When researching everything I possibly could to start my working holiday visa year in Australia, I honestly felt overwhelmed. What was I going to do for a year? How was I going to find a job? What do all these things mean? How do I get Medicare? A bank account? What is a TFN and why do I need one?
I was going crazy. Could I figure this out without asking my mum 101 questions like I would at home?
I was searching through the STA Travel website when I saw their starter packages, helping people with all of this stuff once they get to Australia. I didn’t know that starter packages existed so I starting googling them when I stumbled upon OzIntro, you can check out their website here.
It looked like the best value one so we bit the bullet & booked onto the 5th February 2018 group. We were to arrive in Sydney on the 1st so we had a little time to get over our tiredness before it started.
Monday: Day 1
You will be staying in Base Backpackers, Kent Street, Sydney and you can check in from 2pm. If you arrive earlier then you can leave your bag in the luggage room downstairs.
OzIntro offer an airport pickup which you can take advantage of and stay in the hostel for any extra nights before your starter package begins for around A$35 a night. We did this and I would not recommend it at all. A lot of the people staying in Base are long-termers and this means that you are moving into their bedroom. It can be so depressing to see a big mess, dirty underwear & inconsiderate roommates who come in at any hour in the night & don’t care who they wake up. We left after night 2 and paid for a hotel for the next 2 nights and Base offers no refunds. On the Monday, you move into a room with other people who are in OzIntro so the rooms are clean & everyone is in the same boat.
We met in the hostel reception at 5:30pm to meet our group. We were taken to the Intro Travel office (less than 5 minute walk) and given our Aussie SIM cards and were helped to set them up.
After this, we headed back to the hostel’s adjoining club to have a meal & participate in the trivia night. The food was so good! Especially for a backpacker bar.
Tuesday: Day 2
We started off with a trip to the bank where we opened up our bank accounts and received our bank cards! Then a city orientation with our group leader Tom. We walked through Sydney’s city centre, to the quieter Royal Botanic Gardens & to the Sydney Opera House & Harbour Bridge.
After a quick drink in the Opera House bar, we headed to the dock to go Jet Boating. This was so fun and you get absolutely drenched which was a nice relief from the hot sun!
We got a couple of free hours after this before meeting for pre-drinks in someone’s room & then off to World Bar which is quiet to begin with & then gets livelier, this was a great was to get to know some more people in the group and lower the inhibitions a little.
Wednesday: Day 3
On day 3, we went on a Harbour Cruise. After cruising for a little while, we stopped and got the paddle board, inflatable and foam flooring out into the water and had a play around. It was a really fun day and I even managed to stand up on my first attempt!
It was BYO alcohol and they provided water and a BBQ lunch. It was a really chilled day.
Thursday: Day 4
Bondi Beach! We got the bus from Sydney to Bondi and put our stuff down before most of us went straight into the sea! We were body surfing and having a laugh, I kept getting pulled & knocked by the bigger waves in the shallow areas.
After a couple of hours, we started the Bondi to Coogee walk, walking past the world famous Bondi Iceberg pools until we stopped at Clovelly Beach for a BBQ and cider. Clovelly was a lot more relaxed than Bondi and quieter. We went snorkelling and spent a couple of hours getting to know more people on the group before getting the bus back to Sydney.
Friday: Day 5
Early morning! 7am we had to be up & checked out ready to go to Port Stephens for a weekend away. It took about 2.5 hours in the minibus to get to our first destination, a surf lesson with MojoSurf. I even managed to stand up a lot, I just need to work on my timing as I kept missing the waves.
After an hour surf lesson (for each half), we had a spot of lunch before getting back on the minibus to Morrisett Park. Here, kangaroos are ready to meet people, get some selfies and be fed carrots.
Then we went to Murray’s Winery to do a little wine tasting (and wine buying…)! I particularly liked the sweet Rose Moscato Isabella.
After that busy day we finally arrived at the hostel. We stayed in Melaleuca and it was brilliant. They even somehow managed to have all 25 of us fit in one cabin with everyone having a bed! That was definitely an experience!
We were all fed, given a safety briefing that included ensuring doors were always shut so the possums couldn’t get in! You would think that this would be were the day ended however this is when the drinking continued and we ended up on the dark beach in the cloudy, light rain at 10:30pm, half of us in pyjamas!
Saturday: Day 6
After yesterday’s busy day and silly night, we left at 8am to make our way to Stockton Sand Dunes to do a bit of sand boarding. Hungover we got through the heat and had a really fun morning (minus climbing back up the sand dunes in 35 degree heat after sliding down them)!
After this, we went back to the hostel to check out & then off out for a walk. The walk we were supposed to do had just faced a bush fire so we went to a different lookout point.
This was followed by a dolphin cruise on Nelson Bay. We even managed to see a few.
When we got back to Sydney, we could start to get ready for a night out!
Sunday: Day 7
Earlier in the week, we were asked to sign up for a time slot to have a meeting with the group leaders to firm up our onward travel. Our slot was at 10am and we advance booked (with open dates) things up the East Coast including a Sydney to Cairns bus pass with Premier.
After sorting that out, we had some free time before a movie night in the office. We watched Step Brothers as it was quoted a LOT during this week.
Monday: Day 8
Today was all about jobs! How to find a job, advice, how to edit your CV/resume (hint: Australia CVs are a lot simpler than in the UK). We also got signed up to the OzJobs app with 12 months free membership.
In the evening we had a farewell meal in Sydney Tower, the revolving restaurant in the Westfield Mall. It takes 70 minutes to do a full 360 turn and the dinner slot is 90 minutes so plenty of time to see the whole of Sydney.
Tuesday: Day 9
As we were a large group, half of us had to go to Medicare on Tuesday instead of Monday so off we went to authenticate it. Boring but needed to be done and it came in pretty handy as my boyfriend actually needed to use his the week after!
So that marked the end of the week with OzIntro. Some people stayed in Sydney, others went to Melbourne, most went up the East Coast, we chose to leave Sydney that evening to go up the East Coast. It was a great week & definitely worth doing.