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!
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The prices on the website may be a tad outdated so call in advance for more info.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!
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!
Just bumped into the kid who’s currently playing the role of acting landlord of my old flat I’m squatting in… CRAP. Met on the bridge and I stopped to say hi. No point avoiding the obvious. Said he was doing well and told him I was looking to catch a flight to Melbourne. He wished me a good trip and we went our separate ways. Phew.
Everyone on the dock’s looking up right now…
A couple of nights ago I met up with R, an English lad I was supposed to hang out with before leaving home for Xmas. We had a really great night. Walked along the harbour, went to a cheap Irish pub and then ended up at a backpacker’s dive and danced it out. Really fun night. He’s sort of a male version of me (education, hobbies, interests etc.) except machine-version. Works non-stop and looks to be a social effing animal. I’d like to hang out again… we’ll see. Also… didn’t spend a dime!
3PM-ish. Sitting on a patch of grass in The Rocks. Went to watch The Hobbit this AM. I enjoyed it. I’ll stay tuned for the next installment. Young Bilbo Beggins’ sarcasm definitely made that flick. I’ve coined him my next husband. I could hack the shire nooooo problem. 🙂
Saw an awesome balloon ARTIST on my way home today on Pitt Street…
6:45PM. Went to see M and O today. M definitely remembered me… it was great. J Changed soo much in 2 months. I brought M a few shirts from home… one with a moose holding a hockey stick. Doesn’t get more Canadian than that! Went to the park for a couple of hours and had a chat with O about other uptight moms—good times. I want a chocolate chip cookie.
Bought two fresh cookies from Subway but didn’t feel like eating them. Dropped them off with a homeless beggar on Pitt Street. He shot me a smile. 🙂
A Finnish girl moved into my old bed today. She’s so nice I can’t even hate her. Parkin’ it on the couch tonight. Also decided that—for now—Thailand is a no go. No point in spending money I don’t have.
Sitting by the Harbour. So far the cheapest flight I found to Thailand was $1000. Pricey. Thinking of heading to Melbourne and Adelaide instead.
Feeling a lot better since Saturday’s binge feast. Tomorrow I’m going to see O (old boss) and M (her 16-month old) followed by a Skype date with former roommate J who’s in Taiwan.
I’m thinking—economically speaking—that the best thing to do would be to stay in Oz, move in with my Filipino friend A, make money and then travel outside Oz. I’ll be meeting up with A today. Hopefully I could convince her to look for a place around the North Sydney Beaches… we’ll see.
Couch-surfing (CS) looks awesome. I hope someone gets back to me about Melbourne. That would be sweet (UPDATE: CS-ing right now in Melbourne and loving it). Why not couch-surf in Thailand? It’s possible. Although Asia is cheap enough.
Feel like being shamelessly annoying right now. Just put my text alert volume to the highest possible decibel and texting friends with random messages. Cookoo! cookoo! ’s chiming every 0.7 seconds. These looks I’m getting are making my day. 🙂
Sitting by Circular Quay in the only available space I could find shade. Eating some greens mixed with a can of tuna. Also been wearing the same pair of shorts for 3 days straight. Exciting stuff.
This afternoon was AWESOME. A soccer mate asked if anyone was interested in going ice-skating. Helllllll YES! K and her friend A picked me up from Redfern Station. Another interesting conversation ensued while I was riding the train. An idiot saw me and decided to introduce himself. Apparently God thinks my type to be short, bald, drunk, stumbling South American men…
Short, bald, drunk, stumbling South American man: What up shorty.
Bettina: Sorry I don’t feel like having a conversation right now. Thanks. (smile)
SBDSSA man: Damn. You bitch!
B: Yes, thank you.
(Bettina exits left)
K, A and I headed to Canterburry Ice Rink. Had the best time. Cost of the outing came to $22 but well spent! Even if that means going over the $100 budget. 😦
Met up with A, talked future plans, ate some din, a little chit chat about boys then went out for drinks. We decided that if we were to move in together it’d be better to go for somewhere closer to the CBD. It’d be easier for me to find work and her to attend class.
We met up with our Irish friend F who we became friends with when we both first landed in Sydney back in August. It was great to catch up and I couldn’t say no—although I tried—to the free-flowing free drinks coming my way. Thanks laddy (PS: Century Bar on George Street in the CBD… $3 drinks)!
Round 9:30AM and sitting by the rubber ducky again. Today will be a scorcher. It’s humid as fu*k and not much sun shining. Think I’m going to skip Manly Beach today. And at the same time I wouldn’t mind a refreshing ferry ride. I’ll think about it.
I love Darling Harbour in the AM. The water’s risen high enough to drench the boardwalk. I’m going to find out when’s high tide… give it a Google and come check it out before leaving Ultimo.
An adorable Chinese baby was walking down the boardwalk with his dad just staring at all the people walking by. What a cutie!
Aside from a tad bit of brain freeze, I never enjoyed something more in my entire life! Tall Caramel Frappuccino with whipped cream. Licked that spoon CLEEEEEAN. Also entertained by Starbucks’ 32nd rendition of my name. I’ve been promoted toPiscine’s estranged Caucasian half-sister in Life of Pi… featured in the deleted scenes of course.
So I arrived in Manly after all… IT’S ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL! A lot better than Bondi in my opinion. It’s a beautiful long stretch of beach. I walked up and down the main strip, indulged in my crack of choice for the day (see below) and sat on the beach for a few hours before heading back to Circular Quay.
How to make my crack of choice:
1. Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter Cups.
2. McFlurry (I mixed the Caramel Cookie and Double Chocolate Fudge flavours).
3. Comfy spot to sit. Find one with a great view and preferably crowded… then you’ll attract heaps of dirty looks from the many pleasure-deprived fools out there. 🙂
4. Unwrap Reese’s and sprinkle sprinkle into McFlurry.
6. Dive in.
7. Nom nom nom nom nom.
8. NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM.
Got back to Darling Harbour around 8:45PM… just in time for the fireworks. Darling Harbour puts on fireworks every Saturday night at 9PM on the dot. I found a spot between 2 families and waited patiently while chatting up to a kid about how excited I was to see the free show. He concurred.
They were AMAZING! After the show I plopped myself beside an Asian family sitting on the edge of the dock. The family was feeding the jelly fish Wonder Bread… didn’t know jellies were on high-carb.
Flight was awesome. Flew from Toronto to San Francisco to Sydney. The stopover in San Fran was only 45 minutes. The hop-off-hop-on connection made it feel like I flew 18 hours straight (approx.) from home to Oz. Quick and dirty.
While flying I was thinking of a way to get to my flat without paying for a cab. Cab fare from SYD would cost me around $35. Taking the Airport Link Train would cost me $15 but would only get me to Town Hall. I wouldn’t be able to carry my 2 packs the rest of the way by foot. Decided I’d figure it out when I got there.
Turned out United Airlines left my larger pack in San Fran. Baggage claim services assured me it’d be delivered (free of charge) to my flat the following day. Worked out PERFECT! I grabbed the Airport Link into the city for $15 and walked the rest of the way. I had another pair of pants and a tee in my small pack anyway. Plus I got $100 compensation from my Capitol One Aspire MasterCard under the included baggage delay insurance. All worked out. (TIP: A lot of private companies offer shuttle services to and from the airport for the same price. Give it a Google).
Arrived back in Sydney on the bloody hottest day ever… over 43 degrees (C). Hung out with my roomies, caught up with an old flame, took a couple of melatonin tablets and went off to bed. Snoozed.
Weather cooled since yesterday. For no apparent reason whatsoever this has to be my favourite day in Sydney to record. Over Xmas I decided I’d come back here, look for farm work somewhere in southern Australia to get my second year visa, then settle again and work… EFF THAT.
At THIS moment… I feel one year in Oz will satisfy me. Things could change (UPDATE: I want to stay longer). Right now I’m living at my old flat rent-free hoping my former landlord doesn’t hop in to catch me frying eggs in my PJs: “fancy seeing you here Canadia.” Might be a tad uncomfortable considering I have yet to hand back my key (forgot to before leaving in December). Opps!
My plans now? Possibly stay in Sydney for a bit… rent-free. How? Couch surf, work in a hostel or stay with O (my old boss). Before leaving for home she mentioned I could crash at her place if I needed a bed. Sweet. Plus my friend from the Philippines is looking for a flat so maybe I could crash there. Plenty of options.
Plans for the next week are to remain in tourist-mode until I’ve had my fill. Screw finding work, screw finding a new flat, screw pricey bonds. I love travelling and my closest friends know me to be a wanderer … might as well.
Today’s weather reminds me of springtime in Niagara Falls, ON. Cool and breezy… lovely. Tonight I’ll look up a few free things to do—or things that are going on in Sydney. Right now is Sydney’s festival time so there’s loads of things to look out for. Just winging it and keepin’ it simple.
Also going to keep up with my IWTK posts. I can feel it will lead to something great in the long run… looking forward to it. 🙂
Sitting in the Westfield food court. Grabbed some Guzman Y Gomez. Beef burrito bowl with guacamole… yummmmm. Grab a loyalty card if you’re a Mexican food fiend like myself.
A man and woman are sitting to my left. They’re colleagues. Actually… she’s his boss, and she’s politely bit*hing to him about his less than mediocre sales as of late.
To my right are a group of middle-aged Asian women who just ordered gelato from the Italian café behind us. They are looooving it. Just shared a few laughs with them and took a few pics of them with their waffle cones. They just called themselves ‘ice-cream addicts.’ Enjoying life.
Boss woman to my left just gave her employee some sage advice: ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING.
Time for a post-meal read. Today’s feature: Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek. Highly recommended.
Almost 9PM. Sitting at Darling Harbour on a beautiful night. Live music playing in the background and a giant rubber duck floating by the dock. No idea why… possibly part of what’s going on with the Sydney Festival. The kids are looooving it. Really makes me want to buy a bow and arrow, shoot the rubber ducky and watch it slowly deflate as the kids wail in the background. I’m evil.
Time to head home, make some din, then off to bed.
I went home (Toronto, Canada) for Christmas and returned in Sydney in early January 2013. I had a week and a half before taking off to Melbourne to visit some friends and family. One book inspired me to take up a one-week challenge: to live on $100 (AUD) for one week. Sydney is an EXPENSIVE city to live in. If you’re working you’ll be fine (generally speaking). But I decided that for that week I’d revel in my new-found freedom and take every morning to ask myself: “What the hell do I want to do today?” And so came the inspiration for the challenge.
The $100 would need to cover rent, food, lunch/dinner dates, nights out, shopping, transportation or any other ‘surprise’ expenses.
All I can say was that these last 7 days were the most eye-opening, awesome and spontaneous days of my life. And for those interested in learning a few things about saving some money in Oz—as well as having a laugh or two over my ridiculously frugal attempts to protect my wallet—then these next 7 entries are for you.
Starting next week I’ll be posting 7 posts everyday… one for each of my challenge days. Stay tuned and if you have any feedback for me—or are simply interested to see what went down—comment below! 🙂
And don’t forget you can connect with me via Facebook, Twitter or at email@example.com.
I reeeeeeally wanted to take my MEC pack with me to Oz. I had all my clothes vacuum-packed and tried my best to stuff the bag the most efficient way possible. It turned into an extremely frustrating life-size game of tetris… but I really tried. My pack was brimming. I tried it on… I can do this! Turned out the only way to safely carry the pack was to go at it strategically: place pack on a 45 degree angle along the bed, slide my arms through, roll over to my side and stand up… mission.
I bit the bullet and went for the trusty Samsonite (Sam). My mom was also proud to see that she was right… the pack just wasn’t cutting it. So I transferred everything from the pack to Sam, sat on it, zipped it up and headed for the airport with my mom and good neighbour. We made bets on the way there to see how much Sam would weigh… it was heavy.
When I was checking-in my luggage, the United attendant informed me that it was 10 pounds overweight. He suggested I take some things out and throw them in my small backpack (my carry on). I declined… no room and too much of a hassle. The attendant said he’d see what he could do.
He looked into my flight and noticed that there were upgrades available (for first class), and that the upgrade would cost less than the price I’d have to pay for obese Sam. First class ticket holders were also allowed to check in more luggage of inflated weights meaning my luggage would clear!
So although I still had to pay a few extra bucks, it saved me from paying full price and I got bumped into first class! The deal didn’t grant me first class all the way to Sydney (that would’ve been sweet), but it did for my 2 connecting flights from Toronto to Denver, and Denver to San Fran.
And funny thing… a week ago I was thinking to myself that it would be nice to somehow catch a ride in first class! Woot! Mission accomplished.
I’m currently waiting in a nice deli in the San Francisco airport waiting for my last flight of the day to Sydney. Here we go!
Tomorrow marks the beginning of my last week at work. Busy, busy, busy. Aside from the hustle and bustle of distributing my workload to my fellow reporters, I’m looking forward to the Wednesday ‘Bon Voyage’ lunch at Moxies my department planned for me. Always great to be able to take a break from the ol’ cubicles. 🙂
I’m slowly starting to pack (meaning day-dreaming about it) and been considering a few efficient options. I’ll be bringing my pack with me, along with a backpack and a few purses. I’m considering buying travel Space Bags. They don’t require a vacuum to suck the air out and it could save some much needed space (reviews are mostly positive). I was also thinking of bringing a mini wheeled luggage for my shoes… yes. 🙂
This week I received 2 credit cards in the mail that I’ll be bringing with me: the MNBA Smart Cash WorldPoints card, and the Capitol One Aspire Travel World MasterCard. The MNBA has no annual fee, and you get 5% cash back on gas/groceries for the first 6 months and 3% thereafter. You’ll also make 1% cash back on all other purchasing made with the card. If you’re interested in applying for the MNBA, do it through GreatCanadianRebates.ca. They’ll give you a $60 rebate upon approval. The Capitol One has an annual fee of $120 (womp womp) but gives you a bonus of 35 000 points after your first purchase (equivalent to a free cheap flight)! This card also provides emergency medical (up to 22 days), trip cancellation, baggage loss and more.
How is a cheap DIY teeth whitener relevant to this blog? It’s not. But I am a bridesmaid in my cousin’s wedding (this coming Saturday) and having pearly whites in photos is something that to me seems vital… so I thought I’d share. This ‘whitening’ recipe is cake! You’ll love it.
Baking soda… standard Arm & Hammer’s fine.
35% food grade hydrogen peroxide… DO NOT buy any hydrogen peroxide. You can find this at your nearest health-food or supplement shop.
In a separate bottle pour 1 oz. of hydrogen peroxide and 11 oz. water… label the bottle ‘diluted hydrogen peroxide.’ You can store the full strength bottle of peroxide somewhere in your pantry. You’ll be using the diluted mixture every time you whiten your teeth.
2 tablespoons baking soda, 1 tablespoon diluted hydrogen peroxide… always add the diluted peroxide to the baking soda, not the other way around. Start with 1 tablespoon of diluted peroxide, mix, and slowly add more drops until the mixture forms the consistency of a paste.
Brush your teeth with the mixture for 2 mins… keep the mixture from touching your gums as much as possible (may burn for those with sensitive gums). Also, don’t swallow the mixture. 🙂
Rinse… after 2 mins, rinse your mouth by brushing and gargling with water. It is extremely important that you rinse until there’s no taste or trace of the mixture in your mouth. Rinse ‘til you’re blue in the face.
Clean up… you can throw out the remaining mixture left over and you’re done!
Not only is this cheap, but it has less ingredients and whitens your teeth FAST. The 35% food grade hydrogen peroxide will assure that you won’t be ingesting anything harmful (it’s often used as a fruit/vege cleaner).