A year in Australia: the example of Arnaud

Today let’s talk about spending a year in Australia! It was the dream of Arnaud, one of the best friends of JE. And he realized that dream! He left everything and took a one-way flight to Australia! How amazing is that? I’m sure you are dreaming to do the same thing! (Personally, we totally are!) If, yes, this post is for you! Arnaud is answering all the questions you have in mind! Read on! 😉

Tell us a little about yourself

I am a friendly and positive 25 years-old guy, trying to find the best part of anything. Socializing and traveling are really important to me. I am always keen on hanging out with friends and learning new things from people!

Why did you want to spend a year in Australia?

I was about to be graduated from an engineering school but after so many years spent to study, I had no idea which career path to choose and I felt like I wasn’t ready to start working life. Things were happening to fast for me! That’s why I decided to take a break and travel abroad as I have always dreamed. It quickly became apparent that Australia was the best choice for me. First, it is an English-speaking country where I could improve my language skills. Then, it is a famous destination for backpackers where it is easy to get a job. And finally, I can tell you that landscapes and weather in Australia are just amazing!

Have you left for Australia solo or with friends?

I decided to travel alone to Australia. In that way, I would have no other choice to speak English and make efforts in meeting people. But to be honest, I was completely frightened to leave France alone. Because you lose all your points of reference and there is no one with you to deal with issues all along the trip. I think you experience differently on a trip if you are solo or with friends. Of course, there are benefits and disadvantages to both traveling modes!

To all those who are hesitating to travel alone, don’t be! You would be surprised how easy it is to meet people, especially in the youth hostel. Even if you are a bit shy, you would have no other choice to speak with people. I was surprised by the number of backpackers traveling alone like me. It would be a shame if you deprive yourself from traveling because no one can leave with you!

Organization of the trip

How have you organized the trip? By yourself or with an agency?

First, to plan my year in Australia, I looked for a travel agency specialized in “Au Pair” program. I found a bunch of them proposing really attractive programs in which everything is handled: they apply for your Working Holiday Visa. Also, they find you a host family, book your plane return ticket and organize events with other Au Pair. If things are not happening well with your host family, the agency has to propose a replacement in an other family. But, I gave up quickly on this option because the cost was too high. I didn’t want to spend this amount of money and I didn’t have it either way 

Then, I decided to plan my trip on my own. I found a free web site that is called AuPairWorld. You can post there your profile as Au Pair and match with a host family. Hopefully, I had a great opportunity to live in Australia. I matched with a lovely Australian family looking for a male Au Pair in Perth. After several exchanges, we arranged my arrival. It’s not really easy to find a host family when you are a man because a lot of prejudices are present regarding the ability of men to take care of children or doing the housekeeping. I only met two guys working as Au Pair in Perth.

Why did you choose Australia?

As I explained previously, I was looking for an English-speaking country to improve my language skills and I was quite attracted to Australia. Everyone has already watched a documentary on Australia talking about its landscapes, its aboriginal history, its biodiversity, … I wanted to discover it!

What budget to plan to spend one year in Australia?

Before leaving France, I worked for almost one month in a temporary employment agency with a friend. I earned enough money to buy my one-way ticket. After that, I was completely self-sufficient during my year in Australia with my weekly wages as an « au pair » or farmer. I didn’t spend money on my French savings account. That’s why I can’t really provide any precise information about the budget. I would say, you need a budget of around 8.000-10.000 euros for a year in Australia. Australia is quite an expensive country.

Arnaud experience

What was your itinerary during this year in Australia?

First trip Rotness island to Esperance

I settled for 5 months in Perth and worked as Au Pair in a lovely family. I traveled all around Perth during my days off. Here, they are the main locations of my itinerary :

Rottnest Island: If you are in Perth, you can’t miss this destination. It’s just 18km from the Perth coast and you won’t regret it. You will meet charming Quokkas (google it ) and discover stunning wildlife.

Wave Rock – Hyden: It is a popular tourist destination where you can see a 110-meter long granite cliff shaped like a huge wave.

Margaret River Region: South West Coast area, well-known for its winery, chocolate, and cheese! It’s a veritable paradise for French people.

Albany Denmark

Esperance: It is a spot of magnificent beauty with a large area of white sand and clear water beaches.

Second trip Perth to Broome

After my Au Pair experience, I traveled by bus from Perth to Broome for 1 month to visit the most popular spots of the North West Coast.

Pinnacles desert – Jurien Bay – Lancelin 

Kalbarri: Kalbarri is a resort town at the mouth of the Murchison River, on Western Australia’s coast. It’s well known for its seaside cliffs, estuary beach, and wild pelicans

Monkey Mia: a famous spot where you can meet dolphins and baby sharks

Coral Bay: sea resort where you can explore the barrier reef

Exmouth: Exmouth is a port town, civil parish, and seaside resort, sited on the east bank of the mouth of the River Exe and 11 miles southeast of Exeter.

Broome: Broome is a beach resort town in western Australia’s Kimberley region

Third trip From Adelaïde to Melbourne

It was essentially for farm work. My itinerary was the following :

Adelaïde: I did plenty of little jobs but not profitable enough. I was running out of money that’s why I moved to Mildura.

Mildura: I worked in wineries and lived in a youth hostel for 2 months.

Boort: I worked on an olive farm and lived on camping for 2 months.

Melbourne: I have visited the city and I have done a road trip on the Great Ocean road

(The Twelve Apostles)

Fourth trip from Cairns to Sydney

This one was my last road trip during this year in Australia, from Cairns to Sydney. I booked a bus ticket (Hop On Hop Off Travel Pass) at the website greyhound.com.au. This pass gave me the flexibility to travel in the country. When you purchase the pass, you buy like a credit of days and you can choose the cities you want to visit and the time you want to spend on each of them. My itinerary was the following :

Cairns: is considered the gateway to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, is a city in tropical Far North Queensland

Airlie Beach/ Whitsundays The 74 Whitsunday Islands lie between the northeast coast of Queensland, Australia, and the Great Barrier Reef, a massive stretch of coral teeming with marine life

Rainbow Beach/ Fraser Island Rainbow Beach is a coastal rural town and locality in the Gympie Region, Queensland.

Noosa Heads is a coastal town and suburb of the Shire of Noosa on the Sunshine Coast

Brisbane is the capital of Queensland, is a large city on the Brisbane River

Surfer Paradise is known for its high-rise skyline and Surfers Paradise Beach, which hosts a popular market several evenings a week. 

Byron Bay is a coastal town in the southeastern Australian state of New South Wales

Sydney/ Blue Mountains Sydney is the capital of New South Wales and one of Australia’s largest cities. It is best known for its harbourfront Sydney Opera House, with a distinctive sail-like design.

How are the landscapes in Australia?

You can divide Australia into two types of landscape :

On one side, you have the landscape of the Coast where you can find large white sand beaches and a huge diversity of wildlife. The most important Australian cities are concentred on the coast (Perth, Broome, Cairns, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Darwin, …). I spent most of my time on Australia’s coastline especially when I was traveling.

On the other side, you have the Outback which is desert with red sands and little bushes. It looks like scenes of a movie in the wild west. By car, you drive on never-ending straight roads and pass through small traditional towns. I experienced the Outback life when I worked as a farmer in a winery and olive farm in Victoria.

What activities have you done during your year in Australia?

There are plenty of amazing activities to do in Australia. I’ve done skydiving, snorkeling in the barrier reef, Sandboarding on huge sand dunes, swimming with turtles, baby sharks, and Manta rays, watching whales, feeding baby kangaroos, and surfing!

How was the “au pair” experience?

My experience as « Au Pair » has been very positive, I felt like a real member of the family. Parents and kids were really kind to me. I had my own outbuilding in the garden in front of the swimming pool. I could go out in the night without waking up the family. It was a real advantage. Also, the host family allowed me to borrow the car when I needed to go to my English classes and during my days-off.

What is your best memory and your worst?

My best memory from this year in Australia is not a precise memory but all the beautiful moments I spent with people at farm work and in youth hostels. Our relationships were so true, simple and without prejudices. They were like family, people I could trust. I often recall our barbecue parties at the beach, our sleepless nights around the campfire talking about life, our unplanned trips… I felt like living out of time.

My worst memory is when I was running out of money and I had to find quickly a solution otherwise I would have no other choice to come back to France. Hopefully, I found farm work in wineries in Victoria which permits me to fill my wallets.

What is your best advice for someone who’s planning an “au pair experience”?

Firstly, my best advice is to take enough time in choosing your host family. Don’t hesitate to ask for several call-interviews and clarify your role and responsibilities. Ask which type of tasks, number of children to be taken care of, working time, weekly wages, days-off, family’s lifestyle, your room and facilities… It’s really important to make sure that once you’ll arrive in the family you’ll feel well. I met people whose experience became awfull because the family was not as friendly as they seemed to be. If the case happens, you owe them nothing, just leave when you’ll find a plan B.  

Another advice would be to think about your real motivation because being Au Pair and taking care of children are not holidays!

What represents traveling for you?

Traveling means a lot to me! It’s helping me to escape conventional life and to get rid of any social pressure that is telling me that a successful life is a life being married, having children, buying a house, having the last model of car, and working in a good company.

Sometimes, I feel like a weirdo because I don’t want to follow this framework. I think I would never find happiness in this pattern of life. I really hate to be stuck in an office building all day and to wake up every day at the same hour or doing the same thing every day. And I want to make my life a journey!

Traveling means freedom

First of all, traveling means freedom to me. It’s realizing that happiness comes from freedom. I can do what I want and go where I want without time constraints. I’m taking pleasure in living in the moment and fully appreciating the small joys of life. Traveling means living out of time and staying hours listening to the sound of waves, watching sunsets, people or wildlife. Travelling is helping me to experience myself (feelings, limits, personality) and to know what I am capable of. For me, it’s not getting upset when the bus is late!

Also, traveling means making friends with locals or foreigners and respecting their cultures without prejudices. It means building relationships with people you never would have met otherwise. It means living great moments of generosity and being heartbroken when you have to leave these people. Also, it means discovering new ways to cook, to communicate, to live, to think…

Moreover, traveling means learning to live with the bare minimum and realizing that’s all you really need in life. Traveling is far more valuable than money will ever be. It’s reminding me to respect nature and to preserve this beauty for the next generation!

How was your return to France?

I was really excited to see my family & friends. I didn’t tell my parents either my twin sister that I was coming back. It was really fun to watch their faces when I rang the doorbell. During the 2 weeks following my arrival, I was quite busy visiting and hanging out with friends.

But, after that, the excitation vanished and I get bored because I was alone at home, people were working on weekdays. The silence became heavy after so many months spent in youth hostel surrounded by people. I felt useless and had no motivation for applying for a job. I was only obsessed with traveling again. But three months later, I found a job as a specialized consultant in pharmaceutical industries. Now, I am saving enough money to leave again in 2021.

Indeed, I think it’s really important to manage your return as well as your departure and to be mentally prepared. I wasn’t, it was a big mistake! Before coming back, I would recommend you to think about what you want to do at your return: your life project!

Do you think this experience made you grow and why?

I think I am still the same but traveling has given me a new perspective on the world and I am taking things with a more relativistic approach.

Could you resume your experience in a quote?

« Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind. » Anthony Bourdain

To conclude, we hope you loved this interview! You can also read Aurelien’s experience ” a year around the world

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