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.

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.

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]

Settling into Melbourne life

So now we were in Melbourne it was time to try getting a job until we were ready to move on to Sydney. We were finding lots of jobs were going and lots were looking for casual Christmas staff so it was just a case of printing a tonne of resumes out and scattering them throughout the city like mad men.

Printing isn’t really that cheap but we found the library in Melbourne to be an easy place to do it and 15¢ wasn’t too bad but later we found a cheaper alternative was office works at 8¢ a page. We planned out where we were going to hand our resumes, like a strategic plan of attack. We tried the obvious shopping centers due to amount of stores they have inside. Westfield is a good one and Melbourne central, a glass dome building built in the 90s which has encased an old shot tower from the 1800s we got a few great pictures of this unique contrast in construction (to be added). Check out Melbourne central

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With our resumes we stuck to retail areas but I did try a few cafes and bars due to my experience in hospitality but a lot of the time they want minimum experience of 2-3 years and if the company sells alcohol or has any gambling machines then you need an RSA/RCG (responsible service of alcohol/responsible conduct of gambling) license and for this you have to have it within the state you work so if you had an RSA in WA you would need to get a new license in NSW and they vary in price but aren’t cheap being around the $80-100+ mark.

A lot of employer’s seemed ok with working holiday visa travellers but you should ways check before handing your CV in as it’s just a waste, we did bend the truth slightly to help us get more of a chance by saying we were staying for the 6 months but we really needed work for 2 months and then it’s Sydney for Christmas and New Year. This isn’t great and it probably does effect travellers reputations when looking for work as they are more likely to not hire but we were in need of work.

Enough of the job stress we took a break and headed over to Carlton Park where we went to Melbourne museum, they had outdoor rain forest area which was cool but very humid and a Skeleton of a blue whale – standing next to that made me realise just how small we are and especially me. I got in free for concession which was great as it wasn’t really worth the money Sean paid ($10) however they do have exhibitions on regular and I think they are (or have done by the time I write this) having a James Bond exhibition. Check out Melbourne museum.

After a long depressing day of job hunting we packed it in and snapped back in to holiday mode, we booked another 3 nights at space hotel since it was so good and we didn’t want to be moving just yet. We checked out the blue moon bar connected and they had a good vibe, cheap drinks and good food so we chilled out watching surfing on the big screen to further our taste for Australian life before heading back upstairs to our dorm to enjoy a great nights sleep..zzzzzzz

Perth to Monkey Mia: Day 4 – Kalbarri, Lancelin, Perth

It was a slow start to the morning thanks to Mark (our tour guide) for cutting the radiator hose on the minibus. We had a lot of land to cover to get back into Perth by early evening so knew it would be a day mostly spent travelling on the minibus. We went to a wildlife park near Geraldton and on arrival were given a small bag of food to feed the animals. A camel, horses, a pig, goats and kangaroo’s all had a good lick of our hands and enjoyed a bit of food in the process. There was also various other animals to checkout such as various birds, lizards, dingo’s and snakes. The crocodile was very dissapointing, we could just make out its eyes in its tiny pool. We had our last lunch together and I had my fair share of sundried tomato’s and olives.

Our very last stop was Lancelin sand dunes for a bit of sand boarding. You can rent a board for about $10 but we didn’t have to pay. It was good fun, a bit tiring trekking to the top of the hill every time but worth it. It was harder than it first looked Josefine seemed to have it mastered, gliding downhill every time with ease. I kept managing to bury my board under the sand but on the occasions where I nailed it, I loved it. There were some buggy’s racing around on the dunes whilst we were there which was fun to watch too. It’s a shame we couldn’t have stayed a bit longer so I could master the art of sand boarding but also to have seen the sunset over the dunes.

All good things must come to an end and in this case it was time to head back to Perth. The trip as a whole was a great experience and one that I will not forget. We saw more wildlife in the space of 4 days days than we did in Perth for 4 months. Before this trip I had never seen a dolphin never mind having the chance to feed a wild one. There were plenty more first times for me and Ash: first time abseiling, first sighting of a wild roo, first contact with a thorny devil, first time seeing the milky way … I could go on. On top of all this I don’t think we could have had a nicer group of people to experience it with. We all got on very well and have kept in contact and met a number of individuals after the tour has ended. I’d definitely visit Monkey Mia again if given the chance.

Exhibitions: Mekel Fashion Illustration & Beyond The Pale Rock Posters

Mekel: Perths Fashion Week @ Tu, Northbridge

30th August-12th Sept

Found out that one of the illustrators I follow on instagram, Mekel aka Kelly Coates, was having an exhibition in Perth to celebrate Perth’s fashion week. I was tempted to go check out the opening night but decided on viewing her work minus the big crowd.

It was all based in a boutique store called Tu (French for you/yourself & Mandarin for painting/artform). The store itself is great, selling unique fashions and cute accessories that if I had the money I would buy. And out the back past the exhibition is a tiny cafe called Tea for Tu, which sells some nice food and coffee at a good price. These guys took part in the Northbridge Makeshift activity day (we shall post pics and a post about the Makeshift day).

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The exhibition was small but the work amazingly beautiful! Her style, strong with clean lines and amazing washes of water colours bursting out of the paper. I really like the positioning and quality of her pieces and would love to have one of these up in my home.

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The photos I took were not so great but I shall put them up to show you her work, but I would recommend either checking out her work online Mekel Illustration or follow her on instagram @mekel_illustration. Little did I know until after writing this blog that Kelly Coates has done artwork for a number of big branded companies, this is very impressive. Her clientele, to name but a few are: American Express, Cosmopolitan & Betts

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Anarchy Rock & Ink Posters, Beyond the Pale @ Fremantle Arts Centre

Sat 27th July-15th Sept

Beyond the pale was formed in 1996 by John Harris, an established group of Australian (and one American) artists,  who have since created artwork for some of the worlds biggest bands including: Kiss, The Rolling Stones, Queens of The Stoneage and Kings of Leon.

The artwork taking influence from the 1960s to the rebellious careful punk approach. Artists in this exhibition include: Rhys Cooper, Pat Fox, Daymon Greulich, Chris Grosz, Vance Kelly (USA), Ian McCausland, Craig Phillips, Graeme Webber, Joe Whyte and mine and Seans favourite, Ken Taylor.

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We took as many photos as we could take to show everyone what great work these guys created over the years for some iconic bands. Ken Taylor has a great design style and his imagination is on fire. I especially liked the Eagles of Death Metal, The Black Keys and Kings of Leon posters.

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Some great work and a great day for me and Sean. If you want to check them out and buy yourself some great prints click this link–> Beyond The Pale and why not check out more exhibitions at Fremantle Arts Centre

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Also at the Fremantle Arts Centre that day was a collaboration from Black Cat/Gato Negro, artists, anarchists and activists from 1978. There work very aggressive and definitely makes a statement for example one of the posters against abortion depicted a stick drawing of a lady with a coat hanger between her legs and the words ‘This is the enemy’.

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That was about all we could handle and so on we went to Little Creatures for a pint.