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I  wanted to travel to Australia for such a long time, but never took the step to book a flight and come here. When I started studying Tourism Management in Belgium, I had the opportunity to apply for an internship at Ultimate Travel in Sydney.

I got excited immediately, because that was the incentive that I needed to start my travel experience ‘down under’! It took me a while to realize that I was going away for a year, but when I booked my flight and my visa got approved, it all sunk in. I kept thinking “What if the internship is not as fun as it sounds?” or “What if I don’t make friends?” But once I got over it, I couldn’t wait to leave!

Jana-1

“I started researching the travel side of my trip and changed my mind on where to go with every picture that I saw. All the beautiful beaches or the stars in the outback, I just added them to my bucket list. I bought a giant plastic map of Australia and hung it in my room. I started to draw circles around the places I wanted to see and soon, the map was almost black!”


“They’ve become my family here and I made friends for life!”


After a very long but comfortable flight, I arrived in Sydney. Everything was taken care of by Ultimate so I didn’t need to worry about accommodation or transport. When I finally met everyone from the company, they made me feel welcome immediately. Now, after almost 3 months, they have become my family here and I made friends for life! I never had a boring moment or felt alone since I arrived. I never experience the same day twice! That is one of the best feelings for a solo traveller. I enjoy working with everyone at Ultimate every day. I’m not just an intern here, I’m respected as a co-worker what makes it so enjoyable working here! I’m going to be really sad when I have to leave and I am terrible at saying goodbye but I know that they will support me with everything I do.

Tour-guide-2

Tour-guide

The only bad experience I have had since I arrived was my jetlag in the first few days. I was always tired and wanted to sleep, but I also wanted to explore the city! After overcoming that, I did some awesome trips.

During my internship, I also worked as a tour guide and went all over Sydney with the Ultimate groups. Doing the Sydney Harbour cruise and going to Port Stephens on a trip were some of the highlights during the week. I loved going to Basecamp there and petting a kangaroo, going sand boarding, enjoying the beautiful scenery and the beach when there was some free time! Finishing Basecamp on a dolphin cruise was just amazing as well.


“These are all memories I’ll keep forever.”


I still remember the first time I did the beach walk from Coogee to Bondi. The weather was really nice and the views were incredible. I was amazed by the entire scene. Just like the Blue Mountains trip that I did … from what I’ve seen so far, it’s such a beautiful and diverse country. There is something to do for everyone!

One of my favourite activities that I did during my time here was Surf Camp. When you are in Australia, you just have to learn how to surf! You feel like a local when surfing. It is a part of their lifestyle because they live so close to the beach.

But what are the travel options when you want to visit so many places on your own? My original plan was to look for a travel buddy and buy a van, but Ultimate Travel offers so many cool trips to the places I want to go. And the trips are in groups, so that would make it even easier to meet people! I didn’t book any travel plans in advance because I knew that I would have time to figure it all out when I arrived – it’s a good thing because I still change my mind about my travel plans every day … but that is what I love about travelling!

Jana-4

The places I really want to visit the most in Australia are the Whitsunday Islands, Fraser Island and Ayer’s rock. I can’t wait to see the Outback and drive the Great Ocean Road! I would love to learn more about the Aboriginal community and about the Australian wildlife. Kayaking with dolphins, hugging a koala, doing a sky dive at mission beach and scuba diving in the barrier reef are also on my bucket list! Hopefully I will experience all of this, with awesome people that I know I will meet on the way!

The time that I have to leave Sydney is coming soon so I have to have some kind of a plan. Luckily, my awesome colleagues have travelled Australia so they can give me some great tips!

Cheers, Jana 🙂

Interested in travelling to Australia? Get in touch for help, advice and arrival packages!
Check out our blogs for tips on travelling to Australia!

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It’s that time of year again! Here in Sydney we’re putting our scarfs and coats away and getting the bikinis and swimmers out ready for another beaut summer by the beach! With the temperatures rising there’s no better time to learn how to surf ready for the warmer months! If you’re looking for a week of fun, meeting new people and beers on the beach, all whilst learning to surf, the aussie way (& making your mates at home jealous with your surfing pics!) Surf Camp is the place to go! ULTIMATE ledge Craig went to Surf Camp for the weekend. Here’s what he thought of the 2 day weekend Surf Camp:

So why Surf Camp?

I’d always wanted to learn how to surf and thought what better place to do it than Australia! A few of my mates had done the 5 day Surf Camp and recommended it so I thought why not!? I work during the week so I decided to book onto the weekend Surf Camp and get out of Sydney for a couple of days!

Surfcamp is back for the summer!

How did the weekend kick off?

So we all got picked up outside of Wake Up on Friday night.. it couldn’t have been easier. We popped into Side Bar for a quick beer then hopped on the bus down to Surf Camp. Great way to start the weekend. Met so many people from all over the world including some local Aussies who are a bunch of legends!

You'll meet lots of people at Surfcamp

What was the highlight of the weekend?

Being my first ever surfing experience, standing up on the second attempt was definitely a highlight! Such a great feeling!  From there it was plain sailing and eventually turned pro by the end of the weekend. 😉 Without the lessons I don’t think this would have been possible. Top marks to our instructors – they were so helpful, always there if you needed them and a right laugh!

learning to surf, the aussie way

What advice would you give to others going to Surfcamp?

Make sure you visit the local pub and join in on some limbo! You might be tired after a day of surfing but it’s well worth it – it’s a great place to get to know other backpackers!

The camp was awesome!

Was it long enough?

Personally I don’t think it was long enough. I did the weekend Surfcamp as I had work commitments but if I was to recommend it to friends, I’d say go on the 5 day trip for sure! The weekend was plenty of time to learn how to surf however it was such a great time I wanted to stay longer. Also, I think if I’d stayed a bit longer, I would have had time to learn some more tricks!

The beginners beach at Surfcamp

What was the camp like?

Such an amazing place! The camp is just a short walk away from the beach (7 mile beach.) It’s a beginners beach so the waves aren’t too big which was perfect for me as a first timer! You can still ride the waves without getting taken out! Some of the instructors mentioned that in the summer, they often see dolphins just off the beach and some people get to surf with them! The food was amazing too. They always kept us fed and full with meals 3 times a day and there was never a shortage which is great!  All of the staff we’re very friendly, helpful and a little crazy (in a good way!) The staff make the trip even better. Even if you’re travelling there alone, the staff will make sure you’re involved and have a great time!

Learning to surf, the aussie way

What did you do in the evening?

 After dinner on the Saturday we had such a funny night playing drinking games with new faces and the instructors! Luckily we woke up on Sunday with no hangover to catch some serious waves -we went further out to catch the big guns…awesome!!

Did you think it was value for money?

Yes, I really did. All of the accommodation, surf lessons, equipment and travel is covered so the only thing I spent money on was a couple of beers! We also got a Free T Shirt, Trucker hat,  & a $20 Rip Curl Voucher. Also, throughout the weekend there were photographers taking shots of us surfing which were then played on a TV during dinner and uploaded to Facebook. It was a laugh seeing the best ‘wipeouts’ from the day!  I’ll definitely be recommending Surfcamp to my mates!

Surfcamp freebies!

Surf Camp includes return transfers from Sydney, your accommodation, food, surf gear, photos, videos & extra freebies!
Want to learn how to surf? Get in touch to for discounts! ‘Like’ us on FB for travel inspiration, photos, videos and more blogs and follow us on Instagram (ultimate.travel) for travel pics!

Winter is coming. In fact as of 3 days ago, winter is officially here! It’s that time of year again where we dig out our coats, gloves and scarfs from the bottom of our cupboards. BBQ’s by the beach become a distant memory and we start swapping cold beer for mulled wine and hot chocolate. Luckily for us, Sydney has got heaps of activities to offer to keep us busy in the colder months.

1. Christmas in July

If you’re from the northern hemisphere and you’ve spent Christmas in Sydney you’ll know that Christmas just isn’t the same here. Spending the day on the beach in the heat enjoying an Aussie BBQ just doesn’t feel like Christmas should: spending the day at home with family, in the cold, drinking too much wine and lying on the sofa in a food coma. This is where Christmas in July comes in to it! Sydney will turn into a real winter wonderland during the coldest months this year so we can enjoy the festivities, in the cold, the way it should be! Wrap up, hire some ice skates and workout on one of the ice rinks at Bondi Beach or Sydney’s winter garden in Darling Harbour. Can’t get enough of that Christmas feeling? Market stalls will be set up around the ice rinks to guarantee the ultimate cosy Christmas atmosphere. Nothing better than celebrating Christmas twice in one year with a hot cup of mulled wine! You could also take the train to the Blue Mountains where the famous Yulefest was born twenty years ago. Join one of the many fundraising events or organise a roast dinner with your friends!

2. Eat & Drink

It’s the perfect time of the year to indulge in hot, comforting meals. Eat your way through Saturday night’s hangover with one of Sydney’s amazing Sunday roast dinners. My personal favourites include the Anchor in Bondi and The Riverview hotel in Balmain – great meat, veg, yorkshire puds and gravy- yum! The Taphouse in Darlinghurst is also running Smokin’ Sundays winter warmer, the last Sunday of every month. Head down to enjoy spiced cider, mulled wine and beer by an open log fire!

3. Beach Walks

It might be a bit colder, but it will never be too cold for a beach walk! The Coogee to Bondi walk is one of Sydney’s most famous coastal walks and is well worth doing. A six kilometre long stroll along five picturesque beaches with the possibility to spot whales, what more could you want? On a sunny day you could even have an Aussie barbie using one of the public barbecues at Tamarama, Bronte or Coogee beach! Just catch a bus to Bondi or Coogee and walk all the way back, it’s as easy as that!

4. Vivid Sydney

Head down to circular quay to check out Sydney’s annual light festival. See the opera house, Museum of contemporary art and Circular Quay office blocks lit up with light installations and don’t miss BBC Earth’s light installation narrated by Sir David Attenborough. Hurry though- Vivid ends on the 8th June!

5. Imax Cinema

One thing you definitely have to do during winter is pay a visit to the IMAX! It’s the biggest screen in the whole world; you won’t know where to look! They show the world’s best movies here and even though it is quite expensive (approx $33) it’s well worth the visit!  There are places like the information centre around the corner and Grill’d (a hamburger restaurant in Darling Harbour) which offer some good discounts. Don’t forget to check out Groupon too – they offer cheap tickets every now and then!

6. Sydney Attractions

If you haven’t already been to Sydney’s main inside attractions, winter is the perfect time to do it! Check out the attractions in Darling Harbour: admire some beautiful sea creatures at Sydney Sea Life, meet one of your favourite celebs at Madame Tussauds or check out some Aussie animals in Wild Life Sydney Zoo. You could also hop on the ferry over to Manly to check out the Sea Life centre over there or head up to Sydney’s tower eye at Westfield for panoramic views of the city (perfect on a clear winter’s day!) Our travel team can help you book Sydney’s best attractions at discounted rates so get in touch for info! If you’re feeling lucky, go and put some money in one of the slot machines at The Star, Sydney’s casino! It’s open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and serves you all entertainment you could ever wish for. When all bars have closed, this is the place to be! You don’t necessarily have to gamble all your travel money; just enjoy a drink watching a sports game on one of the TVs. Want to do some shopping? Try out Westfield in the middle of the city or in Bondi Junction, World Square or Broadway Shopping Centre.

7. Sydney Day Trips

Winter is the perfect time to head a bit further afield and go on day trips. You could spend the day in NSW’s wine region, The Hunter Valley, tasting the local wines, chocolates & cheeses and explore the Hunter Valley village. You could even head to the wildlife park to see some of Australia’s wildlife including koalas, kangaroos & emus. Another day, wrap up warm and visit the famous Blue Mountains. Take a bush walk through the national park to keep warm and explore the local village, Katoomba. Get in touch with the ULTIMATE travel team for day trips this winter!

8.Australian Culture

Did you come to Oz to get to know this beautiful country better? Expand your background in one of the numerous museums all around the city. History buffs should wander around in the Australia Museum or Nicholson Museum. If you’re an art lover don’t miss out on the Museum of Contemporary Art. More into small and cosy museums? Give Sydney Jewish Museum or Hyde Park Barracks Museum a try! Oh and don’t forget the Museum of Sydney itself of course!

Hope this gives you some inspiration & ideas on what to do in Sydney this winter. If you’ve got any other suggestions for fun winter activities in Sydney, we’d love to hear from you! Check out our Ultimate Travel Facebook for blogs, travel inspiration and photos and follow us on Instagram for travel pics! Tag #myultimatemoment to your Instagram pics – we will repost our faves.

– Freya, ULTIMATE intern 🙂

Tour Leader Sarah at BaseCampHey Guys,

I’m Sarah, one of the UltimateOz tour leaders!

For anyone looking to come out to Australia to travel and work, UltimateOz is definitely one hell of an awesome way to get you started! Every now and then, someone writes a blog post about their week with us or even makes an amazing video montage. However, have you ever wondered what’s it’s like on the other side? The tour leaders view?

Having worked as a group tour leader with UltimateOz for a while now, I get people saying to me every week “man, you have the best job!!” or “doesn’t your job get boring doing the same thing every single week?”

Well, hopefully this will give you a bit of an insight into our world. The UltimateOz tour leader world. So here it is…

A Week in the Life of an UltimateOz Tour Leader.

At the moment, while it’s Summer, we have two groups a week that start with us. There are six of us who lead the groups so three of us start with the Monday group and the other three start with the Thursday group.

I always find the first day the most nerve racking. Until we meet the groups, everyone is just a name on a list and we have no idea what anyone is like. It’s like being given a box of chocolates without the card to tell you what’s what.

After we pick the group up from Wake Up hostel, we bring everyone over to the UltimateOz HQ to go through the itineraries for the week before we head out on the City walk. By this point, we’re already starting to see who the jokers of the week are!

Party Night with UltimateOz!Usually by the welcome drinks in Side bar on the first night you can start to see some good friendships forming. Quite a few people usually find each other online before they get here using our ‘Meet your group’ service, so a lot of people will have already spoken a lot online or even met up back home before they come out here. In every group there’s always a few shy or nervous people who take a little longer to relax and get speaking to people. I totally relate to these guys!! I mean, you’re in a brand new country, on your own, and you’re thrown into a large group of people from all over the world!! I’ve been there myself, and it IS terrifying!! This is where we step in. As group leaders we want everyone to have a good time and not worry about anything. Sometimes people just need a little longer to feel at ease but normally after a few conversations people are happy to open up and get chatting to the rest of the group.

The welcome drinks can go one of two ways…

1- Everyone is tired from the long flight, or aren’t interested in partying so head to bed around 10 – 11 pm. Job done, we go home and get an early night.
2- Everyone is tired from the long flight but are way too excited about their first big night out in Sydney so go absolutely crazy and start ordering in the Jagerbombs. Job done, everyone’s having an awesome night and we party on with them till the early hours!

UltimateOz does Rockfish

Depending on which way the night went, the next morning we find that people are either fresh for the Harbour cruise, or hungover!! I really think that the Harbour cruise is one of my favourite parts of the week. As far as jobs go, taking people on a boat around Sydney harbour, cooking a barbecue off the back of the boat and taking pictures of people and jumping off the top of the boat to have a swim is one hell of an amazing job to be doing! Seeing people having an amazing time on the harbour with new friends after arriving in the country only a few days ago is such a good feeling! I do get slightly sea sick in rough water though … usually I’m fine because we’re in the harbour and it’s pretty calm until I have to go and do the washing up in the kitchen underneath the deck.. The windows down there are at sea level so any slight movement feels like the whole boat is rocking. I’ve learnt to become a master at speed dish washing!

 

So, Day 3, in this case Wednesday means only one thing…. BASECAMP!!!!

Basecamp is by far the best part of the week! For both me and the group! For them it means sandboarding, seeing an amazing view from Tomaree head national park and going on a dolphin cruise, and for me it means getting to do all these awesome things on a weekly basis!!!

UltimateOz group at BaseCampWhen we get to our accommodation at Basecamp it feels like home!! I don’t think I’ll ever get enough of being at here, cuddling Josie (the resident and adorable kangaroo) and relaxing in the Aussie bush!  I love seeing peoples faces when they first get here – it’s hard to explain but it’s just got such a great feeling about it and for most people it’s the first time they’ve seen the Aussie bush. It makes such a difference to the hustle and bustle of Sydney (however much we love it!) One of the things I love most about Basecamp is how everyone gets chatting to each other! Until this point in the week people will have made one or two friends in the group.. but at Basecamp, these friend circles expand massively!! I love seeing the quietest person in the group really come out of their shell and make a good bunch of friends.

As I mentioned, Basecamp is the most exciting, activity filled part of the week! For us, the group leaders, it can get quite tiring as it’s pretty much non stop, but the fun makes up for it 100%!  On a night, we get the groups playing games, have some food and those who want to, have a few drinks. We take everyone down to the beach and set up a fire for a beach party! You can’t beat dancing on the beach to good tunes with new mates! The sky is so clear at Basecamp and the stars are incredible! As a tour leader it’s my responsibility to look after people and make sure that everyone is safe and having a good time. It’s completely understandable that some people get a little too excited, maybe drink a little too much and say: “Let’s go for a midnight swim in the ocean!!!!” That’s why I’m there- so that people can have fun but they’re not alone in a foreign country without anyone to keep an eye on them and above all they’re safe!

These nights are usually so much fun that nobody wants to sleep.. try getting to bed at 4am and getting up the next morning at 8am to wake everyone up! I think I’ve learnt to survive on 4 hours sleep per night by now! Don’t get me wrong, it can be tiring, but as I’ve said before, the fun makes up for it! It’s not like I have to go and sit in an office for 8 hours…we’re about to go sandboarding! Who can’t get excited about that- however tired or hungover you are!?

Sandboarding at BaseCamp

The last day at Basecamp is the dolphin cruise. I’m pretty sure my friends back home in England are starting to hate me, as every single dolphin cruise I’ve been on for the past month I’ve sent them all a snapchat of the amazing weather, the beautiful views and, of course, some dolphins swimming past with the caption reading “Working hard again!” It’s on days like these where I really have to pinch myself and remind myself just how lucky I am to have such an amazing job!!

After the bus trip back to Sydney (usually spent catching up on an hours sleep) I normally chill out and relax on the couch in front of the TV and have an early night – Running on a total of 7 hours sleep in 2 days really catches up with you so it’s time to recuperate!

Saturday is spent taking the group on the Coogee to Bondi beach walk. Getting the group together and on the same bus can take a bit of extra organisation but once we arrive in Coogee ready to start the 6km walk and people have had time to grab some brekkie, everyone is in good spirits!  All we need to do is take a nice leisurely walk along the coast stopping at some amazing view points. The coast is gorgeous and visiting 5 beautiful beaches along the way makes me feel so lucky to be here! Again, sometimes I find it hard to believe that I’m actually getting paid to do something which most people look forward to doing on their days off!

Party Night with UltimateOz!In the evening, it’s the party night, the bar crawl!! It’s so much fun and even though I don’t have to go for ‘work’, I still go every week! It’s the perfect opportunity to have fun with the group. I love the end of the week when people who, at the start of the week were nervous to talk to people, have now made a great bunch of friends who they’re partying with and making plans with for the rest of their time here.

 

UltimateOz at BaseCampI always think that if everyone in my group leaves the week having had a great time, with at least one or two good friends, then I’ve done my job right. I tend to keep in touch with people I’ve met in the groups too- they’re part of the Ultimate family now and meeting new people is one of the best things about the job!

So yeah, that pretty much sums up a week in the life a group leader for UltimateOz.

“If you do a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life!”

Sydney- You’ve done it again! What an awesome city we live in! This year Sydney is hosting one of the biggest celebrations of Chinese New year in the world (outside of China) so get ready for a month of parades, Chinese food, traditional dancing and art exhibitions!

The festivities are kicking off this Friday starting with the official (free) launch with the Lord Mayor of Sydney at Dawes point from 7pm. We’re really looking forward to seeing the ‘Terracotta army’ exhibition inspired by the ancient Chinese Terracotta warriors glowing against Sydney harbour. There will be food trucks, traditional drumming and lion dancing (traditional Chinese dancing in case you were wondering!) If you miss the launch check out the Terracotta Army exhibition anytime from dusk til midnight from Friday until Sunday 22nd Feb.

This year it’s the year of the sheep, a particularly lucky year in the Chinese calendar and also my birth year so I’m excited to get involved in the celebrations! Here’s are the events I’d recommend checking out over the next month..

If you’re wondering what to do for valentines day this Saturday and you enjoy Asian grub, head to Sydney’s Chinatown, Thaitown and Koreatown* for the Chinese Lunar Street’s festival. The streets will be set up with outdoor tables with restaurants offering traditional dishes from China, Thailand and Korea. After you’ve had a bite to eat, head to the Chinese garden of friendships in Darling harbour for the twilight tea party (7pm-11pm) to check out contemporary Chinese art and calligraphy.

If you’re a foodie don’t miss the Lunar markets in Pyrmont from this Thursday until the 22nd Feb from 5pm most days.

The highlight of the month ( I believe!) is the Chinese New year twilight parade which kicks off at Sydney’s Town hall at 8pm on Sunday 22nd Feb. Head down to follow the lanterns, floats and light projections through Chinatown ending up in Darling Harbour for the fireworks- it’s all free!

Chinese boat racing is coming to Sydney! Head to Darling harbour on the 28th Feb and 1st march at 9am to check out the 12 metre long boats racing (an ancient Chinese tradition.)

There are loads more free events and exhibitions going on to celebrate Chinese new year so check out the official website for more details.

Happy Chinese New Year, enjoy the food and celebrations!  See you all at the parade!

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*Chinatown: Sussex Street, between Goulburn and Hay Streets

Thaitown: Campbell Street, between George and Pitt Streets

Koreatown: Pitt Street, between Central and Liverpool Streets

Sydney is a beautiful city and has a lot to offer! The shopping is great and you’ll be able to find pretty much anything you’re looking for somewhere in Sydney, whether that be in the Westfield buildings in the CBD or in Bondi Junction, or the beautiful cobblestone laneways in the Rocks. Saying that, some of the shops can be a little pricey so if you want to pick up some bargains make sure you check out these Sydney markets:

The Rocks Markets

More of an ‘upmarket’ market the Rocks markets offer one-off jewellery, original artworks and hand made designer clothing (made by the stall owners themselves!) It has a relaxed atmosphere where you can wander through the lanes and browse through all of the stalls at your own pace and is well worth a visit if you’re looking for a chilled afternoon in the sun close to the many bars and restaurants in the Rocks and Sydney’s Circular Quay! The markets are open every weekend (Saturday & Sunday.) If you’re a food lover check out the Rocks Friday foodie market every Friday in the same location!

Sydney Fish market

Visit a fish market you say?! Sydney fish market is the 3rd biggest fish market in the world in terms of variety and is well worth a visit whilst in Sydney. If you’re not a big fan of seafood, it’s still pretty cool to check out all of the different varieties of fish including shark, eel, tuna and oysters. If you’re a fan, grab a seafood platter find a seat outside in the sun (whilst trying to bat the seagulls away!) Catch a demonstration or even better; book yourself on to a cooking class to create your own fishy dish! Sydney fish market is open every day from 7am apart from Christmas day.

Bondi markets

Bondi is not only home to one of the world’s most famous beaches and the beautiful lifeguards of Bondi rescue but also to an awesome little Sydney market! Pick up original designer clothing, exotic imports, hand made jewellery, arts, crafts, homewares, retro furniture, vintage clothes and in true Bondi style..a little something for your pooch! Located right on the beachfront, make sure you check out Bondi markets before your beach session! The markets are open every Sunday from 10am-4pm. For food, also check out the farmers markets in the same location on Saturdays!

Paddy’s market

Paddy’s markets in the centre of Sydney’s China town district are the biggest in Sydney. There’s a food market where you can pick up fresh Asian groceries and a larger underground market area where you can pick up almost anything! Stalls are laden with trinkets and Australian souvenirs, fashion, CD’s, gifts and gadgets. Even if you’re not looking to buy, check out the markets for the experience and try not to get lost- it’s pretty big! Paddy’s markets are open Wednesday to Sundays from 10am-6pm.

Balmain markets

Sydney’s 3rd Oldest market (established in 1977) is not to be missed! Located on Balmain’s highstreet in the courtyard of St Andrew’s church, the Balmain markets are small but well worth a visit! Find art, furniture, handicrafts and jewellery here along with fashion and vintage collectibles. Check it out every Saturday (weather permitting) from 8.30am- 4pm.

Paddington market

Check out Paddington markets located near Sydney’s famous Oxford Street to pick up fashion accessories, textiles, records, jewellery and Aussie made goods. It’s also home to a big collection of health and beauty products and some great homewares. Not looking to shop? Wonder around the food stalls and pick up some Turkish and Himalayan cuisine, chocolate and breads. The markets are open every Saturday from 10am to 4pm.

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If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve already booked your 7 day Sydney package with UltimateOz- great choice! 😉 This means that we will be organising all of the boring bits for you (bank account, tax file number, SIM card etc) so that you can enjoy the fun bits! Yay!

We are here to support you with anything you may need, not only during the UltimateOz week, but throughout your time in Australia! Saying that, it’s good to be prepared so we’ve put together 6 things to think about before starting your working holiday visa in Australia:

Plan your year

It’s great to leave your options open when travelling- you never know who you’ll meet during your travels and what awesome opportunities may come up along the way! This being said, having a rough plan can help you make sure you’re spending your time down under in the best way possible whilst saving some of your hard earned pennies! When booking trips and tours, you’ll get the best deals if you book a travel package before you get to Australia. For example if you’ve always dreamed of doing a skydive and the famous East coast of Australia is high up on your bucket list, you’ll be better off booking an East coast package that includes your travel, accommodation and your tours in advance rather than booking and paying for them separately as you travel.With these pre-paid packages you can still travel flexibly- tickets are valid for a year so you can just book as you go- sweet! Check out the 30 day Ultimate East Coast package online.

A little word of advice..Roughly planning your trip before you start will also help you avoid this common scenario: Spending all of your money within the first 2 weeks of your trip, boozing your way around Sydney backpacker bars leaving you with no money to travel after- Fail! It’s happened before..let’s not let it happen again! 😉

The UltimateOz travel and work info session, during your first week with us, will also give you travel ideas and our lovely travel team will be here to answer any questions you have! Get in touch if you need help planning or want to chat!

Finding work in Oz

Luckily, there are lots of great backpacker jobs available in Australia including fruit picking/farm work, bar/restaurant and cafe work, office/admin roles and construction. With a good resume, a well written cover letter and a good attitude; your chances of finding work quickly are good- phew!

If you’re looking to start work as soon as you get here, start writing your CV before you arrive. This way when you get here, you can focus on having fun, chilling at the beach, meeting people and settling into Sydney life instead of writing your CV! Keep it on a USB or send yourself an email with the document attached so that you can find and edit it when you get to Sydney. As part of the UltimateOz package, you’ll get a 12 month membership to our online jobs database, Travellers at work and of course the legendary Travellers at Work team will be here to give you all of the help and support you may need to search for a job in Australia. It’s a good idea to check that your last employer is happy to provide you with a (good 😉 ) reference whilst you’re in Australia and that they’re happy to receive emails/phone calls from your potential Aussie employers. If not, maybe they will be happy to write a letter of recommendation for you instead. Check out the Travellers at Work website for hints & tips on writing your CV.

Suitcase or Backpack?

Not sure whether to bring a backpack or a suitcase on your gap year? You’re not alone! A lot of the time the answer just comes down to personal preference but there are some factors worth thinking about before you choose! Think about what type of travelling you’ll be doing when you get here. Are you planning on living in one place for a while? Or will you mostly be travelling around? Remember that what you bring with you is yours to carry (or drag) around for the duration of your trip so ladies leave as much of your wardrobe as possible at home! 😉 Whichever type of luggage you decide on, above all try to travel light! Travelling through Asia before you get to Oz? Read our packing tips for Asia blog.

Keep in touch

Do you want the good or the bad news first? The bad news.. It’ll cost you around $3 per hour to use the internet at an internet cafe in Sydney. The good news? Wifi with UltimateOz is FREEEEE! Included in your package, you’ll get free wifi access at the UltimateOz HQ for the duration of your trip so just bring your tablet or laptop in to the shop during office hours and we’ll hook you up! If you haven’t already, set up a Skype account to keep in touch with friends and family at home for free! It’s also worth getting your phone unlocked (to accept an Australian phone SIM card) before you arrive in Sydney. It’s generally cheaper to unlock your phone in your home country (It costs approximately $100-$150 to get it done in Sydney.) Lots of phone top up options include internet access so if you haven’t already, download Viber, Whatsapp and Facetime (for iPhone users) to stay connected with people at home!

Money, money, money

We will have your bank account set up and ready to use when you get here so you don’t need to worry about a thing! We do recommend transferring your money into your Aussie bank account before you arrive so that you can use it straight away and to avoid international bank charges when using your card abroad. If you can, transfer your money over to your Aussie account in one go to avoid being charged by your bank for multiple transactions and remember that International transfers usually take between 3-5 days to complete so if you leave it until the last minute just bring enough cash with you to last you until the money has been transferred. It’s also worth letting your bank know where you’ll be travelling- If you do need to use your card from home, the bank won’t flag it as a suspicious transaction and block the payment leaving you borrowing money off your new friends!

Which documents will I need for my year down under?

Not many! Aside from the obvious (Passport and drivers license),  and thanks to the beauty of modern technology, you won’t need to bring all of your documents to Australia with you! Bring a copy of your passport and drivers license along with your flight details, tickets and travel insurance and scan any other important documents (such as health card) to your computer. Email the documents to yourself so that they can be found easily if needed!

You won’t need your counterpart driver’s license or your birth certificate so they can be left with someone from home. Bear in mind that to apply for Medicare (Aussie health service) you’ll need a copy of your passport and a printout of your visa so if you want to be extra prepared, bring extra copies!

Looking forward to seeing you all in then near future!

Remember that we are here (and happy) to help you and if you have any questions just get in touch!

Check out our Instagram for pics, blogs and travel inspiration and remember to ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

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!

Exploring Sydney While you’re exploring Sydney, the guidebook will give you a great map and show you the way to the icons of the city but it will not share the secrets. For that, you need to get a local to whisper in your ear. We know, we know, easier said than done. How do […]

Earlier this year, 750 people made history in Sydney by taking their clothes off and taking a swim in the ocean. Why, you might ask, did this mass skinny dip occur? And why was it a big deal? Well, let us tell you!

Sunday 17th February 2013 saw the launch of Skinny Sydney, the first nude ocean swim in the world! And our Sydneysiders are gearing up to strip off and do it all over again on Sunday 23rd February 2014. Now, before you start adding it to your diary so you can head down and have a good old perv … that’s not (just) what this is about! (Tut tut! Shame on you!)

The event is held as an opportunity to have fun whilst raising awareness of a rejuvenation project taking place across Sydney Harbour National Park. The funds raised from this ticketed event go towards the conservation work that is happening in the Park so that we can all continue to enjoy the coastal walkway that surrounds the Middle Head area, an area that offers some of the most amazing views in the city. This year, the event was a huge success, raising over $10,000 for the cause! And Skinny Sydney, along with their partners, Nudie, want to emulate that success for 2014.

For the second event, there will be two distances available to swim. The Nudie Novice, a 300m swim within the bay, and the Sydney Skinny, a 900m swim. You don’t have to complete it in a specific time and you can take any flippers or floatation aid devices that you wish to take. There will also be a separate festival area which will have food and complementary refreshments available for all.

2013 didn’t just raise a lot of money, it gave those that took part a sense of pride and an opportunity to reconnect with their sense of adventure! There were many who used The Sydney Skinny to ditch their body image worries and celebrate their courage and kindness. As if all this and raising money for a great cause isn’t reason enough, the Skinny Sydney swimmers get the chance to be part of an event like no other in the world. Nigel Marsh, who created the event is quoted as saying;

“I believe that life expands or contracts in direct proportion to your courage. In modern life we are used to monitoring our health, our finances and our relationships. Yet it should be equally important to monitor our sense of adventure. If doing an all ticketed, no spectator, skinny dip in a secluded national park – where everyone gets a sarong before they get out of the water – is outside your sense of adventure, it does tend to raise the all-important question what on earth is in it?”

If you want to take part (Go on! Get your kit off!) you need to be at the following place, at the following time:

Where → Cobblers Beach, Middle Head, Sydney Harbour National Park, Australia
When → Sunday 23rd February 2014 between 8am and 3pm.
Age → The event is for ages 18 and over.
Cost → $35 for swimmers

To book, or to read more about why you should get involved in such a fun and worthwhile event, check out the Sydney Skinny Website. If you do get involved, let us know all about your Skinny Sydney experience on our Facebook Page.

Ultimate Oz … we bring you the Ultimate experiences in, erm, Oz!

Celebrate New Year … Again!

I know what you’re thinking … we’ve just had New Year, what are you on about, Ultimate Oz?! Well, don’t worry, you didn’t get so wasted on the 31st December that you slept through a whole year and we’re back there again … We’re talking about Chinese New Year!

When Sydney celebrates Chinese New Year, they don’t mess around. For just over two weeks, there are events galore to welcome the start of the Year of the Horse.

See the Chinatown Lion Dances, held on various dates from 18th Jan to 2nd Feb 2014. Watch the colourful and captivating lion dances begin to welcome in the new lunar year at various locations across Haymarket.

Visit the Chinese Garden of Friendship on their open day, to be held on 24th Jan from 9.30am – 4.30pm or see the Twilight Garden on 7th Feb from 6pm – 9pm. If you pop along to explore the Chinese Garden at sunset, you will be greeted by tai chi, music and delicious food to sample.

The festival officially launches at Belmore Park on Friday 24th January … starting at 6pm, this is a night of celebrations! You’ll see lion dancing, get a sneak preview of the Twilight Parade, special performances and an exclusive peek at Compartmentalized which has been described as a ‘breathtaking breakdance, fusing bold moves, drumming and a contemporary soundscape.’

One of the main events across the two weeks is the Chinese New Year Twilight Parade … head to Sydney Town Hall on Sunday 2nd Feb from 7pm and settle down for a spectacular display to last the evening.  Buildings will be transformed with illuminating projections, before an amazing fireworks display scares off any bad luck from the previous year and welcomes in the Year of the Horse! After the fireworks, get a closer look at some of the floats from the parade, which will be found at Darling Quarter.

All in all, the festival will be a fun affair filled with entertainment, food, culture and so much more! If you’re thinking of getting involved and want to keep up to date with what’s going on, check out the Facebook event page for all the latest news! Let Ultimate Oz know what you think about Chinese New Year in Sydney!

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 Sydney is always filled with fab events! Theme of the day = FUN! If you’re looking to get involved, there’s so much you can do, including:

The MS Colour Run!

What the heck is a Colour Run you ask? That’s a good question! Turn up in a white tshirt for what will probably be the most fun you’ve ever had doing a 5k! You don’t have to be a superstar runner, just  travel through the course at your own pace. Each time you pass through a Colour Station, you’ll be showered with Rainbow Dust. By the time you finish, your white tshirt will resemble a rainbow! All this fun is extra worth it because it’s for a great cause … you’ll be raising money for Australians who live with Multiple Sclerosis.

Want to get involved? Find out more here.

The Big Issue Street Football Festival!

More than 1000 players. 300 matches. A floating football pitch. Sounds like awesome fun! The Street Football Festival is one of the country’s most significant sporting occasions. Held from 17th to 26th January, you can expect a spectacular climax as part of the Australia Day celebrations on the Harbour. With players from all walks of life, from juniors to government agency teams, pop along and support this program, which supports homeless and disadvantaged people across the country.

Find out more about what’s on when here.

The Rocks Rocks Out!

If music is your thing, head towards The Rocks for some of the best melodies of the day. Whether it’s Indie, Rap or even a bit of Karaoke that tickles your fancy, you’ll find it all and more right here!  Wander through the markets on your way, then grab a beer, sit back and chill.

If you want information about who’s around or what’s on, you can find out more here.

Australia Day Spectacular – Cockle Bay

Finish off the day (or get the evening started!) with the biggest events of the day on Darling Harbour. Expect incredible special effects and a remarkable fireworks display that will make you ‘Oooh’ and ‘Aaah’ long after the last burst of colour has disappeared from the sky.

All this and so much more makes for a day of celebrations to easily see you through to the next big calendar event! This is just a snippet of what you could be getting up to! For more, take a look here.

Let the Ultimate Oz crew know what you get up to! And have a great day!

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