Hmmm, maybe it's just me, but I thought the proof of funds thing was abolished a while back. At least when it comes to the department of immigration I believe it is. If you are using a company to get the visa, perhaps they are the ones asking for proof of funds? Anyway, in the 'olden' days the funds required were 5000 AUD. Regardless of whether the funds are required or not, it is smart to have around that amount before you travel down to Oz anyway. You might not (want to) find work straightaway and there is nothing quite as stressing as running out of money within a month of setting off on what is supposed to be a year long trip!
Also, I am pretty sure there are no number caps on the Australian working holiday visa. Only the NZ one. There might be a cap on STA's number of visas they can give out but I doubt that to be honest as I doubt they get pre alocated visa numbers. But I could be wrong of course
But like you say, its worth having the funds before you start.... so you won't have to work straight away.
Im going to take proof of funds just in case i need it, better to be save !!! lol
I'm heading to Oz in a couple of weeks and applied for my visa through the government website back around Easter time. My understanding was that you had to have either £2000 or return flights with some money to start your trip. Wasn't any real check when applying as you just had to say you had the cash and didnt have to actually prove it.
I personally got return flights as I think this works out cheaper than 2 singles but it depends on your plans.
Would recommend using the Oz gov website rather than STA though as you save about £30.
It costs AU$160 to apply (about £69) and the form is pretty straight forward. You basically have to say that you're not a terrorist and that you have enough cash to survive for a while...
webiste is www.immi.gov.au/e_visa/visit.htm
Think there is a limit to the number issued by the government each year but haven't heard of anyone having any problems.