Category Archives: Working and Living in Australia

5 Reasons to Visit Australia during Autumn and Winter…

5 Reasons to Visit Australia during Autumn and Winter

Let’s face it, we all want an excuse to visit Australia regardless if it’s during their winter, and when we say winter, it’s not your typical thermals galore and huddling for warmth sort of winter. After all, Australia is pretty unique, where the dunny and seasons whirl backwards and the stars sparkle upside down. So, it’s only fitting that Australia’s autumn months are between March-May and winter months June-August.

It’s Cheaper

Nothing screams appeal more than ‘cheaper’. We’re all after a good bargain, especially, when it involves a trip to Australia and doesn’t drain our bank balance. Fewer visitors during the ‘off’ season mean special deals, less packed beaches and roads. And do not despair, pubs and football matches remain overflowing with high-spirited souls.

The weather is still wonderful

The word ‘cold’ and Australia aren’t really acquainted with one another. In fact, the Down Under boasts attractive temperatures all year round, sure to impress the sun worshippers among you; the coldest temp bottoming out in Sydney at approximately 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit). It’s reportedly even warmer in Northern expanses, where in the main; there is a decrease in humidity and rainfall. Manly Beach will continue to be popular with surfers and swimmers, riding waves while waiting for the winter sun to locate the horizon.

Perhaps surprising, but Australia’s winter weather is actually better for some activities, such as road trips. You may be aware that Australia’s Outback centre is a picturesque yet scorching desert, which is why it’s recommended to experience this scenic landscape during the winter months. You could hire a camper van and take a group road trip from tropical Darwin to Uluru (Ayer’s Rock), championed as being the closest you can get to driving on the moon despite still being on Earth. Alternatively, you could take a smaller yet still remarkable 150- mile journey along the tranquil coast of the Green Ocean Road. Just remember to pack a blanket for sleeping in your van, which is a much more appealing option than scorching inside it during the 100-degree December heat!  Some other great locations to visit during the winter months include Cairns, Tropical North Queensland, home to Port Douglas and The GBR, Broome in Western Australia and Hervey Bay and Fraser Island situated in Queensland.

Whale Watching

Southern Hemisphere whales move north for the winter, contrasting to the migration of Northern Hemisphere birds. The whales pass extremely near areas of Australia during their mission to breed. In New South Wales and Tasmania, whale watching commences in April/May and in Queensland it begins in May/June. Reserve a tour to see them breach and splash. However, don’t get overexcited and tempted to join them in the water, you could meet more than Whales – Australian marinas aren’t full of shark nets for nothing.

Great Festivals

VIVID Sydney, will be the festival you want to attend, great music and the largest party of lights. It kicks off in late May until early June every year; VIVID includes, complimentary nightly light displays, live music, the sails of the renowned Sydney Opera House lit up with wow-inducing 3D projections, amazing art installations, LED- decked out boats sailing the harbour and imaginative talks.

You could also attend additional incredible festivals, such as Sydney chases Vivid with its film and Winter Festivals happening in June and July, separately. Aboriginal culture gets credited during August’s Amhem Land’s Garma Festival. And the amazing Yulefest and Beer Can Regatta hosted in Darwin, both take off in July.

https://www.vividsydney.com

Sports, Sports, Sports

Australia offers the best of both worlds in terms of sports. Water activities remain in full swing due to the winter heat. Our home is renowned for swimming, surfing and snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef.  

Skiing is also popular winter sport in Australia. It’s not hard to see why, with the ski-snow at its greatest at best resorts such as Perisher and Mt. Buller.

At the pinnacles of the seasons during the winter months are rugby and football. See how the Aussie’s do it; don’t worry if you’re not familiar with the rules of the games. Pick a side to support, and watch the muscley men in tiny shorts punch oblong balls at one another. You could watch from a pub with a pint, or from the famous Melbourne Cricket ground. Take your fancy and enjoy the games.

 

Why the Australian Tourism Industry is Working Together to Stop Adani

Who is Adani?

Adani is a multinational company in Ahmedabad, India, which creates and runs mines, ports and power plants. Adani has operations in coal, gas and renewable energy across India, Indonesia and Australia. Currently in Australia there are major conflicts between the Australian government and the tourism industry due to the negative impacts the Adani Group will have should plans for mining go ahead have. The following article explains why tour operators within the tourism industry are working together to Stop Adani.

Coal Kills

Coal is a killer of people and the planet and the biggest cause of air pollution in Australia. This deadly fuel has serious consequences and destroys everything in its path. Coal contributes to three thousand deaths every year in Australia. Worldwide air pollution kills an estimated three million people and as one of the biggest drivers of climate change, coal is a key contributor. Coal mining contaminates water, destroys the environment and suffocates our lungs. The dust from coalmines, ports and trains is also a considerable cause of respiratory diseases, including the fatal Black Lung disease, lung cancer, and increased rates of heart and kidney failure.

Internationally, the coal industry continues to record mining accidents and mortalities. Adani coal companies have claimed severe injuries and fatalities in India. Just last year twenty-one workers suffered horrific burns at Adani’s coal-fired power station in Gujarat when a hot water pipe burst, seven of whom later died from their injuries.

Can’t Trust Adani

Adani Group companies have an awful record, which includes corruption, fraud, money laundering and environmental and social devastation. This is what the Adani Group is known for and the list goes on. In an Australian court Adani was also exposed for misinforming the public about the amount of royalties and employments the mine would create.

Adani hired a ship that sank and polluted waters off Mumbai’s coast, damaging tourism and poisoning the marine environment, this attracting a $975,000 AUD court fine. This causes much fear for what Australia could face if Adani ships travel through the Great Barrier Reef. So it’s not surprising that many Australians are in fear as Adani has already disrespected the environment, communities and protocols of Australia.

Adani Wrecks The Australian Climate and Ecosystems

While the world has agreed to reduce carbon emissions to stop global warming, the Australian Government is pursuing Adani’s enormous new coal mine. Accepting the Adani project along with its port infrastructure and rail would open the whole Galilee Basin to up to a further nine new mines of the globe’s most polluting fossil fuel. Adani’s mine would be the biggest coalmine in the world, more than double the expanse of Sydney Harbour.

Impacts on the landscape due to coal burning by Adani are shocking, with an increase in extreme heatwaves which are already Australia’s number one killer of natural disasters leading to droughts, bushfires and floods that threaten people’s livelihoods in Australia.
Scientists also foresee that burning the coal from Adani’s mines will be disastrous for the Great Barrier Reef, which has already experienced coral bleaching due to rising sea temperatures. If current climate patterns continue; large tracts of the Reef will be killed in the next twenty years and burning coal from the Adani mine will only accelerate this also counteracting any attempts to reduce emissions.

We are literally watching our planet and loved ones being tortured by this aggressive fuel and we can put a stop to this. The world is moving on from this destructive fuel, countries are transitioning to safer, healthier and less expensive alternatives of producing renewable electricity, including solar and wind. It is essential that Australia’s biggest coal mine plan is stopped before it begins.

Adani coalmines will steal our Water

Billions of litres of valuable water will be taken for free by Adani from the Great Artesian and other priceless basins, this threatening the farming community and surrounding habitats. Adani will not pay a penny for the water they consume; and currently the Queensland government has silenced farmers by taking away their rights to petition against Adani depleting their groundwater. Geographical features are also at risk; Adani’s mine will drain water from the unique Doongmabulla and Mellauka springs- both ecologically important, being over one millions years old and supporting masses of native wildlife and vegetation.

Adani’s mine along with the additional nine mines planned for the Galilee Basin will cause massive and unalterable damage to Queensland’s groundwater resources and risks serious contamination of water sources.

Adani Trashes Indigenous Rights

Adani’s project will sabotage the inherited lands, waters and culture of indigenous people in the region. The Wangan and Jagalingou; (W&J) people have rejected Adani’s application to build their mine. The W&J have invited people worldwide to support them with their battle against Adani. Despite this, Adani continues to pursue their plans, by pushing the state and federal governments to adjust state water laws and national native laws so their mine can go ahead.

The W&J have exposed Adani for using their resources and have supplied evidence in court that the Adani Group has attempted to gain consent from ineligible sources. Wangan and Jagalingou people are determined to stop Adani, but they can’t do it alone.

Taking Action to Stop Adani

The Australian tourism industry is also making their opinion of Adani known. A winner of Queensland’s tourism award rejected the prize because it was sponsored by Adani. Many other tourism bodies and tour operators have also voiced their opinions with the words ‘appalling’, ‘laughable’ and ‘shocking’ echoing throughout the industry. Another winner in the 2017 Whitsundays Tourism awards, threatened to quit the organization if it did not drop Adani. As a result, much controversy has been stimulated, with many other winners commenting that they cannot accept an award from a company that is destroying everything they stand for. By simply sharing this article, #stopadani and informing others of the Adani plans can go a long way to supporting our industry to Stop Adani. To find out other ways in which you may be able to support visit Stop Adani today.

Useful Links…

Australian story ABC NEWS FOUR CORNERS Aljazeera

Travel Australia Voluntourism style

What is Voluntourism?

Voluntourism has become a very popular concept around the world; and recently it has taken off in Australia.You can probably take a guess what it involves!Volunteer tourism is defined as any type of travel where you provide you volunteer your services for free.Some of you may be finding it difficult to welcome the idea of paying for your holiday and working during it with no financial incentive.However, for the conscious travellers, timeless time-givers, and the committed campaigners among you, it will be like a dream come true. In fact, travel industry experts foretell that it will be on par with ecotourism by the end of this decade!
Voluntourism is a massive classification with many avenues, including medical, educational, conservationist, community and building projects. The choices are very diverse. For example while visiting Queensland; you could help protect endangered sea turtles, or get involved with the world heritage-listed national parks clean-up and maintenance as a conservation volunteer on Fraser Island, the Daintree or Cape York. You could also volunteer your way onto a guest list at an event or festival.Essentially it’s a holiday but one, which is mutually beneficial for both local residents and you as the traveller out to experience new things..

An Optimist’s Opium

If you’re an enthusiastic, happy chappy then Voluntourism is for you. The great thing about Volunteer travel is that anyone who is prepared to get stuck in and is not afraid to work hard and get their hands dirty can do it. If you truly desire to donate something valuable to a local community during your holiday experience then you should seriously consider it. People from all walks of life join the programs, including, school-leavers and retired farmers. And you are guaranteed to come away with stories and experiences that other travellers will be envious of!

You do not need any specific skills or qualifications, you just need to be eager, culturally aware and possess patience.You won’t be staying at a five star hotel; your lodgings will most likely be simple and basic. You may be in a tent with a bucket of cold and refreshing water to wash with, but what better way to immerse yourself with what nature has to offer, the diverse wildlife and a chance to experience the proper Aussie outdoor lifestyle.

What can be Gained from Voluntourism?

Primarily you will gain experience, which is more than the average tourist, whether you volunteer for a week or a month, you will always be valued by the local community and more often than not make many new friends.If you’re willing to consider new ideas, benefits should be returned. You may choose to dedicate a night a week to assist Aussie rangers help new-born turtles make their way to the ocean safely and in return you will feel that sense of achievement in knowing that you are aiding endangered animals start their journey into the world.

The Benefits of Voluntourism

Reap the rewards by contributing to a charitable cause. Volunteering will enable you to truly understand challenges that local people encounter and for you to support the communities in overcoming them.
You are also likely to have a positive impact on the ecosystem. For example in Queensland you could monitor the underwater environments of dugongs and minke whales, catalogue koala and dingo populations, thus supporting the sustainability of these wild animals. You could also clean up the reef in the Whitsundays and Mackay with Eco Barge Clean Seas or volunteer at one of Australia’s zoos, including Australia zoo, the Cairns Tropical Zoo and Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. Regardless of ability, you can make a difference with a vast range of people by volunteering. From beginners to experienced volunteers all are welcomed to get involved, so get stuck in; it is the season for giving after all!

Working Holiday Tax 2016: Is Australia’s Budget taking Backpackers to the Cleaners?

In 2015 the international backpacker community and the Australian travel industry were up in arms (and still are) when the Australian Government announced plans to ‘remove’ the tax free threshold for Working Holiday Makers. If the budget passes, this would mean that visitors in Australia on a Working Holiday Visa will have to pay a hefty 32.5% income tax from the very first dollar earned, as of July 2016. In December 2015 it all came to a head and the bill finally passed through parliament. Thanks continuous lobbying from Farmers and the Australian Tourism Industry the 32.5% the Turnbull Government had proposed to tax ‘backpackers’ never came to pass. Instead a ‘happy medium’ of 15% was agreed on BUT the sneaky bastards said nothing about backdating tax payments and chasing backpackers for tax money!

What a lot of people don’t know is that the ATO (Australian Tax Office) was always supposed to tax Working Holiday Makers at 32% with no tax free threshold as the backpacker was always supposed to be classified as none residents BUT what happened in reality was very different. Companies like TaxBack who have made a living from processing backpackers tax returns and employers were never eductated about this supposed ‘fact’ and the ATO was too god dam stupid to even realise.

As backpackers we were just told to tick “permanent resident” on our tax form, we didn’t know any better and the ATO had no procedure to check this so they would just apply the tax free threshold. As with most government departments the ATO is poorly run, use outdated systems and do everything they can to divert the publics attention away from the FACT that they royally chuffed this one up! Unbelievably they are so brazen that they are even chasing those poor unsuspecting and budget tight backpackers for backdated tax ‘owed’… ARE YOU KIDDING??

Nope, we know for a fact that their auditing department is in overdrive, a dear friend received a $2500 tax bill for tax that she had previously received back from the ATO… if that is not just dam right scandalous behaviour we don’t know what is! 

Will Working Holiday Makers be taxed more as of 2016?

Yes! This bill has now passed which means you will pay 15% from he 1st dollor you earn in Australia . While the government certainly needs to raise certain taxes to balance the books, this particular tax hike is already proving to be very unpopular. Australians appreciate Working Holiday Makers and their contribution to the economy and realise that these are the wrong people to be milking for cash. It was also assumed that the treasurer is purposely overestimating the expected revenue from the tax but we know know that this may not be the case as they attempt to back date payments and chase backpackers who have even left the country.

What should I do if I am planning a Working Holiday in Australia?

Make sure you know what your stuff, check out this link for some more information from the ATO – https://www.ato.gov.au/Individuals/International-tax-for-individuals/Coming-to-Australia/Working-holiday-makers/

How much tax do Working Holiday Makers currently pay in Australia?

The working holiday maker tax rate is now 15% until you earn $37,000, it then increases to 32.5% for income earned up to $87,000

Are Working Holiday Makers “residents of Australia for tax purposes”?

Nope. Under the new legislation, all Working Holiday Makers are treated as non-residents of Australia.

Is it even worth working in Australia anymore?

HELL YEAH! Who isn’t used to being screwed by the tax man these days, it never stopped us before. Honestly I think it comes down to our lifestyle choices really. Working in Australia is so valuable to our journey, it gives us opportunities to learn things that we would never get the chance to at home. It immerses into Aussie culture and provides us valuable funds for the many Aussie adventures on our bucket list because lets be honest, very few of us have the luxury of travelling with unlimited funds so if we don’t work we wont be able to eat.

The Cost of Living (and Travelling) in Australia

Let’s face it, travelling can be expensive and Australia is one of the more expensive parts of this world to travel in.

If you are entering Australia on a working holiday visa, the financial requirements set out by the Department of Immigration are a pretty good indication of how much money you will need to get started in Australia. According to visa requirements, you need to have proof of funds equal to AU $5,000 (at least in theory). This proof rarely has to be produced and you could probably get away with entering the country with less in the bank, but it’s a good financial safeguard to have. No one ever said “I wish I didn’t have those savings”, even if they turn out to be unnecessary. 

Before you set off, you need to set yourself a realistic budget. Here’s how to budget for travel, step by step:
  1. How much money do you have? List all your savings and incomes that will continue coming in while you’re in Australia. Even if you’re planning on getting a job, you’ll need something to get you started and tide you over while you search and apply for work.
  2. How much money will you need? Well, how long is a piece of string? Obviously, the amount of money you will need depends on where you will be, what you want to do and how much luxury you plan to live in. At the very least, factor in…
  • The cost of your chosen mode of Transport.  For example, flights or buying a car (plus fuel) or unlimited travel rail/bus pass.
  • Food at a minimum of $10 per day (more if you’re eating out.)
  • Accommodation at an average of $30 per day (staying in dorms at hostels.)

Add to that the cost of tours and extras like alcohol (which is very expensive in Australia) and you’re talking a bare minimum spend of $100/day.

  1. How much can you earn? The Australian job market is pretty good, but you have to be realistic about your job prospects. Don’t expect to find a job straight off the plane and plan accordingly. If you’re willing to do anything and go anywhere in Australia, you’ll almost certainly find good, well-paid work, but it might take a while. Read our work tips here.
  2. How much can you borrow? We’re not huge fans of living off other people’s money and prefer to earn everything we spend. However, when you’re in the middle of the trip of the lifetime, you don’t want to cut yourself short. After all, it’s only money and you’ll be back to earning soon enough. You don’t want to look back on your time in Australia filled with regret about the things you didn’t do. On the other hand, you don’t want to return saddled with insurmountable debt.  

To make that dollar last as long as possible, check our money saving tips.

Visa Application

Every person entering Australia is required to have a visa even if you are only passing through. There are a large number of visa types and which one you opt for is dependent on your individual circumstances. But for the purpose of this blog let’s say this is your first time entering Australia. The most common visas applied for are either the visitor visa or working holiday visa. The visitor visa simply allows you to stay and travel Australia for a certain time period. Alternatively the working holiday visa allows you to stay and work in Australia for a period of up to 12 months. You may be entitled to this visa if you: are at least 18 years old and not yet 31; do not have a dependent child travelling with you at any point during your stay; and you hold a passport from an eligible country.

My advice would be that you apply directly to the Australian Government for your visa – the benefits of this are numerous:

  • you will not have to pay administration fees for an agency to apply on your behalf (and to be honest they just enter the information that you have to supply them with onto the online form)
  • you will have complete control over your Immi account and therefore continued access to it for any future applications
  • you will be able to supply any additional information more quickly should it be requested.

The online process is very straightforward and requires you to submit personal information and answer a series of questions related to your circumstances. In general and in speaking with many other travellers en route the time period for having your visa granted can be as little as 48 hours, however we do highly recommend that once you have a flight date and are certain of your arrival date to Australia that you make your visa application.

Tourist Traps

tourist traps

Tourist traps can be hard to spot. For every guidebook telling you the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb is a must-do while in Australia, there’s ten comments on travel forums complaining that it’s a ripoff. At the end of the day, it’s up to you. You can give an alleged tourist trap a chance and either be pleasantly surprised or have your suspicions confirmed and join the ranks of online complaints. You can also skip an alleged must-see attraction to avoid the trap and end up regretting it.

Generally when travelling, there’s a few easy ways to identify tourist traps:

  • Ask the Locals – Taxi drivers, hostel staff or just passers-by on the street can often give you better (unbiased) advice on where to go and what to see than tourist information offices.
  • Ask Fellow Travellers – Chat to people you meet along the way about their favourite sites and whether they can recommend any sights in places you haven’t been to yet. You can even ask people coming out of an attraction whether it was worth the money before you pony up the entry fee.
  • Check TripAdvisor – Online activity reviews can be very helpful – if taken with a grain of salt. Keep in mind that a lot of online commenters will only contribute if they want to complain, whilst others may have received an incentive to write a positive review. If there’s a huge number of reviews, the average rating is usually a good indication of what to expect.
  • Walk, Cycle or Take Public Transport – (especially buses and trams) to experience cities like the locals. It’s far more likely that you’ll discover something off the beaten track this way.
  • Check Urbanspoon – For restaurants, bars and cafes, this is the go-to recommendations site most Australians use. The app is well worth downloading for the duration of your trip.

Some of the Most Notorious Australian Tourist Traps:

Lots of the worst offenders are in Sydney, but there are plenty of others all over Australia. Again, we don’t want to put you off any of these, merely let you know what you’re getting yourself in for.

  • Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb – Incredibly expensive and you don’t get much for your money, except for the view and a picture of yourself looking pretty unattractive in a boiler suit. The view is great, but you can get a very similar one by entering one of the bridge pylons – at a fraction of the cost – which contains a museum and viewing platform.
  • Taronga Zoo – Once again, the best thing about this zoo is the views and you can get very similar ones all around the harbour – on the harbour walk, which is totally free. The zoo itself is fine, but not that great, considering the price. You’ll get better value for money in other places like Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo.
  • Madame Tussauds –  A phenomenon in tourism capitals all over the world, it’s as much of a waste of money Down Under as it is anywhere else… unless you have a wax fetish, in which case: knock yourself out.
  • Didgeridoos and Other Indigenous Art and Craft – It’s a great idea to bring home a bit of aboriginal art as a souvenir from your trip to Australia, but make sure what you’re buying is the real deal. The best places to buy aboriginal art and crafts are, of course, in or near Indigenous Protected Areas (Aboriginal reserves.) Didgeridoos were originally only used in the Top End of Australia and the trees used to make the real deal only grow there. Of course you can find perfectly respectable art galleries and craft shops selling quality souvenirs all over Australia, but make sure you do your research to avoid paying good money for something produced in China.
  • Big Things –  There’s some debate surrounding the question whether the big pineapples, water melons, oranges and lobsters that dot the Australian landscape are tourist traps. They are usually on or near a highway and can be a great place to break a journey and take a quick stop. Do not, however, go out of your way to see them. They really are just big things.
  • Great Barrier Reef Tours – Obviously, the reef itself is a fascinating ecosystem and right at the top of most people’s bucket list. However, this also means that mass tourism has become a reality and many day tours are off-putting rush jobs. Do your research before you pick a tour, and if you’re really serious about diving the reef, go to the outer reef on a several-day cruise.
  • Cuddling Koalas – It’s illegal in most states and even where it isn’t, you should consider the stress wild animals suffer in close contact with humans (even if there are no visible signs of distress.)  
  • Nimbin – For some reason, Nimbin has become known as the hippie capital of Australia and there are bus tours out of Byron Bay carting tourists to marvel at the free-spirited people. There are, indeed, a lot of people living alternative lifestyles in the surrounding hinterland, but Nimbin itself is mainly worth a visit if you’re looking to purchase drugs – or get mugged.  
  • Gold Coast and Surfer’s Paradise The idyllic-sounding town is in reality a built-up Vegas-style tourism hotspot. It gets particularly bad during schoolies week, but is also best avoided during public holidays.