June events - Stuff to do in the frozen Australian tundra

by Dominic 04/06/2013 02:00:00
sand snowman

Australia in the darkest depths of

As Australia plunges into the darkest depths of winter and Australians, visitors and working holiday makers alike have to make do with a sultry 14 hours of sunlight a day, back in the UK we're tipping the rainwater out of our barbecues and baring the 15 degree weather with bare legs and open toed sandals.

So as the coldest spring in Europe draws to an end and the coldest summer ever to be gets set to roll in, the lovely, balmy Australian winter continues to set scenes for peaceful walks on beaches and alcohol fuelled nights of debauchery without the threat of hypothermia. 

Let's have a look of some ways of keeping warm in the bitter Australian winter:



Sir David Attenborough: A Life on Earth

Everyone's favourite granddad returns to Australia in June for a series of talks. Attenborough could literally talk about the fascinating ways paint dries and it would be enthralling, but throw the world's most famous naturalist in with the world's most diverse, dangerous and deadly flora and fauna and Sir David Attenborough: A Life on Earth becomes truly unmissable.

Sir David will be conducting two speeches in Sydney on the 19th and 20th followed by Melbourne on the 21st and 22nd.

Supanova Pop Culture Expo

Several members of the Planet
Express crew will be at the expo.

Pop culture is as relevant to a generation as music yet it's a shame that the vast majority of pop culture gets bundled in with pop music - which rarely stands the test of time. However, much of pop culture goes on to define childhoods and teenage years, creating a sense of nostalgia in later years much stronger than music or movies.

So, if you fancy taking a stroll down a recent memory lane to the toons of your teens and the toys of your tweens, the Supanova Pop Culture Expo will be in Sydney between the 21st and 23rd before moving on to Perth on the 28th.

Chris Tucker

Chris Tucker may have found his worldwide fame making high pitched performances in big budget ridiculous-fests like the Rush Hour films and Fifth Element but after a charming turn in the Oscar-winning Silver Linings Playbook, his star is once again on the rise and Tucker has taken the chance to return to his first love: stand-up.

Following in the footsteps of fellow comedian-turned-actor Tracy Morgan in bringing his show Down Under (although hopefully with much more successful consequences), Chris Tucker will be performing shows in Brisbane on the 13th and 14th before moving to Perth on the 21st.


Sydney events

Vivid Sydney - until the 10th

Vivid enough?

Vivid Sydney has become a genuine global event, held every winter in Australia, the country's most famous city's iconic skyline is digitally converted into a myriad of colour thanks to the modern marvel of a couple of fancy lasers.

The sails of the Opera House are an obvious target for the festival's biggest canvas and the Opera House predictably is the centre of attention as the sails are manipulated into dozens of different designs.

Sydney Film Festival 2013 - 5th to the 16th

It seems like two dudes with a widescreen TV and a couple of Blu-Rays of Fraggle Rock are enough to start a film festival these days but the Sydney Film Festival is one of the original and best.

Celebrating its 60th year in 2013, the Sydney Film Festival will be screening over 250 films, including 12 vying to be crowned in the Official Competition, an award that is accompanied by sixty thousand big ones.

Terminal Projekt 2 - 9th

Terminal Projekt is back again during Vivid to melt minds and mash imaginations as the kaleidoscopic lasers of Vivid are combined with the dance-pop reworkings of Tensnake at the Overseas Passenger Terminal in Sydney.



The Light in Winter - all month

Seeing as Australians allow the British to call a few months of slightly warmer drizzle summer, it seems only fair that we allow them to call a few months of slightly cooler sun winter, how fair that is is upto you but the Light in Winter festival will attempt to spread a wintry feel across the city's Fed Square in June.

With art installations, musical performances and lots of chill-inspiring motifs on display, you'll be convinced you're at home in the cold - until you look down and realise you're wearing sandals.

Burlesque and Swing - 7th to the 10th

Try not to act too much like
a phoney.

With The Greaty Gatsby - directed by Australia's own Baz Lurhmann - fresh in the cinemas, the style and glamour of the Jazz Age is about to be back in a big way. Get your jitterbug on down at the Melbourne Swing Festival or, if you prefer your 1920s a little more Holden Caulfield-esque, the Australia Burlesque Festival, nipple tassles and all, rolls into town on the same weekend. 

Carnivores' Ball - 21st to the 22nd

Australians and barbecues are as cliche as the English and tea or the French and snails but despite Australia's famed prowess at grilling dead stuff on coals, they're still outdone by one nationality: the Americans.

However, Australian Burger Mary (she didn't enjoy high school) has been made an honorary Texan thanks to her own skills at the griddle and they'll be on show for two days of artery clogging bliss at the Carnivores' Ball.



Slava's Snowshow - 26th to the 30th

Clowns aren't really funny, that's been established for so long now no one even has to point it out anymore (see what I did there?). While that might have put an industry of birthday party performers out of business forever, one man has taken it in his stride and defied the world (and their childhood nightmares) with his own show.

Slava's Snowshow, taken from the Russian's appearance in the Cirque Du Soleil, is an award winning adventure of magic and emotion (or something less cheesy and much cooler).



Glitter, Garters and Tease - 29th

If you were getting all hot under the collar at the thought of some booming Burlesque action in Melbourne a little further up in the article but can't quite make it don't worry as the Glitter, Garters and Tease promises all that and more.

Coolio - 29th

He might have only had one song (quick, name another) but unlike most other one hit wonders, Gangsta's Paradise has stood the test of time and legions of kids who had never even seen Michelle Pfeiffer take them kids on that rollercoaster know every single word to the song. Coolio might have had a bit of a varied career since, even venturing into the culinary world for a time, but his original hit is still his calling card and rightly deserves its place up there with the very best in the hiphop genre.

All together now, "As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I take a look at my life...."

- 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.

Australian farmers call for wage increase

by Dominic 25/05/2013 02:00:00

Fruit picking in Australia

The National Farmers' Federation
are pushing for a wage bump for
farm workers.

Completing your regional work requirement in order to obtain your second year visa is never going to be the most fun part of your working holiday in Australia, usually finishing somewhere between getting sunburnt and skydiving. However, it should be one of the most straightforward parts at least but that rarely is the case given the competition for places and pressures on farmers.

Yet that could be about to change as the National Farmers' Federation has called for the national minimum wage level to be increased in order to attract more workers to agriculture, meaning more farmers will be able to get the workers they need to be profitable and therefore offer more opportunities for workers.

The current situation

The current minimum wage is AU$606.40 (£390.70) a week for a full-time average joe but the National Farmers' Federation (NFF) says an increase of AU$9 (£5.80) a week would attract more entry-level workers to the industry.

The farming industry in Australia struggles with its remote locations - and no one does remote quite like Australia. Combine this with the threat of drought and the occasional suspension of live exports for one political reason or other and farming businesses can struggle to attract the necessary staff members during periods of intense labour such as harvests.

This unfortunately leaves a fair few businesses on the ropes and not in much of a position to offer jobs to backpackers.

The proposal

The NFF put their - few would disagree - humble proposal to Fair Work Australia yesterday and spokesperson Brian Duggan - in true pragmatic farmer fashion - is hoping a compromise can be reached even if the influential council does not completely agree.

"Our principal concern is the commodity prices within agriculture are softening, just like the economy," Mr Duggan said.

"Going by the past practice of the panel, they would probably pick somewhere in the middle [of several proposals]."

The NFF's proposal shouldn't face too much derision after the haughty workers' unions called for a AU$30 a week increase (£19.33) in an effort to put a halt to a decline in living standards and everyone in BMWs.

"We say if the panel is to maintain a fair and relevant safety net, we cannot allow this decline in relative earnings to continue," said a spokesperson for the Australian Council of Trade Unions.

The outcome

The annual National Minimum Wage Order will be released early next month but Jenny Espiner, working holiday visa processing manager at the Australian Visa Bureau, says any minimum wage increase will be great news for backpackers looking to secure their second year visa by completing three months of regional work.

"There aren't many working holiday makers who fancy coming home after just one year in Australia but plenty struggle to find work due to increased competition and the remote location of businesses compared to the cushiness of their Bondi-facing pads," said Ms Espiner.

"An increase in wages will allow more employers to attract workers and remain operational through difficult times, this would undoubtedly trickle down to offer more opportunities for backpackers."

- 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.

Visa Bureau and STA Travel Winner - Jamie Priest!

by Dominic 20/04/2013 03:00:00

Visa Bureau and STA Travel's
lucky winner Jamie Priest!

We at the Visa Bureau teamed up with our friends at STA Travel once more this year to offer one working holiday maker the chance to make their trip truly once in a life time.

All you had to do to enter our competition was to process your Working Holiday Visa with us and book your flights to Australia with STA Travel before the end of March and you were automatically entered into a draw to win back the full cost of your flights - up to £1,000!

Naturally, we had plenty of entries but we could only have one winner: Jamie Priest!

Jamie joins our last winner Kara Lyons as exclusive members of competition winners, scooping a massive £1,000 to put in his travel kitty.

We caught up with Jamie in the middle of his hectic planning before he leaves next week and, after we finally convinced him it wasn't a scam and he really had won, we had a quick chat before he went back to packing.

From entering to winning

Jamie said his luck isn't normally the best so his decision to use the Visa Bureau and STA was based on friends' recommendations rather than the possibility of winning a competition, so naturally it came as a huge surprise.

Visa Bureau and STA were recommended to me by numerous friends and I found the process very straight forward and easy. I'm I used Visa Bureau and STA, they helped me plan my travels and give me advice.

I never thought I stood a chance of winning the competition so I am absolutely over the moon to be the lucky winner - finally I have some luck on my side :)

In this day and age, scams are like rats - you're never more than 10 feet away from them and Jamie first wanted to make sure he hadn't been taken in my news that really was too good to be true.

I was with my parents at the time I received the news congratulating me on my win. They couldn't believe it either!

After a couple of hasty phonecalls and emails though we managed to convince Jamie he really did have an extra £1,000 to spend on his working holiday.

Jamie's working holiday

Jamie's working holiday in Australia isn't his first time travelling but he'd heard so many good things about the land Down Under, that he couldn't resist the chance to go.

I have been travelling once before, about four years ago. I went to Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Bali. It was the thing I've ever done (to date) and I definitely still have the travel bug.

I've never been to Australia before but I have had a few friends go in the past and they had the best time of their live so when my best friend said they wanted to, I thought why not?

Jamie's working holiday is not
his first adventure.

As Jamie is yet to leave, it might be tempting to blow the whole lot on a jewel-encrusted pair of shades or enough cans of Fosters and Marmite to make Harold Bishop sick, but Jamie insists his winnings will be put to good use.

The win means I can do all the thing I have been dreaming of for years. My plans are remaining the same despite the win but it means I can do the diving course I always wanted to do which I wouldn't have been able to afford without this win.

I want to go diving on the Great Barrier Reef. I love being on the sea and I have seen pictures of what you can see diving in Australia. Looks incredible!

But it's not all about what the money can do for Jamie and he has plenty of plans to do more than just spend his money.

I just want to experience things I've never experienced! I want to see the world, meet new people and see different ways of living.

Getting ready to go

With just a few days left before he sets out on the trip of a lifetime, Jamie cannot wait to get away from the excuse of a spring in the UK to the excuse of a winter in Australia:

I'm looking forward to the clear waters in the Great Barrier Reef, and the beautiful beaches! I am trying to avoid the cold winter in Australia as I'm getting away from England due to this :)

I am flying into Melbourne, but doing a road trip over to Queensland! Looks beautiful!

And finally, Jamie has just one tip for all budding travellers.

Take a Lonely Planet book! I used one in Thailand and I would highly recommend them to anyone travelling!

- 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.

Brits top table in best jobs in the world applications

by Dominic 04/04/2013 13:30:00

Tourism Australia's exceptionally popular 'Best Jobs in the World' competition has reportedly been inundated with applications, and none more so from Brits.

It's not hard to see why spending six months as Sydney's chief funster, or Western Australian taste master would appeal to anyone, but the fact that it's still snowing in the UK is an obvious added incentive.

Tourism Australia announced recently that they would be re-launching its Best Jobs in the World campaign, but this time with six jobs:

  • Lifestyle Photographer in Melbourne
  • Outback Adventurer in the Northern Territory
  • Park Ranger in Queensland
  • Taste Master in West Australia
  • Wildlife Caretaker in South Australia
  • Chief Funster in Sydney

Each 'employee' will be given a 6 month contract and paid around £67,000 for their 'troubles'.

To apply, each applicant must submit a short video of themselves explaining which job they want and why they deserve the position. So far Tourism Australia has reportedly received over 300,000 applications, with over 75,000 from the UK alone.

"The huge response to the 'Best Jobs' recruitment drive and the increasing demand for working holiday visas shows that young Brits are looking to live the Aussie lifestyle, swapping the challenging economic environment here for a new adventure Down Under," said Tourism Australia's UK-based manager Rodney Harrex.

- 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.

April in Australia

by Dominic 03/04/2013 02:00:00

These blogs can get harder to write as the year goes on and the UK begins to get a bit tepid, just how we like it. In contrast, Australia drops to a freezing 20 degrees or so, making it hard to draw comparisons about the sun kissed weather beaches Down Under and the miserable, grey rain of Britain.

However, we're not at that point yet with one of the coldest Marches on record drawing to a close juxtaposing nicely with the still gloriously warm and sunny Australian weather.

It might be true that you'll struggle to get a darker tan than 'milky latte' before around September or so in Australia, you'll struggle to get anything more than just plain 'milk' back home. Seriously, there's still snow here, and it's April.

In short, you're not missing much back here so let's have a look at what's going on this month in Oz instead.



Birdy was just 14 when she
gained international fame.

Birdy - Various dates

When Jasmine van den Bogaerde reached number 17 in the British charts in January 2011 with a cover of Bon Iver’s Skinny Love, it came as rather a surprise to find out she hadn’t reached that high herself - she was just 14.

Still only 16, Birdy has since released a debut album and featured on the soundtrack to the blockbuster hit The Hunger Games: a stellar career all but cemented.

Birdy will be touring Australia in the first half of this month, hitting Brisbane (3rd), Perth (6th), Melbourne (8th and 9th), Adelaide (10th) and Sydney (12-14th).


The XX - Various Dates

The XX emerged from nowhere in 2009, blowing everyone away with their Mercury Prize-winning debut album. The soft-spoken trio recently released their second album, Coexist, and will be hitting Australia at the start of the month with gigs in (4th and 5th), Sydney (6th and 7th) and Brisbane (9th).

Plus, if you can’t get enough of the group, the band’s DJ, Jamie XX will be playing a gig on his own in Sydney on the 6th.


Pillow Fight - 6th

This Saturday is International Pillow Fight Day (we didn’t know there was one either) when hundreds and hundreds of people will gather in almost every major city on Earth and have a giant pillow fight, it’s not complicated.

Fights in Australia will be taking place in Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney. It’s free; all you need is a pillow, preferably one not filled with batteries.


Tracy Morgan - Various dates

Tina Fey’s critically acclaimed 30 Rock came to an end this year after 8 polarising seasons. Despite never gaining any real foothold in the TV ratings it won awards by the bucket load. Star of the show and Tina Fey’s fellow Saturday Night Live alumnus Tracy Morgan is using the show’s end to reacquaint himself with his first love: stand up.

The ineffable Morgan will be doing sets in Brisbane (10th), Sydney (11th and 12th), Melbourne (13th - two shows) and Perth (15th and 16th), bringing his own brand of the absurd Down Under.



Art After Hours - all month 

If you like a bit of culture but are wary with what it might do to your hardcore party reputation, try a blend of the two with Art After Hours. Set in one of Sydney’s most prestigious art galleries, you can enter during the evening after the bored, screaming kids have left and enjoy the odd drink while eyeballing some modern day classics.


Game of Thrones has sent plenty
of fans into withdrawal.

Game of Thrones - until the 25th 

If you’ve missed your weekly dose of Westeros over the past few months then don’t despair, the new series is underway but if that isn’t enough, Gastro Park will be hosting its second Game of Thrones feast throughout the month to celebrate.


Gum Ball - 25th to the 27th 

If you’ll be missing your annual Glastonbury trip to the mud on your working holiday, you can get your fix this month. The Gum Ball is first up, set in the Hunter Valley over three days, catch bands like Turin Brakes, Money for Rope and the Hillbilly Killers and top off each night with a silent disco.


Arrested Development Trivia - 4th 

Few TV shows have ever been so great and so ignored as Arrested Development. With a cast which has pretty much all gone on to bigger things – most notably Jason Bateman and Michael Cera – Arrested Development never got 10% of the ratings it deserved.

With a laugh-a-minute ratio unparalleled before or since and characters which have redefined the sitcom, its cancellation has been an outrage since it was announced.

Thankfully, it’s coming back. Whether or not the Netflix series followed by a feature film will be any good remains to be seen but you can get your fix in this week with the Arrested Development Trivia night.



Banned from Ikea for life.

Leap of Faith - Circus in Motion - 4th to the 6th

The circus is in town this week and not just any circus, Circus in Motion is directed by a former Cirque du Soleil artistic director and represents the finest in the modern day art form.

Expect few clowns and lots of flexible women in skin tight clothing swinging from the rafters on some curtains.


Melbourne Latin Festival - 5th to the 7th 

This weekend is the fifth Melbourne Latin Festival and this year's event boasts a specific emphasis in this year’s festival on Arabian Nights, you can't get much more exotic than that.

Dancers from Italy, the Dominican Republic and the US as well as plenty of Kiwis and Aussies will be strutting their stuff in workshops, shows and parties.


Rag Trade - 6th 

Backpacking is many things but elegant and clean it is not. If you’ve been trekking across Australia for more than about half an hour, chances are you could do with a few new threads or at least some more money for beer.

The Rag Trade is a flea market offering you a great opportunity to offload some of the heavier stuff in your bag and pick up the odd gem on the cheap.


Melbourne Comedy Festival - Until the 21st 

The Melbourne Comedy Festival is now one of the biggest comedy festivals in the world and the marathon event comes to a close this month. This means the majority of shows have already been on for weeks and already either bombed or been a runaway success.

Check out the reviews of what’s on offer and either see some of the hottest names in comedy right now or some of the cheapest shows around.


Darbotz: Monster Inside Us - all month 

If you’re a Banksy fan, or were before he became too mainstream for the likes of you, Darbotz, an up and coming graffiti artist from the streets of Indonesia’s capital Jakarta is quickly making a name for himself in the rapidly developing street art scene.

His first show, Darbotz: Monster Inside Us, will be playing at MiFA all month.



You couldn't do this.

Banff Mountain Film Festival - 17th to the 20th

Australia might not be the first place which comes to mind when you think of snow capped mountains and fresh powder but you’d be wrong. With a country as large as Australia, almost every type of terrain and landscape can be found and Oz is no different, and neither is Aussies’ love of winter sports.

The Banff Mountain Film Festival showcases the best films from around the world of people trekking across Antarctica, surviving in the American Rockies, canoeing Kiwi rapids and plenty of other adrenaline fuelled adventures.


Hip Hop Festivals - 28th

Australia’s hip-hop scene might not be that well known outside its own shores but Australia’s love of the genre is no secret and if you’re a rap fan, Brisbane is the place to be this month.

First up, headlining the Movement Festival is one of the greatest MCs of all time: Nas. His 1994 debut Illmatic still ranks as one of the best and most original albums of all time.

Meanwhile, across town on the same day the Supafest gets underway with some of the biggest names in modern music including 50 Cent, Neyo and Akon as well as one of the most respected up and comers in the game, J. Cole.



Yacht Club DJs - 12th

Finding a party is never hard, stand still long enough and eventually you’ll hear the bass. Finding a good party is the hard part.

Fortunately, if you’re in Perth this month, you should be hard pressed to be disappointed when the Yacht Club DJs come to town.

- 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.

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?


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).



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 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.



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.



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
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.



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.


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.


This is just what she's wearing to get

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.


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.


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.


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.

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