Month: December 2013

What’s On: New Year’s Eve in Sydney

The holiday season is nearly over, but before it is the age old question has to be raised – “What are you doing for New Year’s?” For some, the question brings fear to the heart; just the pressure in itself of having to have ‘the best’ New Year’s Eve can be enough to make you want to turn around and go back home. Personally, I’m not one for hitting the clubs to celebrate; the idea of spending all night queuing to squash into a bar with ridiculously over-prices drinks just gets me too excited and I have to go home early.

My idea of a good New Year’s Eve has to include fireworks. And if you’re in Australia there’s only one place to see them.

fireworks-sydney-australia

(It’s a very small photo, but you get the idea)

So today’s post is going to be dedicated to where you’ll need to be if you want to see this wonderful show.

Mrs Macquarie’s Point

This is undoubtedly the most popular viewing point for the fireworks, so if you want to get a good spot, you’ll have to get in early. Situated on the edge of the Royal Botanic Gardens, this prime location will let you see both the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, easily one of the best views in the city. Because of the large crowds the area will be cordoned off, so make sure you arrive in plenty of time to make sure you get in. P.s. it’s also no B.Y.O alcohol, so bring a bit of cash if you fancy doing some boozing down there.

mrsmacquarie-view1

Cremorne Point Reserve

A bit further away from the action, but a great viewing point nonetheless, Cremorne Point Reserve will certainly be buzzing come 12 o’clock tonight. This is a great place to go if you want to get part of the action without getting squashed by the crowds. Again, there’s no do-it-yourself boozing, but food and drink are on sale to keep you going through the night.

Cremorne Point

The Daily Telegraph Observatory Hill (The Rocks)

If you know Sydney then you’ll know that The Rocks is about as close as you can get to the action on NYE. The Observatory Hill is a great vantage point for the fireworks, but being in such close proximity might be a bit of a blessing and a curse – you’ll be close to the show but maybe so close you’ll end up looking at a lot of smoke (you know what they say, no smoke without fire-works). As I’ve never been, you’ll have to take this one with a pinch of salt, but I still reckon it’s going to be a good’un. Get there before 5pm to ensure access before they start closing off the areas around the harbour.

Observatory Hill

(Might be a few more people there on the night…)

Milsons Point

Milsons point is another up-close viewing point, but at the opposite end of the bridge to The Rocks. Situated next to Lunar Park, once again you’re guaranteed great views if you get here in good time. You’ll need to enter via Art Gallery road as the other roads will be closed off due to the crowds, and they’ll be closing any entrance off after 5000 people enter so it’s recommended you arrive before 5.

Milsons Point

Watsons Bay

Watsons Bay is a personal favourite of mine, because it was my viewing point for last year’s NYE celebrations. There’s so many reasons why I love this place (definitely go for a visit and do the cliff walk one day and you’ll see why) but for New Year’s it’s just a great place to see the fireworks in a nice, chilled environment. Bring a picnic along, and alcohol is (like everywhere) prohibited, but it seemed the sound of bottles being cracked open was coming from all directions – as they always say, if you can’t beat them, join them for a drink! It’s a good distance from the city so you won’t be so up-close to the action when the fireworks go off, but being far away has it’s pros; the good people at Sydney city council sync up the fireworks over the whole city, so you’ll have an amazing view of the city skyline covered in fireworks. From what I can remember.

Watsons Bay

And so there you have it, the top places to see the fireworks this New Year’s Eve. If you think you know any interesting and different places to spend the night in the city, let me know!

For loads of handy information on making the most out of your Working Holiday Visa, check out ‘Work Anywhere: Australia’ the book on Amazon here

Work Anywhere: Australia

Music Spotlight: Gang of Youths

Now, seeing as Music Spotlight is here to introduce new music to you lovely people, and my last post wasn’t exactly focussed on the ‘new’ part, I’ve decided to go super obscure with this week’s band choice.

Gang of Youths are a Sydney born collective, started in 2012 and who seemingly have only recorded one song so far. That I could find, anyway. It’s near-impossible to find out much about them (Google them if you don’t believe me) apart from that their song ‘Evangelists’ is an absolute belter.

Luckily for them, their obscurity hasn’t stopped them getting anywhere, as they were signed by Sony Records TODAY. Fancy that for good timing!

Anyway, there’s not much more to say about them (that I can really think of) apart from saying you need take a break from whatever you’re doing and give this song a listen; I promise it’ll be worth it.

For loads of handy information on making the most out of your Working Holiday Visa, check out ‘Work Anywhere: Australia’ the book on Amazon here.

Work Anywhere: Australia

Saving and savouring your dollar…

Money is always at the forefront of every traveller’s mind (even hippies) – whether it’s planning where you’re going to stay next, travel next or go out next weekend…

Therefore, it’s really important to know how to save your money. No idea how? Well, you lucky, lucky person, I’ve just compiled a superb list of the top ways to save money whilst living in Oz for yours truly. How nice is that?

1. Choose the right bank – This may not seem hugely important as you might only be in the country for 1 or 2 years, but  many people don’t realise the amazing interest some banks have on their savings accounts. To hook in new customers, some banks offer around 4-5% interest on your savings, which may not seem like a lot, but if you have AU$2000 in your account you can get up to $100 in interest a year. Now how’s that for a bit of extra cash?

2. Book travel well in advance – As laid back as those cheeky Aussies may seem, they do like to be well prepared when it comes to travel. Unlike the airlines we’re used to at home that often offer last minute cheap deals on flights, in Australia flight prices only go up the closer it gets to the departure date. Domestic flights can be super cheap if you book them well in advance, so don’t leave it until the last minute or you’ll end up paying double what you should be!

3. Eat in – Now this may seem like an obvious one but it’s amazing how those little trips out for a’cheap’ meal really add up in the long run. If you eat out for AU$10 twice a week, you’re actually spending AU$1040 a year on that alone! Bet that makes those microwave noodles look a bit more tempting now…

4. Skype home instead of phoning – It’s always tempting to check in with home with a quick phone call now and then whilst you’re away, but doing this on a regular basis can really run up big bills! The simple solution? Ditch the family and move on. Or use Skype. Your choice.

5. Get a backpacker discount card – You’ll find on your travels that many travel companies, hostels and car rental companies offer discounts to backpackers (who have a valid backpacker card), it may not always be a huge amount, but any saving is good in my books! There are 3 main companies (who own hostel chains) that sell backpacker cards:

VIP

YHA

NOMADS

Check them out and see which one’s best for you!

Happy saving 🙂

For loads of handy information like this and to find out how to make the most of your Australian year abroad, check out ‘Work Anywhere: Australia’ the book.

Work Anywhere: Australia

Couch Surfing – What’s it all about?

With hostels costing more and budgets getting tighter these days, more and more travellers are looking for alternatives for short term accommodation. Luckily there is a brilliant solution, and it’s 100% FREE.

Couch surfing is now one of the biggest online traveller networks in the world, growing dramatically in popularity over the last few years. But what exactly is it?

What is it?

It’s a huge online network of people offering beds/sofas for you to stay on for free, with stays generally ranging from one night to a week.

Why would they do it?

Many of these people have ‘couch surfed’ themselves and so they offer beds to others in a way of paying the good deed forward. Pretty charitable really!

How does it work?

You go to the website (details below) and register your details. Then you browse the hosts’ profiles until you find someone you like – or someone in an area you’d like to stay in. You contact them in good time before the date you want to stay and request their bed/sofa. If they accept you can organise all the details and keep in touch with them through the site until you finally meet. Then all you need to do is practice those charming conversational skills of yours and the job’s a good’un.

Is it safe?

Yes. Hosts need to verify their address with the site before they have a profile and all reviews of each host from their surfers (be it good or bad) cannot be deleted so what you see is what you get. As with any online meeting site it is always best to trust your instincts, so if something or someone seems to good to be true just be wary, and any abuse can be reported straight back to the Couch Surfing Trust and Safety team. More information about keeping yourself safe whilst couch surfing can be found here.

What do I do about food?

As you’re getting free accommodation, you’re expected to buy (and cook) your own food. Depending on how well you get along with your host you’ll no doubt be organising some joint meals but always make sure you’re prepared on the solo food front!

How do I know if it’s for me?

Couch surfing isn’t for everyone. As you’re getting a free bed you will be expected to bring some wit, charm and sparkle along with your bags to your host’s house, so if you’re not the conversational type or you’re just not into meeting new people, this might not be for you. Don’t be put off if you’re a bit shy or nervous about losing your couch surfing flower though – plan it well with the right host and you’re guaranteed to keep coming back for more.

Find out more about couch surfing and where you can do it here.

For loads of handy information like this and to find out how to make the most of your Australian year abroad, check out ‘Work Anywhere: Australia’ the book.

Work Anywhere: Australia

 

How To Get The Best Hostel Accommodation For Less

Hostels are known worldwide as being the ‘cheap’ alternative to hotels – share a room with  complete strangers and you won’t have to pay half as much as you would in luxury accommodation! Because of this, it often comes as a shock to those straight off the plane into Oz the prices of hostels in the major cities. Hostels in Sydney and Melbourne range from around AU$27-39 a night and with that adding up to a weekly cost of AU$189-273 it can really eat away at your budget.

Fear not though, there are ways to get accommodation at affordable prices, you just need to know how to go about it! Here are some handy tips for getting a bed at the price you want:

  • Book weekly instead of nightly – In most places you stay you’ll more than likely be stopping for a week at least, so it’s always worth looking around for hostels that offer ‘weekly’ discounts. You won’t really find many of these deals online, they’re normally advertised inside the hostels once you’ve originally paid the pricier single night rate, so check around before you book anything. If you want to stick around for a while longer in the area have a look to see if any hostels do ‘the longer you stay the more you save’ deals, as these can really save you a lot in the long run!
  • Work for the hostel – Hostels are always looking to take on a bit of free labour in exchange for a bed, especially in low season when they’re finding it hard to fill rooms. Cleaning, kitchen hand and hostel reception jobs are hugely popular among backpackers in hostels, and if you’re lucky, some of them even pay (a bit) in addition to offering free accommodation. Ask hostels directly for more information.
  • Live outside the central area – As much fun as it can be to live in a city centre, it’s often the location that causes prices to be so high (especially in high season). Have a look at hostels in the surrounding suburbs of the city, most of the time there’s great transport links into the city and you’ll find the prices can be dramatically lower too.
  • Book well in advance – There’s nothing worse than rocking up at a hostel a week before Christmas to be told that if you want to stay there you’re going to have to pay big bucks. Avoid getting ripped off by booking well in advance – if hostels haven’t locked their prices for that week yet you can often get them to give you a great rate, you’ll just need to pay a deposit when you book so you’re guaranteed a bed
  • Get a hostel discount card – Hostels love a bit of loyalty, so the big chains tend to offer membership cards offering great discounts on rooms to keep you coming back for more. Discounts range from 5-20% off normal room prices and often these companies will team up with travel companies to get you tour discounts too. The top companies currently doing this are VIP, YHA and Nomads. Show them how much you love them and you might get an extra night thrown in for free!

So do your research, see what’s out there and if you follow these steps you’re guaranteed to save a bit of money along the way. The only question now is what to spend it on…

For loads of handy information like this and to find out how to make the most of your Australian year abroad, check out ‘Work Anywhere: Australia’ the book here.

Work Anywhere: Australia

Music Spotlight: Illy ft. Owl Eyes

So here’s my first ‘Music Spotlight’ post – introducing you to some of the best new sounds coming out of Australia right now. Every week I’m going to feature a new artist or band that I think is really worth a good listen, so let me know if there’s anyone that you think deserves to be in the spotlight!

This week I’m actually going to jump back a few years with Illy, one of Australia’s biggest rap artists. Now, rap isn’t my first genre of choice, but this amazing collaboration with fellow Melbournian Owl Eyes for ‘It Can Wait’ released in 2010 as part of Illy’s album ‘The Chase’ really does deserve your attention. I first heard it earlier this year, and it completely drew me in with some of the best chorus lyrics I’ve heard all year. It’s carefree, catchy and a song that I guarantee you won’t be able to get out of your head for days.

Have a listen and let me know what you think:

For loads of handy information on making the most out of your Working Holiday Visa, check out ‘Work Anywhere: Australia’ the book on Amazon here.

And where will you be spending Christmas?

This seems to be the question on everybody’s lips this time of year, and if you’re in Oz over the holiday season and separated from those lovely loved ones at home, you’ll most likely be looking for somewhere with a bit of go on the day. Swap the mulled wine and mice pies for beers and BBQs – this Christmas is going to be one like no other.

So here are some hotspots where you can celebrate around the country:

1. Bondi Beach – Sydney

This is where it seems nearly every backpacker in the country can be found on Christmas day. Sun, sea, sand and thousands of people for company will truly make you feel a million miles away from home. Stick on your fave Crimbo novelty hat and swimmers and join in with festivities like no other. Just be warned Bondi Beach is an alcohol free zone on the day, and it’s not recommended to attempt any boozing there.

Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 10.12.39

2. Sunburnt Christmas – Sydney 

If you do want to drink (and you fancy a bit of a boogie too) check out Sunburnt Christmas at the Bondi Pavilion, the biggest Christmas festival in Oz, with over 4000 party goers gathering to celebrate the holidays together with a great line up of DJs from all over the country. For more info go to: http://sunburntchristmas.com.au

Sunburnt

3. St Kilda Beach – Melbourne

Although Christmas day can seem pretty quiet in the city, there’s always a good family feel as backpackers gather at the beach to celebrate in their own style. St Kilda won’t be as busy as Bondi on the day so it’s a great place to relax and have a few drinks with friends. If you get down there early enough you might even be able to grab a spot at one of the public BBQs in the area, and have a real Aussie Christmas!

christmas

4. Byron Bay – New South Wales

Famed for it’s hippy residents and laid back way of life, the small town of Byron Bay is the perfect destination if you fancy a chilled Christmas. Away from the hustle and bustle of the cities, this is the perfect place for a get together with friends and being so close to Queensland you’re nearly guaranteed great weather.

Byron Bay

5. All Hostels – Everywhere

If you can’t get to any of these destinations, fear not, nearly every hostel in Australia will be organising some great parties and roast dinners for those of you missing the traditional trimmings. Just make sure you book your club tickets (and rooms) early as you don’t want to miss out on the yule tide festivities!

xmaspartywestend

For loads of handy information on making the most out of your Working Holiday Visa, check out ‘Work Anywhere: Australia’ the book on Amazon here.

How wonderful to meet you…

So I thought as this was my second post on the blog, it would only be right to introduce myself…

My name’s Katie and I recently returned to the rainy North after 2 lovely years travelling around Australia.

Now, I love Australia. So much in fact, I wrote a book about it. Well, about how to make the most of your Working Holiday Visa – I couldn’t let all that hard earned knowledge go to waste now, could I?

‘Work Anywhere: Australia’ is the perfect companion for those planning on working in Australia, and for those already over there. It covers everything from planning before you leave, all the way to getting ready to go back home. Find out how to get work, how to travel on a budget, extending your visa and so much more!

Check it out here and let me know what you think – all feedback is appreciated!

Work Anywhere: Australia

It’s currently only available on Kindle, but if you want to give it a gander on your laptop, just download the Kindle Reader. It will be available on iOS and Android platforms in March 2014.

That’s my plugging all done. Promise.

Oh, and this blog? Well, I’m going to be filling it with lovely bits and bobs such as job updates, handy tips and tricks for stretching your budget, and news on hot spots and events all over Australia all year round.

So if this is your cup of tea, or you reckon it could be somebody else’s, then spread the word and let’s make travelling affordable again!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

So that lovely time of year has come around again, where everyone gathers for, well, let’s be honest, a good old fashioned piss up. After 2 wonderful years in Australia I have to say I was kind of looking forward to coming home and spending some quality Crimbo time with the family – swapping presents, laugher and good tidings…

Oh, wait, I forgot I don’t live in a Dickens novel.

My memories of Christmas’ past seem to be slightly distorted, as the reality of the holiday seems to now consist of drinking far too much wine, eating more than should be humanly possible and falling asleep in front of Elf. Again.

Get me on the first flight back to Oz – I think a beer, a bbq and a beach will suit me just fine this holiday season.

Maxx Dry's all round!