November 21, 2013- October 21,2014 Melissa and I lived and traveled around Australia on a Working Holiday Visa.
I was 29 and she was 26 years old.
We’ve been dating for seven years.
Why Australia? We both were new to traveling, especially me, and I figured it would be an easy place to start.
Places we’ve lived while in Australia:
Miranda (40 minutes south of Sydney), New South Wales
Fun places near by:
Watamalla picnic area, Royal National Park- Relaxed beach, mixed crowd of teens, 20’s, and families, Cliff Jumping
North Cronulla Beach- Beautiful boardwalk, North Cronulla Beach Kiosk- Our friend Tony Duran’s place. Great food and better cappuccinos.
Fun places near by:
Darling Harbor- Something is always going on, events are planned throughout each month. Every Saturday night they have fireworks, we could see them from our rooftop.
Chinatown- Good eats, fun vibe.
Mamaks- Malaysian food, best rotis and fried chicken
Mary’s- Located in Newtown, is a hipster joint with amazing burgers, fried chicken, and good beers. Slayer Juice was my favorite beer and they have a large basket of fried chicken called Larry Bird.
Sydney Fish Market- great seafood, good price
Sydney Opera House- we saw Grizzly bear here! There were trendy bars along the water, it wasn’t a backpacker kinda place, aka expensive, so we didn’t go often, but it looked like fun.
Manly Beach- Beautiful and fun little beach town. Getting there from the Sydney’s CBD is a beautiful ferry ride through Sydney Harbour.
Palm Beach- We drove our campervan, from Sydney to Palm Beach and camped there for a few nights. It was a busy drive but, worth it.
Coconut Grove, Darwin, Northern Territory
Fun places near by:
Any beach for sunset- It seemed like every night all of Darwin would hit the beach to watch the sunset. We frequently went to Nightcliff because it was close to home, but Mindil was the most popular.
Rapid Creek Market- Probably my favorite thing about Australia was going to the farmers markets for fruit. Jackfruit, passion fruit, mangos, paw paw, dragon fruit, pretty much anything I had never heard of or anything rare in the States. Rapid Creek had a great selection for super cheap.
Litchfield National Park- The park has beautiful swimming holes and fun 4×4 tracks. We went for only one day in a 4×4, next time I’d do it with one that had a snorkel. When we went, we entered the park through the southern part of the park. After making it 7/8 of the way through, we got to a Croc infested stream. We were warned the stream was deep and we wouldn’t make it through without a snorkel. So, we turned around, drove back the way we came and entered through the main entrance. The ride was a blast but, we were disappointed we couldn’t make it all the way through.
Berry Springs- Great place to swim! We liked taking a blow up raft, and an esky full of cold canned beers. There was a rope swing too!
The holiday part of the Working Holiday Visa
When we lived in Miranda, our friends Tony and Amanda, and Victor, and Lynn helped us find and remodel a 1992 Ford Econovan that we named Mario after the guy who we bought it from. Our set up also included a fridge, stove, table, plenty of storage, and a futon style bed that folded from a bed into a bench. It gave us enough room to close the doors, hang out, and cook if it rained. It was great for urban camping, we were completely incognito. We could sit at a table and access everything without getting out of the van.
We spent New Years over looking Sydney Harbor watching six different firework shows go off simultaneously. Sydney is known for having the best NYE fireworks in the world. Thanks to my Uncle Paul and his wife Michelle we witnessed one hell of a show. Hands down the best New Years ever!
Fun places along the way:
Gillards Beach- We saw wallabies and large goannas. It’s a great spot to camp.
St. Kilda- I don’t know if there was an event going on the day we were there but, all of Melbourne was out partying. That day it was 50 degrees, Celsius, and way to hot for urban camping so, we left that night to begin our trip through The Great Ocean Road. I wish we stayed longer, we didn’t even see Melbourne City. Fortunately, we ate at Lentils as Anything. What an amazing place! The menu is vegetarian and you pay what you can afford or what you think the food is worth. The food is delicious and even plated beautifully.
The Great Ocean Road- We entered the GOR as the sun was coming up, no one was on the road. We cruised all the way through it in a day or two. Some would say we should have took more time but, there were too many flies, I couldn’t do it. It was amazingly beautiful though.
Wilsons Prom- The hilly drive through the park sets it off with stunning views of the park’s thick wilderness. They offer a bunch of bush walks. We took one that led us around a beachside mountain to a white sand beach with crystal clear ocean water.
Adelaide- Cool hipster vibe, good bars. Honestly we were only there for one night. It’s worth more time if you like a chill artsy city vibe.
Hobart- We stayed at The Imperial Backpackers Hotel.
Fun things we did in Hobart:
- The descent down Mount Wellington with Under Down Under
- Kayaked the Tasman Peninsula with Roaring 40s Kayaking on a day tour
- Visited Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. We fed Kangaroos, pet koalas, and saw Tasmanian Devils.
- The Museum of Old and New Art
- The Women’s Factory
- The Port Arthur Historic Site
- Lark Distillery
- Salamanca Markets
- Jackman & McRoss Bakery- creative food and pastries
Cairns- A backpacker’s dream, at least it was for me at the time. Cairns offered cheap food and drinks, free swimming, cheap or free wifi, and The Great Barrier Reef! Snorkeling The Great Barrier Reef opened my eyes to a new world and gave me a new reason to travel. We went snorkeling with the Silverswift company. Out in the reef we saw reef sharks, turtles, nemos, huge clams, and a million other fish that were more beautiful than I could have imagined.
The working part of the Working Holiday Visa
Aussie Farmers Direct- With no prior sales experience we did door to door sales, selling a delivery service of 100% Australian foods. Our bus were top sellers in the company with Melissa and I often at the top of the bus.
The Traveling Show aka ‘The Carnival Show’
Our boss’s name was Mark. I worked his ‘bust a balloon’ game. The object of the game is to bust balloons with darts to win a prize. A customer would get 5 darts for $10, 12 for $20, or 20 for $30. Behind each balloon is a number, when the customer finishes throwing the darts, we add up the numbers. Every customer wins and the size of the prize depends on how high the number is.
Melissa did bungees on the trampoline ride. She was primarily responsible for selling tickets, but she also strapped kids into harnesses and would teach them to do backflips.
We worked the show for about two months from Maryborough, Queensland up to Cairns.
Our accommodation was a tent. Every 3-4 days we had to set it up and put it down along with the rest of our boss’s games and gear.
In every new town we worked, we had an opportunity to sightsee. After three weeks we arrived in Sarina, Queensland. We had a few days off and a friend suggested we rent a yacht and cruise around the Whitsunday Islands. On his suggestion, five of us spent $900/ person which included four days and three nights on Charisma, a 38’ beauty. I felt like I was on top of the world! Barbecues, beer, snorkeling, I was doing flips off the roof, we were sleeping on a boat in some of the most beautiful water on earth, it was amazing! When we returned from this trip fit for a boss, we had $.64 cents left in our bank account. Luckily we had enough food to last us for a few days until we got paid. It was a little heart breaking to have spent all the money we saved, but it was totally worth it!
Cucina Sotto le Stelle- The only positive thing I can say about my experience here is if it wasn’t for this job I wouldn’t have met Giovanni and Luanna, and Giovanni and Jan. I love you guys!
Thrifty Care Hire- I was making $23 as a Car Washer. By far my favorite job. Most days I’d spend hours just driving cars from the wash bay to the rental parking lot or, as Aussies say, the car park.
Favorite thing about OZ was the wildlife. I fell in love with the kookaburras, lorikeets, cockatoos, kite birds, kangaroos, wallabies, rock wallabies, large goannas.
If I were to do OZ again I would:
- Save three times as much money before leaving home
- Arrive in Perth and buy a 4×4
- Head north and adventure through the Kimberly’s
- Go to Darwin and work for a few months
- Drive south down the east coast and do Frasier Island
- Sell the 4×4 in Byron Bay. Then buy a van and continue down the east coast to The Great Ocean Road.
- Drive up the center of Oz to Uluru
- Go back to Melbourne and sell the van
- Fly to Tasmania, buy a cheap car and tour Taz.
- Fly to Cambodia and go to Koh Rong for a whole lot of R&R