Charlie, 22 from Bedford, tells us about his Work Australia adventure.
I graduated from university in July 2010 but found myself aimless in life, no real job prospects and in possession of some spare cash. While all my university mates were looking for jobs - or rather going on the dole - I thought to myself, ‘Why don’t I just do something different, take a leap into the unknown?’ So I did.
I went to one of BUNAC’s Work Australia presentations in London and that sold it to me. Australia sounded awesome, a land I’ve always wanted to see and with BUNAC’s help the experience was greatly enhanced. Although I learnt to travel solo around Australia, something I prefer to do as I can do my own thing, actually flying thousands of miles away from home by myself did seem rather daunting. The Work Australia programme was the perfect solution: although you travel with a group of strangers you quickly bond as everyone is in the same boat. As I’d never really organised overseas travel before and with visas involved etc. the BUNAC team were really helpful and organised everything for me. With everything taken care of, I could focus on getting to know everyone. The group I met through BUNAC were a lovely bunch of people and the stopover in Hong Kong meant that we had a 3 day group-bonding session set in a city that I definitely want to return to someday.
When we landed in Sydney, BUNAC’s Australian partners were just as helpful in helping us set up a bank account, get a phone SIM and start the dreaded job search, which was far less taxing than I imagined it to be. They also recommend trips to do and places to live! The office was certainly your one stop shop – it had free internet too, an absolute godsend to a traveller! Though the were supportive in finding a job for me, I recommend scouring sites such as Gumtree and Seek as they advertise heaps of jobs especially for backpackers. I first worked as a sales rep (ok, door knocker!), a great job I found on Gumtree. The money was pretty good but the best thing was that I got to see some real Aussie towns and see how your average Australian lives. If you want to work with Australians though, don’t do this job – the team was nearly all backpackers but another great bunch.
After 2 months of selling discounted electricity I enjoyed Sydney for a short while then headed off to Tasmania, a beautiful island which sadly many travellers don’t get to. Or it’s a good thing if you want to avoid the hordes of tourists. After some WWOOFING there, I headed to Melbourne where I had the best time of my life. I did prefer Melbourne to Sydney, though it’s very much each to their own when comparing the two: Sydney has the beaches and the wonderful harbour while Melbourne has the vibe and the cool little lanes. I caught up with some of the original group there but made many more friends there - you get the confidence to do so once you’ve done the BUNAC experience.
By March I had run out of money so went to Perth, a quieter city with fewer places I could blow my money, and got a job fundraising. Western Australia is another region unspoilt by burgeoning tourism and is much more chilled than the East Coast and Sydney. I would thoroughly recommend anyone who goes to Australia to go to the West if they can. It’s a real shame Perth is so far from anywhere: it’s the sunniest city in the world!
I worked for 2 months in Perth and then went to Alice Springs via Adelaide and the Ghan train to see the famous Ayers Rock, or Uluru as it is now called. It’s really what I went to Australia to see and it did not disappoint. Learning about Aboriginal culture was near the top of my ‘to-do’ list and visiting Uluru and then going to Kakadu NP in the Northern Territory was a fantastic way to tick that off the list. On those tours I slept under the stars in a swag, an awesome experience even though it got down to 4 degrees C at Uluru!
I finished off doing the obligatory East Coast, which lived up to the hype, the highlight being snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef. This is something everyone has to do before they die or they simply cannot say they have led a fulfilled life. My time in Australia had come to an end but due to the rather agreeable travel bug I had caught during the year my July return to the UK included stops in New Zealand and California. Now I’m sat here writing this story reminiscing in my mind about the wonderful times I had. I hope to reminisce soon with the other people from my group as we have a gathering planned in October– these really are friends for life.
The BUNAC programme gives you the perfect mix of work and travel and so it’s one of the best for working abroad. It probably goes without saying that I am itching to go travelling again once I have the money. After all, who needs a career? Why not be a serial traveller? Thanks BUNAC. Maybe see you again soon.
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