Formula 1; The Melbourne Grand Prix – Part 1

We left Sydney to do a road trip along the Great Ocean Road starting from Melbourne. Timing was perfect as it meant we were in Melbourne for the Grand Prix. As much as I love watching formula 1, I’ve never had the opportunity to attend one, so what better excuse than seeing the opening race. We pre-booked a 4 day grandstand ticket. Unfortunately the Schumacher and Clark stand were both sold out so going by the location and reviews the next best option in our price range was the Webber stand $320 each.
We stayed in Nomads hostel which is located in the CBD near Grand Central and the free tram to the Grand Prix was on our doorstep.
Thursday was the first day and free entry to the public. As soon as we arrived at Albert Park we thought we would check out our seat for the weekend. It was a good location on the pit straight, we could see the V8 pits and the end of the F1 pits. We also had a big TV screen opposite which would help us keeping up with the action. There was no shade or shelter from the rain so we would have to make sure we came prepared for anything as Melbourne weather is very unpredictable. We caught a few races including historical cars before we decided to go explore.
As it was a free day we invited Josefine to meet us there. We spent a lot of time in the very impressive Action Zone where there was plenty of entertainment. We watched 3 motorcyclists dice with death in a cage aptly named the globe of death. It’s amazing how little space they have yet the three of them are criss crossing each others path whilst riding upside down and side to side. To add to that during the show we had RAAF Roulettes performing a jaw dropping air display above our heads. There was a massive skateboard vert where Tony hawk and friends performed some rad tricks. I couldnt believe that we got to see a legend of skateboarding twice in the space of a month. We also enjoyed Flair motor trials display where there was 2 dudes on motorbikes along with one guy on a bmx and another dude on a unicycle all getting air and tricking of some crazy ramps. Just when you think it can’t get any crazier there was an awesome high wire stunt with a dude riding a heavy motorcycle along a high-wire whilst a talented lady hung beneath the motorcycle performing trapeze-like stunts.
After our adrenaline kick we walked around other areas of Albert park checking out various sponsors and cars that were competing over the weekend. Near the historic car garages we bumped into David Coulthard surrounded by a mob of people.
Before leaving Albert park for the day we checked out the V8 supercar pits before catching the end of a Porsche Carrera Cup Race and boy were they loud!
That night we met up with Josephine and Elisa for food and drink. We had a good old chat about all our adventures past and present and sadly had to say farewell. Josephine was heading to Thailand and Elisa to Perth. Two great people that I’m sure we will meet again.

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Interviews & house hunting

We finally had some good news though as Topshop had called both both me and Sean in for an interview…hooray. We were advised to come dressed to show our own style which wasn’t too hard if we kept very simple. The interview process was long 4 hours in fact, we had to split up in to groups and in to teams of 3 and describe a perfect Topshop employee, next you were given a garment and you had to pick it’s best selling points and last you were all interviewed individually for a minute and you had to sell yourself. It wasn’t a tough interview but we were in need of work so badly we felt like we had not done great at all but fingers crossed.

Next interview was with Merlin Entertainment , I was actually really excited about this interview and was keen to be placed in the Sea Life Aquarium if I got to choose. My interview day had approached and had arrived at the hotel nice and early seeing quite a few people waiting for the same interview, scary. We were all seated in a room together and had previously been told to bring something in that best describes you, I brought my Polaroid camera as I love it and I love have unique moments captured in an instant.

We individually had to stand, introduce ourselves, why we want to work for merlin and what our product was, it was so nerve racking and my heart was pumping so hard I thought it might burst and I could see everyone else was the same too, it was not good. When it came to me I was ok but had noticed how so many others had brought cameras too, I hoped my Polaroid would stand out from the crowd.

Next we were sent out of the rooms for a break and I had luckily made a few friends while having lunch and by the time we settled again in the room we could sit with our friends and had to promote a certain attraction, we had the wildlife zoo and did a talk show to promote it.

Finally it was just a one to one interview and I was able to relax, I had a good interviewer and he made it very easy to answer questions and I was sure it went ok at the end too. This would be a very interesting job to have instead of retail. My other interview was with Luna Park but that was too embarrassing to talk about as they make you perform like a performing seal and I mean literally, I would not recommend going for it unless you enjoy that type of thing but it was an experience none the less.

In the end we both managed to secure jobs and we even had to make a choice too, we both got Topshop but realised it was only a 6 week contract and no longer so I went for Madame Tussauds (Merlin Entertainment) and Sean went with retail giant Zara which paid better and had a longer contract.

Next task was to find a home, not an easy task I assure you. We had looked online for houses, flatshares and even student accommodation during holidays but we weren’t getting anywhere. We checked all websites flatmates, gumtree, real estate and furnished property but everything was above our price range or not suitable for less than 6 months contract and we had a budget of $250-300 with a 3 month contract….We had many laugh in our faces.

We had hit a low and I thought this has got to end so on flatmates I just took the plunge and paid $20 to get access to all property’s, I could actually message New property’s and get access to their numbers and this cut through so much crap and waiting. I got quite a few responses within minutes, some saying no but the majority saying yes and come view property.

We now had a good selection to check out and went out for a day’s hunt. We had 3 houses to view quite close together too so it made it easier. First two were in kingsford, a decent enough area shops very close and coffee beach about 20minutes away. The first was an apartment that looked decent on the outside and don’t get me wrong had a lot of potential inside but it was covered in rubbish and had a bed in the living area and a bed in what looked like a study and we saw about 50 odd pars of shoes in the hall so how many people were living there exactly I don’t know. I need my privacy and cleanliness and this place had none.

Next property was about 10 minutes away and looked really nice and light in the pictures so we were quite eager to see this home. On first approach the gate was covered in weeds and the house looked quite dirty, Sean squeezes my hand in displeasure. We had to enter at the back and found the kitchen area from the photos was no longer white, bright and airy but dirty, dark and dingy even the beautiful garden was now overgrown and dried out looking worse for ware.

We tried not to let this affect our decision as long as the house was liveable and cheap we could live here. The room was decent and the previous tenant, a German guy seemed to really look after the place but we were gonna see the next place and decide.

South coogee was the next location and was a 20minute walk, we got near and the place looked like a shop front (I remembered jess from Melbourne’s apartment and was worried), we entered and a young lady opened, she seemed ok and I remember she was quite sweet in her texts. We went up some stairs and wow a big difference, open space, clean/tidy and light!! The photos online were the same, unlike the previous two. We were shown around and were taken out on to the balcony which had such a beautiful view and we were happy with this place and it was even within our price range. We left her with our interest and had a walk to the beach 2 minutes from the house and what a beautiful beach Coogee is.

We were so keen on this property and being back in the hostel that night made us want it even more, so within a couple of days waiting we were accepted and could move out of hostels what a relief.

If anyone has any questions regarding work and house hunting feel free to drop us a comment.

4 Merlin Attractions of Sydney

Since we are in Sydney for a while to work and enjoy the festive season we plan to try and enjoy the sights and things sydney has to offer…in other words have FUN!!!
So as well as the Sydney Aquarium here are some of the places we have enjoyed since being here:

Madame Tussauds Sydney

The smallest of all Madame Tussauds but the youngest too, being just over a year since opening. Since we had a merlin annual pass it cost us absolutely nothing to enter and we have not managed to see the London attraction we thought it would be a good first attempt.

You have 9 rooms altogether and 60% off the wax figures are Australian so it’s great for learning about the culture. You have History, World Leaders, Sport, Music, History of Madame Tussauds, Culture & Sciene, TV, Film and A-List.

I have to say apart from Mark Webber and Shane Warne I had no idea who most of the sporting hero’s were as they were immortalised at a younger age but it was good to read up about them. The world leaders room was impressive being surrounded by such influential people. My favourite room has to be the music room and the film room as I loved seeing Sandy from Grease and getting dressed up next to her but in the film room you have beautiful Heath Ledger and E.T.

The wax figures were impressive, some needed looking after a bit more but from first glance the faces are so real and I can only imagine how much work goes in to making just one figure. There is plenty to see and do around the attraction with presentations every hour, wax hand making, personalised trophies and videos to show you how the wax figures are made, so for $40 you get to see all this and keep the children entertained but also educated and the staff at the time were nice and didn’t have any issues.

Wildlife Sydney

Wildlife was very interesting, I actually rate it higher then the Aquarium due to the fact I find there is too much to take in at the Aquarium where as in the wildlife attraction there is just enough and the creatures aren’t stuck behind a cage, they gave plenty of space and some even jump/fly around the enclosure quite freely.

The butterfly sanctuary is amazing and if you stand very still you might be lucky enough to have one land on you. The butterflies are kept in a very well heated room to reflect that of their living conditions so it can be quite humid in there but they were amazing to see their size and how beautiful their wings are in colours.

There are many creatures to see here from Cassowarys, Wallaby’s, Birds, Snakes and my favourite Rex the Crocodile. He has a selection of viewing points: one high up looking below, one looking directly in to his enclosure and you even get to see him underwater when he wants to take a dip. We got some great pictures of this and the presentation on him was fascinating as we found out quite a bit about where he came from, why he was here and you can even catch him being fed. Another great presentation was on the Koala rooftop, they tell you all sorts of information about the koalas and what they eat, how the give birth and more, this is another worth while presentation to take part in and at the end you can even pay to get up close to the furry little tree dwellers.

Sydney Tower Eye (Centre Point Tower)

Based in the Westfield shopping center off Pitt Street and found on Level 5, easy to get to and never much of a queue as its open from 9am – 10pm. There is sometimes a slight queue once you enter though which is for the 4D experience in which you get to watch a cinematic view of Sydney and what it has to offer, worth one visit especially with children but you don’t need to see it more then once.

Next you have a security check before entering the lift to get to the high point. You can feel your ears popping as you ride the elevator up to the top floor, gives you an idea of how high you really are. Once we were up we all burst out of the tiny lift eager to see the view, and what an amazing view it was.

You got a 360° view of Sydney and on a very clear day like ours you could see as far as the Blue Mountains as well as Watson’s Bay and Bondi Beach, the people from above looked so small like ants running around the city. The very historical building QVB looked so good from this view and the Bridge in its iconic form nestled in between tall office blocks. You only need to spend 30 mins there to appreciate the view but they do have a cafe and a gift shop so you could spend longer. I recommend seeing the tower both in the day and at night time so maybe visit around 7pm on wards as you will see the sun setting and the lights all turning on to the night so best of both.

Manly Sea Life Sanctuary

The last of the five Merlin Attractions but one to still consider visiting, Manly is just on the note shore adjacent to Watson’s Bay. To get there from the city you are best travelling by Ferry which takes 30 minutes but it is a great journey, very scenic, but is going to be the quickest and cheapest way to get there. Once you are off the ferry you only need to look to your left and it is right on the beach. It is only a small aquarium but it is unique to the Sea Life Aquarium on Darling Harbour.

The sanctuary deals with rescued creatures and ones that need to be nursed back to health for re-releasing back into the ocean. It is a great place to lean about sharks too especially for anyone who has a passion for marine biology, it informs you on the unnecessary harm humans are to Sharks and how killing Sharks will effect the ocean. It really is eye opening to see and I couldn’t recommend it more.

Asides from sharks the Manly Sea Life Sanctuary also has a selection of Lizards, Jellyfish, Sea Horses, Sea Turtles and mini Penguins. The mini Penguin presentation was great to listen to, the lady told us lots of information on the special breed of Penguin, where they live to live and more. While she was doing this the Penguin were being very noisy for such small creatures, trying to get our attention but also to make other Penguins aware what was around them.

I would like to recommend people go visit this attraction as it is always the least visited due to people wanting to go to the bigger aquarium. Being a keen sea life enthusiast I have learnt more from this aquarium and seen more on our impact on the sea life then in the darling harbour site. They had a raft made up of plastic bottles found just on the Manley beach area and it was enough to fit more then a few people on and they apparently tested it and sailed it on the ocean to raise awareness of how much we litter the oceans with. Go check it out and after wards you can enjoy the rest of your day on the beach, visiting the shops and eating good food all before heading back home.

To read our review on the Sea Life Aquarium of Sydney check out our previous posts.

Sydney – life’s a beach. Bondi, Coogee and more

In Sydney there is a yearly event in November called Sculpture by the Sea. YHA central, a hostel we were staying at arranged a free walk featuring the sculptures. We decided to join in for the chance of meeting some new people and to get our bearings. The walk was from Bondi Beach to Bronte beach with plenty of weird and wonderful sculptures to gawp at along the way. Some of our favourites were a big glass orb that was filled with water which turned the landscape behind it upside down. There was a big 8 foot tall ball made of plastic rubbish symbolising the amount of rubbish found washed up upon the shore. During the walk we came across a giant orange wasp that was dragging a big huntsman spider along the rocks. I later found out that the wasp was called a spider wasp and they apparently paralyse the spider and then lay eggs inside the spider! NICE! It was a good day out and a chance to enjoy the sun. The walk would normally take 40 minutes and is about 4km but it obviously took us longer as we were enjoying the views. It’s a great walk to do even when the sculptures aren’t there. There are some great coastal views and nice beaches along the way.

 

On another sun filled day we headed to Bondi Beach for a relaxing beach day. To our suprise there was a surf competition happening at the time which added to our entertainment. Whilst the competitors were catching some waves there was music, funny australian comentators, charity BBQ and even a little stage area where some of the surfers were sharing their dancing skills with us. The grass bank was very busy, full of people enjoying the entertainment whilst sipping on an ice cold brewsky. There was a dude surfing who had a traffic cone gaffa taped to the front of his board, I don’t know if it helped but he was pretty good. After enjoying a hot dog and an ice cream we checked out the bondi shops and then walked to Bronte beach enjoying the coastal walk once again.

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If you are feeling energetic, you can do the same coastal walk from Bondi but go further than Bronte and end up on Coogee beach. This walk is roughly 7km and takes 1 hour and 40 minutes to walk. On this route you also get to see Clovelly and Gordon’s Bay.

Clovelly has a small beach and a large concrete area either side of the bay. It’s not the prettiest of beaches but a great place to sunbath on the concrete, if you’re not a fan of sand. It’s also a good spot for swimming and snorkelling due to protection from the waves the water is pretty calm. We have seen various fish and marine life whilst snorkelling and they seem very friendly as they are used to people. There is also a local big blue groper fish that is often seen but so far me and Ash have had no luck.

Gordon’s Bay is a beautiful quaint and rocky bay. It tends to be very quiet compared to the surrounding beaches. It’s also another great spot for snorkelling.

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Coogee is our current local beach seeing as we only live a short walk away. It’s similar to Bondi but tends to be less busy and you don’t see many surfers, It’s a great place to chill on the sand and then go for a swim to cool down. Last week i managed to catch the biggest wave I’ve ever body surfed and the wave after that was even bigger and took me out. There’s plenty of places to eat and drink around Coogee and we both enjoy living here.

A 45 minute walk south of Coogee is another lovely beach called Maroubra. It’s popular with surfers and has a great sandy beach to chill out on, It doesn’t get anywhere near as busy as Bondi and Coogee and you’ll find that most of the people there are locals.

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Job Searching and Sydney Sea Life

Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.” –Thomas Jefferson

We wanted to make a head start in Sydney and get on with applying for jobs straight away. We updated our CV and cover letter and printed out a stack of them. We updated our details on job sites such as seek.com and we were ready to roll. A lot of places did seem to be hiring, we noticed various job vacancies in shop windows. We would always check that the places we handed in our CV were actually taking on people with a Working Holiday Visa as to not waste their time and ours. We covered a lot of ground in one day walking the CBD and asking around. At sunset it was no rest for the wicked as will filled in numerous online applications and emailed a whole bunch of places. It’s not just something you can do for a day and then hope one of the companies get back to you. It was a constant pain in the arse! Day after day of applying for jobs…

In-between applying for jobs we took advantage of our Merlin pass and spent the day at Sydney Sea Life centre at no cost. Considering it was in Sydney you’d think the aquarium would have been the best if not one of the best Australia has to offer but Melbourne and Hillary’s aquarium are both a lot better. The highlights were seeing Dugongs and Platypus.

The kitchen area in the Wake Up hostel was always very busy. There was not enough hobs and if you were lucky to find a spare one you’d then have to sell an arm or a leg to find a pan. Due to this and the price difference we booked a twin room at The Maze hostel.

Melbourne Sea Life Aquarium

What to do on a rainy day? Me and Ash decided to pay Melbourne Sea Life Aquarium a visit. Before paying the admission fee we did a bit of research and seeing as we were probably going to visit some of the other Merlin attractions we purchased a Merlin annual pass.

Melbourne aquarium is the best aquarium I have been to. There is a large variety of things to see. Each enclosure/tank was very clean and well looked after. You could easily spend a full day there, as we did.

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The highlight for me was a massive saltwater crocodile called Pinjarra. This 50 year old MEGA croc measures over 5 metres long and weighs approx 750kg. He was originally found stranded in Queensland so was looked after and used for breeding purposes at Koorana crocodile farm. Now that he’s too old to breed with younger females the guys at Melbourne aquarium decided to look after the giant salty. He now has his own enclosure at the aquarium which is pretty impressive. You can view him from behind glass underwater and also above his enclosure. Crocodiles spend a lot of time submerged under water and very still. The first time we saw Pinjarra he didn’t move much at all apart from floating up to get some air. On one occasion he opened his mouth which is usually a sign of them cooling down. On another occasion he had a big scratch with his hind legs which I’ve never seen a croc do before. He was very impressive and one of the reasons we ended up visiting the aquarium 3-4 times.

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There was plenty of the usual marine life found in an aquarium fish, sharks, rays, octopus to name a few. The walk in aquarium was huge, the biggest I’ve seen. They also had a penguin enclosure with King and Gentoo Penguins. They were very playful swimming very fast chasing each other one minute, then flying out of the water and running along the snow the next.

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It was a fun day and we took plenty of photos. I liked the way throughout the aquarium they are trying to educate people how they can conserve the marine life. It seems that the Sea Life centres do a lot themselves to help conserve marine life and have various breeding, rescue and rehabilitation programmes which is always good to see.

Goodbye Melbourne

“The story of life is quicker than the wink of an eye, the story of love is hello and goodbye…until we meet again”

Jimi Hendrix

Unfortunately time had come to say our goodbyes to Melbourne sooner than we had anticipated. We were sure that we were making the correct desicion for the long run. We wanted to be in Sydney for New Year and we needed to find work.

We were leaving behind our French buddy Antoine so seeing as it may be the last time we cross paths me and Ash arranged to meet him for fair-well drinks. We went out in Fitzroy with a few drinks to wet the palette in Little Creatures. We then headed to Naked For Satan a cool bar that I had previously read about on the Timeout and Urban Walkabout website. It was pretty busy and we soon found out why, when we stepped out onto the rooftop area with perfect views of Melbourne’s city scape. The bar area inside was also pretty cool and the walls of the corridor leading to the toilets were covered in posters of retro porn-like photos of scantily dressed men and women. We had a good laugh, so much so that one drink led to another and another… we still had to pack for tomorrow. We said our goodbyes to Antoine and started walking back to the city. We passed a bar called Black Cat and before you know it, the three of us had a drink in hand again!

We awoke the following morning hangover free and packed up the last of our bits. We had until 8pm to kill time before our Greyhound coach left for Syndey. We left our luggage at Space Hotel and hit the city. We went to the National Gallery of Victoria NGV. Ate a tasty burger at the much loved Grilld before watching Gravity at the cinema. I enjoyed the film, I liked the way suspense was built throughout. The film finished just in time for us to collect our luggage and to get our coach. We were both very disappointed to find that the coach had no WiFi as stated on the Greyhound website. It was going to be a long 12 hour journey. Predictably I couldn’t sleep at all.