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! 🙂

Choosing the right apartment in Sydney/anywhere

I can be a tad impulsive when it comes to making decisions like these. If like myself, you’ll eventually learn through trial and error. Or… you can just read this!

1. Stay in the city for at least 7 days before moving-in

  • Get to know the neighbourhoods. You’ll find out what areas appeal to you, where would be most convenient (ie. close to grocery stores, public transport) and the difference in rent between communities (by the beach: $$$).

2. Decide who you’d prefer to live with

  • My dearest female readers: men are the EASIEST to live with. Just look for a clean and reasonably-organized bunch.


3. The area

  • Is the place on a busy street or close to train tracks? Yes, I love my sleep.
  • Is there parking?
  • Where is the closest grocery store, post office and bank/ATM?
  • How far is access to public transportation?


4. Snoop around and get these questions answered

  • Is there air-conditioning?
  • Is there a washer AND dryer (during the summer you could pass with a simple clothes-line)?
  • What room would you be moving into and what does the mattress look like? No one likes bed bugs.
  • Have there been any cases of bed bugs in the last 2 years?
  • Would you be sharing a room? If so find out about your roommate. If they happen to be there then get a feel for what they’re like. Is their side of the room organized or a mess? Does he/she work? What are their working hours like (9-5, overnights etc.)?
  • Is there a security system in place and/or is there a lock to your bedroom?
  • How are household responsibilities shared?
  • Does the place itself look clean? You’re aiming for cockroach-free. 🙂
  • How many people share one bathroom?
  • Does the bathroom have a window and proper ventilation? Mold is NOT your friend.


5. Financials

  • Rent… obviously.
  • Is there a bond? How much?
  • How does the landlord insist on receiving rent (electronically, funds transfer etc.)?
  • Is there a contract? For how long?
  • How much notice is needed before moving out?


6. Your landlord

  • If you have the chance, ask one of your potential roommates what they think of the landlord. You’re looking for a landlord that is prompt on getting back to you and quick to address concerns you may have.


Anything you think I should add? Comment below and spare others the trial and error. 🙂

Food, Food, Food in Sydney

It’s about time I get back on to my usual 3x/week blog posts right?

In the last few weeks I’ve been slavin’ away working odd jobs (distributing mail, babysitting, getting paid to do research) which have been keeping me afloat until I find a legitimate job. I’m considering getting my RSA, which would allow me to work in bar. This would make me a few good tips while working in a social environment.

I do realize that this blog’s meant to offer budget-conscious advice for those looking to travel through Australia. But I must admit… I’m doing a real poor job at it momentarily.

One thing that can really run your bill up down under is food. Being an avid sushi fan doesn’t help my problem. Being in a new city makes me eager to see and try everything. What fun would it be to just sit at home and eat from the same old sardine cans as back home? No way.

Sydney’s a very eclectic city with plenty of eats to choose from… Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Korean, Italian (the list goes on) and I love trying out different things. My advice would be to pick 2 or 3 days a week to enjoy a meal out. Doesn’t have to be something extravagant. A lot of the cafes sell delicious wraps and kebabs that’ll run you up anywhere between $6-$10 AUD. Not bad right?

Although I haven’t the patience to, if you’re one that loves meal planning GO FOR IT. Sure to save you loads of money if you know exactly what you want while keeping track of your spending!

I’ll keep a mental note to take a few pictures of my eats and post them on my Facebook as well. G’day mates!

NAB account, Aussie phone no., free WiFi and supermarkets

Today I opened a chequing account (transaction account) with the National Australian Bank (NAB). The branch is just a 5 min walk from the hostel and right across the street from Market City and Paddy’s (a flea market and large fruit market). The bank teller was most helpful and made opening the account a breeze. Gave him my ID (passport, license etc.) and I was set. I was told to pick up the bank card from the branch in 7 days. Your transaction account will automatically get you an attached savings account. The one I opened has an interest rate of 5%! The teller told me that rate’s an all-time low for Australia… usually it’s around 6.2%!

Ohhhh, my cell phone. So I arrived in Oz thinking that my cell phone was already unlocked. Negative. I bought a SIM for $2 and loaded it with $20 from Vodafone. They have stores located all over and their customer service is awesome. They also have a large branch right in Syndey’s Botany airport. Great for anyone who wanted to get that taken care of upon landing. You could also buy the SIM cards from any convenience store… they all sell them. I bought mine from a close by 7/11. The SIM comes with an instruction booklet that leads you through the simple registration process where you’re given a new number and PINs. And that’s when I found out my phone was locked. I threw in the new SIM and my phone prompted me to enter an unlock code… womp womp. I went to Market City and found a stand called ANT where they unlocked it for $40.

All McDonald’s locations (and many little coffee shops) have free WiFi… awesome considering the $3/hr I’d been paying to use the internet at the hostel. I Skyped with the fam for the first day today. It was hilarious! My parents have a tiny netbook with a built in camera, and somehow they managed to get all of them to fit their faces into the small screen… all of them (mom, pop, brother, grandmother, uncle). My 85-year old grandmother was amazed… she didn’t believe such technology existed. Hilarious. The people sitting around and behind me seemed to enjoy the entertaining conversation.

I’m pretty sure I walked around the same 3 streets—up and down—a good 5 times each. By the time I found Paddy’s it was closed. Mondays? Closed? Really? Means I’ll be getting some groceries bright and early tomorrow. (UPDATE: Mondays and Tuesdays!)

I’ve also been looking into a few low cost tours and interesting places to walk around. So far there are a few vintage stores I’m planning on checking out in Surry Hills, as well as taking a trip to Bondi Beach. An American sitting next to me on my flight to Denver mentioned there’s an awesome restaurant there called Iceberg’s, or something close to that name.

Do you guys know of any unique or random places I shouldn’t dare pass up? Let me know! 🙂

Packing, credit cards and the cheapest DIY teeth whitener

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 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.

Buy 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.

Dilute it

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.

Mix it

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 it

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.

Dump it

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).

Job searching in Australia

I decided that I’d rather search for a job when I get there. A lot of people have been telling me that it’s best to just figure it out once I’m in Australia rather than have everything planned out before arriving.

Getting an amazing-paying job to benefit my resume is NOT on my priority list. I want to travel and soak in the culture, and whatever job I find (whether it be retail, childcare, office-work etc.) that will cover my expenses and other miscellaneous costs is fine with me.

I decided it’d be best to leave with a 4 or 5 resumes/CV’s, all customized to highlight the type of work experience that compliment the type of job I’ll be applying for. I’ll also be freelancing on the side. Won’t bring in much money but every little bit helps! 🙂

Here are a few options I’m/you may be considering:

Hospitality: hotels, hostels, restaurants, bars, cafés etc:

If you’re looking for work in a bar, you’ll need an RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol) Certificate. A simple Google with what city you’re in will do the trick. I’m told that the course can take as little to complete as 3 hours and ranges from $85-$130 AUS, depending on the level of certification.

This would seem like a good job to work out flexible hours, hang out with the locals and meet other backpackers. And the tips! 🙂


If you’re used to an office-type work environment, then this type of work may be something to consider. Keep in mind the type of hours you’d like to work… whether it be the standard 9-5 or part-time/casual.

It may take a little longer to get an office job compared to work in a bar, but you could find plenty of postings on sites like Seek or Gum Tree. You could also check out a local employment agency to help filter out your best options.


I’ve been seriously considering this type of work. The least I’ll do is put up a post on Gum Tree as a casual babysitter/tutor.

An au-pair position provides you with free accommodations (and most times an added weekly allowance) in exchange for child-minding, housework, cleaning etc. This would be a great position for those wanting to stay in one city for a longer time.

It would also help to be First Aid/CPR certified if you’re interested in working with children. I’d recommend you get this before leaving to Oz. For a basic certification, it costs about $150 CAD and takes up one weekend (mine was Sat/Sun 9-3p).

Farm-stay/Harvest work/Fruit picking:

This would be an awesome opportunity to meet other backpackers in the same boat. Apparently you could make a lot of money if you’re willing to work through the hard physical labour. Most places offer cheap accommodations (approx. $150/wk) or bus transportation from a specific location to the farm everyday. Harvest Hoppers seems like a good site to check out these opportunities. You could also check out the listings on Gum Tree.

For 3 months work, doing a farm-stay/fruit-picking would also make you eligible for a 2nd Working Holiday Visa if you choose to return to Australia after your first year.


I wouldn’t mind working retail one bit: flexible hours and generally easy work. It’d be great to socialize with others I work with and meet customers. This would also provide the minimum $ needed to cover rent/groceries and other costs.

What type of jobs have you worked will trekking abroad?

Leaving my full time job

It’s getting close to my last day at work and the anticipation and nerves are starting to creep in. A few weeks ago, the thought of leaving home for Australia alone still felt dream-like. Now that all my family, friends and co-workers know… ahhhhh! Lucky for me everyone’s been super supportive and excited for me.

I’m leeeeeavin’ on a jet plane…

I work at a Canadian media company that specializes in marketing communications, web solutions and magazine publishing. I started as an intern in an editorial department in January 2011 and was hired full time as a Listings Reporter in June.

In the last year and a half I’ve improved my writing skills, prioritized my assignments and goals, met great contacts and made some awesome life-long friendships. It’ll be quite the adjustment not carpooling with my close colleague P everyday, not sitting in my cozy cubicle and not sharing a stroll to the mall with other fellow reporters who’ve become great friends.

Although I know I’ll miss the people I’ve met, life’s got to move forward, and leaving at this time just feels right. I couldn’t be more grateful because it’s a great job that got me started on the right foot. And thanks to Skype and social media, keeping in touch and updating friends and family with my whereabouts and adventures will be a synch!

Also!… a tad of an update on my old skinny jeans goal: lost 3 pounds so far and have a new goal to go to the gym everyday this week for 30 mins. Day 1? CHECK!

Reference letters If you take pride in having a good, strong work ethic then you’ll have no trouble asking your soon to be ex-boss(s) for reference letters. No matter what type of work you fall into in the future (while travelling or not), it’s always great to have strong positive references rooting for you when you meet future possible employers or customers.