Some pics from my travels, Brisbane at Sunset, View at Steve Irwin's Zoo and a Dingo on Fraser Island.
So last year at the grand old age of 27, I decided that the time had come to move to Australia… alone. It was something that I had always wanted to do but I had never really been in the position to do it. But now felt like the time, I was single, I had some savings and I wanted a change. And it was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life!
However, before I left I felt very nervous and I wanted to prepare myself as much as possible. Especially as the majority of people around me were telling me that I was insane in the membrane and that they themselves would never be brave enough to do it. I didn’t feel particularly brave, I just knew that I’m only going to live once and if I didn’t take the opportunity, then sure as hell I'd regret it!
So here is a list of things to think about before you go and whilst you are on the trip of your dreams!
2. Give yourself a couple of days to let it all sink in. I remember my first couple of days thinking ‘WHAT the hell have I DONE’? and feeling a bit lost. But just put yourself out there, meet new people, explore and enjoy yourself!
3. Whatever you do DO NOT pay a company to set up a bank account for you before you go. It’s the easiest thing in the world to set one up when you are over there, I did it on my first day. All you do is go into a bank (I used Commonwealth) with your passport and the address of your hostel or wherever you are staying, It’s also worth noting that a lot of the banks over there charge you for having the account, I told the lady when I was opening my account that I didn’t want to pay any charges at all so she opened a student account for me. Result!
4. Similarly, any company who wants to charge you before you go to help you find jobs, help sort out your visa etc. can do one. They just want to take advantage of your need for some security, the cheeky sods. The visa application is easy to do (trust me, if I could do it then you can do it!) and for me, I had confirmation that it had been accepted within half an hour! (please note it can take longer, think I was just lucky) Finding a job over there isn’t too challenging either. Just hand out CV’s (they refer to them as Resumes over there) and apply for jobs like you would do at home.
5. If you do struggle to find work, or a job that gives you enough hours to pay rent then I have one recommendation for you. Get a bar job in an outback pub. It’s the best thing that I could have done as I was given loads of hours, the pay was good and it’s an absolute experience that you will never have again! You get to mix with Australians, something that doesn’t really happen in backpacker hostels and live like a local. I’m not going to lie, sometimes it was tough and as I was working in a mining town with not many girls, I got my fair share of unwanted attention! But I also met amazing people there and some of my best memories are from that place. I will never forget my fear and confusion during those first couple of shifts though! Getting asked for a ‘stubby of gold’ (bottle of 4x gold beer) and having to work out the keno and TAB machines was... interesting! But getting thrown in the deep end is often the best way to learn! (or so I told myself over and over again through gritted teeth!)
6. Try to see as much of Australia as you can. I met people who had literally just spent 7 months in Brisbane getting pissed every night, and then were going home. That’s not the way to do it! You are in one of the biggest most beautiful countries in the world, you may not get this chance again so explore! I wanted to go everywhere but didn’t quite get the chance due to time and money issues. I managed to see a huge amount of places I wanted to though and I will treasure the memories and photographs forever. Plus I WILL go back one day to visit the places I missed.
7. Sort out your ABN (Australian Business Number) number and Medicare card as soon as you can. You will get taxed stupid amounts without an ABN number and employers always ask for it. It can take a little time to come through so this is something that I would recommend doing ASAP! Same with the Medicare card, I neglected to do this then regretted this when I had to visit a doctors when living in the outback. Get this sorted in your first few weeks and then you are covered.
8. Do a road trip! Me and my friends did a trip from Perth to Melbourne over a couple of weeks, camping and getting lost many times over! We just hired a car (which turned out not to be big enough for 5 girls, they lied!!) and planned the route ourselves. It was amazing, stressful, uncomfortable, incredible and fun in equal measures! Not sure if I would rush to do it again but so, so proud that we did it and managed to not kill ourselves doing it, as some of the guys I met in the outback predicted! (no faith in us girls!) The sense of accomplishment when we reached our destination (and would no longer have to squish up in the car, sleeping 3 in the tent and 2 in the car every night!) was huge. We used Wicked to rent our car through but there are so many over there to choose from. Also the east coast is incredible, Fraser Island and Whitsundays are definitely 2 must do trips in my opinion!
9. Document everything. Take photos, write a journal, send emails and postcards to friends back home. The things you experience over there, you aren't going to want to forget. Try to appreciate everything you are going through. There might be times that feel a bit tough or stressful, but trust me, once you are back home those tough times won't seem so bad at all! You will give anything to go back to them when you are stuck back in the 9-5 grind in rainy England!
10. Keep all of your payslips. UK citizens (not sure about other nationalities) are able to claim back all of the tax they paid whilst working in Australia (wooohoooo!) I was unable to keep my payslips as my Hotmail account decided to stop working halfway through my trip (I hate Hotmail!) and I was never again able to access my account. This made things tricky once I was back in the UK and wanting to make my claim. I did eventually get it all back using taxback.com but it took forever and it would have been so much easier if I had all the information on my payslips.
So those are some of my tips! But the main thing is to just enjoy yourself. I know before I went I worried so much about it all and on the plane over I couldn't have been more terrified. I wasn't sure if I could do it. But I did! and it was easy! Not to say there weren't tough times and the first few days were pretty hard for me. I know not everyone is like me and some people just breeze through it all without a care in the world (I envy those people!). But if you are like me, then don't waste time worrying about silly little things before you go.
Just go for it as it is so, so worth it! and you could end up with a smile on your face like this goober below!