Travel

Music Spotlight: Banff

Two posts in one night, well this is unlike me…but trust me, this is worth it!

Banff is described as “a solo music project by Brisbane based song-writer Benjamin Forbes” and, as far as I can tell, this is the only song he’s produced so far.

I don’t care I love it.

This blinder of a song is just what you need at the end of a long weekend, or for some of you lucky travellers, the start of a long road trip. I’m really hoping he’s going to take off because this guys got some serious talent – so give him a listen and a follow because he’s surely got a lot more to offer!

More Travel For Your Dollar – Why 2014 Is The Year To Go Down Under

For many of us, there’s a stage in our lives when we feel like we’re stuck in a bit of a rut. Whether it be in a current job, at school or university, or even if you’re in that inbetweeny stage – sometimes you just need a change.

It’s not a secret that Australia’s a popular destination for young travellers – last year over 432,000 Working Holiday Visas were issued in the UK alone – but why is 2014 the year to go?

Well, aside from it being an incredible country to travel, financially it could be one of the best moves of your life.

Firstly there’s the current exchange rate. At the beginning of January this year, the Australian Dollar (AUD) to Great British Pound (GBP) exchange rate was at its lowest since 2009 at AU$0.53 to £1. So what does that mean to you? Well, it means that when you’re converting your money into dollars you’ll be nearly doubling your cash. Not great for those Aussies coming over to the UK, but great news for you! Think of it as free money (that you worked your ass off for).

Next? Well, you’ve got to love their wages. Ok, so this isn’t a point that’s restricted to this year, but it’s always worth a mention that Australian wages are a great deal higher than the pittance we’re used to in the UK. For example, if you work at a bar, wages tend to start at around $20 p/h. Raise that to $25 on a Saturday, $30 on a Sunday and $45 on a public holiday, and you start to see that you could be making some serious money. Not bad for casual employment!

That not enough money for you? Have some more then! If you’ve been researching working in Australia at all (or you fancy finding out all your need to know in my all-encompassing guide *cough* plug *cough*), you might have heard of Superannuation. Your Superannuation is basically a pension fund that your employer pays into on top of your wages. “But what has this got to do with travelling Down Under in 2014??” you may (or may not) cry. Well, the previous rate of payment was 9% of what you earned, but in July this year it went up to 9.5%. Now that may not sound like a lot, but with the previous rate on a $32,000 wage (very possible in full-time employment) you would receive $2880, but with the 0.5% rise that would take it to $3040. And the best bit? This percentage will be increasing every year until 2022 when it will cap at 12%.

If you haven’t currently got dollar signs in your eyes after reading that I strongly recommend you get your sight tested.

So, three great reasons why 2014 is the year to move Down Under. Need I say any more??

 

I hope you have found this post helpful, and if you have any burning questions or posts you would like me to do, please email me at workanywhereoz@gmail.com

And, as always, there’s the book. So without further ado…

 For loads of information on working and travelling in Australia, get Work Anywhere: Australia the guide today!

 

Top Photo Blogs of Australia

We all love to think we’re pro-photographers on our travels, and with the help of intstagram, those cheeky beach sunset snaps don’t look half bad! But when it comes to photoblogging, these guys really know how to do it. Australia’s a stunning country, and these photographers really capture its essence. Check out my fave photo bloggers from around the country:

Luke Tscharke Photography – Photoblogger of the Year 2013. What more needs to be said?

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Heiko Waechter – Melbourne is famed for its urban culture, and Heiko manages to capture so much of that in just a single picture.

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Michael Snedic – Showing us what amazing wildlife we have the chance to see (and often take for granted) in Australia.

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The Things I Saw – An almost dreamlike Wizard of Oz Kansas meets the Australian Outback…a completely original take on outdoor photography in the country.

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Club of The Waves – This blog doesn’t entirely focus on Australia, but what is a photo blog review without a few pics of hot surfers doing what they do best? You’re welcome.

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For loads of information on working and travelling in Australia, get Work Anywhere: Australia the guide today!

10 Reasons To Pack Your Bags and Head Down Under

There are about a million reasons to jump on a plane and see a new part of the world, but why Australia? Well, here’s a few reasons:

  1. There are so many faces to Australia you never know what you’re going to see next. One day you can be sunning yourself on the second best beach in the world (Whitehaven – The Whitsunday Islands), and the next you could be riding a camel or skiing down a mountain! If that doesn’t leave you spoilt for choice, I don’t know what will.
  2. It can be a good move financially. Many people believe that when they go away on their travels they will come home with a great tan and empty pockets. But why not save as you go? With the average backpacker’s annual wage at around AU$30,000 for casual jobs, you can afford to enjoy the lifestyle whilst getting together the money for your next trip! I’ve even known people to save up for a deposit on a house for when they returned home, so the possibilities really are endless
  3. Tim Minchin. Enough said. 
  4. You can finally do something you’ve always dreamed about. Be it diving on the Great Barrier Reef, learning to surf, exploring the bush or just travelling in general, there are so many opportunities to do new things you’ll be guaranteed to go home with at least a few ticks off the old bucket list.
  5. Lose your solo travel virginity. If you’re thinking of going travelling alone for the first time, this is a great place to start. It’s an English speaking country and one of the safest countries I have ever travelled in. You’ll find it so easy to settle in, and you can even drink the tap water (bonus for those with sensitive tummies).
  6. You will make some of the best friends you’ll ever have. Nothing brings people together like being stuck in a smelly hostel room with no money and just a bag of goon (look it up). There’s nothing like a few kindred spirits on the road, and when you look back on those memories you’ll be glad they were there to make it the trip of a lifetime.
  7. The Aussies have a great sense of humour and they really know how to laugh at themselves. It’s good to remember not to take yourself so seriously sometimes! 
  8. The Great Barrier Reef. Now Australia has countless amazing places to see, but the GBR has to top all of these. One of the 7 natural wonders of the world, this coral reef spans along 1,600 miles of ocean, and is home to some of the most stunning aquatic life you will ever see. And the best bit is whether you’re a diver, a snorkeler, or you prefer to view it in a glass bottom boat, everyone now has the opportunity to visit it.
  9. Whether you’re a sun, sea, sand or snow bunny there really is something for everyone – so why choose? You’re in a country with some of the most versatile climates in the world, making Oz a destination like no other. Grab hold of the opportunity to go wherever you like and see whatever you want all in the one place. Not many countries compare.
  10. Pack your bags because it’s Australia. And it’s freaking awesome. I’ve never met a person who regretted travelling to Oz, myself included, and it’s hardly a hard sell. Go see what all the fuss is about. 

For loads of information on working and travelling in Australia, get Work Anywhere: Australia the guide today!

Cars and Campervans – The Rent vs Buy Debate

So you’ve finally managed to scrape all your hard-earned cents together to put towards that road trip you’ve been dreaming of, now it’s time to start planning!

You know where you want to go, but have you thought about how you’re going to get there?

Cars and campervans are a great way to get around in Oz, especially if you want to see more of the country between destinations instead of flying. You’ve got the freedom to travel your own way, choose your travel buddies, and most importantly, call shotgun.

But there’s one question on the lips of every backpacker when it comes to getting their wheels:

“Should I rent or buy?”

Over the 2 years I spent Down Under I was lucky enough to experience both renting and buying a car, so hopefully this knowledge will be able to help you out a bit! There are obviously pros and cons to both, so let’s start there.

Renting

Pros:

  • It’s cheaper if just for a short trip
  • Break down? Most companies offer 24/7 roadside assistance to get you back on your travels.
  • You’ll probably end up driving a car you could never afford to buy anyway – no more scraping the mould off the windscreen first thing in the morning, this is luxury driving.
  • Hassle free – forget the tonnes of paperwork and checks needed to buy a car, sort out a few details in the rental office and you’re ready to hit the road!
  • You don’t have to sleep crouched in the gap between the back seat and the front – get a few friends together and you can afford a house on wheels – double bed anyone?

Cons:

  • You’ve got the freedom to travel, but only as far as you can afford – rentals can get very expensive over a longer period of time.
  • Not going back to your original starting point? Be prepared to pay a (sometimes hefty) new drop off location fee. Oh yeah, and make sure your rental company has an office there, or you’re going to have to turn around and head back home to give it back.
  • You’d better be a careful driver. And I mean more careful than my Grandma. The company will thoroughly check the car upon its return for scratches and rents, and if there are any new ones you’ll be covering the cost personally.
  • The money you spend to rent a car is money you’ll never get back, buying a car can sometimes be seen as a better investment option as you can always sell it and get (some of) your money back.
  • Some people argue that a rental car doesn’t provide a ‘real’ road trip experience – you haven’t really done it unless you wake up in a damp tin can with cramp from sleeping in a ball…

Buying

Pros:

  • You’ve got the car. It’s yours. Do what you will with it.
  • You’ve got the freedom (engine permitting) to travel wherever you want, whenever you want – what could be greater than that?
  • Works out much cheaper than renting would over a longer period of time, your only costs will be gas and the occasional check ups at the garage.
  • Unlike renting, you can sell the car when you’ve got your use out of it, and some people who have work done on the car can end up selling it for more than they paid for it – think of it as more of an investment than just a purchase.
  • You’ll be everyone’s new best mate. Who doesn’t love a mate with a car?

Cons:

  • You’ll more than likely be buying a used car. On a backpacker’s budget. Just make sure you get it checked first so it doesn’t break down on you within the first 10 minutes of the drive.
  • It’s your car so it’s your problem – any break downs, leaks or general car faults will be down to you to fix, and these aren’t always cheap. Another reason to make sure the car you’re buying is in a reasonable condition when you hand the money over.
  • Who doesn’t love paperwork? Oh yeah, everyone. Unfortunately there’s a good bit of it involved if you’re looking to buy/sell a car, so get that pen out. And don’t forget about those pesky MOTs –  they can be costly if the car hasn’t been loved by it’s previous owner.
  • On your budget I’m guessing you won’t be able to afford that mansion on wheels on offer at the rental office. Be prepared to spend the next few weeks getting a lot closer to your travel buddies in awkward sleeping positions. And weeing in the bush. Don’t forget about that.
  • If you’re only going to be travelling for a month or so, sometimes it can work out cheaper to rent than buy. Take into consideration the cost of used car insurance, break down cover, getting that tune-up at the garage and more, and suddenly that brand spanking new car isn’t looking so bad after all…

So there you have the top pros and cons when it comes to renting or buying a car/campervan, hope this helps with the decision process! Now all that’s left is to enjoy your trip – it’s a tough life ‘ey? 😉

For loads of information on working and travelling in Australia, check out Work Anywhere: Australia the book today!

Venom antidote at the ready…

So it’s nothing new to hear that Australia’s home to some pretty scary wildlife – but how about the top 10 deadliest? Well, The Telegraph has compiled this lovely list for you so now you know what REALLY to watch out for!

Think in two years I’ve had run ins with about 5 of these guys and made it out unscathed – not bad for a novice!

Check out the article in the link below:

Australia’s Deadliest Creatures

For loads of information on working and travelling in Australia, check out Work Anywhere: Australia the book today!

What’s On: Mardi Grass – Nimbin (3rd-4th May)

No, that’s not a spelling mistake. Unlike the Mardi Gras celebrations held the world over, Nimbin’s ‘Mardi Grass’ really is a festival with a difference. Let’s just say it’s a little on the green side.

For those of you unfamiliar with the little town of Nimbin in NSW, the best way to describe it would probably be that it caters to those with more alternative lifestyles (otherwise known as hippies). Famed for it’s cannabis counter-culture, this commune has become a popular stop of for many a backpacker on their Australian travels, with organised tours running daily so you can experience this strange place without any fears of disappearing forever.

So back to Mardi Grass. This annual festival is a celebration of everything green, held on the 3rd & 4th May and is well worth heading to if you want to see a completely unique side to Australia. Compiling of events such as the ‘Hemp Olympix’, the ‘Nimbin Cannabis Cup’ and the ‘Global Marijuana March’, the real challenge will probably be seeing how much of it you remember once it’s over!

Tickets are on sale now, with prices ranging from AU$50 for a one day ticket, to $100 for a weekend pass with 3 nights camping. You can purchase these at www.nimbinmardigrass.com.

Cover photo: http://www.peacebus.com

 

Your Free Day Out: Sydney

Think there’s no such thing as a free lunch? Well how about a free whole day out? Being a backpacker often means that you can find yourself a bit strapped for cash, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your time in a city. I want to show you how you can have fun in any city in Australia without having to delve into your pocket once. Now that’s what I call budget travel.

Never run out of things to do again with this great list of ideas/attractions to keep you busy, all without spending any dollar!

First stop – Sydney.

Sydney Harbour Bridge Walk – Like walks? Like bridges? Well then this will be just the thing for you. Walking across the bridge is a great day out as it’s a chance to stretch your legs without trekking too far and you’ll be rewarded with some stunning views, especially when you get to the opposite side and look back at the Opera House. Great alternative to the bridge climb if you don’t fancy forking out $200

Bondi to Coogee Walk – Another walk (you can see a common theme here…) but really worth it if you’re willing to put the legwork in! The full walk is about 6km all along the coast, but if you’re not up for walking the whole distance there are plenty of beaches you can stop off at on the way. Also, make sure to head down end of October/start of November for ‘Sculpture by the Sea’, an annual exhibition of around 100 sculptures by local artists, placed along various points on the walk. For a bit of added beauty (and to avoid the crowds) do the walk at sunrise – absolute perfection.

Vivid Sydney – Every year from the 23rd May to 9th June the ‘Vivid Sydney’ festival is on  – a celebration of the city’s creativity through lights and music. During this time buildings all over the city have stunning light projections displayed on them, with accompanying music, making it a real feast for the eyes and ears. You can pick up a free map of what’s on and where from information points, so grab one and take a night to discover a new side to Sydney. Don’t miss the Darling Harbour nightly music, light and water show, truly spectacular!

Art Galleries – The Art Gallery of NSW and White Rabbit are two fantastic art galleries, completely different from one another and both completely free to visit. The NSW Art Gallery was established in 1871 and is home to a diverse range of Australian and International artwork, covering all styles from traditional to contemporary. White Rabbit, on the other hand, is a reflection on Australia’s Asian culture, hosting one of the largest collections of Asian contemporary art in the whole country. Why not check them both out, and fill your boots with culture!

Royal Botanic Gardens – If you’ve been to Sydney before, you’ll no doubt be familiar with the city’s Royal Botanic Gardens, but that’s no reason not to head down for a visit if you’re looking for something free to do! Pack yourself a picnic and sit in the sunshine, admiring the wonderful views (and a great spot of people watching!), then walk along to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair for possibly the best viewpoint of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge combined.

So if you’re stuck for something to do in the city, give these a go and enjoy some great days out whilst saving your pennies. More posts to come with ideas for free days out in other big cities, so keep your eyes peeled!

Cover Photo: http://www.vividsydney.com