Stefano Lattante / Australia has always been considered as a country full of opportunities and a place where to go. Whether your reason is for the rising economy that is enriching it or for the breath-taking and uncontaminated nature that characterized most of this country, Australia is certainly a place worth visiting. Especially in the past years, Australia has seen a proper crowding of backpackers from all over the world. Being one of the thousands that decided to pack his stuff up in a small backpack and catch an endless flight to Australia, I want to share my personal experience and try to explain why everyone is backpacking in the country of kangaroos and long-hair surfers.
Of course, the first part of this story has to be my arrival. I began my two years journey in Sydney. Moving to another country can be scary and challenging but, at the same time, it can also give you motivation and energies that you didn’t even know to have. Indeed, if during the flight doubt and concern will torture your mind, this electrifying spirit that you will feel once landed is not comparable to any other travelling experiences. The very first thing I did was reaching the hostel that I booked, leaving my backpack in my room and start sightseeing before that tiredness and jet-lag would have kicked in. After having seen the main attractions, like the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour bridge, I went back to rest after the long journey. The day after I started experiencing the hostel life in Australia. As everywhere in the world, hostels are the best way to receive good tips, information and specially to know people from literally everywhere, in simpler words the best way to approach to a new country. In just a few nights, I got to know many people that in no time I could have easily called friends and with whom, although years have passed now, I still get in touch with quite often.
So, excited to start this new adventure, I wanted to know what this city could offer. Sydney is a marvellous city with a good nightlife, great beaches and, more importantly, work. My first working experience was as a labourer through an agency. Indeed, even if not familiar with this kind of job, construction agencies in Australia work really well, giving everyday possibilities to work with no serious commitment in terms of duration of your work and with good pays. In other words, what most of backpackers need to collect some money before travelling. Within hospitality is also possible to find work easily in the right period of the year. The wages in Australia are pretty high (best national minimum wages in the world) but this also mean that living can be quite expensive. Indeed, moving around Australia is very expensive, but just with few weeks of work and trying to maintain a low-budget, it will be possible for you to travel without thinking constantly about how much you might have left in your bank account and treating yourself with that extra-beer that you deserve.
In the second part of my journey, I focused on trying to obtain my second-year visa. Nightmare of most of the backpackers in Oz, the most common way to stay in Australia for an extra year is doing regional work for 88 days (depending on which passport you own). For regional work is intended any kind of work in rural areas. The most common within the big community of the backpackers are fruits and veggies picking, although are also includes such jobs as mining, construction, fishing, pearling and animal cultivation.
About farm work, I can tell that it is probably the only aspect that Australia should regulate better money-wise and in terms of care of workers that, otherwise, I always found incredibly developed. Indeed, the stories that you will hear from backpackers about it will surprise you and, unlikely, pleasantly. For me, farm work meant meeting awesome friends that helped me to get through the tiredness, dirtiness and lack of sleep and money with incredible memories impossible for me to forget even once that I got back home, but that doesn’t mean that it will always be like that. So, be very careful about where you going to do it.
After 9 months spent roaming around Australia, was time for me to find a place that I could call home. So, me and a bunch of friends met in Queensland during my farm work decided to move to Melbourne, where I would have lived for more than a year. Awarded for the seventh time in a row as most liveable city in the world in 2017, Melbourne is a city that can offer you a lot more than what you might expect. Melbourne is full of cool pubs, rooftop bars, cafés and shops that have nothing to envy to the biggest cities around the world. If this wasn’t enough, Melbourne has also a unique nightlife that, especially during the weekends, offers any kind of events and music that you can imagine. Mentioning only the city life when talking about Melbourne would be quite reductive though. Indeed, Melbourne is located between mountains and wonderful beaches, all reachable in a couple of hours from the city centre. A must-to-do once in Melbourne are surely the Great Ocean Road that goes on the west part of Victoria and the Grampians, two places as different as stunning.
Another must-to-do in Australia are road trips. Even though it might sound rougher and more expensive than what it is, road tripping in Australia is quite easy and enjoyable. Indeed, all around Australia is possible to find free-camping zone with bathrooms, drinking water taps and barbeques available. Eliminating, in this way, all the worries that camping often gives and also for free! In this way you can enjoy seeing kangaroos and koalas on the way, surfing, sunbathing in wonderful beaches, hiking in the numerous national parks or watching the stars at night drinking beers with your friends next to a bonfire while you trying to not think about snakes and spiders.
Living in Australia for me has been a great experience that will be difficult to replace somewhere else and that I highly recommend. If it was hard arriving in Australia without knowing anyone, it was even more difficult booking my flight back home and leave behind me all the friendships that I have made throughout these two incredible years.
So, did you get why everyone is backpacking in Australia?
Stefano Lattante is Trainee journalist & photographer