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What Actually is Australia Day?

If you are a new Aussie backpacker like me, it may come to a surprise to you that there is an ‘Australia Day’. We don’t have an England Day, or a Germany Day… that I know of. So what is Australia Day? I’d never heard of it before in my life.

Well, low and behold, Google came to save the day;

Australia Day is the official National Day of Australia. Celebrated annually on 26 January, it marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales

Sounds simple enough.

In present-day Australia, celebrations reflect the diverse society and landscape of the nation and are marked by community and family events, reflections on Australian history

To find out a little more, I decided to ask my very Australian colleague Jaymie:

“So, what do you actually do on Australia day Jaymie?”

“We usually have a big barbee with lamb, thats the main part – lots of food! Then we have some beers while watching the cricket, there is a test match on Australia day. Even if you aren’t into cricket everybody watches it. People listen to Triple J’s top 100 – but this year it’s on the Saturday after Australia day. Mostly it’s just relaxing with the family, eating lots, drinking lots and going down to the beach!”

So there you go. If you want to celebrate Australia day like a true Aussie – here’s what you have to do:

  • Have a massive Barbee
  • Eat lamb
  • Drink some tinnies
  • Watch the cricket (even if you don’t like it)
  • Listen to Triple J’s top 100
  • Chill with the mates/family
  • Go to the beach

Enjoy your day off people! Whether you’re with some mates, or you’re lucky enough to have family in Australia, have an amazing time – and celebrate like a true Aussie!

Here’s a picture of me trying to embrace the full Australian culture…

Pssst – lucky you, now you know all about Australia day, and you get exclusive access to our awesome Australia day weekend sale before anyone else – woohoo!

Get $100 off all Ultimate Australia Tours this weekend only, in celebration of Australia Day. It’s easy – just use promo code “STRAYADAY” when you book any of our Australia tours online between now and Monday. Enjoy – and see you in the land Down Under.

*$100 off valid from 25-29 January 2018, for the following Ultimate Australia Tours: 

Code only valid for one use. Must travel in 2018. 

Learn to Surf on Your Aussie Gap Year!

About 4 months ago, I had never touched a surfboard in my life. Now, I surf at least two times a week and love it! Learning to surf on your Aussie gap year is a must. Surfing is the perfect hobby to get in to. Not only is it great fun, but you will meet loads of new people, and see lots of incredible beaches! 

Hey! My name is Bernie, I came to Australia 4 months ago on a working holiday visa. I’ve always enjoyed adventure spots (skating, Skiing, BMX) so learning to surf on my Aussie gap-year was a must on my bucket list! I started surfing 2 weeks after arriving in Oz and haven’t stopped since. In all the time I have been surfing, I’ve never seen a shark, just some friendly dolphins! Having the right location, and right support can be crucial when learning to surf. You can just throw yourself in head first (literally!), or you can have some lessons to get yourself kickstarted. Below are four of my favourite spots for learning to surf!

4 Great Beginner Surfing Beaches in or Around Sydney:


7 Mile Beach

Though Gerroa is a couple of hours south of Sydney, 7 mile beach is a great beach to learn on. You have (the clue is in the name) 7 miles of beach to play with, so you can take up as much room as you like splashing around! If you’re lucky, you may even bump into some friendly dolphins while surfing, which is a pretty surreal experience! This is where Surf Camp Australia is based – which is an amazing 2 or 5 night experience. Everything is organised for you: the transport there, accommodation, more food than you could wish for, and surf lessons. Quite literally ‘Surf, eat, sleep, repeat’. If you want to surf on your Aussie gap year, and are keen to get your surfing kickstarted, UltimateOz Surf Camp at 7 mile beach is the way to do it! Check it out here, or email the Ultimate travel crew to get booked in.

Bondi Beach

Bondi is Sydney’s most famous beach, I’m sure you’ve heard of it already! Not only does Bondi have a great atmosphere, but it is fantastic for learning to surf. Rent a board and jump right in, or you can get a few surf lessons to get the ball rolling. Check out our Ultimate Sydney package if you’re keen to kickstart your surfing at Bondi!  

Maroubra Beach

Maroubra is a few beaches south of Bondi, just below Coogee. Well renowned for being a wave magnet, Maroubra is a very popular one with the local surf addicts. Fortunately, it is not quite as popular as Bondi so you should have a little bit more space to do your thing!

Garie Beach

Located in the Royal National Park, Garie beach is just over an hour drive south of Sydney. The drive down there is amazing, with great views of the national park and surrounding nature. Garie is popular with Aussies, so you are bound to bump into some cruisey chaps living in their cars with a surfboard! The beach is pretty quiet even on the busiest of days, so you will be able to have a paddle in the water without worrying about others. And you have over a kilometer of beach to play with!


So there you go, my favourite four beaches in and around Sydney for beginner surfers! There’s no better time to learn to surf than on your Aussie gap year. Just dive in, give it a go and you’ll be having fun in no time. And remember, the best surfer out there is the one having the most fun! 

I haven’t ventured to North Sydney just yet, so apologies if I have missed out any real gems! Let me know down below if there are any good ones I have missed.

P.S. All photos were taken by me – follow @bern_ek on Instagram to keep up with my surfing adventures!

Prepare For Your Gap Year In Australia!

Travelling to the land Down Under? An absolute must. Getting to work and travel here for a whole year? Sign me up! Here are some tips to help you prepare for your gap year in Australia, AKA the best year of your life!

Apply for your visa

This is step one! To live and work in Australia as a foreigner, you’ll need to apply for a visa before you arrive. More specifically, a Working Holiday Visa. Leave enough time to apply, but once you’re approved, it’ll be hard not to hop on a plane straight away!

Applying for a visa for the first time can be a big task. Not to worry though! We’re here to offer you pre-departure support. Check out our Working Holiday Visa page full of all the info you need so you can spend less time applying and more time bragging about your gap year to your friends and fam. When you’re ready to apply, get in touch with the Ultimate crew to find out how to take this first step!

Work hard, travel hard – the perfect combo

Want to do something you’re truly passionate about? Want a job with amazing pay? Want more flexible hours so you have more freedom to explore the country? Australia is a backpacker’s dream with plenty of jobs for visitors – be it short-term/casual or long-term/full-time positions. No matter your preference, our in-house backpacker employment agency is a great source for finding what kind of job works for you (pun intended)!

Don’t sweat the basics

This includes everything beyond visa – flights, housing, medical/travel insurance, Australian bank account, tax file number, Australian phone number, etc. Luckily, Ultimate makes taking care of these travel logistics as easy as possible!

Discounted flights? Fill out this form to find out about great quotes.

Great, comfortable housing? Not only do we set you up with housing during your first week, but we’ll help you find a place to call home while you’re here.

Insurance? Check out some great provider options for backpackers here.

The other necessities? We’ll help you sort out the rest when you arrive so you can focus on the fun!

Prepare for your gap year in Australia. You won't regret the adventures!

Pack smart

Packing for your gap year in Australia varies depending on the time of year you’ll be here, but the key is to pack lightly! You’ll be surprised to find that most of Australia is quite warm, even in the winter, so don’t go too crazy with winter coats and boots and add unnecessary weight to your bag. For those warmer months, which are opposite of the Northern Hemisphere, don’t forget to bring a bathing suit! Australia has plenty of beautiful beaches – some of the most beautiful in the world! And remember, anything you don’t need or have forgotten is very easy to find in Australia. While you’ll want to bring your can’t-live-without belongings, you can leave most of your toiletries at home and buy them here.

Sleep, eat, travel, repeat!

Australia is a huge country with loads to see and do. The key is to be flexible! You’ll find out about so much more to do once you’re here that your plans might change. Here at Ultimate we are experts in travel, and are more than happy to help you plan your adventures. Our UltimateOz and Ultimate East Coast trips show you all the amazing sites around Sydney and eastern Australia. As an added bonus, we offer Ultimate Family tour discounts to anyone who has travelled with us before!

Prepare for your gap year in Australia, you'll have adventures you never thought possible!

Brush up on the local culture

Even if you’re coming from the U.S., England, or another English-speaking country, culture shock is a very real thing everywhere you go. As you prepare for your gap year in Australia, it’s helpful to familiarize yourself with the Australian ways of life so you’re more comfortable when you arrive. Of course, the best way to enjoy any culture is to embrace it, so start practicing your Aussie accent and slang (step one: AVOID “put another shrimp on the barbie”)!

Get ready to meet loads of amazing people

Worried about making new friends in Australia? We don’t blame you! It can be hard to adjust to a new environment. But the great thing about this country is there are so many others here for the same reasons you are: adventure, exploration, a change of scenery, a fresh start – the list goes on! Even though you’re in a new and unfamiliar place, jump right into activities you love and you’re bound to meet loads of people. Ultimate tours in Australia are a great way to meet like-minded travellers, form life-long bonds, and make unforgettable memories when you first arrive!

Prepare for your gap year in Australia. You'll meet loads of like-minded people and see all the amazing sites!

Most importantly, get excited!

You WILL have the time of your life in the land of Oz! It is an experience like no other, and there is so much to do and see! Ultimate is here to help you prepare for your gap year in Australia, welcome you to Oz and help you every step of the way!

Prepare for your gap year in Australia. You'll meet friends for life!

Ultimate is happy to help you plan your dream Aussie experience before and after you arrive! Get in touch with our travel crew to talk about your options.

Are you a backpacking socialite? Meet others travelling to Australia at the same time as you, and don’t forget to check out our Facebook page & Instagram feed for travel inspiration!

Backpacker Tax: What you need to know

Okay so backpacker tax isn’t the most exciting thing to read about on the internet, especially when there are so many other ways to spend your time…like planning your next adventure and watching compilation videos of cute kittens, but if you’re a backpacker planning a gap year in Australia there have been some recent and important changes that should be aware of. These changes will affect how much you’ll be taxed on your earnings and most importantly, how much money you’ll have to play with when you get here!


You may or may not have heard about the recent proposals by the Aussie government to up the backpacker tax to 32.5% on every dollar by the end of the year. After months of government reviews, petitions and concerns from those working in the tourism industry and the agricultural sector, Scott Morrison, Australian treasurer has announced some important updates. Here’s what went down..

  • From January 2017, Working holiday visas will now be available to those aged 18-35 which gives people over 30 another 5 years to take advantage of the working holiday visa program and start living the Aussie dream!
  • Working holiday visa applications will also be $50 cheaper.
  • Backpackers on working holiday visas will be taxed at a rate of 19% on their earnings up to $37,000/tax year (as opposed to the 32.5% tax rate that was proposed earlier in the year).
  • As compensation for the reduced working holiday visa fee and lower than proposed tax rate, the Aussie tax office will be implementing a $5 exit fee along with a 95% tax rate on Superannuation.

The changes have been put in place to encourage backpackers to travel to Australia as they are an ‘important source of labour for the agricultural sector’ and Tourism Australia have been given $10 million to promote Working holiday visas in Australia.

Luckily, with an above average minimum wage of $17.70, Australia is still a great choice and affordable destination for backpackers planning their gap years!


What do you think about the changes to backpacker tax? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below! Planning your gap year? Check out UltimateOz, our 7 day gap year arrival package. Download your FREE brochure and get in touch if you have any questions!

Backpacker Tax Refund Ultimate Travel

The top 7 tips to claim your tax back

All of you working holiday’rs probably experienced the biggest culture shock coming to Australia…Some of you might have travelled through SE Asia before coming here,- shock free -, but then you received your first payslip in Australia … The amount of tax Australia’s government charges you! Aww lawdy. I needed an entire bag of goon and some comfort food to recover from that one!

But you’re done with sleepless nights, because we’re close to the best day EVER! TAX BACK DAY (Hallleelujah!). I can imagine you’re confused about how and when to claim your Tax back. I mean, I was! So to make it an easy struggle for you guys, I wrote down a few facts that will help you with this confusing, serious business…

Tax Year in Australia

Australia has its own unique financial year. It doesn’t start on 1st January and ends on 31st December. The land down under has its own special financial year, from 1st July to 30th June to be precise.

When can I claim my Backpacker Tax Refund?

The concern I had was… When do I claim my Tax back? Do I have to do it before the end of the year or after? Here’s what I found out…

You can claim your Tax back from 1st July until 31st October. So now, July 2016 you can start claiming back your Tax for financial year 1st July 2015 to 30th June 2016. But, there is an exception to the rule. For us, backpackers that are leaving Australia permanently, we can claim our tax back before the end of Australia’s financial year. An important aspect to take into consideration, you have to be in Australia for at least six months before you can apply for that tax back. It doesn’t matter how many months you’ve worked but the period of time being in Australia does matter… At least six months, that’s the only thing you need to remember!

Do I have to declare my tax or lodge a tax refund?

If you’re in Australia on a Working Holiday Visa, you are eligible to claim your Tax back. Actually, you are legally obliged to file your tax application at the end of the financial year. I know, it might seem like a big burden but if you know that the average Australian refund is AU$2600, do you still think it’s not worth your time?

Claim your Aussie tax refund!

What do I need to claim back my tax?

You’ll need your PAYG (Pay As You Go) or final payslip in order to apply to get your Tax back. The final payslip is a summary of all the payslips you’ve received during your period of working. Don’t worry; it’s normal that you don’t have it yet. Your employer will be able to provide this to you at the end of the tax year.

What else do I get?

You might not know about this one but you can claim back more money… YOUR SUPERANNUATION!  It’s a type of long- term saving plan designed to help Australian people in retirement. You might think… “I’m a backpacker in my 20’s, why would I pay for my retirement in Australia?” Well, here comes the good part… it doesn’t come out of your wages, it’s an additional cost paid by your employer,  and you’re the lucky one that can claim it back when you leave Australia!

HELP!

If you are still confused and need help with claiming your Tax back, feel free to contact us! We here to give you help and advice on anything ‘Working Holiday’! Want to know how much tax back you’ll get? It’s easy! Calculate your possible tax refund here.

Seeing that money go into your bank account is the best feeling and what better way to spend it than on your next adventure! Check out what other travellers get up to for some inspiration!

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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 🙂

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The Ultimate question every backpacker asks themselves before they go travelling… “Should I take a suitcase or a backpack?”

It used to be a given that backpackers would take a backpack travelling with them but, as Bob Dylan said, the times they are a-changin’ and backpacking no longer means packing all of your stuff into a backpack. Lots of backpackers are now opting for a suitcase instead.
So which option is right for you? There are a few things to take into account when deciding:

    • Will you be travelling around a lot?
    • Are you planning on settling in one place for the majority of your time to live and work?
    • Are you heading to Southeast Asia or other not so developped destinations?

It can be a tricky decision to make, as the majority of people don’t know exactly what they’ll be doing during their gap year: that’s the whole idea right!? So to help you make your decision, here’s a list of options and pros & cons so you can decide for yourself:

The ‘Trusty’ Suitcase:

Perfect for:

The ‘I’m going to Australia/New Zealand to live & work for a year’ backpacker; The ‘I’ll be travelling around but to mainly tourist destinations’ backpacker and ‘The flashpacker’.

Pros:

Wheels – Who would have thought such a simple invention could bring you so much happiness!? As you’ll be rolling your things around, you won’t suffer from the dreaded backpacker back aches or back sweats. You can access your clothes and belongings easily and quickly and relax happy in the knowledge that your padlock is keeping your stuff safe and secure! If that’s not enough to sell it.. your suitcase will double up as a handy seat!

Cons:

Stairs will be your enemy.  Those ‘backpack’ w*nkers you were laughing at earlier won’t seem so silly after you’ve dragged your suitcase up to the 5th floor of your hostel. Suitcases aren’t ideal for travelling to places such as the Red Centre, Northern Territory or Western Australia either. Also, as suitcases are normally heavier, you may find yourself having to monitor your flight allowances more!

Tip:

Opt for 4 wheels if you can – that way you can push your suitcase along instead of dragging it. Also, go for a good quality hard case as it will probably take a bit of a beating during your gap year!

The ‘Modern’ Backpack (front loader)

Perfect for:

The ‘I’m travelling around Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Southeast Asia and everywhere in between’ backpacker.

Pros:

The front opening backpack gives you easy to access to your clothes and belongings. Backpacks are normally durable and can be thrown around a bit – perfect for boat trips through Southeast Asian islands and other ‘off the beaten track’ tours. Backpacks fit a lot in, can be squashed into small spaces and lets not forget..backpacks make a great pillow for those nights you’ll spend sleeping at the airport!

Cons:

If you pack too much, backpacks can be really heavy. I struggled to carry my oversized, heavy backpack for a year which meant carrying it for longer than 5 minutes at a time gave me back ache. These front opening backpacks are also generally more bulky than the top loader packs.

Tip:

Get your backpack fitted properly to your body. 80% off the weight should be carried by your hips, not your shoulders to avoid back pain. Lots of these backpacks also come with a mini backpack zipped onto the front – useful for day trips when you want to take a smaller bag.

If your backpack is too heavy you'll get back ache

The ‘Old School’ Backpack (top loader)

Perfect for:

The ‘I’m travelling everywhere and I’m not that fussed about getting to my belongings very often’ backpacker.

Pros:

These backpacks are generally less bulky than other backpackers and are easier to carry around. Most have sections you can open at the top and the bottom and smaller pockets on the back to find things easily.

Cons:

Be prepared to pack & unpack, pack & unpack and pack & unpack your bag. Safety can also be an issue with these backpack. As there two different sections to open along with separate pockets, you’ll have to padlock each section to keep your valuables safe.

Tip:

Get your backpack fitted and try on a few different sizes before you buy!

The Wheely ‘Wheely Uncool’ Backpack

Perfect for:

The ‘I’m doing a bit of everything and I want convenience over style’ backpacker.

Pros:

Wheels? Tick. Problems with stairs? Nope. A backpack with wheels = genius! This backpack has it all..You can roll it around, wear it on your back, open it from the front, throw it around, lock it up…the list of backpack benefits goes on.

Cons:

This backpack doesn’t look as sexy as other backpacks. It’s normally quite bulky and can be heavier than other backpacks too, so it’s best used for rolling rather than carrying a lot.

Tip:

If you’re travelling to Southeast Asia, this is a great option!

What else do I need to think about?

Quality

Getting a good quality, durable case or backpack is essential for your gapyear. It will most likely take quite a beating throughout your travels and you don’t want it breaking half way through your trip!

Extra bags

Along with your suitcase or backpack you’ll probably want to bring a smaller, day pack with you. Small holdalls are great for hand luggage on flights but can be tricky to carry around with you after if you’re doing a lot of travelling. If you decide to go for the front opening backpack, choose one with a small day pack zipped to the front. Some days when you’re feeling extra cool, you may even find yourself wearing the extra backpack on your front!  Girls, a side bag can be used as a small handbag for the day and for nights out!

The most important packing tip you’ll ever get!

Don’t pack too much! If you can’t walk around comfortably for 5-10 minutes at home with all of your luggage, you won’t be able carry it all whilst you’re travelling. Remember, what you bring with you is yours to carry for the duration of your trip so don’t overpack. Not being able to pick up your backpack without someone else’s help is not a good look! 😉

via GIPHY

So are you team backpack or team suitcase? Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments below!

Planning your gap year? Check out our arrival packages in Australia, Thailand and Vietnam and get in touch for help planning your trip!

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On 1st May 2015 it was announced by the Assistant minister for immigration and border protection that volunteer work will no longer count towards 2nd year visa working holiday extensions.

We can now confirm that the visa changes will be effective from the 31st August 2015. From this date, any unpaid regional work completed will not count towards your 2nd year visa extension.

What do I need to know?

  • From 31st August all specified regional work you do will need to be paid to count towards your 88 days of regional work. You will need to prove this with payslips from your employer when you apply for your 2nd year visa.
  • During your working holiday visa, you can still do volunteer/WWOOF work but you will not be able to count those days towards your application for a 2nd working holiday visa.
  • Any volunteer/WWOOF work completed before the 31st August will still count towards your 2nd year visa application.”For example, a participant applying for a second Working Holiday visa on 30 September 2015 will only need to provide pay slips covering any specified work performed between 31 August and 30 September. The participant can include specified work they have undertaken before 31 August 2015 in their application without needing to provide pay slips for this work.”

How does this affect people doing volunteer work now?

The department has acknowledged that some people will be in the middle of doing their WWOOF work and will be unable to provide payslips. In this case your WWOOF host can write you an explanatory letter which can be added to your application however the department will assess these on a case by case basis so it is in no way guaranteed that you will be able to use these days for your application!

The department of immigration and border protection issued this statement: 

“All Australian employers must provide their employees with pay, conditions and workplace entitlements in accordance with the Fair Work Act 2009 or relevant state legislation. This includes Willing Workers on Organic Farms (WWOOF) agricultural work.

From 31 August 2015, all applicants for a second Working Holiday visa must provide pay slips as evidence of appropriate remuneration with their application. This will help us ensure that work undertaken by Working Holiday visa holders is performed in accordance with workplace law. All Australian employers are legally required to provide their employees with pay slips.

Work performed before the commencement date will not require pay slip evidence.”

Moving forward..

Our advice if you’re currently doing volunteer work is to bear in mind that any work carried out from the 31st August won’t count towards your 2nd year visa so if you only have a certain amount of days left to complete your farm work, don’t leave it too late!

** UPDATE – May 2016**

“Note: These temporary transitional arrangements will conclude on 30 November 2015. All specified work performed from 1 December 2015 onwards will need to be paid work with pay slips provided as evidence, regardless of whether a participant commenced working for their employer before 31 August 2015.”

If you have any questions regarding your 2nd year visa, get in touch! If you wish to apply for a second working holiday visa and you’re looking for your farm work, take a look at our Guide to Farm Work in Australia. It has everything you need to know about the when, where and why!

For more information regarding 2nd year visas check out our website, Travellers at Work.

 

Welcome Jess, the newest addition to our Ultimate family!

Jess has joined the UltimateOz crew as a tour leader over the summer months! She’s friendly, always has a smile on her face and let’s face it…she’s a bit of a ledge! Say ‘Hiiiii Jess!’..

Getting into the Aussie spirit!   Working as a tour leader for UltimateOz

Jess & her Aussie adventure so far..

“I arrived in Australia in November 2014 and had an amazing first week with Ultimate Oz! I made some friends for life, and actually still live with a girl I met that week! I had already travelled around and worked in America so Australia seemed like the logical next place as I was too nervous to go travelling in a non-english speaking country alone.

Since being here, I have lived in Sydney and Melbourne. In Melbourne I lived right next to the beach near St Kilda and worked as a waitress in the evenings. Mornings off were spent at the beach sunbathing or kayaking (living the dream hey!?) and I even got free dinner when I finished work –  awesome!

I also did my regional work in NSW on a horse breeding farm near Tamworth for 3 months to gain my second year visa, which I loved!! It was so much fun and working with animals was amazing. I’d definitely recommend everyone to do some regional work in Australia. Not only is it a great experience (how many people can say they worked on an aussie farm in the outback!?) but it also allows you to apply for your second year visa to spend some more time in Oz! Check out this blog for info on second year visas and how to get yours!

Working on a horse farm is a great way to get your second year visa   The countryside in regional NSW is beautiful   Working with animals is great!   Regional NSW has some great sunsets

After doing my regional work, I did a road trip on the Great Ocean Road in a campervan (absolutely stunning beaches!) and spent 6 weeks travelling up the East Coast on the Loka bus to Cairns. I loved doing the East Coast with Loka as it made it so easy to make friends at every place I stopped. My favourite moment of the East Coast was doing my open water dive course on Magnetic Island. Maggie is absolutely beautiful and I definitely learnt a new skill that I want to turn into a hobby! You can also hire little pink and white ‘barbie like’ 4×4’s to drive around the island. There is so much to see on the East coast so if you’re planning a trip make sure you give yourself enough time!!

Cuddle a koala on the East coast of Australia!   Hire a 'barbie' car in Maggie Island!    The East coast of Oz is a great place to surf!   The Whitsunday Islands are a East coast highlight!

I came back to Sydney to work for UltimateOz, hoping to make Sydney feel like home for the newbies arriving now in the same way my group leaders did for me when I first arrived. Meeting new people every week is so awesome! So what’s next for me? Who knows?! My bucket list of places to visit has doubled since being in Australia. Thailand, Bali, Fiji and Western Australia are top of my list right now and once my second year visa is up I may travel over the pond and work my way around New Zealand! I also really want to cage dive with sharks so I’ll have to fit that in somewhere!”

Want some help planning your trip? Just get in touch with our travel team for help, advice & discounts on travel!

Meet the rest of the ULTIMATE crew here and keep an eye out for crew updates & stories!

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Being an Ultimate Intern described in one word: AMAZING!

When I came to Australia on my own I was a bit nervous and worried that I might not be able to handle everything, including the foreign language, the new people and the new city in general. There was no need to at all! Already after the first week I knew I was having the time of my life! And I still do!

How to describe the internship at UltimateOz? Well, first of all, get rid of the boring image of interning in an office, where everyone is wearing a suit and is sitting next to each other in a small room focused on his computer. As an intern at UltimateOz you’ve got your own desk right behind the travel agents and get in contact with the customers every day!

The UltimateOz office is fun!

Usual tasks are for example applying for Tax File Numbers and bank accounts, managing all the mail of our customers and working on our facebook page. Furthermore we have to do various bookings for the UltimateOz programme in Sydney, the Outback Range, Surfcamp or other tours and trips for our customers all over Australia. What I was afraid of the most in the beginning was answering phone calls. 😮 Especially when talking to other companies, where the people had a hard (Australian) accent or when it was pretty noisy in the office, I struggled to understand them. However, so far I feel at least much more confident than in the first weeks and I even did bookings via the phone or Skype! (proud of myself!)

Furthermore you can try yourself out in group leading! Going along with our customers having the time of their lives is just awesome! We start with a city walk checking out the best places in Sydney, followed by a pretty cool harbour cruise with a real Aussie barbie.  Then we’re heading off to basecamp, including fun activities like sandboarding and a dolphin cruise. There’s just one rule: What happens at basecamp stays at basecamp! 😉 Saturday means party time, but before the great pub crawl, we do the Coogee to Bondi beach walk to catch some breathtaking views!

The UltimateOz staff are always playing pranks on others.

 

You really take part in the daily business work with everyone else of the awesome crew and help them out with special tasks – instead of making coffee (we’ve got the coffee run for that!). From time to time you might end up tethered at your chair with cling wrap and a cardboard box over your head, but it could definitely be worse!

Every couple of weeks you get the chance to check out new trips and tours like OzSnow, Surf Camp or a part of an East Coast Trip! Can you think of better team building session spots?

Due to the location of our office right at Central and Railway Square, there’s a lot happening every day. Last week there was a film set in front of our door; Hollywood is calling! Moreover we often see people promoting new stuff, which usually means free food! Now we’ve got breakfast cookies for the rest of the year!

Overall my experience as an intern for UltimateOz was definitely the best way to spend my semester abroad, which is part of my tourism management studies back home in Germany. It has been 4 month full of fun, new experiences, new things to learn and loads of awesome people and friends for life!

After my internship, first I will travel to Cairns; do the skydive and go snorkelling. (already so excited! :)). Then I’ll fly to Alice Springs to start a tour through the outback via e.g. the Ayers Rock, Coober Pedy, Adelaide and the Great Ocean Road to Melbourne!

Then it’s time to say goodbye to Australia, but one thing is for sure: I’ll come back! 🙂

Nadine – ULTIMATE intern

 

There are many many MANY reasons we love to travel. We wish we could do it more often but sometimes life just gets in the way…right? Maybe we should just put off the next trip for a few years? Wrong! Read through why I think there has never been a better time to pack your bags, hop on a flight and travel.

1. Go before you change your mind

Chances are if you’re reading this you’ve thought about going travelling at some point… Maybe you’ve already travelled (How amazing is it!?) or maybe you’re travelling right now (Can I come and meet you!?) If you’ve thought about it but it’s just never been an option, why not?
I honestly think that one of the hardest part of any travel adventure is deciding to do it and sticking to it, especially the first time you’re planning a big trip! Once you’ve decided you’d like to travel, just book it and the rest will fall into place. Whether you don’t think you can afford it , you’ve just started seeing someone, you’ve just started a new job or someone who’s important to you has a big birthday coming up, there will always be an excuse for you not to travel. I find that a lot of the time these ‘obstacles’ come from the fear of the unknown and the idea of change that comes with travelling. Don’t worry, it’s completely natural and anyone who has been travelling knows how you feel but if you don’t pluck up the courage to do it now, you might be wasting valuable travel time! The truth is if you don’t travel now you may keep putting it off until you actually have big responsibilities like children and a mortgage on a house and travelling just won’t be that easy anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I know for some it’s not that simple and this will only apply to people who do genuinely want to travel but I do believe that if it’s something you truly want, you just have to throw yourself in at the deep end and trust me you’ll reap the rewards! Remember: ‘If not now then when?”

2. Lots of people are doing it

Now is a great time to travel because lots of people are doing it! Not that ‘Everyone is doing it…I should do it!’ should be a reason to do anything but the way tourism has developed over the past few years means that travelling to most parts of the world is a perfectly ‘normal’ and safe thing to do. It’s easy to get around, there’s lots of help and support available to backpackers and because others are doing it you’re more likely to bump into like-minded people to travel with! If the thought of visiting the same places ‘as most people’ makes you shudder, don’t worry! You can still get off the beaten track in any country (our travel agents can help you plan this) but it’s nice to know you’ve got yourself a safety net when you first arrive! Travelling now is easier than ever and whilst you’ll still come across some challenging and exciting travel road bumps along the way, on the whole travel help and support is a lot more accessible. Get ready for some smooth sailing people!!

3. Australia has never been so cheap

You may have heard that Australia can be pretty expensive – you’ve heard right!  It can be pricey to live in cities such as Sydney and Perth however with the Aussie $ currently weak, it’s the perfect time to come and spend money in Australia. Your hard earned cash will go a lot further if you visit now! If you’re planning a trip to Oz remember that, despite city living being expensive, the wages are also high and if you’re living and working in a city you’ll have more than enough money to cover your living costs with money left over for fun stuff!

4. Tourism in Vietnam

One of the reasons we love Vietnam so much is that you can travel there and really feel like you’re experiencing an Asian community that is true to it’s roots and hasn’t been overly affected by tourism. You’ll see how the locals live, eat Vietnamese food in small town alley ways and explore untouched nature- ahhhhh! At Ultimate we want to give you an authentic experience so we take you off the beaten track as much as we can on our tours!
 Vietnam
Halong-Bay
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5. Travelling makes you more employable

Sure, the person hiring you needs to know that you’ve got the skills needed to do the job and the qualifications you have are a way of proving them however more and more employers will also take your personal experiences into account when gaging if you’re suitable for the job or not. Your life experiences gained through travel show your employer that you are motivated, interested in learning about other cultures, mature, responsible (we can leave out that time you slept on a goon pillow in Australia!) and many other things employers will look for in a potential employee.
Lets face it, our generation will be working for a good few years to come so why not grasp the opportunity of travel now and think about your career after, knowing that you’ll have more to offer after a year or two in the sun? Before I came travelling I was sure that I wanted to study business and land a well paid job. After travelling I had completely changed my mind and am now working in my dream job and with no degree I know that my life experiences gained through travelling helped me get to where I am now. I understand that for some jobs you do need a uni degree and to study for years to specialise so this won’t be true for all but if you’re a little unsure that you’re on the right path, travelling will open your eyes and may help you decide on a future career you love rather than falling into one you’re not particularly interested in!

6. Technology

Development in technology means keeping in touch with people from home is easy and relatively cheap. Most places you’ll visit will have WIFI so you can Facetime and Skype your friends and family at home to let them know what an amazing time you’re having! Some phone plans in Australia also give you heaps of extra credit so you can call home whenever you like. As part of our UltimateOz Sydney package we will set you up with a SIM card and tell you all about the phone plans available so you can keep in touch with people from home.

7. Save money buying in bulk

Buying in bulk will save you lots of money on your travels. We’ve created packages (such as our East coast package in Australia) that include heaps of travel and as you’ll be buying trips in a package, it means we can discount it a lot more than usual! You can keep your travel plans flexible but travel safe in the knowledge that you’ve saved yourself some money (so that you can travel even more- yay!) Package prices are competitive which makes travelling even more affordable when you get here. Get in touch for current packages and deals!

8. Life is too short not to

It’s cliche but it’s true. Life goes by too quickly to put off something that’s going to make you happy, broaden your horizons and allow you to grow as a person. Your life at home will wait for you and you never know where your travels will take you. Whether you’re thinking of travelling for a few months, one year or a few years, now is the time…get a job, save some money and book that flight!!
For help and advice booking any trips and tours in Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Vietnam and Fiji just get in touch!
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Travel changes you: fact. Wherever you travel, however long you travel for, be prepared to learn a few things about yourself along the way!

Here are a few ways I’ve found travelling has changed me:

It’s hard to settle in one place.

Once you’ve caught the travel bug, it’s pretty hard to shake! Settling back into a ‘normal’ routine at home after spending a few months or a year experiencing everything travelling has to offer is really hard! Travelling is fun and there are always new experiences just waiting to be had. Sure if you’ve travelled for longer than a few months, chances are you’ve had to snap back to reality for a little while to find a job and maybe rent a flat but with that next exciting adventure just around the corner, there isn’t enough time to settle in one place for long enough to get into a routine. Going from the buzz and excitement of travelling to getting a job at home, living and spending your time waiting for the weekend can be tough. Travelling made me realize how small the world is and how easy it is to travel to new countries which makes it so tempting to pack your bags and set off on the next adventure!

My advice to beat the bug? Plan the next trip if you can- having something to work towards and look forward to will make life more exciting! If you can’t do that, try to meet up with fellow travellers- sharing your memories and travel stories will make you feel like you still are and you’re not alone!

Believe in yourself

Working in the travel industry and having travelled myself it’s safe to say I love to travel! Saying that, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. Sometimes travelling gives you lemons and (when there’s no tequila and salt around) you have to learn to deal with situations that you wouldn’t normally have to. The best thing I’ve taken from travelling is the ability to believe in my own strength and trust my instincts. I’ve learnt that I can deal with anything that comes my way and if I’m stuck in a sticky situation, I’ll find a way out. My mantra after travelling? “I’ll handle it!”

Adopt a ‘no worries’ attitude

This is one thing I definitely noticed after spending a year travelling around SE Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Life really is too short to sweat the small stuff! Yes you may have missed the last night bus to the islands and be stranded in a tiny Thai town but who cares?! You get an extra day to explore the area, eat Thai food, chill in the sun and chat to the locals! Don’t get me wrong- at the time, it seems like the worst thing in the world when you’re carrying a heavy backpack in the 30 degree heat however once you’ve accepted that these things happen (and in the grand scheme of things really aren’t that big a deal) you can say ‘no worries!’ and enjoy the ride! The little bumps you’ll encounter along the way are some of the most memorable travel experiences anyway!

Making new friends

One of the best things about travelling is how easy (and normal) it is to chat strangers and make new friends, especially if you’re travelling alone. Most people are in the same boat and will welcome a chat with a stranger! After a few months I noticed I was more confident chatting to people and more sociable. Be prepared to have a long list of new friends you can crash with in countries all over the world!

Be more open minded

When travelling, not only will you meet people who have different values and opinions to you but you’ll also be stuck in situations where you’ll be forced to keep an open mind and try out things you wouldn’t usually do. You never know where the day will take you when you’re travelling! I remember my first week in Asia, travelling to a remote island in Malaysia. We hadn’t booked accommodation on the island and when we arrived we found out that everywhere was fully booked! We ended up buying a couple of hammocks and setting up camp on the beach to sleep for the night. As a travelling virgin and being terrified of insects it wasn’t exactly what I had in mind but looking back it’s those experiences that stick with you!

Become less materialistic

I love my comforts and always will but after a year of travelling I realised that there is so much more to life and happiness than buying new things… at least not when there’s travelling to be done, new places to experience and people to meet! The experience of chilling on the beach with new friends means so much more than what you’re wearing at the time or which latest bit of technology you have! Of course, you need to buy the basics but as long as you have enough money to buy some street food, a couple of beers, a roof over your head for the night and a way to actually travel, that’s all you’ll need!

If you’re thinking of travelling, my advice is to just go for it! You never know where it will take you or what you’ll experience along the way. Whilst it’s good to have a rough plan, you can’t plan for everything in travel so just throw yourself in at the deep end and book a flight! If you need help planning any of your trip or want any advice at all, just contact us! We’re happy to help!

Share your travelling stories and pics with us! Like our Facebook page for blogs, travel inspiration and travel pics and follow us on Instagram. Tag your #myultimatemoment pics – we will repost our faves!

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!”

Travelling isn’t about getting from A to B using the quickest route possible, it’s about (as corny as it sounds) the journey. It’s about experiencing that countries culture, eating their food and trying out local specialities (scorpion in Thailand anyone!?!), chatting to the locals, meeting fellow backpackers, using public transport, learning their language (at least enough to ask for a beer!) and checking out local events/festivals.

Travel is..

Here in Ultimate HQ, we’ve been chatting about what travel means to us. Here’s what we came up with:

#travelis using a goon bag as a pillow – Becca

#travelis like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get – Danny

#travelis being out of your comfort zone – Ollie

#travelis always saying yes to new experiences (within reason 😉 ) – Gayle

#travelis never missing out on a new experience- Craig

#travelis getting lost and being okay with it- Holly

#travelis knowing every happy hour in town- Max

#travelis getting excited for the bottom bunk- Charly

#travelis feeling free as a bird! – Karin

What is travel to you? Comment below with your #travelis ideas! Share your travelling stories and pics with us! Like our Facebook page for blogs, travel inspiration and travel pics and follow us on Instagram. Tag your #myultimatemoment pics – we will repost our faves!

If you’ve come to Australia on a working holiday visa, we’ve every confidence that you are going to fall in love and not want to leave … so, you’ll probably be wanting to do some farm work so that you qualify for a second year.

I know what you might be thinking (if you’re anything like I was)! Ugh … farm work! But it’s actually not as bad as it sounds, I promise!

Even though three months/88 days on a farm might sound like it is your worst nightmare, there are a lot of good reasons to get it done, the second year being only one of them!

A new experience!

A lot of people who I met doing my farm work had never even stepped on to a farm before they arrived! It’s something new and different that you’ll probably only get to do this once … you didn’t come all the way to Australia to only do what you would normally do at home! You came to try new things, go to new places, meet new people from different walks of life to yourself. Working on a farm is a great way to tick all those boxes!

Farm Work in Australia

Money, money, money!

Farming is a GREAT way to save for whatever new adventures you have planned. Most of the time, you are in a small town, or sometimes, the middle of nowhere, working most of the day and most of the week and you don’t really get the chance to spend what you are earning! When I did my farm work, all I had to pay was my rent and buy food/drink … I didn’t have much time for anything else. The money that I saved during my farm work funded the whole of my East Coast trip, including all my activities and meant that when I got to Sydney, I didn’t have to stress about finding work immediately, because I was still ok for a couple of weeks!

Personal reasons to do farm work!

Remember what you’re doing your farm work for!

The second year visa!

It goes without saying that if you do fall in love with Australia and decide you want to stay longer or come back for another year at a later date, then you pretty much have no choice … regional/farm work is one of the only ways that can happen! Not all good things come for free eh!

The friends you make!

When I did my farm work, I lived in a working hostel with about 50 other people. We were a family! We worked, lived, ate together, we got each other through when farming got hard and we were exhausted, or when we were missing home, and we shared some very fun times! The friends I made while doing my farm work made the experience what it was and I’ll always remember them, whether we have kept in touch since or not! I now actually live with my best mate who is one of the girls I did my farm work with … we’ve known each other for nearly two years! But we never would have met if it wasn’t for our farm work!

Farm Work in Australia

Great friends and great memories!

 

I’m not going to lie, farm work was hard, a lot of the time. It was long hours and sometimes we went days without a day off (I think the most days we did in a row was 19! (And there were other farms that beat that!) But what I got from farming was well worth absolutely all of it! I got to stay in Australia (and went on to get sponsored,) I met some awesome people, and most importantly (or not) I now know just about everything there is to know about melons! Like, literally everything! Haha. At the end of the day, it is what you make it, so you may as well embrace it!

If you’re thinking of doing your farm work, it can be a bit daunting when you start to look for somewhere. I have a few tips for you:
• Try and get a job that offers an hourly rate rather than a piece rate – you’re more likely to earn more!
• Be wary of bogus job ads – If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is!
• Be open minded about what you do – you may not like cows but cattle mustering might turn out to be something really fun!
• Don’t give up! The first couple of weeks were really hard for me, and they probably will be for you too – stick with it, it gets easier!

Embrace it - you'll have more fun!

It can be fun if you let it!Farm work in Australia

If you are looking for farm work, contact the team in the office and they may be able to point you in the right direction of a few places! There’s also this really handy guide we made, about what is happening in each state depending on the seasons:

Ultimate Guide to Farm Work in Australia

Any questions – give us a shout! We’re here to help!

Good luck!

Gayle xx

Welcome to 2015. It’s a brand new year and whilst the whole ‘new year, new me’ seems a bit cliché, there is something amazing about the clean slate that the 1st January brings and the chance to start a fresh!

Here at Ultimate Travel, we have been thinking about what we would like to get out of the next year. Working in the travel industry, it’s not surprising that most of our resolutions and wishes for the new year revolve around travel. We are EXCITED for the new year and the world of new experiences it brings with it: new places to visit, strangers to meet, foods to try and skills to learn.

We’ve created the Ultimate bucket list for 2015. Download it, print it, stick it on your fridge, in your bedroom or pack it in your backpack and make it your personal ‘bucket list’ check list for the new year. A few of the Ultimate staff share their Ultimate bucket lists with you…

Gayles-bucketlist

Dan's-bucket-list

Max's-bucket-list

Are you dreaming about travelling the world? Trying new things and experiencing the unknown? Now is the time to do it! No excuses … just do it! And we promise you won’t regret it. 2015 is going to be another awesome year for us – make sure yours is too!

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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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I’ll apologise right away for the following obvious statement…if you are planning your trip to Australia with UltimateOz, you’re going to need a visa to get in the country.

Get that, visa = entry to Australia? Good.

Now, which visa should you get, a working holiday visa or a tourist visa? I’m glad I asked as both visas are a great way to get into Australia and take a look around. The most important thing to stress here is visas aren’t set in stone.

You are probably able to get either a tourist visa or working holiday visa of some kind to get into Australia but it depends on the country your passport was issued by so run that by the Department of Immigration before you book anything!

Now we’ve got the legal bit out the way, we can get on with the comparison – should you go for a working holiday or tourist visa in Australia?

Who Can Get Each Visa?

A tourist visa is pretty much open to anyone who wants to come to Australia but there are different classes of tourist visa for different nations. Pretty much every country in Europe can get an eVisitor visa (subclass 651) when they come to Australia – you apply online (or with us) and it is all taken care of.

Other visitors – take note those from the America’s – have to get a different visa but it is still pretty stress free. The Electronic Travel Authority visa (subclass 601) is an online form, costs $20 and takes about a day to be processed. This is the one for Canada/United States so take a look.

With working holiday visas, it’s a little different. Again, there are two visa options the subclass 417 for the majority of Europeans (Canadians and Japanese too) and the subclass 462 for the United States and a few others. Check the full list of countries here and keep update with any changes via the Immigration website.

The 417 visa is an online form that you can complete at home or in Australia (but you must have an eVisitor if you want to apply from inside Australia).

Do I have to Send My Passport Away or Have an Interview?

If you’ve been through the rigmarole of getting a visa for another country (I’m looking at you America) then you might be worried that it’ll take ages to get your Australia visa. Worry not, as the system is pretty much all online and can be sorted in a matter of days.

If you want to head to your nearest Australian embassy or immigration office then that is an option (as is a postal application) but online is much easier and quicker.

Each visa has certain requirements that need to be met before you apply and a list of documents for each visa can be found on the Department of Immigration website. Once you’re application is lodged the visa should be confirmed in a matter of days although the Department of Immigration ask to leave about two weeks for the application process just in case.

After your application has been lodged, you’ll get an email decision and your visa is automatically updated to your passport electronically and you’re good to go! You can print your visa decision if you want, just to make sure you have a physical copy of something but you won’t get a visa stuck in your passport like other countries.

How Long Are They?

Well, a tourist visa gives you three months in Australia and a working holiday visa gives you (at least) a year but that depends on the visa you get.

A 417 visa lasts a year but you can complete three months of regional work to get a second year visa, the 462 visa doesn’t offer this option. Your second year visa can be taken immediately after your first year or anytime before you turn 31, it’s up to you!

What Do They Let Me Do?

The biggest difference (aside from how long you get in Australia) is that on a tourist visa you can’t work and on a working holiday visa…well, the clue is in the name!

You can only work for six months for one employer and you can study for up to four months too (if you want to), they are the main rules around your working holiday visa no matter what country you’re from.

Your working holiday visa also allows you to enter and exit the country as many times as you like during the period of your visa whereas a tourist visa has to be renewed every time you want to leave and re-enter.

How Much Are They?

Good question! The visa prices change all the time so it’s tough to pinpoint an exact price.

The eVisitor visa for a tourist from the European Union is free of charge if you do it yourself and an ETA Visa is $20.

Working holiday visas are more expensive. If you do the visa yourself on the Department of Immigration website, it’ll set you back $420. You can ask us to take care of it for you when you book your UltimateOz trip by selecting the visa addon for your UltimateOz tour – this takes the hassle and paper-work out of your hands and leaves it with the experts!

How Many Times Can I Get Them?

You can get as many tourist visas as you want, there is no limit but it will look a bit dodgy if you keep dipping out of the country every three months and heading straight back in.

With your working holiday visa you get one unless you do the regional work. The option of the regional work is only there for those on the 417 visa not the 462 – so if you’re American…sorry.

With each visa option, you get a year to enter the country and as soon as you enter, your visa begins.

Which Visa Is Right For Me?

At the end of it all, it depends what you want to do in Australia. If you want all the benefits of living and working in Australia for a prolonged period of time, then you’re all about the working holiday visa.

If you are stopping in Australia for a couple of months on a round the world trip then the tourist visa will be just fine for what you need and if you love Australia, you can always come back for a year or two on your working holiday visa!

The important thing with a working holiday visa is not to waste it. If you’re only coming to Australia for a month then what’s the point in wasting a year long visa? You may think you’ll find work right away (and you might) but imagine someone turning up in your home country for a month, expecting to work before they move somewhere else. Seems a bit far fetched! You only get one shot at your working holiday so weigh up all of your options before deciding what to do!

If you’ve got any other questions about your visa for Australia or about living and working in Australia in general, let us know by email, in the comments below or on Facebook!

Last week it was Australian Rules, this week it is rugby league as the South Sydney Rabbitohs take on the Canterbury Bulldogs in the 2014 NRL Grand Final!

If you watched Sydney humiliated in the AFL Grand Final last week, get ready to learn the rules of another sport albeit one that is much more friendly to Sydney fans!

AFL is a sport Victorians love whereas rugby league is a sport celebrated by New South Wales locals with two Sydney teams contesting the final at Olympic Park this weekend.

So, what do you need to know going in?

Well, if you’ve ever seen rugby union, you’ll know the basics. The ball can only be passed backwards (using your hands) but can be kicked forwards.

For points, four points are given for a try – like a touchdown only a player has to put the ball on the ground over the try line rather than just cross the line – and two points are given for a conversion which is a kick through the posts after a try.

If a penalty occurs, the team is given the option of taking a kick at goal from the spot of the foul (worth two points) or carrying on with the game.

The biggest difference between league and union is in game play. In league, every time your team has the ball, you have six tackles to score. Similar to the four downs in American football, teams often kick on the fifth tackle to get the ball further down field. It sounds like a strange rule but once you start watching the game -you’ll know exactly what’s going on!

For the teams involved it’ll be a momentous occasion. South Sydney haven’t been involved in a Grand Final since 1971 – it’s been a very long time between drinks for Rabbitohs fans – while the Bulldogs last won the Premiership in 2004.

The Rabbitohs have been the bridesmaids for a long time and it would be a great story if they could finally break their curse. Owned by Hollywood superstar Russell Crowe, the Bunny’s have a huge following all over Sydney.

The Bulldogs will go in as underdogs for the Grand Final but it really is anybody’s guess for the winner!

There is a big English connection for this game too as both sides rely on Englishmen to dominate. The Rabbitohs have a family – the Burgess’ boys – of four brothers that play in the green and red. The Bulldogs have a formidable force in James Graham who you won’t miss with his shock of ginger hair running through the opposition!

You probably don’t live in South Sydney or Canterbury so how do you pick a team? Well, do want want the side that hasn’t won for 40 years but are favourites for this game, or do you want the underdogs here but a side that won it quiet recently? It’s entirely up to you but pick one and start backing them!

Get to the pub on Sunday evening and start cheering on your new favourite team! Remember, it’s a bank holiday on the Monday after so you’ve got no excuse to stay away!!

It seems to be an age old argument with Australian working holiday travel – should I travel alone or in a group?

Well, I’m glad I asked.

There are positives and negatives for both options and, ultimately, it is a personal decision whether you travel alone or with a more organised group.

When making this decision, that could completely shape the adventure you are about to embark on, you have to consider many things.

This isn’t a post trying to change your mind. If you are dead set on coming to Australia alone, I’m sure you’ll have an absolute blast! If you are thinking of coming to Australia as part of a group, here is why we offer a service that you won’t soon forget.

Relax!

The beauty of an UltimateOz tour is that it’s hassle free. Especially when moving to Australia long term, there’s a lot of niggly paperwork and processes to go through. If it’s your first long-term trip abroad, it is much more reassuring to have an experienced guide.

You will have nothing to worry about, we do this stuff for a living. You’ll arrive in Australia and we already have the information we need to get the paperwork you need sorted.

Booking your arrival week in Australia with us allows you to take a load off. If you are planning on staying in Australia for a prolonged period, we can help with all the boring bits that everyone would rather not have to go through. We apply for tax file numbers (which let you work in Australia), bank accounts and mobile phone numbers so as soon as you arrive in Australia you are ready to hit the ground running.

It is a strange thing moving to a country thousands of miles from home on your own. Some people thrive in the uncertainty, the not knowing what comes next. Others like a little more structure and that is what we offer.

We provide the tour, we aren’t an agency so you know what you are getting with us and you know where to look for any other help and advice that you need. There is no need for the middle man and you can contact us directly.

We are here for however long you’ll be here. If you finish your UltimateOz week and want to move to Melbourne, we are a phone call or email away. Want to head north, look for farm work or find a place in Sydney? Give us a shout. Even if you just want to come in for a chat and some wifi head to our shop and relax.

Speaking of WIFI….

It’s a tough mother to find in Australia. Aside from the fried goodness of McDonalds, free wifi is difficult to come by but UltimateOz travellers are given access to free wifi in our shop.

Of course, no-one books a life-altering trip just to spend time checking your Tweets, but it is nice to know you’ve got somewhere to fall back on wifi if you need to email your mum every once in a while so she’s knows you are still alive.

Did We Just Become Best Friends?!

UltimateOz is a great way to meet people. Whether you’re the most confident person that walks into a room or a little on the shy side, our groups are a great way to get together with like-minded people.

Having moved to Australia from England a year and a half ago, it was more difficult meeting people than I had expected. You have hostel buddies, people you make idle chit-chat with over breakfast or go out for a few too many beers with, but friendship is harder to find.

With UltimateOz, you can meet your group before you leave for Australia using our Facebook Groups. Everyone is in the same situation before they leave for Australia and by meeting the group first, you can see where people are coming from and where they have been before.

The group size of UltimateOz is kind of a perfect middle ground. The groups aren’t too big or small, you can get to know everyone during the week and spend enough time together to get to know one another well.

No two groups are the same so don’t think you are too young or old to come and enjoy an Ultimate week in Australia. As long as you are fun, open-minded and willing to meet other people then you are good to go!

When the week is over, many of our group members either travel together or move in together in Sydney. Whether you want to travel by campervan or Greyhound, we can help you and there is probably someone in your group that wants to do something similar.

UltimateOz Basecamp!

The best thing about the UltimateOz experience is that you are able to see more than just Sydney. While Sydney is an incredible city, one that has a habit of drawing you in, it is good to get a feel for somewhere else in your first week in the country.

After each group draws to a close, 9 times out of 10 the highlight has been UltimateOz Basecamp – our secret hideaway where you spend 2-nights during your first week. It’s paradise! Golden sands and crystal clear waters, dolphins playing in the water and koalas sleeping in the trees – its awesome!

While Basecamp only lasts a couple of days, it gives you a taste of what is to come on the East Coast of Australia, and it is close enough to Sydney that you won’t spend a day on the coach to get there and back.

Us Vs Them

In case you haven’t already Googled this – we aren’t the only people offering a welcome week in Australia. Let’s get down to brass tacks, why should you choose UltimateOz over competitors?

It all boils down to what we offer and how we provide the service. When in Sydney, you stay in the best hostel in the city (WakeUp!) and then head off on the amazing Basecamp in Port Stephens.

We focus on group activity. Many providers of similar tours have a heavy focus on the paperwork side of things – they help you get settled and then leave you to it. While we are fine with this if it is your choice, we want to give you a first week in Sydney that you’ll never forget and the reviews speak for themselves!

The job service we provide (more on that later) is an award winner and helps thousands of travellers a year find work right the way across Australia. We also have staff dedicated to help finding you work – they will help with your CV and applications making you the strongest possible candidate for any work you go for.

If you are just here for the fun times and travelling, we are more than capable of helping with that too – discounts anyone?!

Experience

UltimateOz has been around for 22 years and has seen the changing tourism industry in Australia. The company is not just a flash in the pan, make money quick deal, we really know our stuff.

One of the best things about UltimateOz is that we have been there, and done it all. I’m a backpacker myself and have been in Australia for just over 12-months. The rest of our work and travel gurus are a mixture of working holiday visas and sponsored workers from across the globe with a couple of Aussies thrown in for good measure!

We’ve all had to make those tough decisions – To farm or not to farm? Where to go and when to go? Where to live and how to find an apartment? How much tax should you be paying and how do you claim it back?

Our experience is here, so use it!

Whether you want to work first and then travel or vice-versa is completely fine. There is no right or wrong way to travel, Fraser Island will still be there in 3 weeks or 3 months. Do what is right for you and let other’s do the same.

A word of warning, you will get those massive pangs of Facebook jealousy. If your fellow UltimateOzers head straight up the Coast and you decide to work in Sydney for a few months, they’ll be exploring tropical paradise and you’ll be working a normal job.

Don’t let this put you off Sydney, Melbourne or any other Australian city though. Each has their own character and are filled with things to do and see – it just probably won’t sound as impressive as scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef!

Working

We help to prepare you for your time in Australia with our work and travel information talk. This gives you all the different options at your disposal, whether you want to hit the road or stay a little while, we have all the information you need.

If you’re heading to Australia looking for work, we’ll help you with your CV and job applications, and you’ll have access to our extensive backpacker job database. Many people arrive in Australia expecting work easily, and we don’t want to sugarcoat this: it is more difficult than people expect to find work in Australia, so a little help is always handy.

Don’t let this put you off, hundreds of thousands of travellers find work in Australia each year (myself included), just remember that it isn’t easy finding work. With our TAW service, we can help you along the way wherever you want to settle in Australia.

My Story

In the interests of full disclosure, I came to Australia without a tour group. I have family in Sydney and my interest in Australia was from a ‘living somewhere else’ mindset than an ‘let’s put the backpack on and see where I end up’ way of thinking.

I’d been to Sydney before and I absolutely love it, so I wanted to spend as much time as possible in the city. I’ve traveled the East Coast, done my farm work and am on my second year visa. I’ve been to Melbourne a few times too and I loved it there as well and a trip to Tasmania is on the horizon.

For me, with my mindset and family connections, it was a no-brainer to come alone. I wouldn’t change my decision but having worked at Ultimate Travel for over 6 months, I have seen how awesome the UltimateOz experience is. You might think that this is only a week long experience but it totally isn’t.

People stay in touch with us right the way through their time in Australia, whether they need help with travel plans or finding work or they just want to chat through their options with someone who has been in a similar position.

If you do decide to embark on your adventure alone, we’re still here to help! Come in to our shop and say hi, ask us questions on Facebook and Twitter, follow us on Instagram. We are here to help and we actually mean that!

If you arrive in Australia and all isn’t going well, don’t hesitate to contact us! We can help you with the paperwork, the tough decisions and the fun stuff too!

Whether you come alone or with us or anyone else, Australia is a great place to live, work and travel. The UltimateOz group gives you the best of all three (and wifi to boot), so what are you waiting for?!

Make a decision and get the hell over here!!