The Melbourne Cup is the race that stops the nation. If you’ve never been in Australia for Melbourne Cup Day, be prepared for November 3rd as the entire country will slam to a halt and turn on the TV for the gem of Australia’s horse racing calendar!

The two mile race at Melbourne’s famed Flemington race-track has been run since 1861 and features a prize purse of over $6 million – not bad for about 3 minutes of work! The Melbourne Cup is second only to the Dubai World Cup in terms of prize money so this is about as big as it gets in the horse racing world!

24 horses and jockeys take to the start line and the runners and riders will be announced on Saturday November 1st. You can float a wager now, if you’d like but it’s probably a good idea to wait and see who’s running!

Trainers, horses and jockeys come from across the globe to take part in this esteemed flat race so expect to see Irish, English, French and Japanese interests represented somewhere along the line. Last year, former England and Liverpool striker Michael Owen had a horse in the big race!!

Tuesday November 3rd is the date to remember as the Melbourne Spring Carnival will be well under way. The Melbourne Cup begins at 3pm and is the seventh race out of ten on the big day.

Expect offices across the country to empty out while bars all over Australia boom! If you’re working over here, you’ll no doubt be offered a punt in the office sweep so try and pick a winner!

If you happen to be in Melbourne on the day of the race, why not take a trip to the track and chance your luck?! Over 104 000 people attended race day last year making the Melbourne Cup one of the biggest horse racing events in the world – even outside of horse racing it’s rare to get over 100 000 people at a sporting event!

It’s all a bit of good fun but Australian’s drop about $100 million on bets on the big race each year! Get down to your local bookies and put $5 on something you like the look of – who knows what could happen!?

The other big aspect of the Melbourne Cup is the fashion. Expect to see fascinators galore if you’re watching the coverage on TV or heading to the race track. Ladies and gents throw on their glad rags and get to betting – until the end of the day when you’ll see a bunch of guys with untucked shirts and jackets strewn across shoulders and girls carrying their painful and expensive high heels on the waltz home.

Pretty much every bar, club, restaurant (basically any venue with a TV) will be showing the Melbourne Cup so keep your eyes peeled on your favourite bar and see what they’re offering. If you feel all flush with cash, pick somewhere fancy and go all out with a champagne reception alongside the drinks!

Whatever you’re doing on Tuesday 3rd, make time at 3pm for a true Australian experience. The nation does stop for a couple of minutes each November and it’s your turn to join the party!!

Interested in heading to Melbourne for the big race? Fancy getting out here in time for next year’s big race? Get in touch and we’ll  get you sorted with an UltimateOz experience of a lifetime!

Australia is at it again – with four of the most liveable cities in the world according to The Economist Intelligence Unit Livability Rankings 2014 – and the number one city yet again! Congratulations Melbourne!

The Economist ranks pretty much every major city in the world and lists them from most liveable to least liveable based on stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.

For the fourth year running, Melbourne topped the list!

Australia had the most cities in the top ten, with Adelaide ranked 5th, Sydney 7th and Perth 9th! To put that into perspective, the entirety of Europe had two cities in the top ten – Vienna and Helsinki.

London and New York rank 55th and 56th respectively – so what are you waiting for?!

Melbourne is an amazing city famed for its sport, culture and nightlife and is one of the best places to visit while in Australia with UltimateOz! With a great transport system, high wages and smaller size – Melbourne is a great place to work and save a bit of cash whilst also having all the fun of an Australian lifestyle!

It seems that no matter where you choose in Australia, you’ll be living in one of the most liveable places in the world! Outside the top ten, Brisbane ranked 20th which is still pretty damn good!

Sydney, our home-base, came in a respectable 7th and is the perfect blend of city and beach life. There is no city in the world quite like it with some of the most beautiful beaches in the world right on its doorstep and an amazing, vibrant city life that exist hand-in-hand.

Perth, another top ten city, is an up-and-comer on the world stage and offers great wages and a different kind of Australian lifestyle! The West Coast is much more rugged and under-explored compared with the East side so if you pick Perth as your base, make sure you get in touch with us to help you decide on your Western travel options!

Adelaide is one of the forgotten cities of Australia but is rising up world rankings. Named by Lonely Planet as one of the cities to visit in 2014, Adelaide is a cool, chic city with a laid-back vibe.

With the UltimateOZ Great Ocean Road Trip, you can spend time in both Adelaide and Melbourne while exploring one of the most beautiful stretches of coastal road in the world! What more could you ask for?!

Whatever Australian city you choose to explore (and we recommend you explore as many as you can!) you are sure to have an amazing time!

What are you waiting for, get over here and see what all the fuss is about!

Get in touch with us if you have any questions about your time in Australia! Whether you need advice on which city to explore first or are looking to book a trip months after you’ve arrived – we can help you find the best deal!

If you are planning on coming to Australia on a working holiday visa then you’ve already made one of the best decisions of your life but you’re probably stressing out over one simple issue: “how much money should I take to Australia?”

When applying for your visa, the Department of Immigration suggest that you have “about $5000” which isn’t exactly precise. Is $4500 enough or does it have to be over $5000 or what?!

The easiest answer is, the more money you have then the better your entry to Australia will be. If you can save up long enough to pass the $5000 guideline then you’ll be very comfortable when you arrive in Australia but try and get as close to $5000 as possible if you want the least amount of fuss entering Australia and living your first few weeks here.

One of the contributing factors will be whether you plan to travel first or work first once you arrive. If you plan on travelling straight away, you’ll be spending money before you get a chance to replenish. If you work first, then you can continue to save during your time in Australia.

No matter what anyone says on a forum or blog (like this one) there is no right or wrong way to travel. In Australia or anywhere else. People will tell you to go alone, go in a group, go to Sydney first, travel the East Coast first, get a job straight away, go and do you farm work ASAP…..

Whatever you decide, you have made the decision and you live with it. There is nothing wrong with seeking help and advice but, ultimately, it is up to you! Plans can change, pretty easily, so make sure you keep your options open from the outset.

I’ve heard stories of people landing in Australia with less $500 to their name and if, upon your arrival, you are asked to prove your funds you could be sent home from Australia before your adventure begins. The Department of Immigration guidelines may seem strange but if you can’t prove that you can support yourself in Australia, you risk being sent home.

To prove your worth (in bank account terms, not like some medieval knight or something) you have to get a printed bank statement from your financial institution of choice. It is best to have a statement from the seven days before travel so if you are called upon to prove your funds, you have them right there.

If you have access to a quick loan from the bank of Mum and Dad (or any other loving family member) you can pop the money into your account, get a bank statement printed and then transfer the money back once you’ve received the statement. You prove your cash, then give it back basically.

Strictly speaking, this may not be entirely the spirit of the law and you will have to be able to survive in a pretty pricey country. Once you arrive in Australia, the money starts to seep away faster than you’d think so make sure you’re prepared for all eventualities.

As an example, if you are looking at the cheapest hostel you can find in Sydney you are looking at $23 a night. That would be $161 for one week of (not the best) accommodation. Then you’ve got to pay for your food and fun stuff to do so the bargain basement you could probably get away with $200-$250 a week just to live in Sydney.

Sydney is an extreme example (it’s more expensive than the rest of Australia) but it gives you an idea on what to expect upon your arrival and how much money you will need if you plan on staying in Sydney. Plan accordingly for any of the major cities – Perth is a similar price to Sydney and Melbourne isn’t much cheaper. Brisbane, Cairns, Adelaide and Darwin offer a little bit of relief but not too much.

Don’t let this put you off, pretty much everyone in the UltimateOz office is proof that backpackers can find work and love their time living, working and travelling in Australia!

Just be realistic. If it takes you three weeks to find work, will you be able to afford it? If you want to travel, how much is it going to cost right off the bat? If you want to do your farm work, how are you going to find it and how much money will you need to get there and stay there?

Many backpackers arrive in Australia with the misguided dream of finding work 20 minutes after they land and earning a fortune. The wages are higher and it is a little easier than finding work in Europe but it isn’t easy and you won’t walk into a job.

At Ultimate Travel, we give you the best chance of finding work with our TAW service and our helpful, informative staff who have been there and done it! We can help you find work, help to guide you with your CV and cover letter but, it is still up to you to put in the hard yards!

Australia is a country that will surprise you due to its expense. If you have just come from South East Asia (Ultimate Thailand, anyone?), you’ll fall off your chair every time you order a beer! If you plan ahead, are realistic and start saving now you’ll be absolutely fine when you arrive in Australia!

Get planning for the best trip of your life!!

How much money did you arrive in Australia with? What would be your top-tips for backpackers looking to head to Australia on their own adventure? Let us know in the comments section or on Facebook!

If you’re backpacking around Australia, you’re very likely to find yourself in Melbourne at some point. Or maybe you’re arriving in Melbourne with our Ultimate OZ Great Ocean Road Package. Voted as the world’s most ‘liveable city’ for the third year running in 2013, there are plenty of reasons why Melbourne should be on your list of places to visit.

So what makes Melbourne so special?

There are Penguins on the beach!

Phillip Island is home to the world famous penguin parade, gather on the beach to watch these cute little critters waddle off into the sunset. You can get up close and personal with other wonderful creatures here too … have a hug with a baby wombat, watch out for koalas in the trees, and give Skippy the kangaroo his dinner. Ultimate Oz offer a great day trip to Phillip Island as part of the Melbourne package that’s available … what a great way to start your Australian adventure!

The Great Ocean Road.

The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s must do excursions and it starts about an hour outside of Melbourne! There’s the iconic Twelve Apostles and the London Arch (it used to be the London Bridge), things that everyone has heard of … but there’s also so much more! Check out our blog on how to make the most of the Great Ocean Road!

Everybody needs good Neighbours!

Take a walk down memory lane past Erinsborough High, grab a picture outside Karl Kennedy’s house (you might even meet him!) and explore Australia’s favourite cul-de-sac … that’s right! Ramsay Street is right on your doorstep in Melbourne! Take an official tour for the chance to visit your favourite spots from one of Australia’s longest running shows. If you’re a big Neighbour’s fan, you can upgrade to the Ultimate Fan Tour which lets you explore inside the television studios where you will see the sets for Charlie’s Bar, Harold’s Store and more.

St Kilda.

St Kilda is described as Melbourne’s ‘seaside playground’. There’s an awesome bohemian vibe, lots of beach activities on offer and numerous cool rooftop bars where you can bask in the awesome sunshine with a nice cold beer! This is where you’ll find a lot of the culture in Melbourne, there are a lot of theatres and every year is the awesome St Kilda Festival and White Night, which are definitely worth checking out!

Get lost in the backstreets.

When we say ‘get lost’ in Melbourne, we’re not being horrible, we mean it literally! All the backstreets make up a crazy rabbit warren worth exploring! You’ll find all kinds of wonderful places to drink in, eat at and delve into … but don’t get too attached, it’s unlikely you’ll find them again! The street art in these alleys are something to behold too! There’s a whole gallery waiting there for you, you just need to find it! You can do a guided tour, such as the one by Urbans Crawl, and they will show you all the best spots, but you might have more fun discovering new places yourselves!

This is just a snapshot in to what makes Melbourne the most awesome city in the world to live! There are so many other things, far too many to list in one blog! These five will keep you going until next time though … enjoy and we hope to see you soon!

Make the most of the Great Ocean Road!

If you’re heading to Victoria, you might be thinking of doing our UltimateOz Great Ocean Road package! The Great Ocean Road is a must for those travelling Australia, it’s one of the most popular activities amongst travellers who make their way to Victoria. With 250km of road to travel, from Torquay to Warrnambool, you’ll see some of our famous landmarks (the Twelve Apostles/ the London Arch), you travel through some awesome surf towns, equally awesome National Parks and much more! Be sure to make the most of your trip with the following tips:

Don’t Rush!

A lot of people rush through to get to the Twelve Apostles and they don’t take anything in along the way! Take your time and admire the amazing views. As soon as you start your drive, the coast is in sight, and each corner you turn is a new view to admire. The driving can be quite intense at the start, you are driving down a single lane road with the cliffs on one side and the ocean on the other and lots of twists and turns along the way. But it’s all worth it when you get to Devil’s Elbow, which is just before Lorne and where the hardest part of the drive finishes.

Don’t try and get it all done in one day either!  Stop at everything that catches your eye, explore every town, take part in activities that you wouldn’t normally do. Stay overnight somewhere – do it all properly … who knows when you’ll get the chance again!

Check out the towns along the way!

Each new town you come to has something different to offer. Satisfy your inner surfer by visiting Bells Beach in Torquay, the venue for the annual Ripcurl Pro held over Easter … Lorne will give you the some of the freshest seafood in Australia, straight from the boat and on to your plate … if it’s that chilled out, hippy vibe that you’re after, Anglesea is the town for you! These towns will give you the chance to stretch your legs and take a break from driving so you don’t get too tired!

Go off the beaten track!

We’re big believers here in not just sticking to the tourist spots that everyone goes to see. There’s a reason why those spots are so popular, so they should definitely be on the list but if you’re prepared to deviate away from the crowd, who knows what hidden gems you’ll uncover! Does anyone remember the TV programme called Around the Twist? Fans might want to head towards the Split Point Lighthouse, made famous by the show. You can climb the lighthouse and there’s an adorable tea house you can relax in for a bit too. Or, if you want to zip-line through the trees, there’s The Otway Fly Tree Top Adventure, another not-to-be-missed Great Ocean Road treat!

Be smart, stay safe!

The Great Ocean Road is narrow and windy, with lots of blind corners  and sharp drops. Considering the nature of the road, the speed limit is quite high and if you take one of those corners too fast, you could find yourself in a spot of bother. Only drive as fast as you are comfortable with (the speed limit is there for guidance … if it says 70kmph, and you’re more comfortable at 60kmph then so be it!). Take care when driving conditions are less than favourable … if it has been raining, slow down, leave extra room between you and any car in front and be aware that your stopping distance is longer. If you don’t feel comfortable driving down the road, take the freeway instead. The views don’t differ dramatically so you won’t be missing out as such! It’s all boring and sensible, we know, but it’s important. Use your common sense and finish your journey safely!

Take the ‘silly’ pictures!

It’s a long drive so when you finally get to see what you have driven all this way for, don’t be too cool to goof around and take the silly pictures … you know, you holding one of the rocks up at the Twelve Apostle or surfing the wooden beams that overlook the beach … these pictures are the ones you’ll look back on and remember all the giggles you had, they are your memories, take as many as you can!

Want help planning your trip? Give us a shout and we’ll be happy to help!

Everyone’s talking about Australia Day, ‘the celebration that inspires the nation’, but what’s it all about?

Well, if you want the short version, Australia Day is when we all get together and celebrate just how wonderful our country is … although, every day is Australia Day at Ultimate Oz in that case!

Basically, in 1788, Captain Cook (not to be confused with Captain Hook!) came along and settled with the First Fleet and 26th January became the anniversary of the foundation of a new colony. Over the centuries, the significance of that date has evolved as the country has grown and prospered. Today, the celebration embraces the way Australia has become multicultural, it honours all ethnic backgrounds, all racial differences and all politic perspectives. Modern day Australia day celebrations are about diversity and tolerance in our Australian society.

So whoever you are, wherever you’re from, regardless of why you’re in Australia, you play a part here and Australia Day is your celebration too! There are events everywhere! Why not check out what is happening where you are:



Our Ultimate Oz crew will be celebrating all things Australian in Ultimate style (obviously!) … What will you be doing?

Australia Day in Melbourne is a fun filled affair! There are almost too many events and choosing between them will most likely give you a stress headache! There’s an event on every corner, including:

The Piers Festival!

Start your celebrations early with The Piers Festival, held at Princes Pier, Port Melbourne the day before Australia Day. Here, you’ll find a musical mashup of everything from Jazz to African drumming and an interactive dance program, where you can get involved in traditional dance from Sri Lanka all the way to Albania. Bursting with culture, The Piers Festival has something for everyone!

Want to get involved? Find out more here.

Australia Day Cider Festival!

This does what it says on the tin! Come and sample many cider delights, from French cider, to traditional ciders to apple and fruit wine infused ciders! Sounds tasty! Head down to Brunswick St Cider House between 12pm-1am.

Find out more about what’s on when here.

The Australia Day Big Backyard at Docklands!

So much is on offer here. There will be entertainment along the NewQuay Promenade, a variety of Australian cuisine available from restaurants along the Docklands and some great Aussie music to see you through Melbourne’s celebration of the ‘Great Aussie Backyard’! So if you fancy getting up close and personal with a kangaroo or a dingo while you chow down on some Aussie tucker after you’ve been on the bungee trampolines, rock climbing or through the pitching tunnel, then this is the place for you!

For the first time, the Australia Day Fireworks will be held at Docklands for 2014.You can expect a spectacular display, which will be visible from various locations around Victoria Harbour. Cue lots of ‘Ooohing’ and ‘Aaahing’ amongst the crowds!

Find out more about when, where and what here.

Tell us at Ultimate Oz how you plan to celebrate Australia Day for 2014! And have a great day!