Finding my feet in Sydney

So, after having no luck finding work in Darwin or Brisbane (although I did come close in the former), I came to Sydney primarily to save money. How, you ask, considering it’s a big city and more expensive to live? House sitting.

This is apparently a big thing, and there are websites where you can stay in someone’s house while they’re on holiday. It might involve looking after their pet(s) or it might be just to make sure there’s someone home, so it doesn’t look like a target for thieves. I’m not sure, but it’s a friend of mine who offered me the chance and I took it – especially since right now I have both a dog and a cat to keep me company.

The CBD and Opera House from North Sydney

I admit, living in Sydney had never really appealed until this point. It reminded me of London, which I enjoyed visiting but couldn’t imagine living. The same felt true of Sydney on previous visits. Having been here a few weeks, I’m reconsidering that idea.

Finally getting a job

A bigger city means more opportunities for jobs, that was the hope. While I had a few weeks of free rent, I planned to use that time to get my New South Wales RSA and find a job somewhere. As it turns out, that wasn’t necessary.

I contacted a recruiter the day before I flew from Brisbane and the next day, I had an interview book for the end of the week. Thirty minutes after the interview, I had a job! Not in a bar or hospitality but in my chosen field of digital marketing. A short-term contract in the education industry that pays very well!

I couldn’t have hoped for better as I can easily save money for the next part of my travels while living comfortably, if a little frugally, for the new few months.

Immediately, I’m more at ease. I’m glad to have this opportunity and continue gaining experience, and once I’ve had a few pay checks, I’ll get on with exploring Sydney more thoroughly.

I’m in my third week already, so that’ll happen soon!

Getting some time to myself

One of the advantages to house sitting is getting some personal space. It’s a welcome change after so long in hostels. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve met some great people in hostels…but I’ve also met some utter *****. That’s to be expected, and it will continue for as long as this adventure does. More on that, shortly.

Sunset with Sydney Harbour Bridge

While I’m working full-time much quicker than expected, I’m taking this time to clear my head, relax and do some solid writing. I have a book that I want to finish this month, which should happen unless something drastic happens.

I’m also going on walks and just generally exploring the area. I’m in North Sydney, which isn’t somewhere I’d normally think of going but walking over the bridge is impressive and there’s a nice walk along the shoreline where you can see the CBD, the Opera House and such. There’s more to see, even more so on the other side of the CBD but that’ll come soon enough, I’m sure.

Making plans for the future

While my Australian Working Holiday Visa runs until February 2020, I’m not sure I’ll stay that long. I want to go to New Zealand and I’m in the process of applying for their WHV. I have to do it now as I’m getting VERY close to the cut-off age, so now is the time.

While I don’t have a set plan just yet, I’m thinking November. Part of it will depend on work and what else I want to see and do before leaving the country. There’s more to see and I’ll be back to see it one day, although I also get the feeling I’d like to live in the country for a longer time one day. That, however, is something for another day.

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Returning to Brisbane

Despite what it looks like, it’s not far to find this view of Brisbane

Brisbane was always one of those ‘what if’ cities for me. I spent two days here on my East Coast adventure last year but it didn’t feel like enough. That said, it’s not the biggest city in the country but I barely scratched the surface last time so it felt like I had unfinished business here. Combined with knowing a couple of people in and close to the city, I was in higher hopes of finding a job here than in Darwin.

That didn’t mean I was going to waste any time, though. My flight landed at about 7am (seriously, what’s with the flight times in and out of Darwin?! Cheap, sure, but not always convenient) and after dropping my bag off at the hostel, it was straight onto looking for work.

Continuing the job hunt

Okay, so the library wasn’t open when I got there but that’s fine. I went and grabbed some breakfast, a sugary one to keep me awake (it’s times like this that I wished I liked coffee). Then it was onto the job sites like Seek and Indeed, Facebook groups and company websites. I emailed recruiters, digital marketing companies, shops, cinemas, bars, restaurants and more over the next three weeks.

I didn’t even get one interview – I almost did! Then they found out I was a backpacker and that got shot down. Great.

While some places took my CV, a lot seemed to have already hired or were more interested in locals. That’s fair enough, I guess, but I do have a lot of experience in both digital marketing and hospitality.

I did get a (very) casual gig, which I hoped would be the start of more – not from that place, just in general – but it never really took off. It’s a shame because what I saw of Brisbane was really nice!

Living frugally

If there’s one thing the last few months have taught me, it’s how to live cheaply. This meant cutting back on the luxuries like booze and snacks to save money, hunt the shops for food going cheap and buying cheaper clothes to tide me over.

Brisbane from Mt Coot-tha

Travelling itself isn’t cheap. There’s rent to pay, transport costs and then the price of activities or things to do. Sure, there are some free things but there’s only so often you can do those before going crazy.

I had some savings but the big thing I told myself was to still do stuff. The things that cost could be done, in moderation, and

going for a couple of drinks won’t hurt too much if you keep a handle on it – and find somewhere cheap, which I did!

One example was taking the bus to Mt Coot-tha – and that’s because it’s a really steep hill! I was rewarded with a stunning view of Brisbane and made the walk down to explore the botanical gardens at the bottom. Top tip: the café at the lookout has some really nice ice cream.

Brisbane CBD at night

I also did a lot of walking around Brisbane, exploring the parklands of South Bank alongside the river, the CBD, Fortitude Valley and beyond. At night, you can get some great sunsets crossing the river and the lights are quite something, changing patterns and colours quite regularly.

Moving on again

Alas, after three more weeks of not working, and being no closer to finding a job, it was time to move on again. I had an offer to house sit for a few weeks in Sydney, which would save me a fair bit of money and, hopefully, help me find a job in one of the country’s biggest cities.

Again, to not waste time, I was straight onto the recruiters to find out what was going on. There’s one opportunity that might pay off, but we’ll see how that goes before I go getting my hopes up.

Thankfully, the flight from Brisbane to Sydney is not only cheaper and shorter, but at more reasonable times.

Time to see what Sydney has to offer!

Time for a change

It’s been over a year since I flew back to Melbourne from Cairns. A full year! That’s kinda crazy, really. I had a plan; get to Melbourne, find a job, restore my finances and get on the move again. It took a while to get going but accomplish that I did. I had hoped to get it done in a few months but by early January, I was ready.

Yet, I stayed. For another FIVE MONTHS. Why?

Sunset in Melbourne’s CBD

Simple; I love the city. I made friends, had decent jobs and it was summer. Why would I leave?

I can really imagine myself settling and living in Melbourne for years in the future, but for now, there are places to see. That’s why I’m here right now. I may have an idea of what I want in a few years’ time but, for now, it’s time to get back to my original goal – seeing different parts of Australia.

Why Darwin?

I know a few people who have been and they liked it. Some say there’s plenty of work, others disagree. It could be a huge mistake, making me go somewhere else but it’s a risk I’m willing to take right now.

I can’t believe I’m saying this but, I feel cold in Melbourne – and winter hasn’t fully hit yet! We’re still in the mid-teens for temperature but there is a chilly breeze that bites. How I’m going to survive a winter in the UK in the future is beyond me. For now, know that the average temperature during the day in Darwin is 30 degrees. Once I’d have thought that was too hot, but now I’m looking forward to it.

I’m hoping to find work quickly and just knuckle down and work, using my days off to see the city and the surrounding area. I’ve been told it’s incredibly different, so I’m looking forward to it.

What next?

I couldn’t say, really. I’ll be back to Melbourne before I leave. That’s a given. I’m definitely aiming for New Zealand later in the year, too. This is going to be my only shot to do it, so it feels right.

I’m doing a lot behind the scenes, too. I launched a new website for my writing last week and I’m working on a whole new look and setup for Innate Wanderings. The running blog will continue but with a lot more content on different places I’ve been, how to get to grips with it and what (I think) you need to know.

This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while, since I’ve been to a few places now, and have many more coming up. It’ll still be the good AND the bad, though. Honesty is still the goal, and hopefully this’ll be ready in a month or so.

Until then, I’ll keep you updated as to how I get on in the north!

Bringing in 2019 in Melbourne

My first blog post of 2019 is a little later than I’d planned but things have been quite hectic over the last two months! That’s hectic in a good way; I’ve turned up to a writing group in Melbourne, been to a festival, had some time off over Christmas and, most importantly, got my second-year visa.

I’m staying in Australia for a bit longer!

It removes my initial dilemma of what to do next and lets me take time to see more here, save up more money and THEN make a decision. That suits me just fine. I’ve settled in Melbourne well, I could see myself living here much longer, but that’s not why I came here. At least not yet.

One another note, it’s just over two weeks until I landed here in 2018 – that’s a whole year! I’m going to do a full recap then but, in the meantime, here’s what’s been going on.

Good Things Festival

The Offspring at Good Things Festival

The Offspring at Good Things Festival

I’d been looking forward to this festival for months. A day-long rock festival in Melbourne with some great bands and headlined by The Offspring – who played the entire Smash album and then some! What’s not to love about this?

The heat. That’s what. It was apparently 39 degrees Celsius that day and that meant I had to be careful. I missed the first couple of hours, which normally I wouldn’t, to make sure I could last the day. I also didn’t want to spend a fortune while I was there.

Bands I saw included Babymetal – who are awesome, by the way! – Dropkick Murphys, Bullet for my Valentine, Stonesour and, of course, The Offspring. The first and last of this list were the highlights, definitely, and now I’m looking forward to Download festival in March,

The not-so festive season

New Years Eve fireworks in Melbourne

New Years Eve fireworks in Melbourne

Christmas was a weird one. It was summer here, so no snow or cold weather. After 29 years, it was a big change. The end result was it didn’t feel very Christmas-y. So much so that I decided to work Christmas Eve and Day at the hostel, the latter paying almost $50 an hour so it made sense. Anything I could do that day, I could do any other day here.

More importantly, it was good just to relax for a while and take some time for myself. Do a little writing. Catch up on sleep. Spend some time on the beach. You know, that kind of stuff.

New Years was a little better. I went down to the lake at Albert Park for midnight and watched the fireworks as the clock ticked over. It was impressive; fireworks launched from countless rooftops in the CBD in a coordinated display for over ten minutes. Sydney tends to be a popular choice but it’s worth checking Melbourne’s display, too.

Doing more exploring

Melbourne CBD from Williamstown

Melbourne CBD from Williamstown

There’s a lot to see and do around Melbourne, and I’ve been lax the last few months in making the most of my time here. This weekend, I spent a day in Williamstown, just across the bay from where I’m staying in St Kilda.

It’s a nice place. Quaint. Quiet. Picturesque. There wasn’t much to do, but some really nice views and walks. I’m making a point to get out more on the weekend and see new places in and around the city. Afterall, why else am I here?

What does 2019 hold?

As I mentioned, Download festival returns to Melbourne for it’s second year and the following weekend brings the opening race of the F1 season. After how much fun I had last year, I’m definitely going to that, too.

In between times, there’s more work to be done to keep saving money before I take four or five weeks off work to go and explore the west coast. This will be a completely different beast to the east, where I took a bus and did it alone, as I’m going with three others and we’re driving (well, they are, since, y’know, I can’t drive).

After that, I’ll have decisions to make again. There’s more travelling to be done but I’ll need more money and the work situation will have an impact.

The highs and lows of travelling

Getting back to Melbourne was definitely the right choice. After the failed attempt at farm work, and with nothing else for me in Cairns – other than things that cost money – I wanted to get back to a city with some opportunities.

Sunset in Melbourne's Albert Park

Sunset in Melbourne’s Albert Park

That’s what I did. It’s been a few weeks since I got back, and they haven’t been easy. While it’s silly to assume so, I was thinking, or perhaps hoping, to find a job within a couple of days of arriving back here. What I didn’t take into account was that it’s winter here so while a lot of backpackers leave for warmer areas, the hours vanish too, to an extent.

At this point, I do have a job but it’s not many hours, and that’s an issue. Thankfully, I’m helping out around the hostel I’m in and that’s cutting down what I’m spending on rent each week so it’s not all bad. The problem is, if I want to move into my own room at some point, I need consistent hours so I’m still searching for those. Hopefully they’ll turn up soon because I also need to get back into saving mode for upcoming trips and plans!

Now, these last few weeks have been hard, the hardest of my trip to date – and that’s keeping in mind how I felt in Cairns when I was in limbo for so long.

I’m impatient, we all know this (but better than I was during my younger years) and seeing people with less experience get a job before me was tough. I found myself wandering aimlessly at times, after applying online and at the places I knew and could find, in the hope of finding somewhere I hadn’t given a CV to.

The nights were spent in my room, watching Netflix or ranting to my dorm mates and friends online (thanks guys, you’re all awesome!) and I felt stuck in a rut. There was plenty of advice, but nothing I hadn’t done. I knew it’d work out in time but that’s not helpful in the moment.

20/20 hindsight

Balcony view of south Melbourne

Balcony view of south Melbourne

So, while my situation isn’t perfect yet, it’s a step in the right direction and I’m grateful for that. I did have to start facing the fact that I might have to leave if the situation didn’t change. I knew that’d be a huge mistake and regret.

If I could go back and tell myself what was going to happen, would I change things? Perhaps. Getting a job first might have been a smarter move, or maybe being a bit stricter with my funds before the East Coast trip might have helped. In the end, I’ve been to some awesome places, seen amazing things and met fantastic people so I don’t regret anything. Part of this whole experience is how to deal with the lows as well as the highs.

I could have skipped Perth back then, worked from day one (okay, maybe day two) and then done the trip but even that might not have worked. At this stage, what if isn’t of any use so I’m not dwelling.

What I am dwelling on, however, is what’s next. I’m making plans for later this year and going into 2019. Those will become clear in the coming weeks when I’m a little more stable.

What I’ve learnt so far

A couple of things of the last four months have become crystal clear to me:

  • Money never lasts
  • Experiences are far more valuable than money
  • There’s no such thing as a great hostel kitchen
  • A dorm room where you like everyone is rare
  • Backpackers, generally but not all, don’t know how to clean up after themselves

I’m almost in my thirties and it’s a stark difference between my attitude and outlook on life compared to the majority of backpackers I meet, who are in the 19-23 range. Mostly, they want to drink, smoke and do drugs and that’s it.

Now, whatever floats your boat but consider it’s more expensive to do all three here compared to other places I’ve been, that’s a bit daft. They never stop though, and it’s tiring just watching them go!

I tend to look for quieter hostels if I know I’ll be staying a while. A couple of nights doesn’t bother me and I have met some great people in those short stays but after four months, I’m happy to have a bed that I know is mine.

There’s a lot of Australia left to see but Melbourne is a good base right now, and even though it’s getting colder, I feel more comfortable here than anywhere else I’ve been to, as much as other places have been great. Travelling is really tiring, guys, so giving myself a break from it is probably a good idea.

Forgive the slightly rambling post but its worth putting it down so you don’t think I’ve vanished just yet!