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Working Holiday 101

You have your visa and flights booked to Australia, now here are a few things that will help with a smooth transition to moving and living Down Under.

Set up a bank account before you arrive. I set mine up with Commonwealth Bank which was really easy to do online. Once I had arrived in Melbourne I went to the branch I had specified when setting up my account. Before you can transfer any money into your account or have a bank card I needed to show my passport, national insurance number and a copy of my visa approval letter. Once I had confirmed my identity my bank card arrived within 5 working days.

It’s worth being aware that international transfers can take a while to be processed. You may also be charged by both your UK (home country bank) and your Australian bank.

I started by having a Revolut card and having pre-exchanged £ into AU$ when the exchange rate was at its best before I moved out. They have a system called vaulting which is effectively like a savings account you don’t get interest but it stays there without you spending it. In addition I used my UK bank cards (it is worth checking what the charges are on foreign spending).

Get a SIM card pronto- if you are getting a prepaid (pay as you go) SIM you don’t need to have an Australian bank card. I went for an Aldi SIM as it seemed to have pretty good prepaid packages. It also runs on Telstra’s network which has the best coverage within Australia.

The main providers I came across were Optus, Telstra, Aldi Mobile, Amaysim and Vodafone. It is easy to pick up a SIM in most newsagents or supermarkets. You can also get SIMs on contract different providers have different lengths you are tied in for. For contract SIMs you will need an Australian bank card.

Medicare- print the forms off beforehand and fill out all the details you can. I had my forms completed asides from my bank details and phone number. It was very easy to set up Medicare I took all the documentation it asked me for to my local Medicare office. You are issued with a temporary Medicare card and then receive your plastic one in the post 2-3 weeks later. You can find the medicare website here.

Australian Tax Code (TFN) can be applied for here. Although not essential, having a tax code can mean you are less likely to be taxed higher than you should be on your earnings in Australia. You will need to complete the application once you have arrived in Australia. It can take 28 days for your tax code to arrive.

Accommodation in a flatshare’s rent is usually charged on a weekly basis. This is worth knowing when you are budgeting and looking at prices of rooms. It is also worth checking whether the room is furnished or not. There are three main options of furnishing I have come across: unfurnished (no furniture in the room), Furnished (furniture there), furnished but with no bed (well thats pretty self explanatory!).

If you are moving to Melbourne you are going to want to get yourself a Myki card which is the equivalent to an Oyster card. They can easily be picked up at train stations or 7 Eleven. There is a free tram zone in the CBD.

Jetlag is not fun. There are a load of tips you can get on how to help it but ultimately it’s down to how your body adjusts. Be kind to yourself in your first week or two.

The international code for Australia is +61 and as with any international code you remove the first 0 of the number.

The emergency number is 000 the equivalent to 999.

The Brit does Bali- part 1

A friend invited me along to a girls long weekend in Bali. My first thought was that it was so odd to consider Bali a weekend/short break destination. Yes we have the ability to go to Europe for a weekend from the UK but Asia seems much further…

Challenge one for the trip: I moved to Melbourne during winter. I have had a very long winter (moved from UK winter/spring) and didn’t really have a lot of beach clothes. Queue a 4 hour shopping trip in the CBD which reinstated my love for online shopping and not having to dodge all the other shopper. I had no idea the weekend I went was sales weekend. The result of the trip was a hat. Just a hat!!

Next a rapid shopping trip online with a brand I had shopped with in the UK and thought I would likely know their sizing etc. Order placed and express delivery chosen. This is when I remember that Australia doesn’t really have next day delivery (something I really appreciate about London).

Once placed my parcel was possibly the most closely tracked parcel in history. When I placed the order I had no idea it would be coming all the way from Leeds (in the UK)!

At work the day before I left I got a text to say my parcel has been delivered. Hoping it hadn’t gone to my local mysteriously located sorting office, I rush home from work and there is was. Now for the all important trying on session and…it fits I have something to wear.

Having packed my newly purchased wardrobe and copious amounts of sunscreen I was ready to go.

I got to the airport seriously early. I mean so early that bag drop and check in had not been opened for my flight. This was not a waste of time as it meant I could call my sister in California, catch up on life and pull faces at each other thousands of miles apart. Ok, maybe some context would be helpful here. When we were younger I used to take my sister on trips to central London on the tube to go shopping. I have no idea how the tradition came about but we would pull what we affectionately called fish face at each other. Now imagine what people passing me at the airport must have been thinking when I am sitting on top of my suitcase, talking to my phone screen, AirPods in and pulling fish face! Who cares I was having some quality time catching up and becoming increasingly grateful for video calls.

Vegie bar

Bustling veggie/vegan restaurant located in Fitzroy which is definitely worth a visit.

There are lots of tofu based meals but also a great selection for those who are more enticed by a meal they are familiar with that just happens to not contain meat/animal products while still having all the flavour.

I opted for a veggie curry which was one of the specials of the day. It was coconut based with sweet potato, cauliflower and green beans served with rice and bread. The curry was really tasty while not being too heavy and the bread was buttery and almost slightly sweet, great combination!

You can find the menu for Vegie Bar here.

Mamasita

Having had a random craving for Mexican food a friend and I did a quick search for a resturant in the CBD. We ended up having an early dinner at Mamasita. Arriving at the restaurant at around 5pm we presumed it would be fairly quiet. How wrong we were! It was packed. We were about to get a table (probably the last avaliable one). Would suggest booking if you are planning to head there on a weekend.

The staff were super friendly with great suggestions of what to try. We decided to order a range of dishes to share so we could try more of the menu.

The food did not disappoint. I don’t have any photos of it because we saw it, divided it, and conquered it before I even thought about photographing it!

I would recommend trying the chargrilled corn which is one of their signature sides. You can have it either in a bowl or on the cob. We chose in a bowl for ease of eating it. Our favourite dish was the macadamia and cashew nut chorizo tostada. This dish is vegan and full of an amazing array of flavours and textures. We could have happily ordered several more!

In addition we also ordered the lime cured market fish ceviche, the chicken ‘tinga’ tostada and the campechano tachos (grilled ox tongue and tail). The campechano tachos come with ghost chilli don’t let this put you off ordering them it really wasn’t spicy.

The menu can be found here.

Greetings of the card variety

Having gone on the hunt for a engagement card for a friend I realised that I really missed Paperchase (stationary shop in England) where you can go in and easily select a greetings card you like for most life occasions. It was a struggle to find one I liked in Melbourne and having gone to 5 or 6 shops before finding one with cards I liked here is a list to save you the frustration.

David Jones in Bourke Street has a card section on the 5th floor with a good select especially if you are looking for a birthday card.

Dymocks in Collins Street has a good selection of Moleskine notepads and journals. It is also a good bookshop (Reminded me of Waterstones).

Book Binders Design in Little Collins Street has a rainbow array of different colour, size and type of journals all beautifully presented and customisable.

Zetta Florence in Fitzroy on Brunswick Street is the kind of shop that you could take a while browsing. It has a great selection of gift wrap, gifts, posters, maps, journals e.t.c.

Coffee cupping

Being in Melbourne with its coffee culture I thought it would be fun to do a coffee cupping class. This hour long coffee class with Market Lane Coffee is under $7 and is held at both Prahran and South Melbourne markets. During the class we blind tasted 4 coffees and guessed the notes of the coffee through smell and taste. At first my answer would have been it smells of coffee but was fun picking up the subtle differences (The notes in capitals are what the guy running the class said when we discussed them). Recommend it as a fun thing to do. They are friendly and encourage questions as you go. No requirement to be a coffee connoisseur.

Taste of home

So I may have only been here three weeks but wondered if I could find somewhere that sells Marmite. It was something I had planned to pack but it didn’t quite fit in the suitcase.

Today I completed my mission by finding a British food shop. Probably the most I have ever spent on the smallest jar of Marmite but I found it! Oh and the all important Galaxy chocolate. There is not a shortage of chocolate options here it was just a little taste of home.

This shop located is in Collins 234 and sells everything from PG Tips tea to Persil laundry detergent.

Another reason for our outing was a friend’s excitement to have Jaffa cakes which were bought over here to discover they were only 2/3rds of the size of the ones in the UK and rather stale…turns out they were 6 months out of date! Edible but with a consistency not unlike compressed sawdust (these weren’t from the linked British food shop but an Aussie supermarket). We went in search of some that had a more authentic in date taste.

Miznon

On a friend’s recommendation I went to Miznon for lunch today and had a Cheakypita which is a combination of a falafel burger, tomato steak, sour cream (which we subbed for tahini), chilli, onions and pickles. The food was great and the staff were really friendly. Before your food arrives there is a salad bar which today consisted of warmed pita strips, tahini, chilli and herb oil dip and what looked like fermented cabbage/coleslaw without mayo. The chilli dip was great with a good kick. We also shared a sweet potato which is baked with a mix of having crispy, caramised and smokey edges with salt really good and very welcomed after living in the hostel with no oven!

They have a small bar stooled bench next to the kitchen which means you can watch them cook which is fun.

Four wall and a roof

Photo by Thgusstavo Santana on Pexels.com

Before you start looking for accommodation it is worth considering the following criteria:

Age of people you want to live with

Number of people in the property

Non/smokers

Pets or no pets

Shared/private bathroom

Own or shared room

If you want to live with couples or not

If the room is furnished or not (more about this on my Working Holiday 101 post)

What your budget is (rent is normally advertised per week rather than per month)

Check what bills are included within rent if any

Transport links nearby

If you need it parking restrictions around the property

This is a helpful starting point to look at different neighbourhoods in Melbourne:

Facebook groups:

Fairy Floss Real Estate- this is a group on Facebook that has regular updates on rooms available in houseshares. It is worth setting up notifications so you don’t miss a posting as they go incredibly quickly.

Websites:

It’s worth creating profiles on both of these websites as you are more likely to get contacted about available rooms if you do. There is a cost to do this but it saves you time as people will also search and find you as a potential housemate.

http://www.flatmates.com.au

http://www.flatmatefinders.com.au

5 and dime bagels

Honey raisin walnut filling in a cinnamon and raisin bagel

5 and dime bagel were local to where I was staying. This bagel was delicious and something I will have to repeat.

I also tried the Bacon Maple Chipotle filling in a pretzel bagel. The pretzel bagel itself was delicious but I wasn’t such a fan of the filling. This was an unusual chose for me as I have never had bacon jam before. I have a feeling disliking the filling has nothing to do with how it was made but just my personal preferences in fillings.

Barlog

Went for brunch here as it recently opened nearby. Had these pancakes with lemon curd, blueberry compote, mascarpone, meringue, strawberries and fairy floss (candy floss). Unsurprisingly the sugar rush I had after them was intense.

I had a flat white which was good but the turmeric latte I had tasted a bit like drinking neat honey with cinnamon.

The menu looked good and if I go back I might choose a more savoury dish.