‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’
– Lao Tzu
Where to start? I fell in love with this amazing country and I would even say that I feel more at home in Australia than in my home country, The Netherlands. My plans were to stay in Australia for only three months. I did get a working holiday visa because I had planned already to work for a few weeks. After one month I knew that I loved it too much and also thought it was a waste of visa not to use it completely. So I changed all my plans and stayed a year.
I will tell you about my experience, where I travelled to and what I would recommend.
The great start
It all started when I arrived at Melbourne Airport at 11 pm after a 24 hours flight. Happy but exhausted did I wait till I saw my backpack appear on the luggage belt. Took the bus to the city centre and from there I walked to my hostel, where I had booked a private room. It was already around 1 am when I checked in. I texted some family back home and went to sleep. I was exhausted so I thought I would be able to have a nice sleep before going to my first ‘plan’ on that trip. But ‘jet-lag’ had a surprise for me; at 5 am I woke up, still very tired but couldn’t sleep again.
I had to check out at 10 am and a lot of ‘duties’ for that day. My advise: if you come from far, book the first hostel at least 2 nights, and don’t plan much that first day. I never had such a rough ‘first day’ before.
Planned a really nice Workaway for the first two weeks and that afternoon I had to take the train to a different place and from there, someone was going to pick me up; I was going to text him the time I would arrive. All prepared just needed to buy an Australian sim card and a train ticket.
When everything goes differently than you were hoping for…
So I woke up, had a quick shower and checked out. Went to the supermarket, bought breakfast, ate breakfast and went to a shop to buy a sim card. Well, this part was fine except that I was really tired. Installing the sim card didn’t work. I thought a prepaid is easy, you always just place it in your phone and it works. Well, this was different and because of my lack of concentration it was hopeless to get it working. After some help from different people, it luckily worked.
Then I went to the train station to ask which train I had to take and the time-schedule. And they just said: ‘No train!’ What? No train is going in that direction. The lady was not very nice, not very patient nor helpful. Apparently, they were working on the tracks. Finally, I found out: I could take a bus and then transfer to a train later.
Okay, that was a bummer now everything will be alright…
Walking back to the hostel to pick up my backpack, half falling asleep and confused that the people were walking on the other side of the pedestrian road. Crossing the road and BOAM I don’t know exactly what happened but I clearly didn’t step good on the pedestrian road again when I crossed the street. Face front on the sidewalk. OUCH, that hurt, everyone was looking, jeans were ripped. And all I wanted was crying actually, but of course, I didn’t. When I am writing this down now it doesn’t look much but with the 48 hours lack of sleep, in the plane and the night before and the confusion at that moment, it felt like a lot.
Well fast forward, at some point I was sitting on the right bus with my backpack, a moment of peace but also a discharge of my emotions, they all came out. Sitting all alone in the bus crying.
Well, that’s how Australia started for me. I was jet-lagged for a whole week. Luckily got my energy back after that and enjoyed it the fullest.
So my biggest advise what I already mentioned: book 2 nights, at least, at the same place and take it easy the first day. Jet-lags can be harsh and things often turn out different than planned or expected.
Warm, warmer, HOT
From winter in The Netherlands to summer in Australia. Via Workaway, an online meetingpoint where you can find work for accommodation and food, I was working at The Willowend Round House, here we were building an earth bag house. That is an ecologic way to build a house with big bags filled with soil which you tamp to get a strong wall. It is quite heavy work, but also a lot of fun and the group was amazing. The heavy work in combination with the hot weather was a challenge though.
The weather was really hot. So we started early and the two hottest days in the week we took off and went to the lake nearby. And when I talk about hottest days I mean like 40 degrees Celsius and warmer, we had a few days of 46 degrees even. The experience was amazing and instead of staying two weeks I stayed four.
After I met some great new people, learned heaps of new building-skills, got a bit of Australian slang already and had eye contact with a very venomous brown snake and a few deadly red back spiders, it was time to go back to Melbourne.
I definitely recommend Workaway, it is an easy way to meet locals and sometimes other travellers, this makes it a nice way to start in a new country. I had several great experiences with Workaway.