Contract pilots can usually make a decent wage. Your ususally paid by the day/hour and normally there are no benefits involved. Also with most companies you are responsible for paying your own taxes as well. You should take these facts into consideration when bidding for the job.
Most of these type of jobs can be found with corporate/private companies. I have heard of a few government ones as well.
Some of the instructors that I work with get contract jobs to ferry planes, one pilot ferried a 727 from Florida to somewhere in Indonesia. The pay varies, I have hear $500 per day, $2,000 per day, all include ticket, expenses, etc. These guys are all past 60, so it gives them a chance to fly. The bad part is the condition of the airplanes, one pilot ferried an AMC MD90 from Egypt to the desert, he said when they picked the airplane up there were over 50 DMI's on it, the Captain's FMS was out, some of the instruments on the FO was out as well.
Do contract pilots usually have more ratings than others? Or is it simply that they decide to avail themselves of the opportunity? Being single the idea of going to Austraila for a year sounds pretty cool.