Category Archives: Australia 2014

Australia 2014 Summary Post

Just like last time, I’ve put together a quick index, broken down by state. Pictures were taken on a mix of my Nikon D5000 with 18-55 and 55-200 lenses, my Samsung S3 and the missus’ Sony Xperia with a mixture of instagram filters being used. We took about 500 pictures and I’ve only been able to whittle those down to about 200.

Enjoy!

Sydney
Part 1

Tasmania
Part 2Part 3Part 4

Melbourne
Part 5

Round up
Part 6

Australia 2014 Part 6

So there you go, that was our holiday. Sorry to end it on such a bum note! Still, it made coming home a little bit easier I suppose!

So, where do we go from here? Well, the original plan was to get my permanent residency visa and move there at the end of this year/beginning of next. We started this process last year. I did my IELTS and I got an almost perfect score but it gave me maximum points for that level and everything looked like it was going well. After speaking to a migration agent and doing the preliminaries, including paying an extortionate registration fee, I needed to wait until October when my work experience qualified for ACS certification.

At least, that’s what the agent said. I don’t have a degree so to make up the points I need maximum level on the work experience. Which is 8 years. Which I have. Which the agent agreed with. So after signing up, I filled in a bunch of forms and sent it off but the ACS rejected it as they don’t want to count my first IT job as it was not of a professional level. So I need to wait another two years until my current job hits 8 years. The problem with that is that I then fall out of the maximum points age bracket and they’re still unsure whether they will count the full 8 years work experience or dock some for “training”. So I might have to wait another 5 years.

FIVE YEARS!!

That’s kind painful and fucks up what little plans I had. Prior to this I had tried to arrange to meet up with a few potential employers but then decided to cancel as I just didn’t want to waste their time. We also had to tell everyone that our plans were cancelled. It was just a bit of a horrible overhang throughout the holiday. But it’s made me more determined to jump through their hoops and get them to let me in. Ideally before they completely close off their borders! It’s annoying as I’ve wasted quite a bit of money getting to this point and everything I’ve done so far is unusable on the next application so it will be like starting all over again.

So, where do we go from here? Well, five years is a long time. We’re very unhappy with our current living situation and lack of savings so we’ve decided to buy a house. We figure it’s a good investment and after 5 years we should have some decent capital saved up. And then who knows what will happen. Once I get some more money saved up I’ll apply for the visa again and just hope for the best. We don’t have to go immediately, you have 5 years from the point of acceptance I think so it gives us lots of thinking time.

In the meantime, I’m just waiting for the bank to approve my mortgage. Unsurprisingly there was a fuck up. They approved in principal a much higher mortgage than I need for the area I’m buying in so I chose a house much cheaper anyway but when it came to going through the figures, the proper mortgage system didn’t like that I earn commission as the main part of my salary and initially rejected my application. So it’s all being sent off to head office for approval with some crossed fingers. I am seriously sick of commission, it’s such a dumb concept. If you’re not motivated to just do your job, then fuck off and do something else, money should not be a day to day motivator to provide good service and quality workmanship.

For now though, fingers crossed. We have a backup plan if that all goes tits up but let’s just see what happens. I hope you enjoyed the pictures and it inspires you to go travelling!

Australia 2014 Part 5

And so we ended our trip in Melbourne. I don’t really know what to say about Melbourne. As a Brit, this should be my home. Culturally, climatically, suburban spreaderly, Melbourne should be the Mecca! I don’t know what it is but as soon as I landed in Melbourne, I got overcome by a sense of ill! It happened last time and it happened this time. There’s a big block seriously affecting my ability to have a good time and it just bums me out. Which is such an inconvenient bastard because if I move to Australia, it will probably be to Melbourne as that is where about 90% of my industry is. Typical!

Still, we had a reasonably good time, we went on the Neighbours tour! Again!

The guide rather naughtily let us see inside the mechanics!

Here I am looking glum at the bus stop where all the kids try to run away from before being picked up by their parents!

Hermione!

The sun was out but it wasn’t very warm, hence the jumper!

Here I am pretend posting a postcard. I kept it though!

Inside the cop shop!

That’s pretty much where the fun ended. Melbourne got hit by a four day heatwave of around 44 degrees every day. That was just a bit too hot for me. You could barely go half a mile down the road to a café without having your insides melted. Not good on the way back after a milk based smoothie. Felt like it was curdling! We were staying in Armadale which is quite a nice little suburb, plenty of shops and cafes and a little park. Fortunately the house we were staying at had air con and a pool so we were fine:

Or maybe animated?

Also, I think as we had gone for much longer this time (25 days) I was suffering from holiday fatigue and itching to get back to my day to day. I just didn’t enjoy Melbourne as much as I think I should’ve. I need to give it one more chance, third time lucky, I might have to go the other way round or do it before going to Tassie. Just something to see if it’s Melbourne or me.

Anyway, that’s it for pictures, time to round it all up in part 6!

Australia 2014 Part 4

Launceston was absolutely amazing! We had no idea what it would be like and it gets a bit of a kicking as it’s not Hobart, but it was just wonderful. There was so much to do and I’m super chuffed we got the chance to stay there. I would definitely go back again as there is still more I want to do!

On our last day, before we drove down to Hobart, we went to Tasmania Zoo. they have a massive collection of animals here including some you can only find in Tasmania. Such as, the Tasmanian Devil!

They are so cute! I didn’t get to see any the last time I was in Tassie and I was surprised by how small they are and the fact that they don’t spin around pulling raspberries. Thanks Warner Bros!

We also saw this fucker! I hate emus! They are so creepy and could very well be silent assassins! They sneak up on you lightning quick and out of nowhere. Terrifying!

Tasmanian Devils are currently in danger from the facial tumour disease that is spreading from a random genetic abnormality. The zoo is doing everything it can to try to breed isolated colonies without inbreeding.

I was also surprised by just how vicious they can be!

Food!

Better food! They grabbed this food and then had a massive battle between themselves running around the pen to see who would be the victor and get to actually eat it. Pretty scary actually and a useful reminder not to try and pet them!

Meerkat!

Here is the missus feeding a goat!

We had lunch at the café and I had chips and gravy (very Northern!). Then we headed down to Hobart. It was about a 2 and a half hour drive of some of the most stunning landscape I’ve ever seen! We had so much fun!

We stayed in Lauderdale with the missus’ uncle which is a really great location for doing many of the things in and around Hobart. First up, we went to Richmond which is like a novelty/themed village. I’m just not sure what the theme is supposed to be.

Here is Richmond Gaol, originally a place to hold convict labourers while the town was developed:

A tree in the yard:

I went in a cell and shut the door. True solitary confinement. Really freaked me out!

Next up we went to the Old Hobart Model Village! I love model villages! This one had a unique spin in that it had characters you had to find. It took ages but we were adamant we would get them all. The funniest thing is that none of the kids who came through could care less, but the adults were the ones determined to find them all!

The village has been around for about 30 years and showcases what Hobart would’ve looked like when it was originally settled and used primarily for harvesting whale oil. It must’ve stunk!

Look, they’re doing it!

We went to a crazy maze that the missus did back in the 90s. They had modernised it and created an additional maze which was supposed to be much harder. We went through the first one and that was really easy so we decided to go into the second one. It was a ridiculously hot afternoon and we got really disorientated and ran out of water and tempers got out of hand and I almost jumped the fence but we persevered and made it out alive! That was a low point of the trip!

Brilliant little town, we called off at a winery place and tasted some more cheese!

The next day we went up Mount Wellington:

Last time, it wasn’t a very clear day so we knew the minute the sun came out we would have to go up there. Our tiny little Micra actually made it to the top!! Isn’t this just beautiful?!

Turn the other way though and you could be in the desert in some flatlands or something!

Here is the missus being buffeted by the wind:

Here I am being a knob in the wind:

After that, we descended back down the mountain and went for lunch in Hobart. We opted for the Salamanca area:

How cool would it be to live there?!

There was a cruise ship in for a few days. Absolutely massive!

The missus’ family used to live near Seven Mile Beach so we went there to take a look. It’s a gorgeously private beach!

Next up, we went to Opossum Bay which gives you the sense or being on an island in the middle of the sea with nothing else around you for miles and miles and miles and miles! Which is exactly what it is!

I could also live here:

I’m not much of a beer drinker but I was given some James Boag and that stuff is delicious! I’ve found somewhere I can buy it here in the UK and will definitely be getting a case in for the summer BBQ season!

Hobart, and indeed, Tasmania, is just an amazing place. I would love to live there one day. Mostly I’d like to pack everything up and dump it in a camper van and spend six months getting around the island doing everything! One for the lottery win bucket list I think!

Stay tuned for part 5 and Melbourne!

Australia 2014 Part 3

Next on our adventures we decided to go on a river cruise. Last time we were in Tasmania we were in Hobart only and we did the Peppermint Bay cruise and I got some great photos. We were going to do it again but we figured we’d use up some of the time we had in Launceston and do it there instead. We went out with Tamar River Cruises.

Not as big a boat but definitely as bitching!

While we were waiting to board I got some photos of the wildlife and the surrounds:

Then I saw this little fella. I tried to get as close as I could without disturbing him but this was about the limit:

Then we boarded and headed up the Tamar River. We got our safety instructions and then we could go up top on the outer deck to have a gander. We got super lucky in that it wasn’t raining! The captain reeled off all the history of the valley and the boats that have come through over the years. Fascinating stuff!

There is some incredible wildlife you can only see if you’re on the river, like this nesting pair of sea eagles!!

Black swans!

Here is a really neat bridge:

I want to live here!

The Cataract Gorge:

The King’s Bridge:

It was a fantastic day out and they gave us a beer and wine tasting, all local produce and a fantastic lunch of cheeses and sarnies. Everyone was incredibly friendly. Perfection!

Australia 2014 Part 2

Following on from part 1, we left Sydney with very heavy hearts and boarded our plane to Tasmania. Which, by the way, was fucking awful! I am never flying Virgin again. Terrible organisation at the airport, no food on board, tiny, tiny, tiny seats and useless ground staff throwing the bags around as they loaded them on board. Thankfully it was only about a 10 minute flight to Launceston.

The missus has family in Hobart but they were away while her other cousin was having another baby in Melbourne. On a whim and at a loose end, we decided to stay in Launceston for 5 days. Completely at random I picked a resort that looked completely in the middle of nowhere to counter the city stay in Sydney. We ended up staying at the Country Club Tasmania. By sheer luck, this was one of the nicest places I’ve ever stayed. It had a pool, golf course, private restaurant, laundry, everything you need. It was a bit like a British caravan resort but with villas. Oh and a massive casino! We played the pokies and I ordered a $10 chicken sandwich and chips. In the UK the chicken sandwich would be tiny for this price. Here it was bigger than my head! Nom!

We had hit and miss weather so on the off days we just relaxed and watched some terrible Aussie TV. Although they did have Midsomer Murders one night and a lot of Worlds Greatest Ninja Challenge something or other. Which reminds me, in Sydney we watched this Norwegian mockumentary called Troll Hunter. That was some weird shit! Also, what is up with TV ads in Australia? We watched Mary Poppins on a spectacularly shit rainy day and it ended up taking 3 and a half hours to get through as there were so many ad breaks!!

On the good days, we did stuff. We went to Launceston which is really old fashioned and still very colonial. Here is a postbox:

Here is a street (I love how low down everything is!):

Launceston does parks really well. In the middle of one they have (for historical reasons) a monkey park! Actual live monkeys in the middle of a public park!!!

And amongst that, a mini hot green house thing, with cool plants:

We went for lunch at the Levee Food Company as (ironically) I’d seen an ad for it on the TV. Absolutely amazing food! Could’ve done without the boring ra-ra alcoholic housewives lunching there though!

On another good day we decided to combine three trips into one using the Tamar Valley Triple Pass! Just in case the weather turned crap again and we mightn’t have had time to fit them all in. Also, this part of the island is tiny and close together so it wasn’t a stretch.

The night before we ordered a picnic basket which was delivered the following morning. This was supposed to be a picnic basket for two but it fed us for about three days and the road trip down to Hobart! All for about $40! Outstanding value.

First up we went to Beaconsfield Mine & Heritage Centre. If you’re not familiar, this was the mine where three miners got trapped and one died. While stuck they managed to get a hole drilled through for air and food and requested to listen to the Foo Fighters. When Dave heard about this he offered them tickets to his next Aussie gig and a beer. He also wrote the Ballad of the Beaconsfield Miners on the ESP&G album. Which is kinda why we went!

DIGGER!

Visting Foo related sites is turning to be a bit of a thing!

Inside they have a cool exhibition about the town and how it has evolved over the years. A big trade for them used to be apples so you get to see the process behind that too.

Here I am mining gold:

And here is the missus Blacksmithering:

This is the infamous mine lift where the two trapped miners emerged when rescued. There’s a viewing platform where I took this and it’s very sobering:

Next up the road we went to Platypus House! The Platypus is only native to Australia. You will not find these anywhere else in the world. It was a fascinating exhibition but photography proved somewhat trying and none of the photos I took were any good. It was really dark and I refused to use flash!

They also had echidnas which you will only find in Australia and Papa New Guinea although they are different breeds. Lots of research is being done to find out more about these fascinating creatures:

On the way back I even saw an echidna in the wild crossing the highway!! Platypus House was up at Beauty Point which is just gorgeous and then right next door was Seahorse World!

Again, some amazing research taking place here and they have a big breeding centre and we got to see all the tanks as the seahorses go through the reproduction stages. We got some neat souvenirs and then headed back to our villa. Check out part 3 for more Tasmanian tales!

Australia 2014 Part 1

Earlier this year we went to Australia again. It has taken me absolutely ages to get around to blogging about it. Mostly because I’ve just been too depressed to even look at the photos. Leaving Australia to fly home this time was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Just did not want to come home and if it hadn’t been for an imminently expiring visa, I’m not sure I would’ve!

The first time I went to Aus was 2011. I wrote a rather lengthy 10 part blog about it. The missus has been many, many, many times. She has family there. This time, there are nearly 3 times as many pictures so I’ll (try to!) keep the writing to a minimum.

Last time we went in the cheap season at the beginning of April. Flights were about £700 a person. This time we decided to go peak and over Christmas. However, this was going to be very expensive unless we flew out on Christmas Day which halved the price to £1200 per ticket. So that’s what we did!

We caught the train/tube to Heathrow and stayed at the Hilton again. My top hotel when flying from Heathrow! It was like a friggin ghost town! It was so surreal. We had dinner at the hotel, check out the neat table decoration:

I had a Jack Daniels and it cost me something like £9! *shakes fist*

We had a mid morning flight so we got up fairly early to check in, beat the crowds, then had breakfast at a VERY English themed restaurant! Seriously, UKIP could hold their annual conference here!! (Well, if it weren’t for the fact that the waiting staff were all “foreign”!) Lots of milling about trying to contain the excitement of going on holiday and the loathesome anticipation of 26 hours before seeing a bed again!

The flight was actually really good. We flew Malaysian Airlines this time (Qantas last time). We went on a massive A380, one of the new fleet. We were lucky enough to be placed upstairs which feels like a much smaller private flight and there are far too many toilets for the number of people which made the whole experience much more pleasant! Also, the side seats get a side storage container to dump all our stuff in and the leg room was incredible. All in all a really comfy flight!

There was a changeover at Kuala Lumpur and we merged with a plane from Sri Lanka. There was a massive family on board who were scattered through the seats and they just would not sit down and kept ignoring the flight staff while they talked to each other. In the end the cabin crew turned the lights off and it was like putting a curtain over a parrot cage! Bliss!

Arrived in Sydney at night and it really wasn’t all that busy. I think we were one of the last flights in. Last time we were really late in and the airport was dead! Got through customs and baggage claim really quickly which was nice. Hopped on a shuttle bus and headed to the airport hotel where I had a jetlagged argument with reception over whether my hotel was prepaid or not. Which was fun.

Hotel was amazing. If you know you will feel like crap after such a long flight, don’t arse about trying to get to the final destination, just stay at the airport, have a shower, get some room service, start again in the morning! Last time we stayed in an apartment and went straight there and it was a hassle trying to organise the eats when we’d just arrived! This hotel stay took the stress out of things.

In the morning we got a cab to our other hotel in Kings Cross/Potts Point. I love this area of Sydney. Close enough to the city without being too pricey. In addition to being a big backpacker area it’s also home to a big gay community and I’ve just always found these areas to be super friendly. Like Kemp Town in Brighton. We were in Sydney for 6 nights over New Years. Not surprisingly, New Years Eve cost the same as the other 5 nights put together. We arrived quite early, check in wasn’t until 2pm but check out from the last one was 10am, so we went for a wander.

Last time, I bought Foo Fighters’ Wasting Light from a record shop which had an automated spinny thing behind the counter. It was the coolest fucking thing I’d ever seen! We went back there to buy something (anything!) but alas, it had closed:

After buying Wasting Light we ate at a café and had steak sarnies and chips and watched a man pick up a hooker at lunchtime. This café had also closed. I think Aus might be heading towards recession, which is kinda sad.

We went back to the hotel and they had our room ready. As we were so early they gave us a great room with a phenomenal view over the domain, the harbour and down to the bridge:

For the first day, we just mulched around and had lunch at a great café called Zinc which has some of the friendliest staff I’ve ever known in a café! Then we had dinner at the hotel. Just trying to get over jetlag really. The next day we went into Sydney CBD and had lunch at Guylian Belgian Chocolate Café. By contrast this was one of the most over priced, unfriendly craply waited places I’ve ever been to. Seriously they weren’t even busy and yet still they sucked a massive amount of ass! They got no tip! There was one waiter who we thought really needed to rethink his career choice as waiting was not the one for him!

However, I did manage a smile. I was in Sydney after all and it was a baking hot day!

After lunch we went through the Botanical Gardens and had a trip on the petit train and got some useful info about the trees, plants and conservation work they do there.

Here I am ignoring hot chicks and falling in love with Sydney all over again!

On the way back I called off at Harry’s Café de Wheels and got me a pie!

The next day we went to Elizabeth Bay Gardens and lounged about and I got really badly burnt. Typical Brit on holiday eh?! Funny story, we got some pasta from a café but no forks, in the park there were some people having a party for some kids, the missus walked over and asked for a fork and they just gave it to her. No judgement, no snark, no accusations of being a kiddy fiddler. When does that ever happen in the UK?!?!?!

At some point in the holiday we wandered about Macleay Street and took some random snaps but here is one of the fountain:

We also covered some new ground and went to Rushcutters Bay Park. This was brilliant. I think most of the locals were away over New Years to get away from the crush and as a result it made parks like this really quiet and peaceful. We had a smoothie in the café and watched middle class people play tennis badly.

In the afternoon we met up with the missus’ cousin who is an Aussie who lived in the UK for years and has now gone back to raise a family. We went up to the North shore. I’d not really intended going there but I’m glad I did because it opened up a whole new part of Sydney for me. I’m not sure why but I thought it would just be sprawling suburbs like Melbourne but it’s much nicer than that. We went for nachos and wine at a local bar and played with a child!

On New Years Eve, we headed down to the harbour and went to the Chinese Gardens. This was one of the things I regretted not doing last time and was the main reason we came back to Sydney this time. I’m so glad I went, it was just beautiful, and tranquil and hard to believe this is right there in the middle of this busy bustling city. You simply must make this a place to visit on your travels!

Outside, we met this little guy:

Here are some inside photos:

And the little fella met us inside, or this was his brother:

Afterwards we walked back down the harbour and the missus met Eric Bana!!!! Well, his waxwork anyway:

The queues were getting pretty massive by this point, all getting ready for the fireworks. We were very glad our hotel had a view. Here are a ton of pics as we saw in the New Year from our hotel room, with champagne and pizza:

We spent the next couple of days just lazing around waiting for our flight to Tasmania. See part 2 for how we got on there. We went to the New South Wales Art Gallery which we also didn’t have time to do last time. It’s so weird that Australia just doesn’t have much history older than 200 years or so and the art is relatively modern. They had a European section so you could see all the really old stuff and a super cool aboriginal section.

Last time we were in Sydney, we went to the Botanical gardens and just fell completely head over heels in love with the city. It happened again. I love it so much, it’s my favourite place on this whole Earth. When growing up, I always knew I was born in the wrong place, I just never imagined it was TEN AND A HALF THOUSAND MILES away from the right one!