Australia relaunches 'Best Job in the World' campaign - this time with SIX jobs

by Dominic 06/03/2013 02:00:00

If you're thinking about the best way to spend a year out from the grey world of the UK, there are few better options than a working holiday visa for Australia and, if you're looking to go soon, why not apply for one of the best jobs you can get anywhere? 

A couple of years ago Tourism Australia launched its first 'Best Job in the World' campaign, to be the 'caretaker' on Hamilton Island on the Great Barrier Reef, a paradise-like tropical island where the duties included snorkelling, surfing and generally just relaxing.

Naturally, the position scraped a couple of applications but it was Briton Ben Southall who beat out 34,000 other applicants from 200 countries to secure the gig.

Ben did such a good job that he's since secured a position as Tourism Ambassador for the whole state of Queensland.

And now Tourism Australia is relaunching the campaign, but this time there are SIX positions available, here's Ben to explain:


Relaunched campaign - bigger and better

So, this time there are six, that's right SIX jobs available: lifestyle photographer in Melbourne, Outback adventurer in the Northern Territory, park ranger in Queensland, taste master in Western Australia, wildlife caretaker in South Australia and 'chief funster' in Sydney.

Which of these is the best remains to be seen but all are guaranteed to blow your mate's 2 weeks in Malia out of the water as a decent holiday and put the one kid who went to your school with a decent accountancy job to shame.

Andrew McEvoy, managing director of Tourism Australia, said the scheme was being reopened in the hope of bringing even more working holiday makers to Australia.

"The value to the economy [of working holiday makers] is good but I think the fact that these kids work and holiday and get deeply into regional Australia is really important," said Mr McEvoy.

"Capital city tourism has been going for a while but regional Australia has been struggling for a while and now we're seeing it bounce back."

Ready to give it a shot?

If you want to apply for one of the best jobs in the world, all you need to do is complete an application form and upload a 30 second video explaining why you need the job.

Given there was 34,000 applications for one job last time and there are six this time PLUS the massive success of Ben's campaign, you might be in for a little competition so you should probably steer away from words like 'banter', 'top laugh', 'messy', 'bubbly' and loads of other words you see on Facebook profiles in your video.

Any working holiday in Australia is almost guaranteed to be one of the best years of your entire life but you could lock that in.

"I didn't know if I was going to be diving or skydiving or cooking or bushwalking and I did all of them," said Ben.

"It's one of those things where you've just to go for it and see where it takes you."

Ben might be right but if you really need more encouragement to apply for a job that forms the bulk of most people's day dreams, there's also a six month employment package paying you AU$100,000 (£67,400) for your 'trouble'. Closing date is 10 April.


- Dominic Ladden-Powell is the Online Editor with the Australian Visa Bureau, an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications for a Working Holiday Visa to Australia.

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

March in Australia: What to do, what to do

by Dominic 02/03/2013 03:00:00

Summer's almost done! Quick,
hit the beach before it cools
down slightly.

Visa Bureau and STA Travel's flight competition on for just one more month! Book your flights to Australia from STA Travel before 31 March and you could win the cost of your flight back, up to £1000!

Quick, panic - summer is almost over! Summer in Australia is in its final throes now, barely reaching 30 degrees and leaving people to make to do with a pathetic, PATHETIC 14 hours of sunlight.

What's the point? Might as well just come home now.

If not though, why not enjoy the last of the sunshine with these awesome events going on this month?


Nationwide

Future Music Festival - Various dates

In just six short years, the Future Music Festival has gone from being a one day independent gig based in Sydney - which consisted of one guy, a banjo, a malnourished dog and some copies of the Big Issue - is now one of the biggest festivals in Australia.

With dates in Brisbane (2nd), Perth (3rd), Sydney (9th), Melbourne (10th) and Adelaide (11th), this year's headliners include The Stone Roses, Dizzee Rascal, Prodigy, Bloc Party, The Temper Trap and even the Gangnam Style guy.

 

Sixto Rodriguez lived most of his
life not knowing he was a
massive star.

Sugarman - Various dates

If you kept up with the world of cinema in the last month, you'll know the Academy Awards might have had one of the worst hosts ever with the Family Guy guy but the field of nominees was one of the best ever.

The winner for best documentary went to a film called Searching for Sugarman in which a couple of avid South African fans went in search of their hero - known only as Rodriguez.

Rodriguez was an 'almost-was' musician that enjoyed a few mediocre hits in the 70s in his native US before giving up his musical career and going to work in something depressing, like sweeping up.

Fast forward 20 years and two South Africans track him down and reveal to him that not only do they know who he is, so does most of South Africa and his platinum selling albums there are massive.

Now the man himself has restarted his career and will be playing many of the songs featured in the Oscar winning film around Australia. The Sugar Man will be in Melbourne (21st and 22nd), Adelaide (24th), Sydney (25th and 26th), Byron Bay (28th and 29th) and Brisbane (31st).

 

Sydney

Mardis Gras - until the 3rd

Mardis Gras has been going on throughout February but comes to a fabulous, glittery and perfectly melodramatic climax this weekend with the gay parade on Saturday.

While you might not be taking part (and you shouldn't be offended at the suggestion), watching will be a great laugh, click here for some of the best spots in the city.

 

Byron Bay Film Festival - until the 10th

Spread over 10 days and 54 sessions, over 220 films from 42 different countries will be shown at the Byron Bay Film Festival; one of the most respected such festivals in Australia and the perfect place to find an underground gem.

 

It's getting a bit sexy in here.

Biba's Wizard of Oz Burlesque Show - 13th to the 17th

In what might sound like one of the strangest juxtapositions around, Biba's Wizard of Oz Burlesque Show does what - in creator Russell Beatie's own words - 'combines the best of being a kid with the best of being an adult'.

As you might expect, adults only and it might get a bit sexy.

 

Jurassic Lounge - 5th, 12th, 19th, 26th

The Australian Museum is already one of the coolest museums in the world but every Tuesday this month, the Jurassic Lounge will be opening its doors after hours to allow people to get boozed up in the cool, dimly lit grandeur of a museum at night.

As if that wasn't enough, each night will be themed, and not what you might think, with a Bollywood night and a masked ball going down.

 

Hoopla Festival - Easter weekend

Down at Darlington Harbour at the end of the month the Hoopla Festival rolls into town. A cross between a comedy show and a circus, you can see almost every activity you weren't allowed to do as a kid and now are too scared/fat/lazy to do now like acrobatics, fire eating, doing hand stands on your mates' heads. You know.

 

Melbourne

Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2013 - Until the 17th

If you like fine foods and al fresco dining, what better place to toast summer's end than overlooking the water and sampling some of the finest fineries you can find at the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival.

 

This looks so good it'd get
vegans hot under the collar.

Rare Breed Barbecue - 10th

The average time it takes for a working holiday maker to arrive in Australia and find a barbecue is roughly 38 seconds, which is how long it takes for the on board barbecue to warm up when your plane crosses into Australian waters.

But when barbecue becomes as ubiquitous to your life in Australia as rain does to your life at home, you need something a bit special to re-inject the charm of the whole thing - sort of like a massive thunderstorm that sets off all the car alarms and leaves people without power for a week.

If you need that lightning bolt, head on out to the Rare Breed Barbecue for some of the nicest food you can fit on a barbie.

 

Australian Grand Prix - 14th to the 17th

The behemoth that is Formula 1 (quite ironically) trundles into town this month in preparation for the big race on the Sunday. Fernando Alonso heads into the Australian Grand Prix at the top of the leader board but will have some pretty angry drivers in his rear view come race day if he's not careful.

 

L'Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival - 18th to the 24th

If you fancy yourself as a stylish smooth, sartorially sentient suave-ster then head on down to the L'Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival and find out what beautiful people really look like and what they're wearing.

They might look ridiculous now, but you'll be buying budget versions of them from Primark before you know it.

 

Melbourne Comedy Festival - from the 27th

The Melbourne Comedy Festival gets under way this month with some of the biggest names in comedy heading Down Under for what is now one of the biggest comedy festivals going.

Old names like Stephen K Amos and Jenny Eclair have new shows but it's the new faces such as Mike Birbiglia and Arj Barker who'll be making the waves this year.

 

The other silhouette is the guy's
mum begging him not to go.

The Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach - from the 27th

And speaking of waves, what's the point in being in Australia without a little surfing? Even if you're too chicken to wade out in the 10m high waves with a ridiculous undertow and loads of sharks looking for a snack, get down to the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach to see some of the bravest and best surfers in the world tear it up.

 

TOMA Tequila Class - 28th

Why you need a class to show you how to drink tequila is a mystery but the TOMA Tequila Class is probably more of just an excuse to drink tequila rather than anything instructional.

 

Brisbane

Quiksilver Pro Surfing Competition - 2nd to the 13th

More surfing, this time off the shores of Queensland. Quiksilver is the first and last name in surfing so hit the beach while you still can and make your own version of the Home and Away opening titles at the Quiksilver Pro Surfing Competition.

 

Brisbane Comedy Festival - until the 24th

March seems to be the funniest month of the year; alongside the Melbourne festival (see above) the Brisbane Comedy Festival comes to town with tons of comedians, both famous and getting going, telling tons of jokes.

 

Perth

Sets on the Beach - 17th

Australians know that summer is coming to an end and is finding any and every excuse to spend every waking moment in the surf. The Sets on the Beach festival is one of the last parties of the summer, and one not to be missed.

 

It's a sculpture, but it's by the
sea
right, it's not that difficult.

Sculpture by the Sea - 8th to the 25th

Anywhere in the world, this festival would just be called 'Sculpture' but the Sculpture by the Sea festival is a great change to see some truly mind bending exhibitions against a back drop no museum in the world can compete: the tide.

 

Adelaide

WOMADelaide - 8th to the 11th

The WOMADelaide Festival (World of Music, Arts & Dance) was started by Genesis founder Peter Gabriel in 1982 and enters its 31st year stronger than ever.

Spread over four days in Adelaide's Botanic Park, the program includes performances from a variety of acts including musicians like Jimmy Cliff as well as plenty of DJs and theatrical shows.

 

Adelaide Fringe Festival - until the 17th

While Melbourne might be where the established acts go to make the big bucks, it's the fringe festivals where new acts go to make their name or die on their arses - and Adelaide Fringe Festival is no different.

You're guaranteed to see either the next big thing in comedy or the blood curdling spectacle of someone asking if 'this mic is on' - yes it is mate, now go home.

 

Adelaide Festival - until the 17th

If comedy isn't quite your bag, remove the fringe aspect and you've got the Adelaide Festival which includes performances from much more than just the guy from HR who thought he'd be funny telling the knock-knock jokes he heard in the pub last night.

The Adelaide Festival includes theatre, music, dance and loads of cinema nights showing classics like 2001: A Space Odyssey.


- Dominic Ladden-Powell is the Online Editor with the Australian Visa Bureau, an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications for a Working Holiday Visa to Australia.

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

Jam Packed Feb Down Under

by Dominic 01/02/2013 15:36:00

February begins the Chinese year
of the snake, (even though this is
probably a dragon).

Firstly, Visa Bureau and STA Travel's flight competition is still on, book your flights to Australia from STA Travel before 31 March and you could win the cost of your flight back, up to £1000!

Summer in Australia is so hot that there doesn't really need to be all that much going on, you can just sit on the beach, in the garden, on a bench, next to your fridge or just on a bus and enjoy enough sunshine that you don't really have to do anything.

However, February is here now and even though it's still hot, your face won't melt if you venture out in the afternoon. And as it cools down to a manageable 30 or so degrees, that means everyone can come out to play again and there is a LOT on this month:

Chinese New Year - nationwide

First off, Chinese New Year - also known as the Spring Festival - takes place this month. That means that wherever Chinese influence can be found, you'll find celebrations this month. Pretty much every major Australian city has its own Chinatown so head down there at some point this month to see dragon parades, a myriad of food stalls and Chinese lanterns endangering some local birds' lives.

Sydney

I like cleanin' win-ders

The Roaring 20s and All That Jazz Festival - until the 24th

The popularity of Boardwalk Empire has led to a resurgence in the roaring, prohibition, art-deco gothic style of the 20s. Where Gatsby fooled us all and people tap danced to work in full coat and tails. If this sort of melodrama excites you and you'd like a chance to try and talk as fast and accusatory as possible, the Roaring 20s and All That Jazz Festival takes place between the 2nd and the 24th of the month at a variety of venues across the city.

Cupid's Undie Run - 10th

I think we've done pretty well to get this far into a blog about February without mention Valentine's Day so far. Oh well. If you're lucky enough to have another soul to cling to this Valentine's Day then why not get down to Darling Harbour and rub your 'happiness' in everyone's faces? Alternatively, why not mask your terrible loneliness and fears about slipping in the shower (only to be found as a half decayed, naked corpse a few weeks later when the neighbours complain about the smell) by also heading down to the harbour and getting involve in Cupid's Undie Run.

Given it's hot enough to be in your fruit of the looms anyway, why not celebrate the weekend by jogging around the harbour in them for charity? Who knows, you might just meet somebody! Or, if you're already a couple, you might just meet somebody better!

AGWA Yacht Club - 23rd

What's the point in Sydney Harbour if you can't have a giant party right in the middle of it? Sitting on blankets around the edges is for pensioners. If you want to be in the middle of one of the world's most iconic sites in the world, completely unaware of that fact while you mangle the night away in some booze filled, strobe-lit paradise than the AGWA Yacht Club might just be for you.

Melbourne

This is just what she's wearing to get
there.

Melbourne Latin Summer Festival - 9th

If you can't afford to get to Rio this month for Carnivale, don't panic. The Melbourne Latin Summer Festival makes for a more than good enough substitute and doesn't involve you travelling within feet of some of the most dangerous gangsters in the world's hot tubs. Not only will you have the chance to sample some of the best jerked and salsa'd to be found anywhere. There'll also be lots and lots of young, nubile flesh on display in some very elaborate (but little concealing) feathery outfits.

St Kilda Festival 2013 - until the 10th

One of Australia's best music festivals - and one of the world's best free music festivals - takes place in Melbourne this month. Now over 30 years, the veteran St Kilda Festival doesn't look like slowing down with over 60 acts spread over nine days and all the roads closed on the final Sunday.

Big Screen Gaming - 7th, 14th, 21st and 28th

You may think your 42 inch plasma TV, 7.1 surround sound, PS3 AND Xbox 360 makes you a bit of a playa in the entertainment system game but you might as well be playing on your Tamagotchi compared to the Big Screen Gaming on offer in Federation Sqare this month.

Cypress Hill Melbourne - 28th

If you spend significant parts of your youth under rainy bus stops in the 90s/early 2000s, chances are you had your Cypress Hill phase. Well, the old hip hop group are still going, still insane in the membrane from all those hits from the bong and will be playing Melbourne this month on the side of their appearance at the Soundwave Festival.

Brisbane

Tropfest is now one of the biggest
film festivals around.

Tropfest 2013 - 17th

Tropfest is quite quickly developing a reputation for itself as a name-maker. Now one of the most respected short film festivals in the world, some of the past year's victors have gone on to forge very respectable Hollywood careers after winning prizes at the worldwide festival. Get down there to see some of the names of the future sweat out critics' and repeated screenings of their pride and joy - nothing is good after the 5th viewing.

BrisAsia Festival - 8th to 23rd

Australia heads into the Asian Century with a sneaky advantage over its Western nation partners: it's almost next door. Australia's ties with its Asian cousin will only strengthen as the years go on and Brisbane is getting a jump on it with the BrisAsia Festival. A 16 day festival designed to highlight the burgeoning relationship with plenty of Asian-infused barbecue and games nights to make new friends over.

Brisbane Comedy Festival - from the 26th

If you need a few laughs to get over the grimness that is Valentine's Day alone or you're still caught up in the bubble of love that that delightful pair of socks so romantically conjured, the Brisbane Comedy Festival gets underway this month with tonnes of acts from all over the world ready to come and die on stage for your amusement.

Bleach Festival - from the 16th

What's the point in being in Australia if you can't spend almost every waking moment on the beach? Only returning to the safety of an airconditioned room to apply more Aloe to glowing skin? The Bleach Festival gives you the opportunity to do just that a variety of events - including gigs, pop up shows and exhibitions - taking place across the city.

Perth

Photo: The Color Run

The Color Run 2013 - 17th

We've written of the Color Run before - when it's visited other Australian cities and this month it's Perth's turn. Hundreds of runners, clad in nothing but gleaming white clothes they run around a pre determined track only to be pelted with various brightly coloured powders at various points of the course. Whether you're running for charity or just taking out your anger on humanity with a fistful of purple powder - it's a great day out for all involved.

Fringe World Festival - until the 23rd

Fringe festivals are where artists go to find out whether they're any good or not and at the Fringe World Festival - you get to be the judge. What more could possibly want than the power in your hands to determine whether someone goes home with a smile on their face and lifechanging career ahead of them or with their dreams crushed faced with the prospect of working in a call centre for the rest of their life because they can't explain the four year gap in their CV as anything more than 'mucking around'?

Perth Festival 2013 - from the 8th

Art is a bit of a generic term so the Perth Festival doesn't take any risks. Welcoming dramatists, circus performers, fire jugglers, modern dancers, cellists and filmers and every other type of artist in between the festival offers up one of the most diverse three weeks to be had anywhere in the world. Some of the highlights include the Chevron Festival Gardens and the Scattered Light exhibtion.

Adelaide

Brazil Film Festival 2013 - 21st to the 24th

Anyone who has seen the masterpiece that is the City of God knows that Brazilian film is rarely to be missed. With a culture and a level of diversity to be found in few other places, the 'average Brazilian film' is as oxymoronic as 'a decent Robbie Williams album'. With the country due to host not only the next World Cup but also the next Olympic Games, Brazil has got plenty to boast about at the minute and the Brazil Film Festival doesn't aim to disappoint.

The Smile Off Your Face - from the 28 Feb

Lastly we have something a little different than usual. The Smile Off Your Face is hard to categorise, it's not really theatre seeing as you're not watching, it's not really an exhibition seeing as you're participating. Whatever it is it has been travelling the world now for a few years and leaving profound reviews and changed people in its wake. Without ruining the surprise, it involves you relenting almost all control to other people and allowing them to find your comfort zone through a variety of means. Check out this review from the Guardian for a little more info.


- Dominic Ladden-Powell is the Online Editor with the Australian Visa Bureau, an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications for a Working Holiday Visa to Australia.

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

Top 10 tips to tackle jet lag

by Dominic 25/01/2013 13:05:00

Flying is awesome, for the first
20 minutes or so.

Firstly, Visa Bureau and STA Travel's flight competition is still on, book your flights to Australia from STA Travel before 31 March and you could win the cost of your flight back, up to £1000!

No matter where you're coming from, Australia is far away - almost as far as you can get, meaning it's going to take you a while to get there. While travelling thousands of miles to literally the other side of the world only adds to the sense of adventure, it also has one large negative: jet lag.

Your working holiday visa allows you to stay in Australia for a year, while this may feel like all the time in the world to adjust to your new surroundings, the reality is your year will fly by and you'll be applying for your second year visa or getting on the plane back to the rain in no time.

Because of this, it'd be great if everyone could jump off the plane, hit the nearest bar/beach/barbecue/koala in the face and feel fine but seeing as most people have travelled from the opposite side of the world to get to Australia, jet lag rears its ugly head and reduces lots of people's first few days to a strange insomnia-riddled world of boredom and frustration until they can adjust.

We at the Visa Bureau have had some experiences with travel (over half our London office are Aussies and Kiwis) so we've asked around the office for everyone's favourite tips to deal with jetlag.

What is jet lag and why do we get it?

Jet lag is our bodies' inability to cope with a sudden change in routine. It usually happens after a long haul flight through several time zones and can affect your sleep patterns, appetite, blood pressure and bowels.

We get it for one simple reason: we aren't supposed to fly. Our body clocks are mechanisms that have carefully evolved over thousands and thousands of years to know that when the sun comes up, you eat your breakfast, when the sun goes down, you go to sleep.

So what happens when you go careening through the air at a million miles per hour to land in a strange place where then sun comes up when you're putting your pyjamas on isn't exactly the most natural of processes.

Thankfully, jet lag isn't known to cause any long term harmful effects and while its effects aren't the most pleasant, there are several things you can do to lessen its effects and get going with your working holiday quicker.

Before you go

 

Sort your jet lag and avoid falling
asleep on the beach or with your
face on a barbecue.

  • Get a start on your new routine: The sooner you adjust to the cycle in Australia the sooner you can start having fun. If you start while you're still at home, it won't come as such a shock to your system.
  • While you don't have to stay up all night and sleep through the day, a shift of around four hours should be enough to dampen the effects.

  • Change your clocks: OK, so this might be more of a psychological trick than anything physical but most people check the time absentmindedly. Having your watch or phone tell you the time in Australia can help ease you into a new time zone.
  • Book your flights to arrive early afternoon (Australian time): Unless you can afford the luxuries of business or first class (in which case you can probably just pay someone to pamper your jet lag away), sleeping on planes isn't easy for most people.
  • Even without the time zone change, plenty arrive off the flight exhausted from hours upon hours in a pressurised cabin of re-circulated air and the first thing you'll want to do is hit the hay.

    However, arriving in the early afternoon allows you to get a good dose of Vitamin D producing sunlight, get to grips with your surroundings and then go to bed at a normal time.

  • Stop over: As above, flying for so long will take its toll. Getting off for a few hours might only prolong the journey but having the chance to get off the plane and walk around for a few hours as well as experience and intermediate time zone will allow you to recover quicker.
On the plane
  • Stay awake: At least on the first leg. Napping will only serve to disrupt your sleep pattern further and any sleep you get on a plane is unlikely to be fitful so while the in flight entertainment might have lost its charm hours ago and the guy next to you might be unbelievably dull, resisting the urge to fall asleep will pay dividends later.
  • Go to sleep: Two conflicting points here but unless your working holiday is your first time on a plane, you probably have some experience with jet lag already, even if you've never been as far before. Strictly a personal choice, but some sleep aids such as Kalms, a face mask or neck cushion might let you get over the gap in your cycle.
  • Drink plenty of water: It's not just sleep that jetlag affects; it can throw plenty of your body's vital systems out of whack. The most important is your hydration levels. Allowing yourself to become dehydrated will only make you more tired and worsen the effects of jet lag.
  • Drink plenty of water on a regular basis; eating properly will help too.

When you arrive
  • Get outside: The first thing you should do is get some fresh air - if it's light, even better. Natural light will do wonders for your body's adjustment while fresh air will help to regulate your systems once more.
  • Exercise: While this might be the last thing on your mind, remember that tiredness isn't the only symptom of jetlag. Being awake in at 3 in the morning because your body clock thinks it is 2 in the afternoon is just as unpleasant.
  • Getting a bit of exercise in the day, even when you're exhausted, will allow you to sleep better come nightfall and let your body recharge itself.

And finally we have the strangest tip in the list:

  • Shine a light at the back of your knee. No, we're not kidding, even though there's no word in the English language for the back of the knee, there are light receptors there that can influence your body clock.
  • Shining a light on the back of your knee can help jar your body clock into a new time zone, don't believe us? Click here for some jargon.

It's still a possibility that you could follow all this and then still suffer from jetlag. The best thing you can do is resist the temptation to sleep when you're tired and force yourself into the new routine.


- Dominic Ladden-Powell is the Online Editor with the Australian Visa Bureau, an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications for a Working Holiday Visa to Australia.

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

Win the cost of your flights to Australia with Visa Bureau and STA Travel - Round 2!

by Dominic 21/01/2013 19:02:00

Book your flights before 31 March and be
in with a chance of winning your money
back!

We at the Visa Bureau and STA Travel have helped literally thousands of people head Down Under for the year or two of their lives. But we stopped and asked ourselves 'what could we do to just tip that year over the line and ensure it's the best year ever?'

  • How about the freedom of not having to pay for your flights?

Following last year's success when we awarded one lucky winner with a full refund of her flights to Australia, we've decided to join forces with STA once more to offer one Working Holiday Visa holder the chance to win the cost of their flights back!

That's right, if you book your flights with STA Travel you could get all of your money back - up to a whopping £1,000!

Kara Lyons, our first winner, said winning the competition would put the shine on an already great trip:

"It now means I can enjoy more of my hard earned dollars on my future travels!" said Kara, who put her extra money to good use: "I never thought I'd be able to jump out of a plane or that I would be even the slightest bit capable of surfing!"

In order to enter the competition - which is only open to Visa Bureau clients - you'll need to complete payment for your flights from STA Travel before 31 March, 2013 - just mention that you're a Visa Bureau client, it's that simple!

To book your flights with STA, you can call 0871 230 8542 or just email visabureau@statravel.co.uk.

While we wish we could offer all our clients the chance to go to Australia for (essentially) free, unfortunately only one can be the lucky winner. However, booking with STA Travel is still a great deal as all Visa Bureau clients are entitled to a £25 discount on flights.

Legal mumbo jumbo (terms and conditions):

  • Bookings must be made as a result of calling 0871 230 8542 or emailing visabureau@statravel.co.uk.
  • Only bookings that have been fully paid and made between 21 January, 2013 and 31 March, 2013 will be entered.
  • One entry per passenger.
  • Only the flight price will be refunded (standard airline fees and other surface products are excluded).
  • Maximum refund value of passenger ticket is £1,000 GBP to the card holder of original payment.

- Dominic Ladden-Powell is the Online Editor with the Australian Visa Bureau, an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications for a Working Holiday Visa to Australia.

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

British granddad wrestles shark on holiday in Australia

by Dominic 21/01/2013 14:41:00

Plenty of people head Down Under for a variety of reasons: the sun, the surf, the beer and the barbecue are just some of the most stereotypical reasons for a holiday in Australia. However, few go to Australia with the intention of coming face to face with a shark.

We've written a few times in the past about the ridiculousness of shark tourism and the insanity of anyone who thinks it'll make for some 'top banter' to jump in the sea with the most finely tuned predators the world has ever seen.

But what are you supposed to do when the sharks come to you?

62-year-old Paul Marshallsea from Merthyr Tydfil in Wales was trying to enjoy a barbecue on the beach (as you do) in Queensland when he heard cries of 'shark' coming from the beach.

It turned out a 2 metre long dusky shark had decided that it fancied a nibble of one of the many children playing in the surf.

Instead of screaming like a girl and running to safety like most sane people would have done, Mr Marshallsea waded out into the surf and WRESTLED the shark:

He should have just legged it 

Dusky sharks can be extremely dangerous to humans - especially when provoked. Grabbing it by the tail and dragging it backwards definitely counts as provocation - especially in a shark's book where breathing too loudly counts as a mortal insult.

"When I got the shark to just over knee deep he turned on me and just missed me with a bite," said Mr Marshallsea who clearly thought the shark might have thought it was a bit of a laugh at first.

"The shark nearly took my leg off in a split second - it was that quick.

"Where this shark actually came ashore, it is shallow for about five or six yards, and a lot of babies and toddlers splash about there - it could have been very nasty.

"My instincts took over and I just grabbed the shark by the tail."

All heroes are crazy 

Despite almost being bitten in half for winding up a monster, Mr Marshallsea isn't even put off by the thought of sharks, cementing the notion that he is actually literally insane(ly awesome).

"I know it was dangerous but it almost looked beautiful," he said, "you have got to have respect for a beautiful animal."

A spokesperson for the Australian coastguard said "we don't recommend manhandling sharks," in the most obvious statement ever, although he did add "but this gentleman did a great job".

This brings us to our last point:

Don't mess with sharks!

If you've got an insane desire to see some sharks, do it in an aquarium or watch Jaws or just put your hand in a blender for a few minutes, it's all the same thing.

If you just can't help yourself from doing insane things, do some that won't get you killed like skydiving or OZ Balling or, if you need to be in the water with some incredibly finely tuned hunters, do it with some who haven't got a taste for man flesh: dolphins.


- Dominic Ladden-Powell is the Online Editor with the Australian Visa Bureau, an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications for a Working Holiday Visa to Australia.

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

What to do on Australia Day

by Dominic 11/01/2013 15:14:00

Australia Day 2012, Christmas, New Year
and your cool, rich mate's birthday rolled
into one.
 

Australia Day is celebrated every year on the 26th of January. A public holiday, the celebration commemorates the arrival of the first 11 ships at Sydney Cove from England in 1788. Today, it presents a great excuse for a booze up, especially if you're Australian, and even more so if you're not.

As the biggest city and site of the First Fleet's landing, Sydney is the main hub of the celebrations but if you won't be in Sydney on the 26th don't worry, there's plenty to do.

Sydney

  • AGWA Yacht Club - what better of enjoying the delights of Sydney Harbour than from a glass boat? Throw in a couple of DJs and a lot of alcohol and you might be lucky enough to not remember any of one of the best nights of your life.
  • Green Beats - If raving to some pretty hard dance music in the sun sounds like your idea then head to Green Beats. Plenty of cheap beer and barbecue are on offer to round off the day too.
  • MS Colour Run - Spending the public holidays is something we're all happy for someone else to do. However, colour runs have become one of the most popular forms of fundraising for a good reason: they're awesome. Whether it's a walk, a gentle jog or a run for your life, getting pelted with a myriad of coloured powder is enough to put a smile on anyone's face. Wear white, and don't expect the stains to come out.
  • Festival of the Voice - A budding tradition, the Festival of the Voice has grown in to six figure audience figures. Get on over to the Rocks to see some of the most famous Aussie musicians, not to mention getting good and boozed up in the process.
Sydney Harbour

Where else better to be than Sydney's most famous location on Sydney's most celebrated day? There is a full program of events taking place throughout the day including boat races, gigs and of course fireworks. Some of the most promising are the Ferrython boat race at 11am and an aerial display from some awesome fighter jets thanks to the RAAF.

All the people in Borat costumes have been
cropped out.

Australia Day Thong Challenge

The thong challenge (not the Sisqó type) is fast becoming an Aussie Day tradition. Thousands of people gather on the nearest beach in every city and try to set a record for the most people in the water on giant inflatable thongs. 

The Havaianas Australia Day Thong Challenges are taking place in Adelaide, Brisbane, Sydney, Perth and Melbourne.

Sisqó type thongs are optional.

Melbourne

  • Big Day Out - One of the biggest, and many would say best, events going on this Australia Day is Melbourne's Big Day Out. With a massive line-up, the names don't stop coming including the Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Killers, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Vampire Weekend, Band of Horses and plenty more. Tickets are still available but for how much longer who knows.
  • Australian Open Screening - If you fancy a bit of sport the Australian Open, one of tennis' big four events, takes place in January with the finals falling conveniently around Australia Day. If you've missed out on tickets, an open air screen will be set up on the banks of the Yarra for both men’s' and women’s' finals.
  • Australia Day at Docklands - Getting over to the river nice and early before the evening tennis starts will allow you to enjoy some of the other attractions on offer including barbecues, boozing, fishing and kite flying.
  • Elvis Costello at Day on the Green - If you like a bit of the silky smooth crooning from one of England's most enduring stars, head on out to Healesville for the Day at the Green.

- Dominic Ladden-Powell is the Online Editor with the Australian Visa Bureau, an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications for a Working Holiday Visa to Australia.

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

Get your tan in Jan - New Year summer events in Australia

by Dominic 02/01/2013 16:30:00

New Year is here, ready for some more?

photo: Hirsty Photography
 

Well, that's the Christmas season done for another year, you've worn your new socks and worn out your fake smile, you've eaten enough sugar and meat fat to dent third world hunger and drank enough alcohol to strip the paint off a 747.

Now what?

Well, if you're in the UK it's back to waking up in the dark, standing in the rain, freezing whatever bits you’ve got off and then going home when it's dark again.

With so much to look forward to, like the prospect of returning to work or forgetting what daylight looks like, it's little wonder this time of the year is the most popular for working holidays in Australia where it's just about reaching the sizzling peak of summer.

If you're Down Under this January, here's some stuff to do.

Chinese New Year - Nationwide - All Month

Chinese New Year doesn't actually fall until 10, February when the Year of the Snake slithers in. However, China is too big and too full to be able to cram all that celebrating into just one night so for almost an entire month before the big day, every Chinatown in every city in the world will be counting down the days.

Pretty much every big city in Australia has a Chinatown so find your closest one and enjoy some of the best food, fireworks and displays to be seen anywhere.

If you've gotten over your hangover from the last New Year that is.

Moonlight Cinema - Nationwide - All Month

With the Oscars just around the corner, all the best films are released this time of year. If you're in the Northern Hemisphere, people are happy to watch Jedward tunelessly frolic across a foam filled bouncy castle if it means getting out of the cold. In Australia however, it better be a damn good film to coax viewers out of the sun and off the sand.

Thankfully, that doesn't have to be the choice this year with the Moonlight Cinema offering a different movie every day, from the classics to the latest blockbusters. Plus, they're pretty much nationwide too.

Southbound - Perth - 4th and 5th

What a better to kick off 2013 than with a music festival? Southbound festival offers punters the chance to get drunk in the sun and listening to some of the biggest names in music like The Hives, Hot Chip and The Vaccines.

Not though are you. 

Surf n' Ink - Queensland - 11th to the 13th

Tattoos are quite a particular interest - rarely do you find people with one or two who aren't planning to cake themselves in any more. More than likely you'll find tattoo fans plastered head to toe with skulls, pirates, tribal markings and thousands of other varieties.

While tattoos might be a niche, surfing - particularly in Australia - is not.

So if you're not a fan of tattoos, head on down to Miami, Queensland for the Surf n' Ink Tattoo festival anyway to ooh and aah at some of the best surfers carving the waves to pieces and some of the best tattoo artists carving some people's bodies to pieces.

Splash Adelaide - Adelaide - All Month

Splash Adelaide is an almost four month long festival dedicated to lighting up the city with the best in music, food and just general frivolity. With so much going on throughout the festival it's impossible to cover everything, but if you're in South Australia this month, you definitely won't be stuck for things to do.

Beers, blondes and...other things
beginning with B.

Beer o'clock - Adelaide - 18th and 19th

After spending New Year in Australia just the mention of alcohol might be enough to make you gag but don't worry, that'll pass, and even if it doesn't, what better than hair o' the dog?

The Schutzenfest German Festival is one of the oldest (it was first celebrated in 1865 - that's nearly as old as your mum) and best German booze festivals in the world, get down there to see some buxom wenches in traditional German gear serve up some of the finest ales in a land usually reserved for Fosters and Castlemaine XXXX.

Big Day Out - Sydney, Gold Coast, Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth - 18th to the 28th

Big Day Out has become one of the biggest names in the festival calendar in recent years, and with stop overs in five Australian cities this month, you should really need a decent excuse to miss this one.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Killers, Band of Horses, Vampire Weekend and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are just some of the names appearing at this year's festival; best get that doctor's note ready if you can't make it.

Sydney Festival

Melbourne has its effortless cool, Perth its polished new money smell and Queensland its natural beauty but its Sydney where the real party is, and always has been, at.

If you're in Aus' biggest city this January, ask yourself whether you can really afford to miss the Sydney Festival?

On for three weeks until the 27th, tens of thousands will gather for gigs, shows, exhibitions and parties across the city.

There aren't many things we write about that genuinely aren't to be missed, don't disappoint us now.


- Dominic Ladden-Powell is the Online Editor with the Australian Visa Bureau, an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications for a Working Holiday Visa to Australia.

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

New Year's Eve in Australia

by Dominic 14/12/2012 00:01:00

No where else does NYE quite like
Australia.
 

New Years Eve is THE party night of the year and if it's good enough, of two years. If you're in Australia for NYE chances are you won't be doing your usual Auld Lang Syne hand in hand with your nan while you think of all the things you didn't manage to accomplish in the past year.

In 2012, you made it to Australia! That alone is worth celebrating, let's see what's on where:

Sydney

  • ShoreThing - What else could be better than welcoming in the New Year loaded up with alcohol on the best beach in the world?
    Tickets: AU$138 - Direct tickets link
  • Pacha Sydney - A more subdued affair, that lasts 10 hours and has 10 bars, and four floors, and lots of LEDs, and music, and people.
    Tickets: AU$99
  • NYE On The Harbour 2012 at Cargo Bar - NYE in Sydney is all about the Harbour and the fireworks. Cargo Bar's prime location on the waterfront makes it one of the hottest tickets around.
    Tickets: AU$99
  • Delight NYE at Bradleys Head - Another great view of the Harbour can be had from Bradleys Head within the Sydney Harbour National Park. This one is a family friendly event though so view vs debauchery here.
    Tickets: AU$50
  • Hedkandi, Bungalow 8 & theloft ‐  Combine the Harbour view with the hard party (almost rhymed).
    Tickets: AU$89
  • NYE2012 @ Taronga Zoo - Another family friendly event but one to remember for sure, ring in the New Year alongside the lions and tigers of the zoo at night. A great harbour view too!
    Tickets: AU$165 

Perth

  • Insert to Play - Fully fledged music festival to see in the New Year on the West Coast with masive names like 360, Drapht, Urthboy and Ladyhawke.
    Tickets: AU$104
  • Sail Away at the George - Very classy affair that looks set to get very messy indeed come midnight.
    Tickets: AU$130
  • NYE on the Foreshore - Sydney may have the harbour but Perth's beaches and waterside views can compete with any.
    Tickets: $70
  • Rumble in the Jungle at Wolf Lane - Jungle themed party where best costume wins a prize!
    Tickets: AU$15
  • The Aviary Rooftop Party - Get your whites on for the rooftop party of the year.
    Tickets: AU$150 

Melbourne

  • Fireworks at Federation Square - Fireworks display in the heart of Australia's coolest city.
    Tickets: Free 
  • Rubiks Cube Party - Prizes for the best dressed!
    Tickets: AU$20 (pre-sale) 
  • Pyramid Rock Festival - 29th to the 31st. Festivals are an excuse to get drunk, mixed with NYE and you've got a recipe for chaos. Top bands on offer at the Pyramid Festival including Friendly Fires, Beni and 360.
    Tickets: AU$314 (three day pass including camping and booking fee) 

Brisbane

Adelaide

  • NYE Latino Carnival - Spice up the start of 2013 with a carni-val-ay! Look out for the giant pinata loaded with goodies.
    Tickets: AU$24.30 to $29.40
  • 90's Incredibles Extravaganza! - Will anyone ever get bored of partying like it's 1999? Not unless you plan to reach 2999!
    Tickets: AU$25 in advance, $35 on the door
  • Carte Blanche Masquerade - Is there anything at all more suave, sexy and sophisticated than a masquerade ball? In the world? No, get down there and bring the tone down then!
    Tickets: Free entry
  • Summadayze - What do you do when one of the best festivals of the year happens to coincide with the best party night of the year? Get in there and go wild, obviously.
    Tickets: AU$135

Elsewhere

  • Stay at Base Full Moon Party - Base Magnetic Island - Thailand might have made the Full Moon Party famous but our own friends over at Stay At Base are living up to the competition, especially when it coincides with NYE. Get your tickets booked and get your free night's with your Platinum Card membership!
    Tickets: AU$85
  • Falls Festival - Another great festival held in Marion Bay from the 29th to the 1st. Acts include Coolio, Jaguar Skills and The Hives.
    Tickets: AU$226

- Dominic Ladden-Powell is the Online Editor with the Australian Visa Bureau, an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications for a Working Holiday Visa to Australia.

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

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