work experience australia

Working Experience in Australia

A moment lived in Australia by Becca, a traveler from Germany

My best and also worst travel experience are the same. I was working on a cattle station in Western Australia a couple weeks after arriving in this country.

It was the last week of my 88 farm work days. In Australia, you need these days to be able to apply for a second-year visa.  I went inside the pen with the big bulls to get them into the next truck. While most of them were just running out the door when I stepped in, one of them was sleeping in the corner. I went closer because I hoped to make him move, but it was too late. He woke up and was frightened. He probably thought: “I am alone with a human being! Where is everybody?”, and was going crazy. He ran me over and broke my rib. I was trying to climb on the fence as quick as I could. I could still feel him behind me, pushing me with his head from behind. As soon as I was sitting on top, he was looking at me calmly and was shaking his head. Thinking about it later, it felt like he was asking me if I had enough. Calmly he turned around and run after his friends. He wasn’t angry or aggressive, otherwise, I wouldn’t be alive. But it was an unreal situation and I wouldn’t like to experience again.

Now I can laugh about it, but I could have been dead. I was lucky the bulls were ready for transport and their horn got to cut the day before. The boys, I worked with, called him Thomas the train like the kids show on TV. I didn’t go to the hospital straight away because I didn’t think it was serious. But after a big bruise the next day and me not being able to breathe properly, I decided to see a doctor. He gave me a couple of painkillers. I still had a couple of days to do for my visa and didn’t want to stop working. I can’t believe I worked with a broken rib for 4 days. My boyfriend was coming back a couple of days after from a job down in Albany and couldn’t believe what happened. We went back on the road, exploring more of beautiful Australia, while my rib was still hurting for a while, but it was healing “pretty quick”. I was lucky and unlucky at the same time.  Since then I hate being close to cows or everything with horns!


This traveller has a blog: Kanguru Adventure

credit photo: Becca


Hot air Balloon Australia

Floating Above Cloud Nine

A moment lived in Australia by Life…One Big Aventure, a traveler from Australia


Ever thought about doing a balloon flight?

Life is good!

How good is it when something you have been dreaming about for a long time, actually comes off? That is exactly what happened to me recently when I fulfilled a long-held dream to sail across the skies in a hot air balloon.

On the ‘adventure scale’, this activity is probably not rated very highly. But I have been surprised by the number of people who turn up their noses or roll their eyes at the thought of lifting off terra firma and rising above the clouds.

Not me!

A couple of years ago we celebrated Dad’s 80th birthday with a brilliant weekend at the Canowindra International Balloon Challenge, but we had left it too late to book a balloon ride. Here was my perfect opportunity to make good on that Bucket List item and give a gift to remember. After some consideration, my parents embraced the opportunity and decided to make my Christmas gift a balloon ride too! Yippee for me!

Balloon Aloft operate in Mudgee once a month. It was a very dark and very early morning in March when a group of bleary-eyed thrill-seekers assembled expectantly at Blue Wren Winery. We were a rag-tag mix of 14 locals and visitors, all in desperate need of more sleep and coffee, but at least we were united by our excitement of starting this new day with something special.

Clay and Deano, from Balloon Aloft, greeted us warmly and quickly allayed any nerves that may have been bubbling under the surface. Deano sent up a tiny, helium-filled balloon with a blinking red light suspended below to check the wind direction and speed. That little balloon, tracked through special night-vision binoculars, told us we must drive 20km east of Mudgee to be able to accurately float back across the Mudgee valley.

The day turned out to be a bus and a balloon adventure as we puttered eastwards, and turned into a farmer’s bare paddock in the early morning dark.

A unique feeling and viewpoint

It only seemed to take minutes before the balloon blossomed into life. There was a mad scramble as the group had to board quickly. Picture – arms and legs and other body parts awkwardly flung into the basket as it ebbed and bobbed centimeters above the ground.

Dad checked with Deano, “are you coming with us, too?” Deano quipped back, “not on your life, I wouldn’t be seen dead in one of those things!” As Deano stepped back and released the rope anchoring the basket, he turned and we read “Australian Balloon Team” on the back of his t-shirt, so obviously he was joking.

Within seconds, we seemed to be hundreds of meters above the ground, and the bus and cars morphed into matchboxes. I was surprised and dazzled by the speed we were moving, and the pure, blissful silence. Is this what birds experience?

The quiet enveloped us as we tried to process what we were experiencing. The cool breeze, the sensation of a delicate mist tickling our cheeks, and the perspective of being ABOVE the landscape, not in it.

We were brought back to the here and now quickly with each blast of the burner, with a roaring noise and the licks of searing heat. Such a contrast to the sounds of silence.

Clay shot us above the clouds so we could appreciate the fluffy carpet that edged the basket. It was tempting to step out and stroll towards the sunrise, but that first step would have been a doozy!

The period of stunned silence soon evaporated and we excitedly chattered away, as we pointed out fleeing kangaroos, wallaroos, and goats. A million questions later, Clay was happy to share his expertise and we were all fascinated by the technicalities of maneuvering a balloon.

The sun eventually rose through the layers of cloud, showcasing Mudgee and the patchwork valley. Such a different perspective of my hometown, I simply couldn’t drink it in fast enough as we floated westwards.

Fifty minutes later we were aiming for our landing paddock on the south-western side of Mudgee, only to overshoot it by about a kilometer. We all assumed the landing position – knees bent and hands grasping the rope handles – and then bump, bump and the basket flipped on its side! It sounds inelegant, and it was, but it was also very funny to be upright one moment and horizontal the next. All part of the morning’s excitement.

It was only during the post-balloon-ride breakfast that Mum and Dad shared that they had been a wee bit nervous about the whole balloon-ride thing.. But they were so pleased they had done it! Phew!

Is this the role of children? To talk their parents into doing weird and wonderful activities they normally wouldn’t dream of?

This traveler has a blog: Life…One Big Adventure

credit photo: Life…One Big Adventure
Waterslide Australia, National Park Australia

The secret water slide in the middle of nowhere

A moment lived in Australia by Becca, a traveler from Germany

Hello, my name is Becca and I am traveling for quite a while now, but sometimes we get stuck in one place.
This time it was a tiny place on the east coast of Australia. After a while I made friends while working on local farms and we spend some time together, exploring the surroundings and doing fun things like rock climbing and more.

The story I would like to tell you is when we went on an adventure in one of the near by national parks. The owner was an old man, that lived there for a long time. My friends heard about it from their family, because back in the days it was a well known place for it’s famous natural water slide. But because of injuries it got closed for mostly all visitors. We were able to get a special permit and walked up the mountain to explore this great area again.

Everything was over grown by plants and we didn’t know exactly where to go. It looked like an old path that we followed and we found this great place, a natural water slide. The water was clear and we were able to fill our water bottles up at the top of the waterfall as well.
It was fun to slide down to rocks and the cold water was refreshing. Somebody hit a little board behind a bush for others to use. It made the way down even more fun.
After a while, we decided to go leave and started our way back.

But we got lost and needed an hour longer trying to find the walking track. It was scary!
Our phones didn’t work, the GPS was playing up and we hurt ourselves by walking through bushes and thorns. We tried to find the path by walking into one direction, further up the mountain.
What we didn’t know was that we walked parallel to the exciting path the whole time.
Finally, we made our way back and were released to be back in civilization.

We definitely understand the owners fear of people getting hurt or lost. His policy is calling the police an hour after the time you tell him you would come back from the walk. Since we went up there, he opened it up again for visitors, as log as they follow his rules of reporting to him, when they go and when they exacted to be back.

Next time we go for an adventure, we are going to take duck tape and mark the way to find back home easier!

This traveller has a blog : Kanguru Adventure

credit photo: Becca


camping Australia

The Craziest Men I Have Met At Free Campsites

A moment lived in Australia by Jess Weller, a traveller from United Kingdom

For the last 9 months, I have been travelling around Australia in my car. Using the most valuable app to any backpacker in Australia, Wikicamps, I find and stay in free campsites as much as possible. Now these free campsites can range from car parks and gravel rest stops on highways to full blown grassy campsites with showers and toilets, it’s the most amazing thing! But as most things free, it can also attract a stranger crowd… We have encountered our fair share crazy, but these guys really stick in our minds, I’m not too sure why though?!
The Man Who Wanted To A Beer At 2am
This local pub allowed people to camp for free on a small patch of land behind them, where again apart from a caravan we were alone. The caravan looked as though it hadn’t been touched in years, run down and a bit gross so we actually thought we did have the place to ourselves. That was until 2am, I awoke looking out the window with a guy staring in at us (no more than 50cm from my face, luckily the window was shut). Then he started tapping on the window half shouting if we wanted to have a tinny (can of beer) with him. Yep, that’s exactly what we want to do, get woken up in the middle of the night to share a beer with a drunk, crazy stranger looking through our car window.
The Man Who Liked To Wee
Tasmania seems to be the place to go if you have a fetish for being weed in front of! This campsite was a gravel car park with a park around the sides. It was pretty big and there weren’t many cars so it was a bit unnecessary for this guy to park right next to us. He was just sitting in his front seat for an hour or so, but kept looking towards our car, in which we were snuggled up watching a film. Just before going to sleep, we did our usual routine, get out the car and brush our teeth. Obviously hearing us opening the doors, he looked up, opened his door and got out, whacked his willy out and started weeing – literally a meter away facing us. At 5am he turned his car on, tested how loud his speakers could go and then sat there blaring out crazily loud music for 10 minutes then left. Maybe he was crazy, or maybe looking for an argument, or maybe he was just blind and deaf, who knows!
The Man Who Thought He Was Police
I think this guy is our favourite crazy of the 6. To cut a long story short… Whilst at a campsite in the Gold Coast, I saw a man in a land cruiser (meet LC man) drive drunk into the back of a fisherman’s van (meet FM man). After arguing for a while, LC decided arguing wasn’t getting him anywhere so whacked out his knife… I know, it escalated quickly! Luckily no one got hurt in the writing of this blog… It was all for the show. He then came over to me and gave me his car keys so when the police arrived he couldn’t get nicked for drink driving. The police didn’t actually do anything, maybe gave them a warning but it was still very good afternoon entertainment for a nosey person like me! Fast forward to the evening when LC walks over to Ben and I with a watermelon in one arm and a bulletproof vest in the other. He started telling us how he is an undercover policeman, and the vest is his proof. The vest looked as though he had written POLICE with Word Art, printed it and stuck it on with sellotape. The Aussie police must be cutting costs. Next, he gives us the watermelon (it’s already half eaten by the way) as a sorry for the commotion earlier gift. Yum.
The Man Who Was A Thief
I sadly didn’t get the chance to meet this charming man. We stayed on the outskirts of Melbourne in a car park. We were the only ones there, but all night cars would drive in and meet another car, both with their lights off. Probably drug dealing. Ice is a big problem in Aus, maybe because it’s so hot here they think it will cool them down (what even is ice?!). So we woke up in the morning to the lovely surprise of needles laying around the car. Someone must have had a nice evening. We then noticed we no longer had our rear number plate! So during our sleep in the car, someone managed to unscrew and steal it. Rather than the beach, the police station was our first stop that morning. Turns out it happens a lot!
The Petrol Sniffer
This guy roamed the same campsite as LC in the Gold Coast, so maybe this place should probably be avoided. We stayed here for 4 nights, and every day this young but aged guy would walk around with a water bottle pushed to his mouth. It was empty bar a tiny amount of yellow liquid. Petrol. All day he would walk around sniffing it. He would then find a metal pole and fight it, punches and all. These poor poles couldn’t put up a fight. One day we were sitting at a picnic table eating when he walks over to us, bends down and pulls out a weed from the ground. Grasping it in a similar manner to when proud children hold out flowers to their playground crush in films, he hands me this weed. Very thoughtful. It was more flowery than the (lack of) flowers I have received for a while. And off he went, to fight another metal post!

This traveller has a blog : Ben and Jess Adventures

credit photo : Jess Weller


Australia outback

Nearly Dying In The Outback

A moment lived in Australia by Ross the Explorer, a traveller from United Kingdom

When I landed in Alice Springs a massive smile stretched along my face. I was about to see the Outback, who would not be excited!

I had 48 hours to kill before I headed to Uluru (Westerners tend to refer to this place as Ayers Rock), Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon.

The day after arriving I chucked 1.25 litres of water and my camera in my backpack and went to Mount Gillen. In hindsight I should have packed 3 litres of water and told someone where I was going.

I left at 12.30, it was going to be a 4.5 hour walk (including the walk to the mountain itself). I eventually got back at 9.30pm. It turned out to be a very long 4.5 hours.

When I arrived at the base of the mountain I realised that it was going to be a steep climb. That was no problem, I was up for a challenge. After about an hour I was near the top. Getting to the top required me to do some climbing.

Once I had finished the climb I was treated to breath taking views. Alice Springs is surrounded by nature. I sat at the top for a while getting my breath back and taking loads of photos (and selfies).

I walked toward the cliff edge to make the climb down. Then it became apparent that I had no idea how I got up. It was really unclear which part of the cliff I had previously climbed up. I could not work out the path down, all the paths looked as if they just led to death. After much looking and observing I finally found the right path.

I carefully made my way down this path. I was making good use of my hands and feet. I would be lying if I said I was not scared. Then it became apparent I was not on the correct path! I saw the correct path and decided to crawl along the cliff edge onto the correct path. I did not want to stand up and risk falling to my death. I had to crawl through a thorn bush which was fun. Then I had further bad luck. It became apparent I could not crawl onto the correct path. I realised I had to go back to the top and start again.

When I was back at the top I was looking at the cliff edge and just had no idea how to get down. I decided to walk down the other side of the mountain. It was going to make the walk far longer than planned but I had no other choice.

I walked, slid and climbed down the other side of the mountain. According to Google Maps at one point I was walking through a river. I did not see any water.

I eventually got to the bottom of the mountain but had no idea how to get back to the main road. Frustratingly Google Maps would not work at the bottom of the mountain. I started walking along a dirt track. I thought it would eventually lead to the main road.

It started getting dark and I started to feel completely lost. I picked up my pace and kept walking on the dirt track. When it became pitch black I called the police for assistance. The phone operator was going to speak to his manager and then call me back. Before he did this my phone died! Great!

I kept walking and eventually got to a sign which read ‘No Trespassing’. I sighed deeply and started looking for alternative routes. In the distance I saw what looked like cars. I assumed it was some people off roading on a dirt track. I headed towards the ‘dirt track’. I bumped into a sign which had ‘100’ written on it, it was dark but I could tell it was a speed limit sign. I looked around me and I realised the ‘dirt track’ was actually a proper road.

I stood at the side of the road and frantically waved when cars came past. Two cars drove straight past me and I felt gutted. Then fortunately one of the cars turned around and came back and asked if I was okay. I was lost, dehydrated and it was pitch black. I was not okay!

He told me to jump in the car, he said he could give me a lift home. I got in and started chatting to the guy. According to him the town had recently had a problem with Aboriginals committing car crime. It was his words, do not throw the racist card at me. I asked him why he stopped for me then, I asked if he had seen I was not an Aboriginal. He said ‘I didn’t see your appearance but I am a big bloke and have a gun on the back seat’! He could clearly defend himself if he needed to. The guy dropped me off and I thanked him a million times.

The next morning I woke up and realised I was coated in cuts and bruises. At least I was still alive! A lot of lessons were learnt after that ordeal!

This traveller has a blog : Ross the explorer

credit photo : Ross the explorer

Sitting on the dock of the Bay…

A moment lived in Australia by Maire, a traveller from Ireland

The orange and indigo sunset streaked the sky as we made our way home from the beach at Byron Bay. A hippy town at the epicentre of the alternative Australian lifestyle, Byron is a sleepy village dotted at the curve of the crescent inlet which gives the town it’s name. Time is malleable there, as though it gets stuck beneath the thick, hot air and starts shifting side to side instead of propelling you forward. The sun sets for what seems like hours on end, then all of a sudden you’ve stayed in this town 5 days longer than you intended. The sand, like caster sugar, coats your feet. The sea salt in your hair, the air, everywhere.

A mecca for the misfit, everything moves to its own slow steady rhythm. The locals drawl in that distinctive Australian tone “No draaaaamas mate”. Even the birds have an Aussie accent – ka KA kaaa kaaaaaaaa. The glistening back of a dolphin curves up and out of the water, the motion of a soundwave. Up and down. Up and down. A slow and steady pulse, a natural metronome keeping everything in time.

Locky is the counterpoint. That night we meet Locky sitting barefoot and bare chested on the street corner, drumming on a bench with two empty coke bottles. A lion’s mane of sandy dreadlocks, atop a spindly teenage frame, Locky somewhat resembled a kitchen mop. We sat cross legged beside him, as he gave the bench an absolute battering, playing tune after tune as the sun grew tired. Locky was from rural New South Wales, from a farming town in the arse hole of nowhere. He ran away to Byron to become a drummer at 17. “No better place, says you” I said to Locky. Both native English speakers but I still had to provide a translation. We joked that Irish people seem to say very little, but in as many words as humanly possible whereas Australian abbreviate, clipping words in half but drawing them out, slowly. Australians are trying to conserve energy as they bake in the sun. The chat keeps the Irish warm, sure our teeth would only be chattering otherwise.

Musicians seem to grow on trees here and from the homegrown Byron orchard appears Chris, ambling by, a raspy voiced young singer with a penchant for Hip Hop. A battered guitar. A toothbrush as a capo. Dirty nails and sandy feet. Chris plonked himself down amongst us, with a guitar case full of cassette tapes and lungs full of smoke and soul that would give Otis Redding a run for his money. De La Soul, Eminem and Public Enemy were on Chris’s jukebox. $5 went in the guitar case, a brown envelope of sorts, and Otis’s back catalogue got a run through, as we drunkenly attempted to whistle along.

Song after song, stragglers joined the fray, crouched down on the pavement as tins of warm beer were passed around like a sacrament. The guitar exchanged hands. Marvin Gaye draws more passers by. A group of Brazilian surfers hear us through the grapevine. An Irish lad is torn between the craic and going to bed. He was driving 12 hours down to Melbourne in the morning. Should he sacrifice sleep or the story? I wonder did he ever get there in the end? Nowhere to go, nowhere to be. Everyone had a song. Everyone had a story.

The stars began to disappear. How did we get here? Night evaporated into a bright dewy morning. The birds were getting in on the action and started warming up their vocal chords for the day ahead. Rainbow striped lorrakeets flit between the trees, dashing the sky with colour. The world started to wake up slowly and the day began again. A local shopkeeper hooshed the grate of his storefront skyward, paying no heed to the crowd of scruffy eejits huddled outside his shop, looking a bit worse for wear. No draaaaamas.

It’s funny how you look back now, as days, slide into weeks, melt into months and you realise just how different time feels when you travel. Endless, it stretches, the day moves differently. What changes? I think it’s your awareness, like you are documenting your travels in your brain, a future memory is being captured so you zoom in on every minute detail. Now I try to incorporate that into my day to day. Stretch time like the Aussies stretch vowels! Remembering when we sat on the street corner and sang as time moved around us.

Sitting in the morning sun. We’ll be sitting when the evening comes…

credit photo: Maire


A moment lived in Australia by Ben, a traveller from the USA

I’m sitting in a softly-lit, rustic- styled and aptly-named pub – Clay Pots – in St Kilda, Melbourne, VIC, AUS. I’m here alone, and there’s a pitcher of Czech Pils sitting on the bar in front of me. A dissonant but bouncy Eastern European Gypsy Folka sounding tune plays from a conspicuously out of place iMac behind the bar, and, to my left, a blonde woman in her late thirties and a long sequined skirt dances by herself. A model gondola paces slowly back and forth below the exposed wooden rafters above me, accompanied by a languid, mechanical whir. The smell of hot mulled wine hangs in the air, lending the already cozy atmosphere an intimately exotic thickness.

My general impression of “backpackers” (so en-quoted because of their apparent propensity to travel not with backpacks at all, but with multiple duffles or large, rolling suitcases packed with everything from hair dye to high heels to suit coats to chef’s knives (no, seriously)) in Australia is that they ultimately seem to do very little of anything at all, save for consume heroic amounts of cheap wine- self-consciously but appositely monikered “goon”- and smoke vast miniature armies of bone-white hand rolled cigarettes. How these listless legions fund their endeavors in such an outrageously expensive city I am sure I don’t know. Some of them do work- as laborers or dishwashers, waitresses or delivery people. But for the most part, they seem to be very preoccupied with the idea of looking for work, and very nonplussed with the project of finding it. This sort of psychological dissonance seems to manifest itself in their traveling itineraries as well, because when they do move around, and they occasionally do, they seem to drift from destination to destination, falling into ruts they can’t tell don’t dissolve with the changing scenery, drinking and partying their way through a foreign landscape they interact with and appreciate in ostensibly only the most fundamental and instrumental and necessary way. The morning hours at the hostel are the hours of the walking dead; they belong to the early workers, the hungover, the still drunk, and the rudely-awakened-in-a-public-space (these latter typically constituting a subcategory of ‘the still drunk’, it probably goes without saying).

The music has been changed by the dancing woman to a hiss- heavy and presumably ancient recording of a prayer-chanting Hindi guru. She ebbs and flows with herself, hands raised and twisted, feet occupied in an opiated rhythmic shuffle that seems entirely unconcerned with the pace of her swaying hips. A very drunk old man holding a plastic liter bottle half full of what appears to be bourbon sticks his head in the door and, for a long captivating moment, rambles fast and drunk and incomprehensible about his love for music. His face withdraws into the night with the slam of a door and the light tinkle of a bell.

Which, if I’m being honest, is not to say that I’m doing too terribly much of anything at the moment either. I seem to have found myself caught in what may be the definitive post-capitalist tension:

that irresolvable place between needing to make money to travel and explore and be active, and on the other hand working tirelessly (ok, not tirelessly- I’m exhausted) to earn that money, and living like an ascetic to save that money, and so but then having very little time or energy to actually enjoy the money that I’m working so hard to make, and ultimately finding myself feeling very conflicted and depressed by the whole arrangement, which arrangement is of course entirely of my own design and more or less the purpose of my visit to Australia- to earn more travel money, that is-, because, when it comes down to it, what am I doing here if I’m not willing to spend the time and the money to explore this new continent and all that it has to offer? I am all too aware of my historical propensity to just sort of put my head down and bull through all sorts of existential-and-work-induced miseries for some distant and long-delayed financial red cape of a reward, a reprieve at the end of the gauntlet; after all, that’s how I funded my trip from Portland to Asia. I worked my ass off for the better part of nine difficult months to afford my escape- and it was in no uncertain terms an escape-, which of course also then leant a serious psychological fuel to my flight. I wrote before I left that I had a clear idea at the time of what it was I was escaping from, but not what it was I was escaping to. That seems to have changed. I now no longer have an idea of what it is I’m escaping from, either. I only know that it is shadowy and persistent and likely intrinsic to myself. It’s like I’m running through the dark in a dream- chased by something unknown but presumably insidious, running towards something unseen but hopefully sheltered, and burdened by the extreme heaviness of limb and viscosity of time that are hallmarks of dream-panic-flight.

I empty the pitcher into my glass. The dancing woman laughs with a stout drunken man in a leather coat and bowler, his slurred Australian accent lending to his ruddy complexion and jowly rictus a sense of cartoonish vivacity- of his being an over-enthusiastically manifested caricature of himself. His hand alights for a brief, pregnant moment on the woman’s hip, and then he’s off, stumbling out the door waving his leather hat behind him as if to clear the air of his presence before he’s swallowed up by the night. The bartender, a young, black, Frenchman named Pascal, interrupts the chanting Hindi, cutting the tape-hiss of static and replacing it with the warm vinyl crack and pop of an old Mississippi blues recording, and now suddenly the old southern black uncle I’ve never had is sitting in a kitchen I’ve never seen, playing a torpid delta guitar over the sound of bacon and eggs frying on the stove under an open window. The sun is shining. I’m pretty sure there’s pie.

credit photo : Ben