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The prices on the website may be a tad outdated so call in advance for more info.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!
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 take–away’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.
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
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.
BOOST Juice Bars– Great 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!
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.
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!
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. 🙂
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)!
Got up early to find 4 mosquito bites on my left foot. Got a razor, shaved over them ‘til they bled and threw a cotton ball soaked in hydrogen peroxide over them… golden.
Yesterday was the best and most disgusting day to date. Ate like a pig and spent unnecessary coin… I’m sure Tim Ferriss would approve.
As for travelling plans… I may be heading to Thailand in the next few days. The cheapest flight out from Perth looks like it’s on the 16th and the Swedish girls are there so that would work out great! I need to re-evaluate my budget and give Capitol One a call to see if I have enough points to redeem to pay for my flight.
-call Capitol One
-establish budget (Thailand)
-mail letter to G
It’s only 9:30AM… feel like a nap. Gonna throw on some shades, get out my iPod and snooze by the dock.
Bought a book at Dymocks today for $5 from the discount bin. Usually known to skip to the Robin Sharma-esque section but decided to switch it up. Don’t know why but one called out to me: Play Dead by Ryan Brown. The cover shows the face of a zombie-werewolf-looking creature wearing a football helmet and uniform.
Booker had just bludgeoned a toddler with a bicycle chain and was about to shoot a crack whore in the face with an assault rifle when the phone rang.
He hit Pause on the video game controller and picked up the receiver.
Shove a bum Eckhart Tolle. We have ourselves a winner.
Sat in Starbucks by The Rocks while it poured outside. In an effort to start sketching again, I saw to it to duplicate a print hanging by the coffee machines of two palms holding coffee beans. Turned out looking more like 2 Siamese spoons holding a mole hill of pinto beans and lentils. Success.
When Picasso hour was over I struck up a convo with an English-Indian girl and a fellow Canuck from Ottawa. Got some great tips from them about travelling through Asia and flight deal tips. Also got to share a few laughs with new friends. Love random chats. The rain stopped and we all headed our separate ways. Off to Woolies (Woolworth’s), then home for tea with the roomies. Starting to feel a tad sentimental over our nightly tea tradition. 🙂
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.
Morning sunshine. Woke up at 7AM, did some laundry, had brekky, packed my lunch (can of tuna, alfalfa and baked beans) and headed out before 9AM. Another beautiful day in Sydney. Just sitting in Darling Harbour.
Excited for this Sunday’s kick about with the ladies from Inner West Sydney soccer. Tomorrow’s supposed to be sunny so I think I might just head to Manly Beach finally. Haven’t checked out the North Sydney beaches. Need to get my tan back!
I decided Saturdays are also going to my indulgent days. Gonna eat like a little sugar fiend. Can’t wait! Today’s agenda looks like another day of plenty of reading and writing, and possibly meeting up with my German friend A who’s travelling through the city. I think we’re going to check out the casino. Just gave mom and dad a little surprise phone call. Glad to find out the NHL is back up and running… GO LEAFS GO!!! Dad said he’d buy a pair of season tickets for him and I to check out when I get back later this year. Looking forward.
Sitting in The Rocks and thinking about what an interesting place Sydney is. In the middle of summer you’ll still find at least 3 or 15 people wearing a parka and UGG boots.
Went for a long walk from Darling Harbour across the Sydney Harbour Bridge and back. Sat in Gloria Jeans and continued on with Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek. A few insightful tidbits from my read:
“Focus on being productive instead of busy.”
“The question you should be asking isn’tWhat do I want? or What are my goals?, but What would excite me?”
“The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity.” –Bruce Lee
“Learn to be difficult when it counts. Having a reputation for being assertive will help you receive preferential treatment without having to beg or fight for it.”
“It isn’t enough to think outside the box. Thinking is passive. Get used to acting outside the box.”
I’ve met the absolute weirdest people in the last few days. I was reading outside between the Myer Center and Westfield on Pitt Street when a middle-aged hooker wearing white eyeliner as lipstick stopped me to have a conversation. She had worn out tanned, orangey skin, bleached-blonde teased hair and was wearing a tight, short neon pink dress with higher than average transparent heels…
Hooker: Are you from New York?
Bettina: No I’m Canadian… from Toronto (confused smile).
H: Have you been to New York?
B: Yes. It’s a great city.
H: Does Central have trees?
B: You mean Central Park?
H: Yes! Central… does it have trees like here?
B: Yes… it’s a park. It’s a beautiful park. You should definitely check it out.
H: Like here?
H: Oh ya?!
B: Yes (smile/awkward eye gaze).
(Hooker exits right)
Met up with A after din. Caught up in Hyde Park, went for a stroll and ended up at my flat so I could wait for my luggage and she could steal some WiFi while my roommate decided to delight us with a show-and-tell about the mysterious red blemish the popped up on her nipple. Good times.
There was a promo going on at the casino… refer a new member and you and your referee get a free $50 to gamble with. DEAL. My roommate J and I met up with A and her two German friends. J and I headed for the roulette tables… we both lost. Had a great time though! Bonus: we didn’t leave in debt. My roommate left and I hung out with the girls before heading home.
A and I said our goodbyes. We originally met in Hervey Bay… a town I highly recommend skipping unless you’re catching a tour to Fraser Island. We then bumped into each other in Airlie Beach and then again in Cairns. We practically followed each other up the east coast and back to Sydney without knowing it. Had an awesome time together.
Time to head home for nightly tea with the roomies.
Looked in the mirror and noticed my t-shirt said New York City in faint blue letters… quite the observant hooker.