Australia Day 2015 Cairns

Our Time In Cairns

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Who would have thought that what was supposed to be a short two-month stop in Cairns would drag on for seven months!  The main reason for the extended stay was because we needed to earn some money and fix the Troopy, but another important reason was because we needed to be close to an airport so we could fly back to Melbourne for Dave’s sister’s wedding in April.

 

 

Living in Cairns

With the intention of making contact with some new friends that we met up in Cape York, we arrived in Palm Cove just in time for the Reef Feast Festival.  Symon and Robyne were perfectly hospitable and let us stay at their place, which was a lifesaver while we sorted out more long-term arrangements.

 

 

After a few days, we moved into a hostel on Lake Street, about 3km from the city centre.  We worked for our accommodation – Juz was behind the reception desk while Dave drove the shuttle bus for guests between the airport and town.  As long as we worked 21 hours a week each, we had our private double room paid for, but Juz picked up a job at Subway for some extra cash, and eventually a visit to the emergency room because of a cut thumb.

 

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However, after a month of living with scores of partying backpackers from various countries, working irregular hours and missing a clean and tidy kitchen, we moved out into a house down the street.  The rent for the room was affordable on Juz’s wages, the kitchen was tidy and had a gas stove, and our housemates were lovely and quiet.  Unfortunately, with the road to the airport just outside our window, and the flight path for incoming planes overhead, sleeping in was impossible and conversations would occasionally be interrupted by the roar of jet engines.  We also had an alien fungi farm growing under the sink!

 

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After a month or two, we were presented with an offer we couldn’t refuse.  Cheap rent of a room with an ensuite for a few household favours meant that we moved away from the city to the suburb of Redlynch.  We lived at the base of the Great Dividing Range, close to major supermarkets and a gym but far, far away from the bustle of the city and noise of the airport.  We stayed here until the end of our time in Cairns, and enjoyed weekly cooking challenges with our housemate.

 

 

Working in Cairns

Once we had moved in to the Lake Street House, we were relieved to be free of our hostel duties.  Juz continued her job at Subway while Dave picked up three days of work per week as a landscaper.  He also worked two nights a week as a dish pig at the Palm Cove Surf Club, thanks to Symon putting a good word in.

 

 

When school holidays started, Juz’s shifts at Subway were cut to accommodate for the less expensive teens, so she looked for another way to earn some money.  A search on Gumtree turned up a casual data entry job whereby she could chose her own hours, her own hourly rate, and invoice the client at the end of the week.  It was a dream job that got even dreamier when the client suggested that Juz do it from home – score!

 

 

On top of the Subway job and data entry gig, Juz also enrolled to knock off another subject in her Nutritional Medicine degree.  Needless to say that when the school holidays were over and her Subway shifts were increased, she got stressed out and ditched Subway to focus on data entry and uni work at home.

 

 

In the meantime, Dave’s landscaping job dried up just in time for the Wet Season so he had to find another way to make an extra buck and keep himself busy.  He cleverly devised a plan that would solve both his problems.  Every fortnight, auctions were held in town to sell off a variety of goods, such as repossessed stolen goods, hospitality gear from closed restaurants, tools, furniture, computers, everything you can think of – including bikes!  The bikes would usually sell for between $5 and $20, so Dave would buy one or two each fortnight, fix them, clean them and sell them on Gumtree for what he thought the bike was worth.  One time – he sold a bike for $200!

 

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Fun in Cairns

Our main, regular activity was trivia at the Red Beret Hotel on Monday nights.  On our first visit, we won the jackpot round ($150!) and were hooked.  Over time, we got another core player – Phillip – each week, we would try our luck at winning various vouchers.  Most of them were for Port Douglas, but the prizes for first and second place included a voucher for the Red Beret, so occasionally we would be rewarded with a free dinner.

 

 

 

When it came to making new friends in Cairns, it was fairly difficult with the locals because many of them seem to resent foreigners (the ones supporting Cairn’s tourism industry)!  Most of our friends in Cairns weren’t actually from Cairns at all – like Viki and Akos – a Hungarian couple that moved to Cairns around four years ago, and another couple from Darwin.  It was also great to meet up with local blogger, Kate Richards from Adventure Mumma (but not from Cairns), and chat about what’s great about Australia.  We made a few friends while we were staying at the hostel too.

 

 

Visitors!

We had so many visitors while we were in Cairns.  Both of Juz’s parents visited at around Christmas time, and we got to see Dave’s auntie and uncle when they spent a week in Port Douglas.

 

 

 

It was great to see Peter and Jo again – the last time we saw them was in the Barossa Valley in South Australia.  Another of our buddies, Smita, flew up to go scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef.

 

We were also happy to be visited twice by Peter and Saeng who we stayed with up in Cooktown.  They always brought us a goody-bag of home grown produce and some of Saeng’s home-made delicacies.

 

 

Pros & Cons of Cairns

Cairns is an awesome place to visit but can be difficult to reside in.  Unemployment is high unless you’re interested in hospitality work, and even then you have to complete with backpackers and low wages.  During the peak season there are lots of tourists, and we believe that some locals don’t enjoy this side of Cairns.

 

 

We arrived during the dry season and were looking forward to another opportunity to experience the wet season from December to February.  Unfortunately, all the cyclones that were picked up on the radar dodged Cairns and all we got was a splash of rain and lots of humidity.

 

 

 

 

With all this time spent in the tropics of Australia, we are ready to say goodbye to the misty mountains and sugar cane fields and we look forward to heading south to cooler climates.

 

 

Thanks Cairns!

 

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Travel Jobs : Landscaping

Cairns

 

Hey! – Dave here.

 

We decided to stop in Cairns for a couple of reasons – we had to buy and replace some parts on the Troopy, and we’d run out of money.  We needed to get jobs, but it turns out that the unemployment rate in Cairns is really high.  Fortunately, Juz found a job at Subway, but I wasn’t having any luck with the countless job applications I was sending out.  I applied for admin jobs that I’m more than qualified for, as well as retail and labouring work and anything else that sounded decent.  After three months of automated rejections, a guy we were living with ended up getting me a job working with him and his boss as a gardener.

 

I naively expected the work to be all about planting trees, pruning roses and re-potting plants.  It was nothing like that at all.  Almost all of the work was body corporate funded garden maintenance for apartment blocks.

 

When we arrived at a job, we’d pick up any rubbish and fallen palm fronds, snip and mow the grass, use the leaf-blower to clean up, and finally spray any weeds.  Sometimes I’d use the hedge-trimmer to cut back overgrown bushes or the extendable pole-saw to cut off seed pods high up in the palm trees.

 

There are lots of companies doing garden maintenance in Cairns, which means the industry is highly competitive and they have to keep their prices low to get the work.  As an employee, it means you have to work really fast.  With temperatures up in the mid 30s and humidity around 90%, it was hot, sweaty, thirsty, exhausting work.

 

Overall, I enjoyed the work and would do a similar job again, just not in the tropics.

 

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Subway travel job

Travel Jobs : Fast Food (Made Fresh)

Hi guys – Juz here…

 

When we realised we were stuck in Alice Springs for at least another two weeks because of Troopy issues, I knew that I’d have to get a job – for two reasons.  Firstly, because if I sat around doing nothing, my mind would melt and secondly, we’d need extra money for the mechanic’s bill.

 

I scored an interview at the big name burger joint in town and after a really odd interview, I was told I’d gotten the job. However, as the rosters had been done for the next two weeks, I’d have to wait at least that long for my first shift. I walked out with a bittersweet feeling – it was awesome that I got the job but shitty that I wouldn’t start for another two weeks.

 

As I drove home, I cracked the shits and realised that I didn’t want to work at a big name burger joint anyway. Determined to go home with a job I actually wanted, I pulled into the Subway store around the corner from where we were staying and marched in. After filling out the application form and having an informal interview with the manager, I was given a uniform and my first shift was the next day.

 

Subway travel job

 

The Role

Working as a sandwich artist was great. If I wasn’t making awesome subs for customers, I’d be washing dishes, preparing salads and meats for the day, putting together platter orders and general cleaning duties. It was great to learn about all aspects of the store, from baking the bread and cookies to processing lunch orders for a local school.

 

I also was enrolled in Subway University, and am now a certified Sandwich Artist.  This is great because it gets my foot in the door at other Subway stores if we need to stop for work again.

 

The End

Unfortunately, after only one week of work, we got the Troopy back from the mechanics, which meant that we’d be leaving town soon. I tried to be as honest and upfront with the manager at all times so as soon as I knew when we were leaving, I let her know.  It was sad because I was just starting to get used to all the processes. I worked for another week and a half before we left Alice Springs for the second time.

 

If I had to work at Subway again, I would.  The other staff members were friendly, the work was great, and the pay was actually quite good.  Plus, I didn’t have to take lunch to work because I have no problem with munching on a Subway sandwich, compared to a greasy burger.

 

Helpex Alice Springs

Helpx : Housekeeping and the steelyard

Helpex Alice Springs

 

After four days of landscaping for a family, our second Helpex assignment was hanging out with Derren, his housemate Brad and their two dogs, Buddy and Buster.  Derren is probably the most active couchsurfing host in Alice Springs and told us stories about having up to 15 guests at one time!

 

Staying with Derren and Co. was easy.  In exchange for accommodation, food and facilities, Dave worked at their steel yard for about three hours a day during the week, which involved deliveries, putting away stock, fabricating metal and even brushing up on his forklift skills.  He also trimmed the grass at home.  On the other hand, Juz busied herself by cooking and cleaning at home and entertaining the dogs, but also did some filing in the office at the steel yard.

 

Helpex Alice Springs

 

We were definitely spoilt.  We had our own room with a comfortable bed, full use of the kitchen and whatever was stocked on the shelves and in the fridge, including the Nespresso coffee machine, as well as all the video clips, documentaries and movies we wanted, thanks to Foxtel.  Our stay in Alice Springs was perfectly timed with the World Cup so Dave was pretty happy about having a big screen TV to watch the games on, and we even let off fireworks in the garden for Territory Day.

 

Helpex Alice Springs

 

Derren and Brad were great company, and we had many stimulating conversations.  They also accompanied us on nights out in town and entertained us on nights in – dancing to music videos, singing and carrying on well into the early morning.  We know that we have friends in Alice Springs.

 

After some car troubles while we were in the West Macs, we came back to Alice and stayed with Derren and Brad again until we had everything fixed.  Thanks again guys!

 

Helpex Alice Springs

 

 

Cartoon Camp

Travel Jobs : Cartooning Camp

Cartoon Camp

 

Hey everyone – Juz here…

 

Do you like to play games and have fun?  Can you cut oranges and cook noodles? Are you able to project your voice over the laughing and screaming of sugar-buzzed beings?  Then working with kids is for you!

 

Our extended stay in Alice Springs meant that I had the opportunity to find some work.  After a quick browse on Gumtree, I found an ad for an assistant at a cartooning camp, and thinking about my time at the primary school in Darwin and all my years of drawing at school, I promptly applied and by dinnertime the next day, I had the job.

 

 

The Role

As far as the position description was concerned, the job was fairly simple – have fun, play games, cut oranges, cook noodles, tidy the hall, chat with parents and supervise children.  Piece of cake!

 

I rocked up nice and early on Monday morning, anticipating a day of fun and laughter but unfortunately, by the time Dave picked me up 6 hours later, I was beyond exhausted.  Despite two other assistants present at the camp, the day was disorganised and the kids were so jacked up on sugar that they were difficult to control.  The organiser of the camp apologised to all of us for the chaotic day and promised that the rest of the week would be better.

 

Cartoon Camp

 

He was right.  As we assistants got more confident in our roles, the kids settled in their roles too and there was a perfect harmony between children and supervisors.  Music quietened the kids as they learnt how to draw various cartoon characters like Batman, Bender, Popeye and the characters from Adventure Time.  Every day was a different fancy dress day and we would give ‘Kingdom money’ for the best dressed.  In fact, ‘Kingdom dollars’ were handed out throughout the week for good behaviour and helping out with various activities.  By the end of the week, the kids had wads of ‘Kingdom cash’ that they could spend at the Friday market.

 

The markets were a great way to end the week.  Each kid put together a stall – carnival games, cupcakes and cookies, a nail salon or face painting – and set a price for their goods.  It was a huge success and I got both my finger nails and toe nails ‘expertly’ painted while enjoying a very gentle shoulder massage.  I also scored some hand painted body art, fake tattoos and some delicious lemon slice to take home to Dave.

 

Cartoon Camp

 

Wrap Up

All in all – it was a great week and I would definitely do it again, but there is no way I could do it as a full time job.  The day started at 8:30am and by the time the day ended at around 3:30pm, I’d have to hoist myself into the Troopy.  The hourly rate was reasonable and I walked away with over $400 and a cool t-shirt to use for the next cartooning camp.

 

Cartoon Camp

 

 

Party sparkles!

Travel Jobs : Party Hire

Party sparkles!

Hi everyone.  Juz here…

 

We knew we’d have to find jobs in Darwin because our funds were running seriously low.  I went for a few interviews with businesses and recruitment agencies, but I wasn’t having much luck until I found a job on Gumtree for a part time position at a party hire business.

 

I called up and was invited to come in for an interview.  I was told that I was way overqualified for the position (warehouse chick), but I begged them to give me the job anyway.  I love parties and events, have organised many shindigs in my day, and we really needed the money so we could afford the crappy caravan park we were staying at.  She told me to start on Monday – WIN!

 

My duties were simple.  From about Wednesday onwards, I would pack orders for the coming weekend.  The orders would either be collected by the customers, or our delivery guy would load up his truck and drop them off.  Sometimes I’d get to go out to a job and help set up chair covers and sashes, or assist with lighting.

 

 

On Mondays, all the items were returned to the warehouse for cleaning and packing away.  I’d use a commercial dishwasher to wash all of the glasses, cutlery and crockery, and put everything away to be ready for the next weekend of orders.  Tuesday and Wednesday were the quietest days and sometimes I’d have the whole day off.  Eventually I was trained to clean bain maries, deep fryers, and chairs, and even the roll top grills and popcorn maker.

 

The wash area

 

I was there for about six weeks before I was promoted to receptionist with full time hours working 5.5 days a week.  It basically involved taking bookings either over the phone, face to face or via email, quoting for large events and weddings, cross-hiring items if required, invoicing, petty cash, point of sale, and my warehouse duties.  Over time, the girl who took care of the high end administrative stuff left and I took on those duties too.  I became the office all-rounder, communicating with the off-site accounts lady, managing accounts payable, banking and chasing up overdue accounts.

 

By the end of it, I spent most of my time in the office to work on bookings and deal with customers, but when it got quiet, I’d venture into the warehouse and pack an order, press linen or tidy up.  The delivery guys were great to work with, were fully capable in doing their job and provided some comic relief.  We had two guys who were also travellers – a Dutch Ben who worked throughout the Dry Season and a French Ben that replaced him for the Wet Season.

 

Pressing the sashes!

 

While the job was based on administration, there are a lot more elements when you’re working in events.  Your customers are trying to organise a party and your products include Chinese lanterns, slushie machines and bain maries.  Working in the warehouse involved manual labour and some heavy lifting, and I loved hearing about what the customers are planning for their event and how their event went when they returned the hired goods.  It was a great job and I was really lucky to get it considering our circumstances but it would have been nice to ditch the 3 hours on Saturday for a full weekend.  In the future, I’d be happy to work for another party hire business.

 

Unfortunately, as the Dry Season faded away and the rains arrived, the business started to slow and there was talk of closing the office one day a week.  This would have cut into my hours too much so I had to gracefully resign and find something else that wasn’t affected by the Wet Season.

 

Packdown

Travel Jobs : Events

SO ORANGE

Hi all – Juz here…

 

When we first got to Darwin, the first job I managed to score was via an agency.  They called me up and asked if I wanted to spend the next day at the Darwin Exhibition Centre setting up for sold out The Dalai Lama event.  I humbly accepted.

 

I woke up at the crack of dawn, got ready and drove over to the Darwin Waterfront to arrive at about 7am. The rest of the sleepy-eyed casual workers were waiting in the staff room, hugging a mug of coffee.  We were all  issued with a shirt and hi-vis vest and got to work.

 

The first task was to pack down from the night before.  The huge exhibition room was divided into three, and the centre room had a stage that needed to be taken down.  The dividing panels were pushed aside and stored in the biggest closet I’d ever seen.  Packdown was the best part.  About halfway through the shift, we all got a free lunch.  The table was spread with all sorts of salad fillings – ham, cheese, green salads, asian noodle salads, tomatoes and condiments.  Everyone got a great feed before getting back to work.

 

Packdown

 

Once the hall was clear, we started to set up the chairs for the Dalai Lama’s audience of literally thousands.  This was the worst part.  There was one guy who would check the chairs every 30 minutes or so to see if they weren’t straight enough.  If not, we’d have to go through them again to line them up perfectly.  After working on the chairs for hours, there was a last minute request to add more chairs and move the front row forward.  This didn’t go down well and some temp workers called it a day.

 

Set Up

 

At about 4pm, my feet were sore, I was exhausted and I decided to call it a day myself.  I am extremely proud to say that I participated in the set up for The Dalai Lama, even though I didn’t end up going to the event.  The pay was about $20 an hour and it was a welcome addition to the funds to keep us going while we looked for something more long term.

 

Would I work in events again? YES!

 

Dalai Lama

The audience of the Dalai Lama

 

 

PURPLE BEARD

The Beard : Update #2

Welcome to my massive 12 month milestone beard update post!

 

This time around, I’m going to let you in on the top-secret Beard Code, tell you about my experience of job-hunting with a beard, and I’ll even get into the unspoken psychology of Cold Beard Wars.

 

But first, the critical figures at the massive 12 month milestone.  The beard has reached a splendid length of 13cm … and we dyed the beard purple the other day.

 

 

The Beard Code

Here are my observations and interpretations of the unspoken beard code that only exists between those fine gents who possess a beard of some sort.  Those with a suitably impressive moustache or pair of sideburns will occasionally get a half-nod of semi-respect, but generally, there has to be hair on the chin.  Clean shaven boys don’t share the code and are looked down upon or just ignored completely.

 

The basic rule of the beard code is: if the other man’s beard is bigger/longer than yours, he commands more respect.  This means that the larger beard always has the right of way when two guys cross paths.

 

beard chats

 

Beard code interactions range from a simple nod of acknowledgement through to praise and photo requests.  Women and babies may touch the beard as they please, all others must request permission prior to any beard fondling.

 

Job Hunting Beard

While I was looking for a job in Darwin, I kept my beard braided.  It was a lot neater, but still not neat enough for any office jobs.  I was a bit pissed off about it at the time, but in hindsight, I’m glad – I’ve worked in offices for the last seven years and was hoping to try some different jobs while we were on the road.  So I had to find a beard-friendly job.  I ended up getting a job delivery driving in a small truck.  It’s almost expected that truckies have a beard!

 

Truck Driver Beard

 

Cold Beard Wars

Speaking of workplaces, when I was working back in Melbourne before we left on this trip, I experienced what I can only describe as a cold war between beards.  It felt like there was a bit of an undeclared, silent facial hair competition between some of us bearded fellows.  Maybe some sort of alpha-male, king-of-the-jungle type stuff.

 

When I first noticed this strange phenomenon, I was growing a long, pointy goatee which I trained to curl forwards then upwards.  Over the course of a few months, other guys would come into work after having shaved and they’d look a bit defeated.  They would seem melancholy and wouldn’t be able to make eye contact with me.

 

I’m not one of those macho “look how big mine is” type of guys, but I reckon the beard war I stumbled upon was a very testosterone-fuelled dominance contest, though subdued and non-violent.

 

When my pointy, curly goatee started tickling my nose too much, I shaved it off and left a short stubble beard.  All the guys at work the next day seemed happy and excited.  I think I inadvertently declared victory and reset the beard war.

 

Then I started growing this.

 

BAM Beard

 

Juz, Dave and Beard

In the last beard update, I mentioned how much Juz dislikes the beard and misses my face.  Women not liking their man’s facial hair is very common – “it tickles”, “it’s scratchy”, “You gave me pash-rash” (Juz: and that’s not even half of it!).  And so we must compromise…

 

Rather than shaving it off completely, the beard will undergo a transformation.  Juz will be getting back a fair part of my face while I’ll be keeping most of the length.  Everybody wins!

 

Keep an eye out for the next post, which reveals the transformation!

 

 

Straya Animals!

FOREIGNER FAQ

Australia can be a pretty confusing place if you don’t understand the lingo or the law.  We hope this post will help international visitors navigate around what you can and can’t do, and what you shouldn’t do.  If you have any questions that you would like to have answered, send them through and we’ll put an answer together as soon as we can.

 

Aussie Slang

Update your vocabulary with some words of vague origin that are used by Aussies during general speech.  Of course, you may have to get used to the accent and that our laid-back attitude seeps into the way we talk.  A simple sentence can come out sounding like a series of grunts and slurs or a really long word, so the two options you have if you don’t have any clue what was just said to you is to either smile, nod and leave, or keep saying “you’re gonna have to say that again in English because I don’t understand you” until a conversation ensues.

 

Check out our Aussie slang post here.

 

Straya Animals!

 

Free Camping

The most valuable resource you can purchase is a Camps Australia book.  Not only is it a great road directory of Australia, but it also marks off petrol stations, landmarks and places where you can stay overnight.

 

Some of the places are barren rest areas in the middle of no-where, others are sheltered camp spots with picnic facilities and toilets.  Some are in homesteads and remote stations, others are in caravan parks.  The book will tell you whether you need to pay a fee to enter or camp, and it also provides a contact number, just in case you want to call ahead and find out what the fee will be for the night.

 

We purchased one of these brilliant books in Mount Gambier and it has paid for itself over and over again.  We’ve gone through the thing and highlighted all the free camps for quick reference, but there have been a few paid places that we’ve stayed at, purely because they only charge $5 per person for the night.

 

Get your copy here http://www.campsaustraliawide.com/

 

Cobboboonee camping

 

Cheap Supermarkets

Fresh produce prices vary from state to state but you will generally find that the cheapest supermarkets are the major ones (Coles or Woolworths).  Some towns only have IGAs but it’s still worth going in and having a look for some deals.

 

Almost every supermarket you enter will have a clearance section, where you can get stuff like moisturiser and sunscreen, old holiday stock and packet mix foodstuffs super cheap.  The dairy and bakery sections will also have reduced stock like a whole loaf of bread for $1.50 or a 500g tub of yoghurt for $3, while discounted meat is usually marked off with a special clearance sticker.  These reduced products are often very close to their “use-by” date, so make sure you have enough time to eat everything you buy before it gets gross.

 

Half a roast chicken on special for $2 - SCORE!

 

Cheap Petrol

With the fluctuations of petrol prices, it pays to do some research.  More often than not, prices will be lower in larger towns along the coast than smaller towns.  For diesel, the average price is around $1.50 a litre in the cities. We saw the price get up to about $2 a litre on the Nullarbor in South Australia and over $2.35 in the Kimberley.

 

Lots of supermarkets have discount programs with petrol stations.  Coles is connected to Shell, Woolworths is connected to Caltex, and in smaller towns, the independent grocery stores may be connected with the local petrol station.  To get a discount voucher for your petrol, you’ll need to spend around $30 on groceries and your voucher will be a barcode at the bottom of the docket.  Give this to the console operator at the petrol station to get around 4 cents off per litre.

 

Dangerous Wildlife

It is not a secret that Australia is covered with animals that will peck, bite, sting and eat you.  Here is a very brief guide to those animals, but we suggest you do some further research if you are seriously concerned about meeting one of these critters.

 

Crocodiles

There are two kinds of crocodiles in Australia along the northern coast.  Freshwater crocodiles grow to about 1-2 metres in length and tend to just want to chill out.  It doesn’t matter how relaxed they look, leave them alone because they still have a mouth full of sharp teeth.

 

Saltwater crocodiles are found in rivers, estuaries and on beaches and can grow well beyond 2 metres in length.  These guys are aggressive and love eating humans.  A general rule to remember is – if there’s barramundi, there’s crocs, but there are usually signs near water that tell you if crocs are about.  Don’t eat or clean fish near the water’s edge and camp well away from rivers, estuaries and pools.  You don’t want to end up like one of those wildebeest in those documentaries that get dragged and twisted into the water.

 

Spiders

If you want to get close enough to a spider to touch it, then you’re nuts.  Just leave ALL OF THEM alone!  White tails are scavenger spiders that can cause your flesh to rot from the bacteria on their fangs, while funnel webs are seriously venomous and can chase a human just to bite them!  WATCH OUT AND STAY AWAY!

 

 

Snakes

Some are not a threat to humans while others will not hesitate to inject you with a lethal dose of venom if you make them feel threatened.  To avoid any confusion, respect and stay away from all snakes.

 

Cane Toads

These introduced bastards are wreaking havoc on our ecosystems.  An adult cane toad is chunky, about 10-15cm in length with a bony head, poisonous glands behind the ears, dry, bumpy skin of grey, yellow or olive brown and a pale belly.  At the moment, they are found in Northern Territory and Queensland and we don’t want them spreading anywhere else.  Check your car and luggage for stowaways.

 

Marine animals

Jellyfish are an issue, especially the Box Jellyfish, which is one of the most lethal animals in the world.  They are usually found along the coast and have long stingers that administer painful venom.  You can put vinegar on the affected area and remove the tentacles with a towel, but seek medical attention immediately!

 

Other marine animals include the Blue-Ringed Octopus, a pretty little thing that is actually the most toxic sea creature in the world.  It has a powerful nerve toxin in its salivary glands that can paralyse you in 10 minutes and kill you in 30 minutes.  Stonefish are masters of camouflage and are gagging for you to step on them so they can give you a nasty sting.  Stories stay that the pain is so excruciating that the only thing that will stop the pain is amputation…

 

The other obvious marine animal to look out for is the shark.  Just watch JAWS before you arrive in Australia and you’ll get your education.

 

Fishing Permits

Each state has their own laws about fishing.  Some require you to purchase a fishing license while others allow fishing in the ocean but not in rivers and estuaries.  Perhaps you’re allowed to catch this fish but not that fish, or you might be allowed to catch a 13cm blue swimmer crab in South Australia but a 12.7cm crab in Western Australia.

 

Make sure you check the laws at information centres before you end up with a fine.  You can get free stickers that give you the acceptable lengths of each fish that you can catch in the state, and there are identification booklets available to let you know what’s good to eat and what’s poisonous.  Just Google ‘fishing licence Australia’ to get you started…

 

Fishing on Busselton Jetty during a sunset 

 

Quarantine & Exclusion Zones

Quarantine zones are mainly about stuff that you can and can’t bring in and out of the country, but did you know that there are exclusion zones within Australia?  If you’re planning on doing a road trip, make sure you’re aware of these zones.  The last thing you want is to be fully stocked with fruits and vegetables, honey and nuts, and drive past a sign that tells you that you need to put all of that into the bin before going any further.

 

A big checkpoint is Border Village on the Nullarbor.  We were aware of the restrictions and made sure that we had no fresh fruits of vegetables, nuts or honey.  When we got to the check point, a guy with a clipboard searched our vehicle and found adzuki beans in our grains box.  They were confiscated and we were allowed to proceed.

 

The reason for quarantine zones is so that pests like the notorious fruit fly or other little bugs, weeds or diseases don’t get brought into uninfected areas and wreak havoc.  Read up on interstate quarantine here: http://www.quarantinedomestic.gov.au/index.php

 

Bush Fires

Australia’s aridity leaves it susceptible to bush fires that either spring up naturally due to the intense heat, accidentally from a discarded cigarette butt or campfires, or intentionally by an arsonist.

 

Bush fires are serious business and can move really fast, burning everything in its path.  If you hear about a bushfire in the area, talk to locals, listen to the news and make sure you’re not driving to your doom.

 

Darwin 2013-07-01 236

 

Aboriginal Communities

There are many aboriginal communities throughout Australia – some are open and welcome visitors, while some are closed and prefer to be left alone.  It’s important to be respectful and make contact with the community via the appropriate channels before you go to visit.  You may be required to explain why you want to visit and how long you want to stay.

 

Getting Work

Working while you travel is a great way to fund your adventure, and there are a couple of things that you might want to consider. The first thing you’re gonna have to do is get a tax file number.  If you don’t, you could get taxed at a really high amount, thus leading to less money in your pocket.  Get a TFN at www.ato.gov.au.

 

If you’re visiting Australia, you’ll also need a Working Visa that you can get from the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs.  Go to www.immi.gov.au for information and advice.

 

Once you’ve sorted yourself out, you can check out farm and harvesting jobs, or office and hospitality jobs. If you want to pour beers in a pub, you’ll probably need a Responsible Service of Alcohol Certificate (RSA), and if you have any particular qualification, you can search for relevant jobs on www.seek.com.au.

 

Renting/Buying a car

Buying a car in Australia isn’t as easy as going to the milkbar and buying an ice cream.  You need to have a valid license and get a roadworthy certificate, car registration and possibly car insurance.

 

As with some of the other things mentioned already, licensing, registration and roadworthiness differs from state to state.  If you can get a car with registration, then you’re winning, but you need to make sure that the registration is renewed once it runs out, which is usually once a year.  Suss out all the details with the Department of Transport for the state that you plan to visit.

 

If you’re considering renting a car, there are plenty of options for you.  There are companies which offer cars, campervans, mobile homes, and even 4WDs.  Consider the places and things you want to see, and choose your vehicle accordingly.

 

Troopy on the beach!