Happy Thanksgiving (reflecting on Oz)

So I’ve been home for just over a month now, comsuming my time with freelance projects, job hunts and Kayla Itsines’ BBG workouts (#DeathByKayla is for real y’all). This last week my mind’s been sifting through my last three years of memories, all the incredible people I met, and the ridiculously hilarious times shared. Three years spent jumping into waves, making lifelong amigos, touring, working fucking disgustingly long hours, and taking on a new lingo… didn’t nail that one (saying “taking a piss” rather “taking the piss”… lovely).

A brief list of crazy crap accomplished… going to Oz solo, working on farms in tropical wonderlands (Byron Bay), living with an Australian farming family in the outback, spending 10 days in absolute silence (Vipassana), meeting the girls for a Saturday morning kick-about, sailing beneath the starts through the Whitsunday Islands, snorkelling and swimming the fresh water creeks in Cairns, riding the sand dunes of Fraser Island, working in construction (what a JOKE that was!), being constantly approached by homeless people for a chit chat at work (one man sang Bryan Adams’ “Run To You” to me because I’m Canadian, Bryan Adams is Canadian… yup), coming home with a bit of money in the bank, and meeting the love of my life.

It was an absolutely incredible adventure and I wouldn’t trade it for nutaaang. And even though I wake up some mornings wishing I was still living down the street from Bondi Beach, or strolling through the weekend farmers’ markets, I can’t forget how much I missed home.

2015 is the first in four years I’m home for Thanksgiving. Home with family, besties and my stud muffin… not to mention incredible autumn views, brisk weather, pumpkins, turkey, stuffing, pie, desserts, more food, food, and more food for good measure. I can’t wait for the leaves to start changing, for snow, for skating, boarding, tobogganing, dog sleds, fireplaces, Christmas lights and annoying month-long Xmas music.

About a week ago I was in line at a Services Ontario office when the man infront overheard me and asked “Why the hell did you leave Australia?” I can see his point. But after being away from home for so long, I grew to appreciate what I left behind, and missed the comforts I grew up with. I missed Canada, watching the Maple Leafs lose, hearing everyone complain about the snow, falling asleep by the fireplace, or the annoying sound of mamacita and padre fighting over what cooking oil’s superior or which butcher sells the best meat. I can’t forget how thankful I am for living down under, as well as finally returning to Toronto, being around those I love, showing my man the sights, and being anxious and excited for the Canadian adventures to come.

Whether you’re Canadian or not, Happy Thanksgiving. Hope you’re all spending this time of year with people you love, and in the place you cherish most. GO Jays GO!

Bondi Beach, NSW
Bondi Beach, NSW
Sisters for life
Sisters for life
Mullumbimby farm crew
Mullumbimby farm crew
Early morning auto theft
Early morning auto theft
View from home
View from home
Byron Bay, NSW
Byron Bay, NSW
Getting a lift over the QVB in Sydney
Getting a lift over the QVB in Sydney
Hey good lookin' <3
Hey good lookin’ ❤
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What’s next for IWTK!

9.20.15 For all the readers and those who’ve commented and sent me emails and questions… THANK YOU! You’ve made it super easy to come up with blog posts and I appreciate the support.

As for a little update…

I’ve returned home to Toronto after 3 years travelling and working in Oz. Also brought home a studly Irish man to introduce to the fam (who we’re living with until we get back on our feet and working again).

So we’ve been in Toronto 4 weeks to the day and for that time I’ve been thinking about what to do with this blog. Here’s where you (yes YOU… you absolutely beautiful thing you) can help!

I’m going to continue posting free tips and helpful information for those of you thinking of heading Australia-bound, while working on an extremely detailed ebook that delves more into the ins-and-outs of Oz and how to make the most of your working/travelling adventure.

As for right now, if you could continue sending me your questions, as well as topics you’d like me to divulge, then comment on this post or shoot me a message (check ‘Contact’ tab for info on how to reach me).

Also, for any readers with tips on writing ebooks, hit me with it! I’d love to hear from y’all. Until next time!

Kiva Spa (Mullumbimby, NSW)

If you’re in the Byron area and looking for a little recoop and relaxation, then I’ve got your fix. Hidden behind a humble wood gate off Mullum’s main stretch you’ll find the entrance to the Kiva Spa. It’s a a tropical rainforest oasis with a steam room, hobbit-like sauna, various jacuzzis, and my fav, the cold water plunge pool.

The pools are chlorine-free and guests are free to wander between pools in their swimsuits drinking tea and taking in the ambiance. The friendly staff encourage everyone to keep conversations to a quiet whisper to promote relaxation. Prices are incredibly reasonable with various packages to suit. I would encourage couples to give it a look-see. My partner absolutely loved it! It’s by no means a ‘women’s only’ spa, and be sure to check out the massage prices as well.

The prices on the website may be a tad outdated so call in advance for more info. We paid $90 each, which included 2 hours to roam around the grounds and a 1 hour massage, which was absolutely LOVELY! We came out of the spa flushed, relaxed and in a different frame of mind. A DEFINITE FOR ANYONE LOOKING TO EXPERIENCE ONE OF AUSTRALIA’S MANY HIDDEN GEMS!

Click here for the website and contact info.

kiva-spa-and-bathhouse
tripadvisor.com.au
travellingtype.com
travellingtype.com

Regional work in Australia

Doing regional, or rural farm work, will be one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of your life in Australia. If you’re on a your first Working Holiday Visa and want to extend it for an extra 12 months, then doing farm work is an absolute must.

Farm work? This includes working in a regional area of Australia (list of regional post codes here) for a minimum of 90 days. After your 90 days are complete, you can apply for your second year Working Holiday Visa (click here to apply for an Australian visa). The 90 days need not be completed on one farm. You can hop around to as many farms as you’d like, as long as your 90 days are logged and completed.

Different farms require different types of work from their visitors and employees, so choose the one that best appeals to you. Also, feel free to do some research on the different areas of Australia you’d like to visit, and search for farm work in those areas. Some farms are ‘WWOOFing’ (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) farms. This usually means that your accommodation and food is paid for (by the farmer) in exchange for a little hard work on your part. You receive no wages, and depending on the farm, you typically work Monday-Fridays only. Wwoofing also means you’re working on an organic farm. Duties usually include planting (seeds, banana trees etc.) and picking (fruit, veggies etc.), as well as some household tasks (cleaning, meal prep etc.).

If you’d like the most financial gain, pick a farm that offers wages. Wages could be hourly or by quota. For example, if you’re picking apples or oranges you may be paid $10 per bushel picked. Other forms of farm work include dairy (which I heard from others can be the most challenging yet well-paid type of rural work), au-pair (living with a family and taking care of their children), as well as construction. Those working construction in a regional area will make the most amount of money. Traffic controllers can also find regional work (click here to read about finding construction work).

As previously mentioned, the rules of the farm all depend on the farmer. Some pay wages, some don’t. Some pay accommodation, others won’t. Many offer food and accommodation alongside wages ($$$!). Thousands of backpackers, as well as residents, do temp regional work to make a few bucks because it’s an easy way to save money as well.

For those on their first year Working Holiday Visa, whether you’re unsure you want to extend your visa or not, do your farm work (it will be a great experience), and complete it within the first 6 months of your visa’s commencing. You could easily look for farm work on Gumtree, as well as through any agency. For those looking on Gumtree, be sure to ask the farmer for names and numbers of 2 or 3 contacts who’ve worked on the farm previously. Call them and ask them questions about what their experience was like. There are stories of backpackers gone missing, so use your judgement and be skeptical. If you’re going with an agency you need not worry.

The most valuable resource is word of mouth, so chat it up with other backpackers (maybe you’ll be staying with them in the same hostel room, or meet them on a night out on the town). They will be able to give you their farmer’s contact info, as well an honest account of the day to day.

Next up… my farm work experience. A breakdown of where I went, what I did, and what I thought about it. Stay tuned!

Getting a job in Admin

If you’re traveling to Australia, having experience in an administrative role (ie. reception, data entry), your chances of getting a job in the same industry should be fairly easy. Any type of experience in an office will work in your favour. For those without any administrative experience, you’ll still be able to find a job, just not as easily as the experienced candidates.

A quick Google search will show you a wealth of any major city’s recruitment agencies. They may be able to help you find a job in administration, but don’t rely on them solely. If you have an interview with a recruitment agency be prepared with an impressive-looking resume/CV and wearing appropriate office attire.

They’ll then take you through an interview and (possibly) a computer quiz to test your computer competency (usually Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint etc). Also keep a mental note of names of companies they mention that they think you’d be suitable for, and apply to them directly. You could also ask them if they do sick-calls. If they do, this means they could call you at 7am to see if you’re available to cover someone who’s called in sick. This alone gave me temp work at various places in Sydney, including a posh mental institution/hospital, as well a VW dealership. The down side is the short notice. The upside, you get paid and you get a look at numerous establishments. The agency I used was CoxPurtell.

For those who prefer to cut out the middle man, search Indeed and Seek under the appropriate admin category for job opps. Another important point is to talk to people. Tell people the kind of job you’re looking for. Chances are they may know someone who can help you or are looking for someone to hire.

Your likeliness of getting a job in admin will also depend on your visa status and what the company’s looking for. If you’re on a Working Holiday Visa, your chances of securing a job will be more likely at the beginning of your visa. If you have 2 months left on your visa you’ll be less likely to be hired because a company doesn’t want to invest time and money in training someone who can only work for them for a short period of time. A Working Holiday Visa also stipulates that you can only work for one company for 6 months, then you’d have to move onto another. To better your chances look for contract job openings, as well as companies that are open to sponsorship.

Once you have an interview in sight, make sure you have the obvious things crossed of the list: office/business attire (need not be expensive, just ironed!), a copy of your resume/CV, and a list of reliable references.

Good luck!

Getting a job in hospitality

The Australian hospitality industry is one boasting vacancies for both inexperienced and experienced professionals. A job in hospitality can include working as a motel or hostel receptionist, a hostess in a restaurant, a barista in a cafe, a bartender at a pub or club, and much more. There’s also great opportunity for good money to be made.

For those looking to work in a pub, club, bar or restaurant, you’ll need to get your Responsible Service of Alcohol or RSA. Some may also require a Responsible Conduct of Gambling or RCG. Attaining an RSA and RCG can be done in one day. Do a simple Google search for ‘RSA course’ in your neighbourhood. I paid $190 for my RSA and RCG at the Sydney Bar School for those in or around the CBD. I also did the cocktail course which may be helpful for beginners but unnecessary.

At the end of the course you’ll complete a multiple choice/fill in the blank test (trust me when I tell you this test is a joke). Then you’ll be presented with a certificate that will hold you over until your RSA/RCG comes in the mail. This looks like a simple identification card. If you’re planning on working in the catering industry, you’ll need your RSA (maybe your RCG) as well. One agency that gave me temp work right away was Nosh in Ultimo, NSW. They cater special events including sporting events and fashion shows.

Do a search on Gumtree for any jobs in hospitality. You could also look on Indeed and Seek under the hospitality category. Don’t be afraid to print off a few copies of your resume/CV and hit up a few spots that catch your eye. Ask to speak with a manager. If they’re hiring, chances are they’ll hire you on the spot or ask you to come in for a trial run. Regardless of your experience level, when they do ask, you say you ARE EXPERIENCED. Also, be certain to walk in looking polished, presentable and wearing appropriate attire. Hospitality is very much a first impressions-type industry, so the more put together you look, the better your chances.

For hostels and motels, your best bet would be to call or hop in with your resume/CV. Many hostels offer an opportunity for travelers to sleep at the hostel for free in exchange for a few days work a week.

The amount of money you make will definitely depend on the establishment and the neighbourhood you’re working in. If you’re hired on a casual basis as a caterer, for instance, chances are you’ll be paid a consistent base rate. If you decide however you’d like to get into bartending, or waiting at an upscale restaurant, you’ll likely make a good portion in tips. Do some research on the reputable restaurants in your area and walk in with your resume/CV saying you’re experienced. For those looking to work in the Sydney CBD, do some research on restaurants in Darling Harbour, The Rocks and Circular Quay. Plenty to be made there!

Have I missed anything? What industry should I tackle next? Comment below! 😉

Gear you’ll need to work in Construction

So you got a job in the construction industry…

The first question your employer will ask is: “Do you have PPE?”

Your answer is “YES.”

He or she will then give you a run down of the PPE required for the job and on the specific site you’ll be working on. Some employers provide PPE for their employees as well.

What is PPE? Personal protective equipment. These are the safety requirements set out by the construction company and site you’ll be working on. These are things you’ll need to purchase before starting work if your employer does not provide PPE: hard hat, steel toe boots and high visibility clothing (high viz). Extras you may find helpful, but may not necessarily need or want: heavy duty working gloves, protective goggles, ear plugs, and a sun brim to attach to your hard hat (highly recommended for traffic controllers!). If you’re starting as a formworker, or other specific trade, you’ll probably need to purchase your own tools (hammers, levels etc.).

Most all your gear, including your hard hat, can be purchased from a hardware store close by. To name a few, there’s Bunnings, Home Hardware and Masters. Search for a location in your neighbourhood. For steel toe boots I would highly recommend skipping Big W and Kmart and going for a good quality pair that will last you a while. You’ll likely be on your feet all day so having a strong, sturdy pair that will protect you is a worthy investment. The site you’ll be working on may also require, that for safety reasons, you only wear lace-up boots, so ask your employer before purchasing.

For high viz clothing (and boots), do a simple Google search for ‘workwear’ in your area. Totally Workwear has multiple locations across Australia with good clothing brands like KingGee. You can get by with high viz from Big W or Kmart as well. For those in Sydney, there’s a stall in Paddy’s Markets (Haymarket) that sells high viz at a good price. They also happen to have a full range of high viz for women which can be helpful. Paddy’s Markets close between 5pm-6pm, and are also closed Mondays and Tuesdays, so make sure you make the trip out on the appropriate day.

Now that you’re suited up, you’re ready to go!

Is there another industry of work in Australia you’d like learn to break into? Let me know below!

Getting a job in Construction

This is for all you men… AND ladies… who are looking to make some good money in Australia and are willing to put in a little sweat. Once you’ve got a bank account ready for coin, as well as a TFN (Tax File Number) you’ll be ready to go. If you haven’t opened a Superannuation Fund (like a retirement savings account) don’t fret. Your employer will give you the paperwork to open the account upon hiring. It will likely be with a company called CBUS.

Get your White Card (Construction Induction)– Every person working on a construction site, no matter what position, will need to obtain their white card. This is a general induction card that preps you for work on a construction site. I did mine online with Allens Training. Just pick the appropriate state according to where you live and off you go. I paid $55 in early 2013. The online course is a power point presentation, followed by a few multiple choice questions. At the end you’ll have to call in to answer 2 or 3 ridiculously easy questions and then you’ll be mailed out your white card. If you choose the wrong state or plan to move around while you’re working, that’s fine. White cards are recognized nationally so you won’t need to get a new one if you plan to work in a different state.

For men with NO previous construction experience- The easiest way to get your foot in the door on a construction site is to start as a ‘general labourer.’ This means you’ll be called around all over site to help out where needed. This will also give you a good idea of what sort of work in construction you’d like to get into via observation (ie. formwork, scaffolding, dogman, crane driver, foreman, health and safety rep). In NSW general labourers usually start at a minimum of around $22/hour. If you work longer than 8 hours in one day your wages should change to time-and-a-half, and after 10 hours, double-time. Weekend rates are higher as well. Look at a few different companies to compare wages as some pay above reward wages. When I lived in Canberra I worked as a general labourer for $32/hour, base rate, so do your research. A note to the ladies: I would never again work as general labourer unless absolutely desperate. The money was good but I was completely battered and bruised by the end of each shift. I wouldn’t suggest it as women’s work.

For men with construction experience- You’ll have to transfer over any licenses obtained from your home country, over to Australian. Depending on your trade this could be expensive, but a worthy investment. After that it’s just a matter of looking for work.

For the ladies… and gentlemen- Become a traffic controller. I especially suggest this to women because the job is not labour-intensive (aside from sometimes having to stand for 8 hours straight), it pays very well, and it’s easy work. Traffic controllers could work on a site, or outside a site. They direct traffic including vehicles and pedestrians in a safe manner while allowing the site to function. This could include directing pedestrians to a different footpath (or sidewalk), or stopping traffic all together for times when construction vehicles need to enter or exit a site. There are millions of scenarios. Sometimes you’ll simply stand on a corner a safe distance from where a crane is operating, directing pedestrians to a different route. Pretty mindless work… as long as you have a bit of common sense. Just as before, you’ll need to obtain a White Card. After that you’ll need a Blue Card which allows you to use a stop/slow bat in traffic. This is a simple one day course at a training facility that you choose. I went with Infront Staffing and Training. As of today it costs between $120-150 for the course. You’ll also need to show your driver’s licence (an Australian driver’s licence or one from your home country is fine).

After completing the course for your Blue Card you’re ready to work. Some companies require that you also get your Yellow Card. I have mine and I would suggest you only get it if you need to. Otherwise, save your money, stick with just a Blue Card and get on the job hunt. Traffic control companies typically pay a starting rate of $25/hour. Rates will also increase after working 8 hours in a day, and after 10 hours as well. You’ll also be paid more on weekends, or if you happen to work overnights.

Where to look for work- Whether experienced or not, if you have friends that are already in Australia and working in the construction industry, you’ll be better off. This way a friend could get you started as a form worker, rather a general labourer, and you could learn as you go while being paid a higher rate. For jobs in general labouring or traffic control, do a quick search on GumTree. You could also try Indeed and Seek. If you happen to pass by a traffic controller on the street (or construction labourer), stop them and ask who they work for and if they’d pass on some contact info. Tons of people have gotten jobs by simply doing so.

Any other suggestions or tips? LET ME KNOW! 🙂

Eating Healthy on a Budget

Although Australia is quite an expensive country to live in, and dining out frequently could severely dent your budget, if you’re diligent you’ll find a way to stick to a budget while allowing for a little wiggle room.

1. Re-evaluate your health/fitness goals- Is there a certain diet you’re following (ie. The Four Hour Body, Paleo, Primal, Low-Carb) and what sort of foods would you be eating to support this lifestyle? Write a rough list.

2. Set a budget- How much money will you spend in a week on groceries for meals you’ll be cooking at home? How much money will you be spending on take away meals? Be flexible with this. You eating out will depend on how strict you need to be with your budget. I recommend setting aside some money for 3-5 take away meals every week.

3. Meal Plan- Now if you’re not the meal-planning type, then just hit your nearest grocery store with a rough list of foods that you’ll need for the week. If you have a knack for meal-planning then plan your meals accordingly and shop for those meals.

4. Shop- Your nearest Coles or Woolworths should have most of what you’ll need. But if your budget allows for higher quality meats and food grown locally, then I would skip the supermarkets all together and shop at your surrounding farmer’s markets. No matter which suburb/city you live in, you’ll more than likely find at least one in your area kicking off on a Saturday or Sunday morning.

Do also look for health-food supplement stores for high-quality vitamins and supplements or anything extra your typical supermarket wouldn’t carry. If you’re living anywhere close to a beach, you’ll find more than a few within range without a problem (near Bondi Beach, Byron Bay etc.).

5. Scope out the best takeaway’s- Here are a list of fast food restaurants that won’t do too much damage to your wallet while keeping your healthy eating in check (starting with my favourites). Individual meals average from around $10 to $18 depending on how you customize them to your liking:

THRIVE– Clean eating at its finest. And may I say absolutely delicious. The founders of Thrive follow a Paleo or Primal-type philosophy which you could read more about in Mark Sisson’s popular book The Primal Blueprint. They use only free-range and grass-fed proteins and the most delicious smoothies. They also have a small range of clean Paleo desserts if you’re feeling like a treat (try the Banana Coconut donut… it’s yummy). The best thing about Thrive is that you customize your meals to your preference. Choose a few sides, choose your protein, and few extras if you’d like. You can take a peek at their menu on their site here and scope out their locations around Australia.

Thrive, Canberra
Thrive, Canberra

Mexican eateries- I find these to be the easiest and cheapest way to get a healthy meal in on the go. For those low-carb fiends, skip the tortillas and go for a burrito bowl without the rice and added guac. Not a fan of dairy? Pass on the cheese. Ask if you can sub rice for extra veg. These franchises listed below have locations all over Australia

Mad Mex 

Guzman Y Gomez 

guzman3
Guzman Y Gomez

Zambrero  

Grill’d Healthy Burgers– If you’re itching for a delicious, satisfying, incredible burger that won’t bust your belt buckle then look no further. With locations all over Australia and a menu that uses fresh, local ingredients and grass-fed beef, you’re sure in for a treat. Low-carb goers can opt for the low-carb bun option, or skip the bun altogether. Try the Summer Sunset burger or the scrumptious sliders! Sweet potato fries? Yes please. Grill’d also supports their communities initiatives with a percentage of their profits going to local initiatives.

Grill'd Healthy Burgers
Grill’d Healthy Burgers

BOOST Juice BarsGreat stall to hit up post-workout or for a mid-day pick me up. Multiple locations in most major cities and Westfield shopping centres. A yummy menu of nutrient-dense smoothies and juices, as well as a selection of small meals like wraps and yogurt parfaits made with fruit. Try the Weekend Warrior!

Boost Juice Bar

6. Restaurants $$$- You should definitely save enough room in your budget for a nice restaurant date. That could be with a mate, your partner, a Tinder date, whatever the occasion, it’s important to treat yourself. Usually you’re pretty safe no matter where you eat at a restaurant. If you stick to protein and veg, you’re ok. For those of you who are vegans or vegetarians, there are still plenty of options. Just take a walk around your neighbourhood or give it a Google.

Closing thoughts

It’s definitely possible to eat healthy on a budget. May take some research and preparation, but it’s definitely worth it. As always, if your diet is extremely strict then your best bet would be to prepare all your week’s meals from home. Tupperware will be your trusty mate so stock up on a set or two and take an hour or two every week to cook your meals and freeze them until you’ll need them. This will also help you save a bit more coin.

If you have any more tips on staying healthy on a budget, or experiences from other take-away’s, comment below!

1 week/$100 (Day 7)

The Challenge?

Had a great sleep. That couch is wicked! Walked along the boardwalk last night with roomies JP, J and K, then headed to Wollies for some groceries. Got back to the flat around 10:30PM to find a group of pretty looking lads in the living room who work with JP. Went with them to a night club with free entry. Had an awesome time. Dime spent: nil. Snoozed.

***

Booked my flight to Melbourne for $35 with JetStar. It flies out at 10PM… for that price I don’t mind. Just need to find somewhere to couch-surf. Mom emailed me asking if the plane’s safe to fly with because the price was soo cheap. Told her the aircraft was made of the finest quality Twizzlers and cream cheese frosting. She was assured.

Also remembered I have family in Melbourne! Gonna ask my mom to email me their address and contact info. Give them a shout when I get there and see what happens. Would be awesome considering I know absolutely nothing about my grandfather and his side of the family.

***

10AM. There’s been a Street Football Festival going on in the harbour for at least a week… a floating soccer field on the harbour! Pretty sweet. It’s part of an Australia-wide charity event that goes toward helping the homeless and disadvantaged through a community magazine called ‘The Big Issue.’

Gonna meet the ladies this evening for a little soccer in the park. Can’t wait.

***

Just got back from hanging out with my friend R. We just sat on a deserted beach (Curl Curl) and ate Bounty Chocolate Bars, gummy snakes and Turkish Delights. Lovely. May be seeing each other in a couple days (before I leave) depending on our schedules. We’ll see. I want a burger.

***

Dang that burger was delicious (Summer Sunset burger from Grill’d). The cute Manager at Grill’d was working today. Dinner AND entertainment. I am a happy camper.

***

Met the ladies in Erskinville for a little kick about. Felt awesome to run a little and let out some sweat. The field was also a hell of a lot better than playing in Sydney’s Tech Park. Great time with old friends.

Time to head home for some Chai. Looks like I blew the $100, right? Final thoughts on this week to come… stay tuned. 🙂

Track of the Day:

ILLY feat. OLIVER DAYSOUL– The Chase

Coin:

Burger (Grill’d)- $12

Groceries (water, peas)- $2.73

TODAY’S TOTAL: $14.73

WEEK’S GRAND TOTAL: $147.61