Hello Melbourne

Above our heads the seatbelt light was flashing, everyone buckled up and shortly after that it was touchdown. We had arrived in Melbourne! Due to it being a domestic flight everything went pretty quickly in the airport we were reunited with our luggage and jumped straight onto a shuttle bus which dropped us outside our accommodation.

For the next two nights me and Ash were staying at Space Hotel. This is the best hostel style accommodation we have stayed in to date. It was $85 a night for a double room, very clean and modern. The toilet and shower facilities were shared but very clean and there was plenty of them. The shared kitchen was very spacious with plenty of cooking utensils and cooker hobs. There was also an outdoor balcony and indoor dining tables. Within the building there was also a nice little gym and movie lounge. To top it of there was a nice area on the rooftop for kicking back and enjoying the city view as well as a jacuzzi. We dumped our luggage in our room then went out to explore Melbourne.

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Hosier Lane was a short walk from Space and enticed us with its graffiti covered walls. It’s become a very popular tourist spot due to the ever changing artwork covering the walls. It would be a great place for a fashion shoot, everywhere you look there is colour. Some of the graffiti had been freshly done and the smell of spray paint was still lingering. Our first  impressions of Melbourne was “cool” it was certainly a quirky, hip place to be. We already had an idea of the size difference compared to Perth, it is a much bigger city. Bigger buildings and bold statements everywhere, some of the architecture was awesome. There’s a mix of old and new such as the abstract shapes of buildings surrounding Federation Square and the older buildings such as Flinders Station.
We chilled out in Fed Square and watched the sunset behind Flinders Station. The sky had a beautiful pink and orange hue to it.

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Perth and WA is always going to be special to me. I’m glad we spent nearly 5 months there as we experienced so much and met some great people. We have so much more yet to see and have not regretted anything.

Goodbye Perth, it’s been awesome!

So here we are, an end to our adventures in WA. This post was one we were sad to make. We had enjoyed our time spent here in WA and have some treasured memories that we will not forget. Here’s how it ended.

Our last weekend in Perth and we had planned to have a goodbye meal with Sean’s relatives. Marie and Drew had put on a nice spread for us. It was good to catch up and see everyone but sad to leave not knowing when we would see each other again. We want to thank them for all their help, advise, visits and will stay in touch. Same goes for our housemates Kylee and Ian, good friends couldn’t have expected any better. We had leaving drinks in town, going from a chilled out bar and ending up in a few clubs. It was nice to let our hair down after a jam packed week. We must have danced all night cause I was aching all over the next morning.
Early start too at 7am we had a trip planned to York, about an hour away from Perth. There wasn’t much to see and do especially since it was a Sunday but we made our own fun. Stopping off at a cafe to soak up the alcohol and regain human life, I opted for spaghetti on toast, which tickled kylee and Ian.

Soon after we left and checked out a few shops, found a sweet shop as Ian wanted some ice cream. We all had a selection including bubble gums with a tattoo just for old times sake. The shop keeper kinda freaked us out a bit with her hairy top lip and boggled eyes, I think it was time to get out of there. We then found a cool vantage point up in the hills where we sat over looking the town, a graveyard and vast amounts of nothing but it was a sight none the less.
Later we paid a visit to Ian’s family home where he showed us around, checked out his family photos, his figurine Dragon and even saw our first wild snake out in the garden – not sure what snake it was, Brown with yellow stripe along its side but it was a fast one.

Perth has been a great city to start our trip, we have adjusted to the weather easily, it was not over run with backpackers during our stay in winter, beaches are beautiful and there are plenty of them to choose from, lots of events going on but at the same time if you just want to relax, surf or enjoy the scenery it’s a nice laid back city. Employment was an issue and only I managed to find work and that was a telemarketing job but I can see summer being a better time for work as the tourism industry will probably pick up.
We have bumped into a lot of people that seem to have chosen not to go to WA and many just stay in one state for the majority of their stay in Australia, we can’t understand why you wouldn’t want to explore and see what the rest of the country has to offer. From our 4.5 months in WA we have truly lived as Australians, staying with family, getting a paid job, living with a couple of down to earth Aussies that have become friends and exploring both sides of the state – from the dry lands of the out back up north, city life and the beautiful wine region down south.

Sadly we didn’t get to do everything during our stay. We missed out on visiting Rottsnest Island due to winter weather we were told its much better to visit in summer, it’s a must see place to spend the whole day or even a weekend in the accommodation provided on the island and I’m sure it’s amazing this time of year now since Perth has temperatures of 30°+.

Penguin island in Rockingham was another we didn’t get to visit although we got close, viewing it from the beach.
Exmouth and the Ningaloo Reef was one place we were gutted not to see as it has some of Australia’s beautiful coral reefs attracting a lot of sea life. The cost was a bit too much and we want to see the great barrier reef in Queensland most of all.

With our flight booked to Melbourne (pre paid through STA) we had a 3.5 hour journey, flying with quantas. The flight was long enough for us to watch a film but Sean did have technical issues with his headphones so after speaking to 2 flight attendants who frankly didn’t seem to know what to do, we had to make the lady in front of us switch seats which was very embarrassing but we finally could watch something. I watched the hilarious animation The Croods, a great family film about a family of Neanderthals in the stone age and Sean watched a film starring Sam Rockwell. After a few mediocre bites to eat and refreshments we had finally landed in Melbourne and on to our next adventure…

If there are any questions you would like to ask us, maybe about Perth or maybe just about travelling in general then leave us a comment : ) We are sorry for lack of photos, Sean will be uploading a load so if you haven’t subscribed to our blog already then do so now to receive our updates.

X x

…and so the journey begins

Off we set on our adventure to Australia flying from Birmingham, UK to Perth WA via Dubai. Considering the longest we had flown before was no more than 2 hours the thought of a 7 hour flight followed by a 10 hour flight was slightly daunting.

The service emirates gave us was pleasant, we spent most of the journey watching films with the planes personal TV screens, you get a choice of old and current releases, the audio through the complimentary headphones isn’t bad but I recommend bringing your own. Could be annoying if your on an aisle seat and have to keep unplugging them every time someone needs the toilet. You also get a choice of tv shows, music and games, which kept me busy throughout most of the journey I actually forgot I was flying. Sean didn’t sleep a lot and wasn’t 100% on the food either which I’m inclined to agree with however you did get a selection for each meal. I managed to drift for longer then it felt, however I was insanely uncomfortable having tried to sleep in an upright position and never can sleep well when next to a stranger. We tried filling up on free spirits to help us sleep but by the 2nd flight decided it wasn’t gonna happen. We had a 2 hr stopover in Dubai, not too bad and we found the airport security very laid back almost non-existent. It was very clean and me and Sean never got looked upon as a couple or seemed to cause any issue but always be watchful of who is around just in case. Our next flight also Emirates had slight differences, they gave you a handy little bag with complimentary toothbrush, flight socks and eye mask all 3 were used and the handy bag is worth keeping, useful for your music player and headphones with a Velcro strap to hang from your belt.

Once we had landed we had a 2 hour wait in the airport mainly getting through the check in as there was another plane that landed with us. Once we got our passports checked that was it, we were in and believe me it’s nothing like what you see on tv. Back home we had watched many episodes of ‘Nothing to Declare’ and saw how strict they can be in Australian customs.

We arrived in Perth officially at 7.30pm and got driven back to Sean’s relatives home where we will be staying until we get sorted job wise. We were wide awake most of the evening till our eyes finally couldn’t stay open any longer. We had a nice lie in until 2pm, slept like a log. Luckily we didn’t suffer from any jet lag apart from Sean having a bit of an upset stomach, probably due to the in flight food.

Let the excitement commence…

plan, prep and prioritise

Hello we are Ash & Sean, a couple from Birmingham, UK. We have decided to embark on a trip of a lifetime and this blog will include a collection of photographs and information of where we visit, what we have done as well as reviews to help anyone who is thinking of taking a year out to travel Australia.

The longest we have both been away is 2 weeks, so a year away on the other side of the world is a little daunting to say the least. It’s so easy to keep saying you want to do something, we have both been saying we want to travel for years. But 2013 was the year we both decided to pull our finger out and actually ‘do’ rather than ‘dream’.

We plan on working for 6 months in Perth, flying over to Melbourne and heading up north to Cairns possibly by car hire.

At this point it’s always good to make a check list. First things first we needed to check our passports were still valid as they needed to be valid 6 months after we were planning on coming back to the UK. Next we looked into getting a VISA. We decided a 12 month working holiday VISA would be best suited for our needs. It allows us to stay in Australia for 12 months from 1st day of entry. Also with this particular VISA it allows us to work to help fund our travel expenses. We checked the ins and outs of doing our visa online but as we left it a bit late and didn’t want to make any mistakes we decided to do it through STA travel for an extra £30.

When it came to flights we had a look around and went from agent to agent getting better quotes, as they will all want your custom and will endeavour to beat other quotes. We found Flight Center didn’t offer much in terms of flexibility with flight changes and STA didn’t seem to beat the price but met it by giving us a flexible pass option. We were quoted about £1000. We still didn’t think this was great so we decided to see how much flights were on the QANTAS website and the price was surprising both for the fact it was cheap but also because instead of us opting  for a return from BIRMINGHAM to PERTH we had added another internal flight to MELBOURNE. With this knowledge we headed straight back to STA Travel and showed them our quote from QANTAS which was £950. STA Travel said they couldn’t officially beat our quote, as they only price match other travel agents not airlines. Eventually they met the price and added our flexible pass on top so instead of paying the initial £1000 Bham-Perth we payed £950 Bham-Perth-Melbourne-Bham with a flexi pass on top. So big saving tip: shop around, check airline websites and haggle!

For travel insurance we left this till the last few weeks of leaving but we think you should sort it earlier as our last couple of weeks were madness mixed with stress as we had everybody trying to meet up with us, last things to sort and packing. Time really did go fast. Make sure when looking for travel insurance that if you are going away for over 6 months a lot of insurance companies don’t cater for longer trips, shop around. We went with Alpha 100 who had a great deal for just over £100 each, compared to STA travels £500!!! (Cue heart failure)

Useful sites:

Australian working holiday info  http://www.immi.gov.au/visitors/working-holiday/

QANTAS flights  http://www.qantas.com

STA travel – flights,insurance,tours, etc   http://www.statravel.com/worldwide.htm