When I left Dublin in 2010, it was -6 on a chilly February morning, as I said goodbye to my father and uncle to depart for Australia. I had left my home at 8am on a Friday and got to my hostel in Fremantle around 6pm Monday. Longest journey I have ever done. Also, it was +44 degrees Celsius. That was a major shock to the system. On arrival into Perth airport, the price of a coca-cola from a vending machine was $4.50AUS – Ouch.
Welcome to Oz!
I was out on the Australian Working Holiday Visa with the intentions of staying in Australia for as long as possible.
First impressions, it is hot as hell and really expensive!
Even though I had traveled half way across the world, and should have been comatosed in a sweaty hostel bed, I had previously agreed to help a friend working for a landscaping company, building a greenhouse in Jarrahdale, Western Australia, for $17 ph the next day.
Foolish mistake on my part, but I was in quite a bit of debt at the time, and confidently agreed from the bar stool in my local pub in Ireland. Not thinking that a 3 day trip into a desert climate, would have me fresh and ready for work 12 hours after I landed into Australia. It is funny looking back, but really, what the fuck was I thinking!?
I worked for 2 weeks with this company as I saved for my first car in Oz, and ended up following through on a family contact for a laboring job with a civil construction company. I had no idea about civil construction. Although I am quite confident with building and enjoy working with wood, I have spent my working life in hospitality and only worked with construction with carpenters in New York for 6 weeks in 2008, and had no idea what I got myself into here in Perth.
I began as a labourer and spent the next few weeks on a shovel running around like a headless chicken looking for tools that had different names in Australia than I was used to in Ireland. The money was good – starting at $23. To progress through the wage scale, I had to learn new skills to add to my arsenal.
Skills I learned
I learned how to weld, oxy cut, drive excavators, loaders, bobcats, trucks, tipper trucks, work with concrete, use form work, operate a small drill rig and lots more. How useful these skills will prove to be for the rest of my life, I do not know, but it is all life experience.
Skip forward 3 years and I was sponsored as a Project Administrator. This is not what I really wanted to do with my life and I was being put forward for college courses to get me trained up even more. Although this is a dream for many Irish who immigrate to Oz, it was never my plan to stay there.
I was only there to make money, pay off some debts and continue traveling. But somewhere in between a very nice pay-check, company vehicle, shit loads of responsibility and good friends, I fell straight into the ‘stay and get your residency’ trap. I have friends who have spent over $14,000 trying to get residency for Australia.
It took a trip to Queenstown, and a serious life changing decision not return to Australia in 2013.
I am happy to live with mine, I think it was the right thing for me to do. I will take happiness over money any day.
I am now in New Zealand with my girlfriend on a working holiday visa, where we are planning the next big travel idea, with no worries except buying food and trying to save for the next adventure.
So far, I have worked as a chef at the Hilton for one month, worked for the catering company that fed the 3 Lord of The Rings Movie and, worked in construction. Other random jobs so far have been, cooking and setting up for a wedding in a 4* winery and cooking for 100 guests in a Wool Shed in the New Zealand Alps.
Live the life you want to live…
I left Australia to continue traveling at 26 only 5 months ago… Even though my family and most of my friends think that I am crazy. I left sponsorship, this new-found apparent ‘Irish dream’ to settle in Oz, to continue doing what I really want to do.
See the world!…