Before Moving to Australia
Growing up, I wasn’t one of those kids that was desperate to leave home and travel. Don’t get me wrong – I’d bite your hand off for a two-week holiday to some other (warmer) part of Europe, but the idea of moving to the other side of the world, thousands of miles away from friends and family, held no place in my thinking…until it did.
I didn’t wake up one morning overcome by a strong sense of adventure, exploration or fearlessness, although how cool would it be if I did? In truth, I grew sick and tired of sitting in traffic every day, to get to a job I had no interest in doing, and then binge-watching Netflix to escape a life of monotony and uninteresting experiences. Not to mention British weather! Quite literally, the perfect storm forced me to ponder whether I could make it outside of the motherland.
The moment I allowed space for the idea of travelling to Australia to enter my mind – that was it. I wasted no time booking my flights, applying for my visa, and most importantly, organising my leaving party!
The 11th of September rolled around fast. Filled with excitement, some nerves and intense curiosity, I said goodbye to friends and family, and took my last step on British soil for what would be two and a half years.
Arriving in Sydney
As I stepped off the plane at Sydney Kingsford Airport, strangely enough, the first thing I remember feeling was déjà vu. The dark, overcast sky looked all too familiar.
“It rains in Australia, you know” my friend whom I’d travelled over with told me.
My working holiday adventure would start in a suburb called Kings Cross. Before Sydney’s lockout laws were introduced, Kings Cross was the crown jewel of the city’s nightlife. It was this reason my friend, whose advice I took when booking my first 2 weeks at Funk House hostel, justified his recommendation with. Either that or he decided a joke at my expense would be a deserving “Welcome to Australia” gift. Kings Cross is a great place to stay, if you’re a professional sesh-head, or a degenerate gambler. Otherwise, I’d recommend the Eastern Suburbs or some other part of the city!
Working in Sydney
I moved into a 2-bedroom apartment with four English guys, a Scottish guy, and a Columbian. That’s right – six of us in a 2-bedroom apartment! Three in each room. One bathroom. One kitchen. It was wild. At times, tough. But overall, a blast.
My first job interview was for a sales job at a wine company called Laithwaite’s. At this point, the only time I’d ever tried wine was at the end of a night out when there was no other ale left! In other words, I had limited wine tasting experience. Desperate as I was to return to the office after a few weeks (days) on the construction site, wine-sales was the last industry I expected to find myself in.
I sharpened my wine knowledge and began to thrive in the outbound team. I look back on my time at Laithwiate’s with nothing but great memories, fondness and gratitude. A great office atmosphere, amazing people, and Friday afternoon wine tasting were just a few of the reasons I stayed for almost two years.
I always say how lucky I got with my work experience in Australia. It was sometime during this period when the idea for GoTo sprung into my mind. I wanted to help people like me have a just as positive experience when they arrive in Australia, and not have to “get lucky”.
It dawned on me that if I was going to help anybody travel to Australia, I needed to travel Australia! I’d yet to leave Sydney, and was keen to experience first-hand everything else Australia had to offer. I bought a 4×4 vehicle, fitted a poptop tent on the roof, spent half a day planning my itinerary and was on my way.
Travelling Australia’s East Coast
Travelling the east coast of Australia was a lifechanging experience. Despite setting off at a time when parts of the country were in and out of lockdown, it didn’t stop me from forming some amazing friendships, making lifelong memories and more importantly, crossing the border!
My goal was to have a clear idea of where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do, but equally to leave plenty of room for spontaneity. Flexibility is key when you’re travelling because it allows you to stay longer at places you enjoy and move on from those you don’t. The only challenge with this approach when travelling Australia, is that aren’t many places that fit the latter!
Some of the places I was fortunate enough to tick off spanned Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour, Byron Bay, Gold Coast, Cape Hillsborough, Magnetic Island, Airlie Beach and Cairns. For the most part, there were no queues… no crowds… no travellers. The roads were empty. Remote areas appeared even more remote. At times, I felt like I was the only person on the planet.
Three months and a skydive, a few snorkel trips, and many gruelling hikes later, I called time on my adventure. I can’t help but feel lucky to have travelled when I did. It was a truly unique moment in time we’ll probably never experience again.
Back to Reality
After several months on the road, I was ready to return to Sydney. My east-coast trip gifted me with a new outlook and a greater appreciation for the country in which I lived.
Turning the clock forward to September 2022, almost two years later with an even broader perspective on work and travel in Australia, my understanding of the pitfalls, obstacles and challenges many travellers face has deepened.
It’s time to pass on that knowledge to Australia’s newcomers. GoTo was created to inspire, educate and serve travellers who want to maximise every experience they have. I hope you’ll join us for the ride.