seemed to have pretty good prepaid packages. It also runs on Telstra’s network which has the best coverage within Australia.

The main providers I came across were Optus, Telstra, Aldi Mobile, Amaysim and Vodafone. It is easy to pick up a SIM in most newsagents or supermarkets. You can also get SIMs on contract different providers have different lengths you are tied in for. For contract SIMs you will need an Australian bank card.

Medicare- print the forms off beforehand and fill out all the details you can. I had my forms completed asides from my bank details and phone number. It was very easy to set up Medicare I took all the documentation it asked me for to my local Medicare office. You are issued with a temporary Medicare card and then receive your plastic one in the post 2-3 weeks later. You can find the medicare website here.

Australian Tax Code (TFN) can be applied for here. Although not essential, having a tax code can mean you are less likely to be taxed higher than you should be on your earnings in Australia. You will need to complete the application once you have arrived in Australia. It can take 28 days for your tax code to arrive.

Accommodation in a flatshare’s rent is usually charged on a weekly basis. This is worth knowing when you are budgeting and looking at prices of rooms. It is also worth checking whether the room is furnished or not. There are three main options of furnishing I have come across: unfurnished (no furniture in the room), Furnished (furniture there), furnished but with no bed (well thats pretty self explanatory!).

If you are moving to Melbourne you are going to want to get yourself a Myki card which is the equivalent to an Oyster card. They can easily be picked up at train stations or 7 Eleven. There is a free tram zone in the CBD.

Jetlag is not fun. There are a load of tips you can get on how to help it but ultimately it’s down to how your body adjusts. Be kind to yourself in your first week or two.

The international code for Australia is +61 and as with any international code you remove the first 0 of the number.

The emergency number is 000 the equivalent to 999.

Greetings of the card variety

Having gone on the hunt for a engagement card for a friend I realised that I really missed Paperchase (stationary shop in England) where you can go in and easily select a greetings card you like for most life occasions. It was a struggle to find one I liked in Melbourne and having gone to 5 or 6 shops before finding one with cards I liked here is a list to save you the frustration.

David Jones in Bourke Street has a card section on the 5th floor with a good select especially if you are looking for a birthday card.

Dymocks in Collins Street has a good selection of Moleskine notepads and journals. It is also a good bookshop (Reminded me of Waterstones).

Book Binders Design in Little Collins Street has a rainbow array of different colour, size and type of journals all beautifully presented and customisable.

Zetta Florence in Fitzroy on Brunswick Street is the kind of shop that you could take a while browsing. It has a great selection of gift wrap, gifts, posters, maps, journals e.t.c.

Coffee cupping

Being in Melbourne with its coffee culture I thought it would be fun to do a coffee cupping class. This hour long coffee class with Market Lane Coffee is under $7 and is held at both Prahran and South Melbourne markets. During the class we blind tasted 4 coffees and guessed the notes of the coffee through smell and taste. At first my answer would have been it smells of coffee but was fun picking up the subtle differences (The notes in capitals are what the guy running the class said when we discussed them). Recommend it as a fun thing to do. They are friendly and encourage questions as you go. No requirement to be a coffee connoisseur.

Taste of home

So I may have only been here three weeks but wondered if I could find somewhere that sells Marmite. It was something I had planned to pack but it didn’t quite fit in the suitcase.

Today I completed my mission by finding a British food shop. Probably the most I have ever spent on the smallest jar of Marmite but I found it! Oh and the all important Galaxy chocolate. There is not a shortage of chocolate options here it was just a little taste of home.

This shop located is in Collins 234 and sells everything from PG Tips tea to Persil laundry detergent.

Another reason for our outing was a friend’s excitement to have Jaffa cakes which were bought over here to discover they were only 2/3rds of the size of the ones in the UK and rather stale…turns out they were 6 months out of date! Edible but with a consistency not unlike compressed sawdust (these weren’t from the linked British food shop but an Aussie supermarket). We went in search of some that had a more authentic in date taste.


On a friend’s recommendation I went to Miznon for lunch today and had a Cheakypita which is a combination of a falafel burger, tomato steak, sour cream (which we subbed for tahini), chilli, onions and pickles. The food was great and the staff were really friendly. Before your food arrives there is a salad bar which today consisted of warmed pita strips, tahini, chilli and herb oil dip and what looked like fermented cabbage/coleslaw without mayo. The chilli dip was great with a good kick. We also shared a sweet potato which is baked with a mix of having crispy, caramised and smokey edges with salt really good and very welcomed after living in the hostel with no oven!

They have a small bar stooled bench next to the kitchen which means you can watch them cook which is fun.

Four wall and a roof

Photo by Thgusstavo Santana on Pexels.com

Before you start looking for accommodation it is worth considering the following criteria:

Age of people you want to live with

Number of people in the property


Pets or no pets

Shared/private bathroom

Own or shared room

If you want to live with couples or not

If the room is furnished or not (more about this on my Working Holiday 101 post)

What your budget is (rent is normally advertised per week rather than per month)

Check what bills are included within rent if any

Transport links nearby

If you need it parking restrictions around the property

This is a helpful starting point to look at different neighbourhoods in Melbourne:

Facebook groups:

Fairy Floss Real Estate- this is a group on Facebook that has regular updates on rooms available in houseshares. It is worth setting up notifications so you don’t miss a posting as they go incredibly quickly.


It’s worth creating profiles on both of these websites as you are more likely to get contacted about available rooms if you do. There is a cost to do this but it saves you time as people will also search and find you as a potential housemate.



5 and dime bagels

Honey raisin walnut filling in a cinnamon and raisin bagel

5 and dime bagel were local to where I was staying. This bagel was delicious and something I will have to repeat.

I also tried the Bacon Maple Chipotle filling in a pretzel bagel. The pretzel bagel itself was delicious but I wasn’t such a fan of the filling. This was an unusual chose for me as I have never had bacon jam before. I have a feeling disliking the filling has nothing to do with how it was made but just my personal preferences in fillings.


Went for brunch here as it recently opened nearby. Had these pancakes with lemon curd, blueberry compote, mascarpone, meringue, strawberries and fairy floss (candy floss). Unsurprisingly the sugar rush I had after them was intense.

I had a flat white which was good but the turmeric latte I had tasted a bit like drinking neat honey with cinnamon.

The menu looked good and if I go back I might choose a more savoury dish.

Week 1 and 2

Mum dropping me at the airport

Packed up and ready to go

After what seemed like an age, a lot of prep and moving house I was actually getting on the plane and as a surprise my brother upgraded me. Not a bad start to my year abroad!

Broke my body clock

To try and get my body clock in to Aussie time as quickly as possible I decided to stay awake on my first flight and to sleep the whole of the second. This resulted in me being awake for 24+ hours and being completely shattered. Maybe not my best move. The flights were great and I so appreciated the change to lie flat and shower in my stopover.

I arrived in Melbourne at 5am so an early start to what was to be a long and productive day. I am so grateful that I was collected from the airport by a friend and dropped at my hostel. I booked the hostel for the first three weeks of being here in the hope of finding somewhere longer term to stay. On writing this I am in week 2 of being here and so far not further on but hope that that will all change very soon.

Day 1

It walked over 12 miles. Watched sunrise over the Yarra, explored some street art, got my flu shot (it’s winter and I don’t want flu!) and then walked back into town, several exhibitions at the NGV (National Gallery of Victoria), sunset and thank to a friend watched an AFL (Australian Football League) match to see Essendon vs Giants.

Never a dull moment

Within my first week I had been evacuated from my hostel twice in the middle of the night due to fire alarms. I have to say being woken up by the fire alarm and a tannoy of “this is not a drill, evacuate the building” which is a pretty effective and rapid wake up call. I got good at grabbing my documents and exiting building. Thankfully both times were false alarms but was encouraging to see that the fire brigade arrive quickly. I laid out my coat and a go bag for night three and was very happy not to have to use it and for getting a full nights sleep!

These boots were made for walking

So far I have used the tram twice and train twice (too and from Geelong). I have done a lot of walking! Last week I walked 71 kms (roughly 97,000 steps). I find that walking means you get to see more of a city and get your bearing quicker. It is also a good way to stay awake when you are jet lagged although, I did have an accidental 7 hours nap.

Myking your way around Melbourne

Flinders Street Station at dawn

Using a Myki card to travel around Melbourne.

Top tips:

  • For tram you touch on once at the beginning of your journey
  • For train you have to touch on at the beginning and end of your journey
  • For buses you have to touch on at the beginning and end of your journey
  • If you are travelling only within the free tram zone you do not need to touch on.
  • In Melbourne they stand on the left hand side on escalators rather than the right.

The Public Transport Victoria Myki how to guide can be found here.

As a pedestrian it’s worth knowing cars can turn left on a green pedestrian light. Pedestrians have right of way but it’s worth knowing that cars might take the turn.


Croissants to die for! Ok maybe that is a bit dramatic, but they are delicious and the smell as you walk in is a sneak peak into what you are about to experience. They have a selection of different flavours to choose from. I have tried several of them. As you may be able to tell I went once and that was the start of a few more visits. Although these are fairly pricey, they are filling and worth trying. Lune have store in both the CBD and Fitzroy. (Above are the lemon curd cruffin and the almond croissant and a flat white in my Keep Cup).

This weekend a trip to Lune in Fitzroy was suggested by a friend and I was not going to say no to try more of their options.

We went all out! Admittedly I have some leftover for breakfast tomorrow but we decided to halve the majority of options and there were a lot!

If you are going on the weekend I suggest getting there relatively early as the line gets long. It is open from opening time till they sell out.

Top left going clockwise- almond, chocolate chip cookie, lemon curd cruffin, banoffee cruffin, jam and cream cruffin and Black Forest.
We decided to start savoury with gruyere and ham
Lemon curd
Choc chip cookie which where I hit a wall and saved half of this and the rest of the others for breakfast tomorrow. It’s delicious but I was on my fourth half.