It’s little bit over 9 when I leave plane and make my first step on Australian ground. Still feeling a bit cold after intense AC in the aircraft but with my head up I’m marching towards Immigration Desks.
First time in Australia?
Good luck then! – Immigration Officer smiles to me as she handles my passport. I take it, I grab my backpack and I’m free to go. Let the adventure begins!
Hold on, I have one more! – I hear when buying shuttle ticket to my hostel. – Okay, you are good to go, sweetie – says cashier while handling me tittle piece of paper with my name on it.
As I walk towards the exit, where little bus is already waiting for me, I couldn’t help but take a peak of how this time my name got spelled. As I look at it, I smile, thinking whether a foreign person has ever written my name correctly. The smart ones usually ask me if ‘Katrina’ or ‘Kate’ will do, but the rest create funny variations of my original name (Katarzyna). This time my ticket was issued on KARTAZINA. Not bad, not bad.
After short walk I reach little shuttle that is about to drive me to Gilligans. The driver takes my backpack and tires to place it on the trailer; he looks like Crocodile Dundee in his hat and sleeveless vest, or maybe it’s just my imagination because I’m in Australia. AUSTRALIA!! Can’t believe it!
My contemplations got interrupted by Crocodile’s strong voice saying:
Let’s go… (looking at my ticket) Kartazina!
So off we go. Despite tiredness I find energy to admire green hills and even notice little writing “Sunshine State” on cars licence plates. Even thou I just arrived, I feel like I’m home.
Till the point when I remind myself about all these spiders and snakes and, just in case, I move a bit further away from the crack between my seat and the window (in my imagination I see hairy spider coming out, planning on killing me… grrr…).
Ride to hostel didn’t take much time. After 15 min I was already at Gilligans but my guesses came out true and check-in was available since 2 pm. I looked at the watch and it turned out I have 3.5 hours to kill. Figured I’ll catch wifi and inform my dearest friends I arrived to Australia in once piece. While connecting with my hostel’s net I received notification that an authorisation code is required.
I went back to check-in desk and asked for it and what I heard back wasn’t something I expected:
It’s gonna be 2$ for 24 hours.
Not that it’s expensive or something, I just don’t recall when was the last time I was asked to pay extra for the internet in the place where I was staying at. Anyway, I paid, got my code and went off to enjoy uninterrupted internet for another 48 hours.
Not sure if such term in Australia even exist. Maybe I got spoiled back in Europe with fast Internet but here is totally different story. Websites either load extremely slow, or don’t load at all, or simply give up half way.
Nevertheless, I managed to reach Monika and we established we’ll meet in an hour. Great. I jumped in my shorts, left my backpack in language room and went out to snack something.
Together with Monika we applied for our W&H visas one year ago. I still remember the feeling of excitement, how much we wanted it to work out (we and hundreds of other people), plans we were making and how it all changed at the end because I fell in love.
While talking about how our lives looked like for past months & chilling by the poolside, my room is ready for me to check in.
Finally, after 48h I was able to take a shower and sleep in a bed.
I thought I’ll have around 4 hours of sleep but it turned out my roomies came back earlier from their excursions. I share a room with 2 friends from UK and 2 other girls from Ireland. All of them are here on the same visa I am. Irish girls are traveling around AU cause they already finished working but two others are about to start their first job in Outback.
We had friendly conversation about Australia, our expectations, plans for after-Australia and so on. I was curious how getting W&H visa looks like in their countries so I asked.
It took us about 40 min and already got our visas.
I told them how the entire process looks like in Poland after which they whispered:
In the evening I met Monika and 4 more people from our Australian group from last year. We decided to celebrate our reunion with food and drinks from McDonald’s by the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon. It started to rain (seriously, Australia?!) so we hide under the roof, by the poolside.
My first night and I already got big dose of negative energy.
Why did you come here? There’s nothing to do! No job, no possibilities, so boring. You shouldn’t have came here, it’s big waste of time and money… and so on and so on.
Usually I don’t care what people say but somehow, this time it was different. What if they are right? It can’t be that 4 people couldn’t find a job for few weeks. Anyway, I’ll see how it goes and then decide.
With this grumpy mood, wondering if I made a good decision by coming here, I went to sleep.
Sleeping off my jet lag.
Woke up after 12 hours of decent sleep, ready to rock Australian ground. I made a list of what I have to do today:
- Buy a sim card
- Open bank account
- Get my TFN (tax file number)
- Update my CV
- Find job agency
But above it all: EAT!
Last night chicken nuggets were long gone from my stomach and I couldn’t lead it on with water anymore. It was breakfast time, my favourite meal of the day (because I can eat a lot and don’t feel guilty about it, yey!).
Before I decide what I wanna eat, I found mobile phone provider – Telstra so I figured I’ll give it a try. Went there, got new phone number and left… still trying to understand how exactly my internet data works. So, this is what I was told: I have 6GB mobile internet to use, but I can use 3GB during the daytime (8am-8pm) for the whole month and also 3GB from 8pm to 8am. I don’t know what kind of logic is that but I’m not really in the position to be picky. I was also instructed to wait 4 hours for activating text and then top up my balance.
On the way out from the city mall, I stumbled upon supermarket. Curious what interesting I can find in supermarkets on this side of the world I decided to take a look. Honestly? Nothing as different as I expected. I noticed Australian cookies – TimTam’s – I’ve heard about before and grabbed a package before I managed to change my mind. I also took wholegrain buns and raspberry jam (hoho, so fancy) and with my bag full of goods I went to deal with bank account.
Btw. TimTams are totally worth the sin!
Getting Australian phone number and trying TimTams – checked!
Opening bank account was just like opening bank account in any other countries. As I’ve had experience in this area it went rather smoothly. Rather, because while being in a process, it turned out I have to deliver my tax numbers from some other countries I had worked in. This got me out of balance for short while but I managed to gather everything I needed.
Opening bank account – checked!
Once I came back to hostel and stuffed myself with bun with jam I applied for TFN. It took me not more than 2 min so I’m extremely happy to cross one more thing of my ‘to do’ list.
Taking the opportunity of not-so-terrible internet at that moment, I updated my CV, including my current Australian phone number. I also decided to take a walk to one of job agencies because I really wanted to find a job ASAP. I left my resume at Happy Travel (that is also a travel agency) and relieved that I had pretty productive today, came back to Gilligans to chill.
Still no sign of Telstra’s activation text.
Paweł and I are leaving Cairns tomorrow – said Monika.
I didn’t even managed to digest this information properly when Justyna and Bartek announced that they are leaving too. The day after tomorrow.
Wait. What is happening?! Does this mean I’ll be here by my self?
We sat down, ordered Corona and backpackers food for 5$ (tasteless rice with tasteless sauce and veggies) and made a toast (with beers, not rice) to wish everyone luck. Then we hugged a snake and Australian Dragon, played round of pool and wished goodnight to Justyna and Bartek.
The rest of us decided to have goodbye walk around Cairns City Centre, which meant going to Esplanade again. We bought some snacks on the way and sat down in the same place as the night before. Didn’t manage to talk to much as a group of hippie people joined us without a question.They seemed to be very excited for using the word ‘noodles’ but when asked why they are repeating it so much, they said:
Because who doesn’t like noodles?
Fact. So we were hanging out with Noodles – our new friends who were telling stories about the lifestyle they have: no worries, living in a van, chasing one music festival after another. They don’t care where they will end up the next day, simply enjoying their life with no fixed plan and no shower. Meanwhile someone started to play ukulele; someone said goodbye, someone joined our group. At some point we met another friend of Noodles who came holding hands with Aboriginal woman who introduced herself as Lulu.
Unfortunately we were not able to have longer conversation with her because she was teethes in strategic parts which made her speech (and accent) not possible for us to understand.
We were sitting like this: group of liberated hippies, 3 Poles who were not sure what exactly is going on, and Lulu.
After 30 min Noodles said goodbye wishing us safe travels and left us alone. With Lulu. When we asked why she’s not going with them she said:
I just met them.
Then she pointed at snack’s leftovers asking if she can try and after our positive answer she grabbed last TimTam, coconut chips and say:
Noodles are gone, Lulu is gone, it’s time for us as well. Monika and Paweł have hitchhiking adventure in just few hours and I have long time of job searching ahead of me.
We said goodbye next to my hostel and promised we will meet somewhere on Australian ground some time later.
After nearly 24 hours I finally receive activation text and I’m ready to use my daytime 3GB of data. About time!
While I was working on this post some things has changed; my friends, indeed, left and they are half way to Brisbane at the moment and I’m moving to Sydney in just 4 days.
Tomorrow I’m going on an excursion to rainforest and Monday I’ll do scuba diving on Great Barrier Reef.
Keep your fingers crossed!