Road Trip: The East Coast and a Detour to Canberra

Driving steeply downhill from the Snowy Mountains and heading towards the East Coast, it felt good. The air was quickly becoming milder and I decided I was pretty much over winter, I couldn’t wait for spring!

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We hit the East Coast for the first time at a little beach town called Tathra. Reaching the peak of a hill I could see the long curving bay below, surrounded by trees with cliffs in the distance. I felt excited to see the sea again and everything had a more sub tropical feel. Chris and I got out and went for a walk along the beach, the sand was golden and the water looked pretty inviting, still too cold though.

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Road Trip: Blighty to the Snowy Mountains

IMG_344611 Days ago Chris and I were still in Blighty, NSW. Being our last weekend there, it was pretty busy and non-stop. We cleaned our wee farm house top to bottom, squeezed all our belongings into our campervan, and said our goodbyes to friends, work colleagues, the dogs, cats, and cows. And after 6 months of working and living in the same place, just like that, we were gone. To be honest I was too excited about the thought of travelling again to feel too sad about leaving! And it didn’t take long to used to campervan living again. Once I got used to the colder living conditions, it was like I’d never stopped!IMG_0160

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Campervan Hardships

Travelling by campervan can be great. You’re free to explore and go where you want when you want, you have a portable bed and kitchen with you at all times, and overall it can be a lot of fun.

But travelling by campervan can also be hard, especially if you’re determined to freedom camp. I’m coming to the end of my first week back on the road, and although it’s been awesome, it’s not always been easy.

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One More Week to Go

For the past 6 months I’ve been working on a dairy farm in a little rural place called Blighty in NSW. Since leaving Northern Ireland in January 2012 this is the longest I’ve ever stayed in one place, and to be honest it’s not the most exciting of locations.

But for once it hasn’t been about travelling, but instead, about working. It’s been a chance to really build up the funds, and for the first time in my life, I actually have some proper money saved! Which is probably a good idea considering I’ll be travelling around Australia for the next few months with no plans of getting a job for a very long time!

So now the count down is seriously on. Less than 1 week to go, only 4 more shifts left at work. To say I’m excited is an understatement! I can’t wait to say goodbye to the mundane, day-to-day routine that many jobs bring. No more alarms going off at 3am, no more living for the weekend, those days are soon to be over.

Instead, Chris and I will be living out of our campervan, just taking each day as it comes, unsure of what will be around the next corner. I can’t actually wait! The feeling I have right now, it takes me back to when I was in Northern Ireland, waiting to go to New Zealand for the first time. The anticipation of not knowing what’s coming next, not knowing what I’ll see, the experiences I’ll have, or the people I’ll meet along the way. Continue reading

10 Reasons Why Dairy Farming is a Great Job for Backpackers

IMG_2911For the past 4 months I’ve taken a break from travelling to work on a dairy farm. I’m not going to lie, when I first started the job it all seemed a bit overwhelming. Waking up at 3am was tough, I’d never worked with animals before, and I’ll never forget how disgusted and horrified I was during my first few shifts when I saw first hand just how much these cows shit! I would come home every day absolutely filthy! After my first week I was telling people that it was an interesting experience but that I would never work on a dairy farm again.

But of course things change and now I actually enjoy going to work. I have a laugh with my colleagues, really like working with the cows (even when they don’t behave), and believe it or not the shit’s not that bad, it’s just chewed up grass really…  So I’m now writing a blog encouraging backpackers to work on dairies! And here’s why: Continue reading

The Hay Plains, One of the Flattest Places in the World

I look forward to my 3 days off every other weekend. Not only does it mean I don’t have to get up at 3am, but it usually means a road trip and change of scene from lovely Blighty.

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Chris and I decided to check out the Hay Plains, about 2 hours north of Blighty. With only a 17 metre difference between the highest and lowest point on the plains, this is one of the flattest places in the world. And you do really get that impression as you’re driving along the highway, as there’s literally nothing around you. Everything is totally flat with not even a tree on the horizon. Continue reading

“I Just Saw a Cow Wearing Wellies”

When I first started working on the dairy farm I knew the hardest part was going to be the early mornings and split shifts. But when my alarm went off at 3am on the first day I literally jumped out of bed ready to go.

And so was the start of a new lifestyle and routine. I would work from 3.45am until about 8.30am, get home, grab a few hours sleep, eat lunch, and then go back to work from 2.30pm until 7ish, have some dinner, get as much sleep possible, and start all over again.

I don’t know if it was the excitement of starting a new job or what but during the first few days I felt pretty good. ‘This isn’t so bad!’ I thought. But it wasn’t long until I realised I wasn’t getting as much sleep as I needed. And it’s amazing what a lack of sleep can do to your mind! Continue reading

Don’t Work on Illegal Tomato Farms, Become a Dairy Farmer Instead

cape_backpackerLast year the Australian Government granted over 200,000 working holiday visas. It seems us backpackers are literally flocking to the country, lured by the prospect of adventure and high wages. And once we’re here we don’t want to leave. Therefore, high on the priority list is completing 88 days of specified work in a regional area that allows us to apply for a 2nd year visa. This usually means working in a rural area doing fruit picking, farming, construction work etc.

I feel that this condition for a visa extension is both a blessing and a curse. It’s good because it helps regional employers, who often struggle to get Australian workers, by encouraging backpackers to go out to these rural areas and work on their farms to extend their stay. But on the other hand, it leaves backpackers open to exploitation, as many are willing to do just about anything to tick off those 88 days.

The Job Hunt

A few months ago I was in the vulnerable position of looking for a job. I’d pushed things as far as they could go financially but now funds were at an all time low. I thought I might as well get a job that would allow me to apply for a 2nd year visa, kill 2 birds with one stone and all that. Continue reading

A Crowded New Years Eve in Sydney

If there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s being caught up and pushed around by crowds of people feeling like you don’t even mambohave the space to breathe. And yet there I was leaving my hotel room at 5.30 in the morning to see the Sydney New Years Eve 2013 fireworks. There were literally hundreds of vantage points throughout the city where you could watch the fireworks, and the most consistent advice I’d received from the Aussies was to choose somewhere further away, and less popular. Of course, being an overexcited tourist in Sydney for the first time, I went against all advice and chose Mrs Marcquaries point as my base. With views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, this was possibly one of the most popular free vantage points in the city, and had a maximum capacity of 17,000 people. Continue reading