Today we chat with British Civil Engineer Nathan Ewing who pre-COVID19 travelled to Australia on the 417 Working Holiday Visa and was placed by ConsultANZ with Ecospec on a Gold Coast-based project.
Question: Why did you decide to apply for a Working Holiday Visa 417?
Going travelling/working abroad for a year is something that I’d always thought about doing since finishing university. The working holiday visas are the quickest easiest visa to get. Since they are only a year, you aren’t committed long term if you decide it isn’t for you.
Question: Was it easy to apply for the visa and how long did the process take?
Yes, the process of getting a working holiday visa is pretty straight forward and took about a week to be approved. It also only cost approx. £250 for a year.
Question: What were your first impressions when you first arrived in Australia?
We flew into Cairns which is a lot smaller than what you would expect a city to be like. We chose to fly into Cairns so we could dive the Great Barrier Reef. We then hired a camper van for a few weeks and drove down the east coast which was an amazing experience.
We decided to settle in Brisbane as coming from the UK we thought we would move somewhere with nice weather all year round. It didn’t disappoint.
Question: Was there anything that really surprised you?
That there wasn’t kangaroos, snakes and spiders everywhere!
Question: Did finding a job in Australia come with any challenges? What were they?
Yes, definitely. I was told by various recruiters that Brisbane was about 6-12 months away from a boom in infrastructure projects and that the vast majority of work was in Sydney and Melbourne.
I was unable to find a site engineer role for approx. two months; however I was also told it would only be a matter of time before something came up.
Question: How did you find the job with Ecospec?
Richard, a recruiter from ConsultANZ, called me on a Thursday afternoon asking if I was free to go to an interview the next day. I didn’t have a car, so Richard drove me down to the Gold Coast for the interview. It went well and I started work the following Monday.
Question: What was the project you were working on?
We were replacing a wooden boardwalk along Kirra beachfront with a concrete piled one, on the behalf of the Gold Coast Council. The works included 26no 900mm dia bored piles, construction of headstocks, installation of precast decks, insitu topping slab and also stabilisation of the slope underneath the boardwalk.
Question: Were there any differences between working on a construction project in Australia compared to working on one in the UK?
Yes, the roles and responsibilities differ slightly. In Australia a surveyor is used to carry out all surveying works whereas in the UK the site engineer would be responsible for this.
Another difference is that there aren’t as many quantity surveyors, the site engineer, therefore, picks up some of the responsibilities.
Having a BBQ on the beach every Friday was slightly different to a greasy fry up down the cafe!
Question: How would you describe working on the Gold Coast?
Unbelievable. Never imagined I’d be lucky enough to be working on one of Australia’s most famous coastlines.
Question: What has been the highlight of your stay in Australia?
Driving down the east coast in a camper van seeing some amazing sights and places. Also having the opportunity to visit Sydney and going to Melbourne for the Melbourne Cup made great memories.
Question: Is there any advice you would give to fellow British Civil Engineers who are interested in applying for the 417 visa?
Do it! I would recommend getting in contact with ConsultANZ prior to leaving the UK. I wasn’t aware at the time, but they help out in the sense of trying to set up work prior to your arrival and also letting you know what cities may have more work to offer at the time.
Are you a British Civil Engineer or Surveyor who would like to experience working and living in Australia? If you are between the ages of 18 and 31 you might be eligible for the Working Holiday Visa 417. This is a temporary visa allowing you to work and holiday in Australia for up to 12 months.
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