After a week exploring Sydney I felt ready to move on. So I booked a ticket up the East Coast to Byron bay and set off from Sydney that evening, on an overnight greyhound bus. Thankfully there was free wifi on the bus and I managed to get two seats to myself with plenty of room to snooze. I set off feeling quietly optimistic that once I arrived in Byron I could relax for a few days, before being handed a work-for-accommodation job at one of Byron’s many hostels. This was where I was wrong.

It turns out I hadn’t done my research particularly well, because Byron is not only just as (if not more) expensive accommodation-wise than Sydney, but it is also extremely over-populated with hundreds of optimistic Europeans, all with working holiday visas and the exact same plan as me.

“But, Lily,” I hear you cry, “didn’t you say you were in Australia for 7 months to get a job and save up for the second half of your trip? Why are you looking for an unpaid work-for-accommodation job when you could much more easily find a paid one?” Well, as it turns out my plans had changed a bit, as my wonderful mother had offered to help me out with the cost of flights to the UK to attend my boyfriend Oliver’s sister’s wedding. We decided it would be fun to keep this from Oliver and surprise him by just turning up!

It definitely wasn’t an offer I was going to refuse, but once this was planned my time in Australia became slightly more difficult to negotiate. I had been in Sydney for a week already, which only left three weeks before I had to fly back to London from Sydney. While I had planned a grand adventure up the east coast, with lots of time to get a job and save up, I now had limited money and time to kill. I didn’t think it made sense to commit to a job and then ditch my employer to go back home a few weeks later, so I needed a work-for-accommodation job to tide me over until wedding week.

A good plan in theory, but Byron Bay was definitely not an easy place to find work. So, after a week of relaxing in Byron – in which I didn’t manage to take my camera out even once – I decided to move slightly further up the coast to the much less glamorous Surfer’s Paradise. I will definitely be back in Byron though, so expect a blog on the area in a few months time!

The Gold Coast is essentially the Florida of Australia. The cheap and cheerful Surfer’s Paradise is filled with kitsch attractions, theme parks, and nightclubs.

However, it was just in my budget and just the place to spend two weeks on the beach. It was just far enough up the coast for the weather to be better than back home, even in Australian winter, but still not too far up the coast to get back down to Sydney in time for my flight home.

Here, I managed to almost immediately find a decent, friendly hostel with a pool, looking for unpaid staff in exchange for a room and free breakfast. By this point I only had two weeks left before I needed to get a bus back down to Sydney.

If you’re travelling Australia with a working holiday visa and you’re just looking for a quick fix, no strings attached free-accommodation job then this is definitely something to consider. Just wander round all the hostels in the area asking about jobs and eventually, you’ll find somewhere looking for staff.

I split my time between the beaches, the nightclubs and the shopping malls, and before I knew it, it was time to set off on my next adventure.

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