The End of Our Australian Adventure

After an amazing 12 months of travelling around Australia, sadly it had to come to an end. We started our adventure in Perth, from there we went up the west coast to Monkey Mia and down to Margaret River. We flew to Melbourne, did the Great Ocean road and travelled through to Adelaide and Port Lincoln. From there we drove to Sydney passing through Mildura and Canberra before embarking on a trip up the east coast stopping at Coffs Harbour, Byron Bay, Surfers Paradise, Brisbane, Noosa, Rainbow Beach, Hervey Bay, Fraser Island, 1770 Agnes Water, Rockahampton, Airlie Beach, Whitsunday Islands, Townsville, Magnetic Island and finishing in Cairns diving the Great Barrier Reef.

Now we are settling back to normal life in Birmingham, England and miss Australia in so many ways. Our next step is to find work and then plan some more exciting adventures.

Due to the amount of fun we were having our blog sort of fizzled out but we are hoping to reignite it and maybe even give it a makeover. Some content will be deleted and other bits shall be edited. On top of that hopefully they’ll be a lot of new additions. The blog will no longer become an update for friends and family but a form of help and advice for any people hoping to embark on an adventure similar to ours. We’ll point out the Dos and Don’ts of travelling and the mistakes we made. Reviews of travel agencies, hostels and more.

Let us know if you have any ideas for the blog? What would you like to know?

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Tourists see things, travellers experience them!

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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.

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.

Our big decision

Melbourne weather is very erratic and some say it has four season in one day but today was not the case, we found ourselves walking along the Yarra river in the intense heat. The day was beautiful and the sun was highlighting all of Melbourne’s amazing architecture, there is a real European vibe with the buildings and the vegetation as well as the people walking around and I think that’s why a lot of travellers love it as its a bit of home far away.

Along the river were some great views and as we reached south bank there was a tall ship and historical notes about what the area used to be. We succumbed to the heat and took a seat at a place called ‘Padlocks Ships’, we grabbed a couple of drinks and enjoyed the scenery of people gasping walking past us, wanting our tasty beverages. We sat talking for a while and it was here that we decided however much we love Melbourne we need to leave for Sydney as job opportunities here were not great and we needed work if we were going to stay in Australia till May.

We had decided that the weekend would be the best time, which may sound like a fast decision but if we were going to job hunt in Sydney we needed to be there now. So with that decision made we headed away from the cool shade and back in the heat.

We stopped off later for lunch and wisecracking our brains over what we fancied, every where we looked it was too factor too expensive but then it hit me….I want PANCAKES!!!!!! Sean agreed. We went to Pancake Parlour and the menu made my mouth water. They had basic buttermilk pancakes to double chocolate pancakes with cheer us and ice cream (drool). Once we had ordered we sat back and stuffed ourselves full until we couldn’t move again, this would be our last supper in Melbourne.

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[Travellers tip: if you haven’t found work move on elsewhere, time is a big factor with working holiday visas so contact the company find out if they received your resume and if you have a chance…be honest about your visa situation too]