We are a bit over due for an update, but there is no time like the present. We left off at the completion of our 5-month, 4,300-mile bike trip across the United States in November and we are writing now from an island in Australia.
We had planned to spend the holiday season back home in the Midwest with our family, and that is exactly what we did. While we were home we were shocked that everyone we visited with had the exact same question for us, actually, it was the first thing out of everyone’s mouth! “What are you guys going to do next?” Well, you’d think we have a good answer to that after having quite some time to think about it, but we didn’t :-/
We had all kinds of ideas, none that were remotely similar to one another, some ideas that included the bikes, some that didn’t. We knew the right decision had to feel right, and the fact that we weren’t jumping to buy plane tickets to any of these destinations helped us recognize that they weren’t the right choices for right now. Then something happened that shocked both of us, a really great friend of ours had been suggesting that we go to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa for a long time and we both disregarded the idea, but this most recent push from our friend had us both asking each other “Why not? It would be perfect.”
Before I go any further it might be fair to explain a little about an Australian Working Holiday Visa. There is a visa available to citizens of several countries that are between the ages of 18-30, and the primary function of the visa is truly to encourage intercultural experiences for young adults. The visa enables an individual to work in Australia for 12 months beginning the day they enter the country, but not at one place of employment for more than 6 months. The visa just gives you the ability to work in Australia, finding a job is completely up to you.
We decided if we were ever going to do it, now is the time. Brock will be 31 in July and you must be 30 when applying for the visa so this would be our only opportunity to do something this cool. We applied for the visa which was, surprisingly, simple and straight-forward. The entire application process can be done online and then you receive the visa electronically, it does not have to be officially on your passport.
We will be completely upfront in saying that we decided to pursue work in Australia primarily to make and save money. The cost of living is very high here, but so is the minimum wage. We figured if we could manage a way to escape the high cost of living yet earn an Australian paycheck we would be set. Conveniently for us there are several, beautiful, tropical islands off of the west coast of Australia with hotels and resorts that require staff to live on-site because of the remote locations. (Avoid spending money!!). We immediately began applying to jobs in these areas and were very, very fortunate to find something quickly. We were both offered jobs at the same resort starting January 9!! Yikes that was soon!!
So when we found out we had been offered the jobs we had exactly 9 days to buy plane tickets and prepare to leave permanently. We were fortunate that we had already begun selling the remaining “big” items like our pop-up camper, one car, the sectional couch, our (gorgeous) bedroom set and two old bikes we no longer needed. We managed to sell our second car just before we left-couldn’t have worked out better if I had planned it personally. We were also fortunate that even though we booked our tickets only 5 days before flying that they weren’t much more expensive than the airfare we had seen when we looked a month earlier. (Still the most expensive airfare I’ve booked to date…)
The journey down here was a bit ridiculous, we left Chicago at 630pm Saturday and arrived in Brisbane 230pm Monday. All three planes were on time, some of the best movie selection ever and even though Quantas lost Brock’s luggage they gave us $100 for the trouble and the bag showed up the next day anyway.
We have been living and working on Moreton Island at Tangalooma Island Resort for two weeks now and so far it is working out well. We are both working in the housekeeping department and live in a cute little room about 200 yards from the beach. We pay room and board which includes three meals a day and our room with its own bathroom and balcony. It is perfect for us so far. Our only real complaint is that the resort has no gym or wifi so we have had to buy Internet service from an Australian company and we are getting creative with exercising. Other than that we are working as much as possible and looking forward to exploring this tropical island. Did I mention that 98% of this island is National Park? Yep, that is A-mazing. We pretty much live in a national park!!!