A Travellerspoint blog

What to avoid when travelling around Australia

Fishy Car Sales, and Bloody Oyster Shots

storm 22 °C

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So you wanna go away for a bit, you wanna see something new. You arrive in this country as a backpacker, with the lifestyle and mentality of a backpacker. You want to see the lot!

I planned on driving all the way around Australia since before I even arrived here. Originally I thought I could do it 6 months into the trip. Well, here I am now, over a year later and I'm still stuck in the same town. Various mishaps with work early on got me stuck long enough to make stronger ties with the locals, which in turn reeled me back in once I finally left.

I went and bought a van, but now things are not looking out the way I wanted. The van might get returned, as it is not what I hoped for, and the previous owner has been extremely rude and offensive in my dealings with him since the pick up. But life goes on, whatever happens, happens. You just have to float along.

So instead of complaining about negative crap I will give anyone looking to do the big down-under-loop some advice on things to look out for in the prep stage:

  • Allow yourself ample time for saving money. 6 months might be enough if you can keep expenses very low. Do some couchsurfing, or move into the van already before travelling.
  • Driving around Australia is expensive. 20-25 000 kilometres is a long way to go and will cost you about $6-7 000 in petrol alone if you are driving a van or jeep.
  • Don't go alone. Partly for safety reason, partly for company, partly for economical reasons.
  • Have plenty of water and preferably a backup power supply (solar is excellent in this country) you'll also need a jerry tank to keep extra fuel.
  • Don't trust anyone for your car/van/jeep purchase. Not even a friend of a friend (never buy cars from friends, wherever you are), to some people money is more important than friendship and morality.
  • Know the rules for car purchases in your state. Here in Victoria a registered car needs to be Roadworthy when you buy it. If it isn't you, as a buyer, put yourself in a really difficult situation as you need to have a Roadworthy to change the ownership and will only get 2 weeks to do it, and fix eventual flaws. The only time you should buy a car without Roadworty is if it's unregistered.
  • As a buyer your only responsibility is to make sure everything is in order and hand in the papers to Vic Roads here in Victoria (check your state for local laws).
  • You need to pay transfer of ownership fee which will vary depending on the price on your vehicle. I think it was $8 for every $200 you spent, plus $16 motor vehicle duty or something like that.
  • Know your way around cars, just in case anything goes wrong in the middle of nowhere it could be good to know how to change a tyre for example.
  • When buying the car make sure everything is working. Minor things like rust on a door or dints and scratches can take the price down on a fully functional car to a level you can actually afford. Spray paint it yourself if you want it to look nice that badly. The engine, tyres and electrical components of the car are far more important than it's beauty. Also keep size in mind, get a car/van/jeep with the right dimensions for what you had in mind for the back.
  • I've been given the advice not to drive in the dark when I'm in the outback, as there are camels all over the roads at night, and trust me: you don't want to hit one of those bad boys.
  • Don't get in the way of the big road trains; massive trucks with several trailers in tow. They'll come rushing towards you at high speed, with no way to steer clear of you. Drive to the side, stop and wait for them to pass. Or make sure they have enough room to pass without having to do any sudden turns.
  • Maybe most importantly: don't speed. Take it slow, take it all in. You're not in a hurry and you don't want to miss anything along the way.

You can find more info on vic roads website (for Victoria, other states may vary).

Just make sure you get the right gear and plan properly.
But in the end it's meant to be an awesome experience. Don't stress too much. Be safe, don't be stupid, and you won't have to worry about Wolf Creek-like scenarios.

That's all I've got for now. I'm going back to prepping the trip... or finishing my beer, whichever is easier... mmm beer.

Beppe Karlsson, Melbourne

Posted by Beppe.Karlsson 05:41 Archived in Australia Tagged australia car van beppe_karlsson driving_around_australia buying_van buying_car Comments (0)

Another year, another opportunity

How to get your second visa approved and more

sunny 15 °C

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Courtesy of my friend, David Cartier, an amazing wedding photographer in Melbourne

Finally! I've made it through limbo, alive and well on the other side.

It said the processing time would be about 21 days on their website. I waited for almost a month. 1 month in limbo, not sure which turn my life was going to take, which is fine, I'm used to that. But at the same time it kept me from going on a full on attack for anything special.

Here's how I got it approved in the first place for anyone interested.

Step by step:

1. Find a farm. Or go mining if you have the qualifications, that will definitely pay you better, and a cave-in would make you world famous like the Columbian miners. You might even have a documentary made after yourself. But if you're like most other mortal backpackers you don't have the qualifications, so farming would be your best bet. I went for WWOOFing rather than paid work as it is a much more sure fire way to amass the required number of days.

2. Endure 3 months, or 88 days to be exact, in partial isolation. Bring a friend if you're not travelling alone. My advice is to do anything you can to combat the cabin fever when it comes, because it will come. Several months out in the bush will take your mind to places it's never been before, and it doesn't matter how awesome your company is when the paranoia and extreme urge to walk out into the pitch-black night and disappear comes along. You need a car, or easy access to a train line.

3. Get over your fear of the dark. I spent almost 2 months in a caravan about 20 meters from the house, with no yard-light guiding my way from the house. I spent 2 months in there alone with the sounds of the night. In the bush every little noise is enhanced ten-fold. Soon enough you get used to the whisper of the trees in the wind, the pinging of the bats and occasional yelp of a fox. You even stop being scared of an alien abduction as you go outside to make water round a tree.

4. So you have your 88 days, with all your hosts signed the form 1263, great! Now you can apply for your second visa. Go online if all your hosts have an ABN (Australian Business Number), if not you have to do it by old school mail.

5. Congratulations! Now you've reached limbo. After 3 months of hoping your sweat will amount to something useful for you, you have finally sent off your application. You will be granted a bridging visa, which just happens to be one of the best visas you can ever get, allowing you to work and stay indefinitely in the country, until someone can be bothered to process your application. However you are now presented with the stress of uncertainty. You don't know when or if you will be granted another visa. Anaesthetize your fear with Tawny, beer, whiskey or whatever your poison is.

Soon enough you will find yourself with a visa, so fresh you can smell the digital ink, in your inbox, wishing they'd still put one in your passport simply so you'd have something for your cool scrapbook, a memento of your insane youth for when you're old, grey and crippled in a wheelchair.

Now all I need is a stabile job.

Btw, I love that the winter here has only been a little bit colder than the summer back home.

Beppe Karlsson, Melbourne

Posted by Beppe.Karlsson 03:58 Archived in Australia Tagged melbourne australia beppe_karlsson working_holiday_visa farmwork farm_work specified_work_australia second_visa_australia second_working_holiday_visa Comments (2)

Return to the city

The call of the concrete

sunny 15 °C

I applied for my visa yesterday, now I'm sitting here stressing out over whether I'll get it approved or not.

My return to the city is giving me mixed feelings. I'm happy to be back with friends and loved ones, but coming back to my old life has re-awakened the normal level of stress that I had totally forgotten about among the peaceful whispers of trees in the wind, without a care other than getting my 88 days over with.

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Now I'm back among the towers, where everything costs money, including the food that I eat. After spending the last 3 months as a Willing Worker On Organic Farms I got used to not having to pay for my bread. On top of that, everything is much more expensive in the grey areas of this world. It's costly to navigate in the densely populated urban jungles. Get in your Safari Jeep, strap yourself in, and get ready for the ride.

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The ride gets quite bumpy at times, like when you walk into the old place you used to work, hoping to get your job back. The first thing you see is smiling, happy faces, and you recieve a warm welcome, but sometimes you're down on your luck. Sometimes they have too many staff and can't really give you the amount of hours you'll need. Still a couple of shifts a week will help. It's not enough however, that's why it's good to have a boss with connections and a big, warm, kind heart to hook you up with the owner of another restaurant.

So I had a trial, 2 days after my return, at a pretty cool place in Fitzroy. I just wish the position he wants me for would be the bar, but they're more in need of people for the restaurant, and my lack of experience in that area (especially fine dining) has the owner hesitating, wanting me in for a second trial tomorrow, when it's busy. I'm expecting a full on shift, probably making more than the occassional mistake.

I am still excited, however, for my second year in this country, even when the fog lifts and reveals a not as glamourous existance as I always imagine beforehand - I still love every minute of it.

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I've finally started back at the gym, preparing myself for whatever challenges life throws in my way. So I say: Come at me!

-Beppe Karlsson, Melbourne

Posted by Beppe.Karlsson 23:36 Archived in Australia Tagged melbourne australia bartending beppe_karlsson farmwork farm_work specified_work_australia Comments (0)

Can you count to 88?

The End of Farming

sunny 12 °C

I'm sitting here now in my room, all packed and ready to go. I cleaned the place up, making it ready for the next wwoofer.

My train leaves in about an hour, and I can't even begin to describe what I'm feeling right now. I can't even comprehend that it's finally over, my 88 days of farming for my second visa. Well, I threw in a couple of extra days, just to be on the safe side. Now I just have to send off the application, and I'll see if they'll let me stay another year in this country.

My weekend is already booked up with people to do, things to see... or was it the other way around? But I'm not that busy I can't squeeze in a little time for a friend, so in case anyone reading this feels like cathing up, just give me a shout. I've still got the same number.

Next week is already starting to take form: haircut, visit Oysters and see if I can go back to work, catch up with friends.

This is only meant to be half an entry, I'll try to write a proper summary of my time here when I'm back "home" in Melbourne.

Beppe Karlsson, Harcourt

Posted by Beppe.Karlsson 23:26 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

The Firewatcher

Farm sitting and wood splitting

sunny 15 °C

My hosts have gone away over the weekend and left me in charge of the place. Under me I have two dogs, three hens and a rooster. I'm the boss.

So I'm pretty much alone here on the mountain. The next door neighbour lives a couple of hundred meters away, but I've never seen him even though I walk past his house everyday when I walk the dogs. It's ok over the weekend, but a social being like myself would die if this was more long term.

There's an old quarry round the corner, I went exploring in there yesterday. I felt like a kid again as I was skipping between the big heavy blocks of granite, avoiding spider webs and pine-needles. Sadly all the crappy pictures I took were blurry as I couldn't hold my cell-phone stable enough.

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It's really peaceful out here, and it's nice to get a slice of nature. There are forests around here, which makes me feel almost like home. After all I come from the dark forests of Småland and my favorite past-time activities was to go bush-walking for hours; I'd explore the paths and old dirt roads, sometimes coming across an old long-forgotten stone-wall in the middle of the woods. Of course there was not really anything that could kill me back there, no snakes or spiders, and no alleged big wild-cats running about. Just me, the trees, and the birds; catching the occasional deer, moose and fox.

I have to keep the fire going, since the fire-wood is wet it'll make it a bitch to re-light it in case it goes out. It got close enough on my first day alone, I went about my work and forgot to stack the fire up with more wood. When I came back inside it was nearly out, but I managed to nurse it back to life with the use of about four newspapers and a couple of smaller pieces of wood. It's been going strong ever since.

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I'm glad I only have another six days to go. On Friday I go back to Melbourne, to pick up where I left off, with a few changes. I've been inspired by the much healthier lifestyle I've lead out in the bush and decided to start going to the gym, hard. I will eat healthy and drink less, at least for a while. As soon as I get my van sorted I'll take it on road trips around the country, there are a few things I still wanna check out around here.

Beppe Karlsson, Harcourt

Posted by Beppe.Karlsson 20:06 Archived in Australia Tagged australia orchard beppe_karlsson farmwork farm_work specified_work_australia Comments (0)

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