Monthly Archives: January 2014

Happy ‘Straya Day!

It was Australia day here yesterday (Sunday 26th Jan) to commemorate the 1788 landing of the first fleet of British ships on Aussie soil.


On Friday at work they bought us pies and lamington cake, both so good!

Today it’s a bank holiday (monday) and lots of local celebrations. We spent the day on St. Kilda beach, having a few drinks and enjoying the sun and sea! In the evening we headed to the docklands for the night market (food and crafts) and fireworks. I was really impressed with the fireworks, they went on for 15 minutes and were very good. After we headed to Federation square to see the last of the Australian Open tennis and enjoy our lord of the fries dinner. Whilst queueing for our food a guy put a cockatoo on Pauls’ shoulder, as you do. Also on the train home we saw a guy pulling a rabbit home in a wheely case too. Not as crazy as Thailand but a fab weekend!

St. Kilda beach!

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Docklands at night

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And the cockatoo….



Categories: Exploring Australia | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Healesville Sanctuary

Healesville Sanctuary is an Australian Wildlife park about an hour and a half drive from Melbourne. We rented a car for the weekend and took it to the Sanctuary to celebrate Pauls’ 25th Birthday. The night before we also went out for Mexican food at the Fiesta restaurant in South Yarra. It was yum with big portions, enough for leftover dinner the next day!


En route to Healesville, our housemates Giuseppe and Manuel joined us for the day there too. Road trip!


The Sanctuary costs $30 for adults, $23 for students. We also paid $12 extra to play and feed the kangaroos and Paul also paid $12 extra for feeding an echidna. We were able to get close and see so many australian animals and this time it was nice that quite a few of the nocturnal ones were awake or being fed. My highlight was seeing Steve, the baby koala, and his mum run on the ground to get the fresh eucalyptus leaves. There was also a talk about tasmania devils. An animal I had never seen before was a platypus, they were so much smaller than what i expected but so cute. The trainer did a talk about them and tickled its belly and let it play in the water with them. Customers can pay an extra $195 to play with the platypus but I felt that although a great idea, it would break the budget! Scroll down to see photos of the cute wildlife.

Our “magic moment” with a roo named Crystal.

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A koala caught mid-yawn



Mummy koala on the run.



Baby Steve



Tasmanian Devil



Paul having a “magic moment” with the echidna.

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Categories: Exploring Australia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Phillip Island Day Tour

For Christmas my family gave me money towards doing something off of my bucket list whilst here in Melbourne. Since Chantal was also visiting and it was her last weekend we decided to do a day tour outside of Melbourne and visited Phillip island, most famous for the Penguin Parade. This is where the largest colony of (little) penguins in Australia return home at sunset and waddle up the beach to their nests in the grass.

There are many similar tour operators and the one we eventually chose was through Bunyip tours. There were pick up points in the city but we chose to be picked up in St. Kilda as it was easier to get to from where I live, for 10.30am. We then picked a few others up and then went to the office to pay for the tour (we had booked it over the phone the previous evening, it was  a spur of the moment decision.) Our tour guide was really friendly and told us lots about the penguins and other sights we would be seeing throughout the drive to Phillip Island (about 2 hours from Melbourne in traffic.)

The first stop was Moonlit Sanctuary Conservation Wildlife Park, home to lots of Aussie protected wildlife and where we had lunch. Since it was midday and lots of the animals are nocturnal we mainly saw the feet of sleep animals hiding in burrows or tree logs. I saw advertised a nighttime walk through the park and I would think this would be a lot better for seeing the wildlife not snoozing if you were in Phillip Island for a while! Wombats feet;


However it was still a good place to stop. They sell food for the wallabies for $2 but the ones we found were over fed and skittish. Not at all hungry and the children running around were scaring them off. We decided to head in a different direction around the park and found a couple feeding a (huge looking) kangaroo (after the small wallabies.) She was hungry and after the couple finished feeding her (and after my excitement and falling over and twisting my ankle) the kangaroo let us come close and ate the food out of our hands! We even did a selfie with a roo ha.

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We also paid extra ($10) each to stroke and have a photo with a koala. I was impressed with how the sanctuary dealt with this. It is illegal in Victoria to cuddle a koala, so here you can only stroke one. Also the place where this happens is right next to the koala enclosure so if they don’t feel like being petted they can chose to go into the enclosure. The first koala did this so they got the other guy out and he fell asleep almost straight away. We learnt lots about them, and the one in the photos is much bigger than i imagined and thats because he is male.

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The next stop on the tour was Churchill Island. A very picturesque old farm where you could watch sheep being sheared. We arrived late for this thanks to the traffic. Coming from England, with lots of history, this old farming island wasn’t too interesting for us, so we quickly wandered around then enjoyed the views and hot weather with an ice cream sat in the shade. I thought this house was pretty though. And the garden with the sunflowers.

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We briefly stopped at Cape Woolamai Surf beach where the sand storms were so strong we couldnt stay out the van for long. Ditto at the Nobbies and Seals rocks. We didn’t see any seals. For dinner we headed to Cowes where we took takeaway down to the beach and had an hour to enjoy the sea. Then it was the grand finale…

26,000 little penguins coming in from a days swimming in the sea to feed their chicks. The tourists all sit on benches arranged in a seating area overlooking the sea. At around 8.30-9.00pm as the sun sets the first penguin swims towards the shore. Then waddles, then the waves catch him and he goes back in the sea. Repeat this a few times, until he finally comes all the way out and checks the coast is clear. Then “rafts” (groups) of penguins between 5-15 come out of the sea and do the same thing, waddling up the beach to their nests in the grass above the hill. The penguins are so little with such small legs that they fall over a lot, over pebbles, grass and just wobbliness. After the first few rafts of penguins have headed in shore i suggest you move from the seating to the walkways. This is what we did and we were able to see groups of penguins right in front of us waddle up and greet their fluffy chicks. You can hear their squeaks to each other as they try to find their family members. We also saw many chicks run out of hiding places and squeak at every penguin go by, as if to ask “Are you my mummy? I’m hungry.” And then get nudged out the way by the penguins trying to find their real families. It was adorable.

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Photos are banned so as not to harm the penguins – the ones above were taken from the penguin parade website. We started back home at around 10pm and arrived back by midnight, running to get the last train! It was an eventful day and great way to spend time with Chantal and I wish her safe travels in New Zealand.


Categories: Exploring Australia | 1 Comment

Living in a Land Down Under

After a year (13 months) in Thailand being in Australia is kind of easy. Most of the time being in Melbourne and having lots of rainy/cloudy/sometimes hot and sunny days it almost feels like I am back home in the UK, especially now that I’m living with friends from home. So this is a bit of an intro into my life here and how easy it is to settle down on the other side of the world.

The boring stuff first…

Medicare card (for cheaper bills if you have to visit the doc) is easy, get the form online and fill it in, then take it to your nearest medicare family assistance office. There are a few about, then you receive the number there and then and the card a while later. I say a while, its been 2 months and mine hasn’t arrived yet.

Banking – rock up to a bank and sign up. We chose Commonwealth as they are everywhere! But other popular ones are TAB or Westpac. Pretty sure they’ve now got a way to set it all up before you even get out here. You can register the address to the hostel you’re in and your UK phone number and change them when you’re sorted.

Phone – I went through a company called Global Gossip. Since we signed up as 3 friends together we have free texts and calls to each other ALL THE TIME. Pretty fab because they’re the people i talk to most. It’s also great for calling house lines at home. I spoke to my parents for half an hour and it cost less than $5. I’ve only used $30 of credit since I’ve been here.

Housing – Some people say stay away from but nearly every foreigner i know who lives in a share house here found it through gumtree. We tried the proper route of signing up to agencies to properly rent a house but hardly any here are furnished and they were miles away form CBD. Plus we wanted to live with more than just the 3 of us. In the end we used In theory the idea is great. (I say in theory, for a month we only had 2 forks for 11 of us. And sometimes the landlords take a while to deal with problems) All their properties are close to public transport, and near supermarkets and are all pretty newly made (so new that when we moved in my friend still didn’t have walls to her room for first 2 days.) Plus you can sign the contract for as little/long as you like but you pay different prices for different rooms and length of stay. We are in Caulfield South, 25 mins on train from the centre and there are 11 of us living here, the place is pretty big. I pay $250 a week everything included for a double room, desk, cupboard, bedisde table, bedlinen etc with tv. Singles here are $200 a week, all the same as above but no tv, based on 6 months contract. Yeah its expensive but its simple. Our house is international, living with Italians, Swedish, SriLankans and Brits, its a good mix! Sometimes it reminds me of being at uni except people are more grown up (sometimes) and we go to work instead.


Our house came with free Possums in the back yard!


Finding work – This is not easy. No one is going to offer you a job if you don’t write a CV and start applying for roles. and are the best websites. Also many cafes/restaurants/bar work require you to complete trial shifts or have an RSA to work with alcohol. I had interesting experiences with jobs here. My first job was advertised on gumtree asking for you to phone if you wanted to work taking coffee orders at Melbourne cup, paid cash in hand. I figured I could do that, phoned them, chatted about experience and what was expected of me and told how to get to the race course for 2 days later for 4 days work. (Melbourne cup is a HUGE horse racing event here.) I really enjoyed the work and have worked on and off for the company at other events this summer, including a few gigs. Although the coffee stuff was good i was also looking for a full time job and got a role as door to door energy sales. The company was pretty lax on rules and no training. Then someone got high on the job and i realised it definitely wasn’t professional enough for me. After applying for i think around 50 jobs i had a phone interview for a Telesales job at a really good company, then i had a full 3 hour assessment day with them including roleplay on the phones, taking calls, to see how well we did in a “real” situation. Basically don’t stop selling and keep trying. Then I had online assessments with them and was eventually offered the job. I had a full weeks training and am now working 11.30 -7.30 during the week for them. Pretty good hourly wage plus commissions on sales. If you have just graduated be warned that the companies want to give grad jobs to Aussie Citizens because we can only work 6 months for the same company. Below, the view of my job at Melbourne Cup…


The fun stuff….

Exploring Melbourne! There is so much to see and do. Our hostel was located in St. Kilda and I am so glad we chose this spot! It’s stunning and has something for everyone.. a beach, shops, lots of bars, froyos (every other shop sells diff flavoured frozen yoghurt) and cafes, famous cake shops, iconic Luna park, Palais Theatre and little penguins at the end of the pier each sunset.


Sunset at St. Kilda


A little penguin (also called Fairy or Blue penguins) found at the end of the pier..


St. Kilda beach for dinner one night


Other free/cheap things we have done are wandering around Melbourne city and seeing Federation Square. If you are a student the Melbourne Museum has some really great exhibits for free (£10 if not a student) We also went to the docklands to see some random statues and did a train trip to Brighton beach where the brightly painted beach huts are. My Christmas party with work was at the ACMI, the Australian Centre of Moving Image which has some fabulous exhibits to do with films and music videos (silent disco thing) which because of the party being there i got to see for free!

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Close to the centre is the Shrine of Remembrance, which is a nice building commemorating those who served in the wars. If you climb the stairs to the top there is a view over the city and the Kings Domain park and it looks really pretty. In November another event we went to was the Night Noodle Markets in Alexandra Gardens for Goodfood month. For 2 weeks they had stalls selling lots of yummy Asian food. Everyone sat on picnic rugs in the gardens and listened to the music and ate good food.

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Coming soon… Trips away from Melbourne!

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2013 in Review

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Categories: Exploring Thailand, Festivals, Teaching - Science Week, Teaching Thailand- Government School, Teaching Thailand- Private School | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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