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Student's Plan B: Travel to Queensland and earn some money

12th August 2011 Print

Over 200,000 university applicants will need a Plan B next week as they lose out on an increasingly small number of academic places.   Those that decide to discover the world and experience new cultures can head to Queensland, Australia this September where they will not only see iconic landscapes but also find work.

Queensland offers jobs for backpackers to suit a range of skills and personalities, with the opportunity to develop the CV ensuring increased employment credentials on return to the UK.

Once the work is done, Queensland offers an amazing range of adventures from 4WDing on Fraser Island, sailing the Whitsundays and learning to dive on the Great Barrier Reef. What better way to spend a gap year than in Queensland?

Top jobs for Queensland Backpackers include:

Yacht Hand, Whitsunday Islands
Skills gained: teamwork, orienteering, organisation
Personality: hardworking adventure seeker

As Australia’s second leading tourism employer, the Whitsundays are a great place for backpackers to find work. The 74 islands of the Whitsundays are home to a vast array of marine life. From party boats to high action maxi yachts, the Whitsundays is a sailing destination for all. Most jobs will be found in Airlie Beach, one of the liveliest spots on Queensland’s east coast and the gateway to the Islands.  Spend your days working on the boats and your nights dancing in the bars. Find work as a paid deck-hand or exchange your hard work for the trip, accommodation and food.

Learn to sail before you start working. STA offers a 24 day course, starting at £1743. For more information, visit Explore Whitsundays offer a 3 day course from £535. Visit or more information.     

Divemaster, Great Barrier Reef
Skills gained: teaching groups, understanding a world-famous ecosystem
Personality: intrepid but patient explorer

Discover the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef; one of the Australia’s most remarkable natural gifts and home to over 3000 individual reef systems and coral cays.  Diving in the World Heritage listed reef is on every backpacker’s to do list and as a qualified Divemaster, you will have the opportunity to teach new skills and gain an invaluable insight into a treasured ecosystem, while meeting like minded people.

Courses start at £550 to gain full qualifications. Go to for more information.

Fruit-picker, Queensland wide
Skills gained: endurance and stamina
Personality: nature lovers with short-term financial needs

With abundant work on farms and orchards, Queensland offers many places for fruit picking and harvesting of tropical fruit and vegetables. Work can be found in the hinterlands, large areas of terrain and farm land along Queensland, only 40 minutes from the coast line.

Bundaberg, four hours north of Brisbane, employs fruit-pickers between April and December, travel north from May to November to Townsville to work as a mango-pickers.  Advantages include the short-term contract, social nature of the work and the chance to extend your visa by a full 12 months by mucking in and filling the bins in rural Australia for a minimum of three months.

For information on harvesting and fruit-picking, go to For seasonal crop-picking calendar, visit

Jillaroo or Jackaroo, Outback
Skills gained: caretaking, time management and working relationships
Personality: not afraid of getting your hands dirty

Working as a Jillaroo or Jackaroo on a cattle station varies extremely from a nine-to-five city job. A typical day could include mustering cattle by either horse or motorbike, building or repairing fences, working cattle in yards including branding, earmarking and vaccinating, as well as maintenance work of odd jobs around the homestead, welding gates, driving trucks, checking on watering points or working on engines. A farm-stay at Wainui, a 3.5 hour drive from Brisbane near Toowoomba, employs approximately 16 staff, including feed millers, stock-people and farmers.

To find information and assistance on jobs available in the outback, visit For more information on rural jobs, go to

Lifeguard, Surfers Paradise
Skills gained: life saving and working with nature
Personality: calm under pressure

You will be the envy of your friends and family as you spend your working hours on the beautiful beaches of Queensland. Becoming a lifeguard is a challenging but exciting time. Before hitting the surf, you will be required to undertake extensive training and recruitment set by the Australian Lifeguard Service (ALS).

Casual or contract lifeguards are employed during busier periods so Christmas holidays is an ideal time to find work.

For further information on the ALS (Queensland) and international qualifications, including prices, visit

Hostel worker, along Queensland’s coast
Skills gained: team work, general management
Personality: personable, social, shift worker who likes to party

Hostels are a great way to earn free room and board. Many backpackers extend their stay and become a part of the hostel operations, seduced by the opportunity meet backpackers from across the world. You’ll build a network that allows you to travel to other destinations at reduced prices and enjoy the perks of hosting legendary hotel entertainment programmes.

Hostel work can be found right along the Queensland coast, with hostel hot spots in Brisbane, on the Gold Coast and further north in Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef.   These jobs will allow you to stay in one place for an extended period of time and become immersed in the local community. Peak season runs from May to December.

For more information on Queensland, visit

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