Work and play in Queensland, Australia

The mere mention of Australia typically steers a conversation in a few cliché directions. Most likely, the Sydney Opera House, koalas and kangaroos, the outback and/or Crocodile Dundee will be discussed. Sadly, for many Americans, those few snippets of Aussie culture (and bad American cinema) are all that is known about the land down under. But, for more and more young people from Europe and – yes – the United States, Australia is becoming a prime location for backpacking and spending gap years. These extended stays are allowing travelers to see that there is so much more to Australia than just marsupials and Vegemite.

To learn more about how young people work and play in Australia, I traveled to Queensland to experience the life of backpackers firsthand. Backpacking Queensland was gracious enough to invite me down and arrange for me to see how backpackers traveling on Working Holiday visas spend their time in Australia’s Sunshine State. During my week in Queensland, I met with owners of hostels and farms who house and employ backpackers, as well as many of the young people who are enjoying a year away from their “real lives.” I was also fortunate enough to enjoy the natural wonders of Queensland, from the lush rainforest to the pristine Whitsunday islands to the rolling hills of the farms in the bush.

Beginning next week, I’ll be sharing what I learned about working and backpacking in Queensland, Australia. Please join me as I explore the logistics of working visas, gap years, backpacker accommdations, popular leisure activities and, of course, the beauty of this unique part of the world. And, well, I’d be lying if I said there weren’t some kangaroos along the way. There’s a lot to cover, but I promise to give you some new anecdotes for the next time someone mentions Australia at a cocktail party.