AUSTRALIA EAST COAST: GOLD COAST TO CAIRNS

After six months of Working Holiday Visa-ing in Sydney, we ventured off to explore the east coast of Australia for three weeks aka the typical backpacker route to see what it's all about. 

We started in Gold Coast and worked our way towards Cairns starting mid August, which is their winter. Let's just say their winter is warmer than a Canadian summer so I was stoked. We flew, drove, and bussed our way up but I'll write a more detailed itinerary out soon.  

I made a video with some of the best memories on this trip. I think I'm all beached out now but what a way to say goodbye to our home for the last six months. 

ALONG THE COAST: BONDI TO COOGEE VIDEO

It's our last week in Sydney and what a way to celebrate our winter send off by doing the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk one more time. It's our favourite walk out of all the ones in Sydney. After 6 months of basing ourselves in Sydney, we've got 4 months of travelling ahead of us - weeeeee! Callum also bought me a gimbal so you'll be seeing a lot more videos from me. It's so much smoother than just using your hands or stick. 

First stop after Sydney - GOLD COAST! Can't wait to go up the East Coast and experience more of the Australian winter (25 degrees Celsius is apparently winter). Enjoy!  

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MOVING TO SYDNEY

It’s expensive. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just kidding. Ok, it is but not as expensive as you think. A lot of people have been asking me about my move to Sydney on a Working Holiday Visa lately so I figured I would write my thoughts down after living and working here for nearly 6 months. This is my second Working Holiday Visa so I find myself comparing it to my first experience in London a lot. 

Here’s a little snippet about creating a base for yourself in Sydney. 

Transportation  

The worst in the world but this might be a little biased coming from living in London where the transportation is almost perfect. You can get an Opal card for free at any convenience store and just continually top up from there. Sydney is a car city (with limited places for parking, haha) and public transportation is a nightmare. Each train takes a long time to come (15 minutes) if you’re not in the city and buses are off schedule and constantly late. If there was a 15 minute wait in London, there would be protests. As much as it sounds like not a huge deal, it’s crazy when you think of how much of your life you can spend commuting. My gym is 3 and a half kilometres away from my house but it takes me 25 minutes to bus there. It’s not a joke! 

*Pro tip: Download the TripViewLite app, it’ll give you real time data about bus and train times. 

IMG_3594.JPG

Food 

Food is everywhere. I’ve never been to a country where everything is so heavily focused on food and wine so this is one of my favourite things about living in Australia. Every week, there’s a new market or food festival to go to (check out Marrickville MarketPyrmont Growers Markets or Carriageworks Farmers Market for great, fresh produce options or The Grounds of Alexandria delicious food against perfect Insta-backdrops). Sydney also has some of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to. The Asian food is on another level (mainly fusion but it’s great…did you know there’s such thing as fine dining Chinese?). I’ll write a post later about my favourite restaurants here but I can say, move here for the food alone. 

*Pro tip: There’s usually a deal on in Sydney every day of the week so look those up. For fine dining, choose tasting menus, which have great value. 

Fun

I’m a market person and luckily there’s tons of those in Sydney. You can find food, clothing or vintage markets any day of the week. I also find a lot of the fun to be nature based. Check out beaches (my favourites are Coogee and Palm Beach), go surfing/snorkelling/diving, go camping, see some animals or go for a bush walk (in the Blue Mountains). I can’t say much about the nightlife but the bars are great here - Sydney has some awesome beer gardens (check out Petersham Public House, The Vic On The ParkThe Sheaf). Dining is always fun - like I said, I’ll write a post about some of my favourite options soon. Also, don’t miss an AFL game - Australia’s very own sport. 

*Pro tip: The Urban List, The Concrete Playground, and Time Out Sydney are all great sources to find where the fun’s at. 

Accommodation

I don’t have much experience looking for accommodation in share houses in Sydney but I can imagine it to be much easier than looking for your own apartment. There are lots of Facebook groups available for Sydney backpackers with housing specific ones (Inner East or Inner West) as well. I tried looking for my own apartment instead, which proved to be next to impossible, especially if you’re looking in a good area. Surry Hills is one of the hot spots to live in Sydney (it’s between the beach and city and where a lot of the action happens). You go to open houses and compete with 50+ others that show up to view the place and then you have to lodge an application if you like it and the most suitable candidates are chosen. Not having a job didn’t help so I looked to Facebook and Gumtree and finally found a private landlord who selected me! The housing market is tough though but I would recommend living in a share house, especially if you want to live in a great location like Surry Hills or Bondi. Location is key so choose wisely as it can really make or break your experience. After living in the Inner West, I would suggest staying in the Inner Eastern suburbs for a better Aussie experience. 

*Pro tip: Live close to a train station. You won’t want to deal with buses going home. 

Jobs

It’s part luck and part skill. Working Holiday Visas in Australia don’t provide you with great job options as you are restricted to working for one employer for only up to 6 months meaning almost no employers can take you seriously. I spent just over a month looking for a job. Most of the most corporate jobs I applied for at the beginning were only hiring on the basis of sponsorship. It’s hard to find a 6 month gig in a role that suits you but I ended up lucking out and negotiated a 6 month role with a start up company I found on Gumtree. The best places to look for a job are: 

  • Seek: The best source for “more legit” jobs 
  • Gumtree: Hospitality, office/admin work 
  • In person: All hospitality 
  • Recruiters: There are so many so just google them and get in touch. Find ones that specialise in your industry. I didn’t find that they worked that well for me but a good option for temporary roles 

If you’re from anywhere like Canada, expect to be thrilled with the wages but that shouldn’t hurt you from negotiating. Also pay attention to NSW Fair Work Ombudsman and know your rights as an employee, especially you farm workers.

*Pro tip: Be open to working jobs you’re not use to. The 6 month restriction is tough but if you’re willing to get sponsored and stay for a little longer than it might be worth it. 

Weather

The weather is great. I honestly don’t have anything bad to say about this. The weather was one of the main reasons why I moved to Sydney and NOT Melbourne (where everyone says the cafes and overall vibes are way cooler). In the summer, it got up to 40 degrees and I loved every second of it. I’m currently writing this in a cafe during mid July and it’s still 20 degrees - how is that possible? To top it all off, Sydney has my vote for the best sunsets ever, everyday. You’ll see Sydneysiders complaining about how cold it is…in flip flops aka thongs, ha! 

*Pro tip: Bring a light jacket. In the winter, it’ll get cold but still not that cold. 

Cost

Like I said before, it’s expensive but we all know that, especially living in Sydney. What people don’t tell you is you make A LOT of money living here. Yes, the cost of living is a bit higher but not so much higher than living in Vancouver or London, where you don’t make as much. You can earn $25 an hour working in a cafe - there is literally no where else in the world you can do this. You can come to Australia with the bare minimum and come out with a lot more than you expected. Most people go back home with lots of savings from Australia or some also spend their money travelling Asia where your money stretches far (yes, this is me). 

*Pro tip: You can only save a lot of money if you don’t spend a lot, so cook your lunches at home and give yourself a weekly entertainment budget - you can still do a lot. 

Overall

Of the two working holidays I’ve done now, London is my favourite although that city is hard to beat. A working holiday is suppose to be exactly what it sounds like - work and holiday. I found it hard to do that in Sydney. Work is hard to get if you’re not working in hospitality because of the 6 month restriction. On top of that, it’s expensive to holiday and Australia is just REALLY FAR from the rest of the world. Even small trips outside of Sydney require a rental car (which can be expensive) because it’s just so big. 

I would recommend an Australian Working Holiday Visa experience to first-timers living abroad. It can be a great place to meet people and earn a ton of money. It’s not a huge change from home (for me at least), giving first timers the opportunity to take that baby step from living at home.

BEST DAY TRIP FROM SYDNEY: THE BLUE MOUNTAINS

Most people would say their ’must see’ attractions in Sydney are the Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge or Bondi Beach. Those are all great but for me, no visit to Sydney would be complete without a trip to the Blue Mountains. 

It is MASSIVE so there are so many great bushwalks (Australian for hikes) of all lengths and skill level. Also, it’s only about an hour and a half drive or two hours by train. That's not bad considering that’s the same amount of time it takes to travel around inner Sydney. 

My first visit was to Katoomba - this is the starting point for the Three Sisters, probably one of the most famous site of the Blue Mountains. First piece of advice - never go on a public holiday! When we went during Easter Weekend, there were crowds clogging up the paths and viewing points and even a 15 minute line to actually get down to the Three Sisters - not that fun. Nevertheless, still absolutely stunning. 

We did an easy trail wrapping around the area of the Three Sisters. All you see are rolling, eucalyptus forests-filled mountains that seem to never end with pockets of waterfalls. The eucalyptus gives off a blue hue in the sun from afar which is why it’s named the Blue Mountains. There are also plenty of other activities to do if you’re not an avid hiker like abseiling, cycling or even horse riding. 

My second time visiting the Blue Mountains was to Wentworth Falls. Again, there are hikes of all lengths but I chose the easy 30 minute route this time as it was winter. Only in Sydney can you go hiking in the winter... 

I’m super stoked that these mountains are so easily accessible from Sydney and there’s always something new to see every visit. Can’t wait for more bushwalks before I leave. 

GETTING THERE: Car (~90 minutes) or public transport (~2 hours) 

DIFFICULTY: All levels available - lots of options 

VIEWS: Lush mountainous ranges forever 

WHY GO: Close proximity to Sydney, nature that’s not a beach, loads of different activities, the unique and refreshing smell of eucalyptus :) 

WEEKEND TRIP: SYDNEY TO BERRARA

I turned 25 a couple weeks ago and my boyfriend surprised me with a weekend getaway to Jervis Bay & Berrara. I’ve heard a lot of great things about the this area which is about three hours drive south of Sydney…I couldn't quite manage driving on the opposite side of the road yet so I was just a backseat driver the whole time :). 

Along our way, we made little pit stops anytime we felt it was picture worthy. Our first stop was Kiama to see the blowhole. The tides were quite low and calm that day so no action from the blowhole but it was still a nice stop. 

Next, we had lunch overlooking a cute little town surrounded by lush greenery and what looked like a never ending coastline. This part of the drive was full of rolling hills - it felt like I was back in the UK. We drove a bit more after lunch but noticed that what we were looking at while eating lunch was the start of what’s called the Seven Mile Beach. Pretty self explanatory but we had to check it out for ourselves. SEVEN MILES?! Yeah, it’s huge. Looks even bigger when I’m so tiny in the photos. That was honestly one of the nicest beaches I’ve been - hardly anyone was there, which is a nice break from Bondi. 

Finally, we got to our destination: Berrara. It’s a small town just south of Jervis Bay. I felt like we were driving to the middle of nowhere because it was so quiet. We stayed at Berrara Bed & Breakfast, which was like a big share house but felt like our own and only a 5 minute walk to the beach.

sunset australia

The owner mentioned we would see wild kangaroos hanging around so we decided to go on the hunt. We didn’t have to look hard - they were right outside our B&B. Now, we felt like we were actually in Australia. 

There’s not loads to do in Berrara but I would definitely recommend the stand up paddle boarding in Sussex Inlet - we went with Sussex Inlet Stand Up Paddle. We got the entire inlet to ourselves and paddled around until sunset. There were spots with rope swings that we attempted to jump off of but failed. 

We only spent a day there but could’ve easily stayed longer. It was a nice little getaway from Sydney but we were off to visit Hyams Beach (with the whitest sand in the world apparently) in Jervis Bay next, which you can read about in my next post!

BONDI TO COOGEE COASTAL WALK

After living in Sydney for 3 months now, the Eastern coastline is probably my favourite part so far. 

Luckily, I chose a sunny day in Sydney to do the infamous coastal walk from Bondi to Coogee. I know, shock! Sydney actually rains a lot more than I expected…I think it’s been raining non stop for almost two weeks now. Who knew an umbrella would be my best friend in Sydney? 

There are loads of coastal walks in Sydney to choose from. This one was pretty easy to get to from where I’m based and it was a tourist attraction I wanted to check off my list. 

It’s actually not well marked but maybe it’s because you just follow the coastline. The entire walk, which took me about two hours more or less, was beautiful and really refreshing - a nice break from the city. It was busy but since the path is so long and splits into parks and beaches, there’s a lot of space to walk around people. You get to pass through Bondi Beach, Tamarama Beach, Bronte Beach, Clovelly Beach and Coogee Beach. 

The walk is close to the city but still far enough so you forget about the craziness that usually comes with a city. That’s the thing about Sydney - you can be completely immersed into a chaotic busy city or find yourself with your toes in the sandy beaches just around the corner. If you wanted to, you could easily use this path to beach hop - I would! 

DURATION: Around 2 hours (including time to take some photos) 

DIFFICULTY: Easy

ROUTE: Paths, rocky patches, mostly flat, passing through beaches and parks

VIEW: Ocean to your right and residential city to your left