Blue Mountains & Wildlife Park day trip

The Blue Mountains. One of the most legendary places you need to see when you're travelling Australia.

As the new intern at the Work and Travel Company I have already had the chance to visit the Blue Mountains on my second day of work. I repeat: second day! You wouldn't believe how excited I was!

I had to be at the meeting point at 7:20am, which means I had to get up pretty early. Despite having a sleepy head, I immediately met some other travellers who were going on the same trip. The day already started off well, since the tour guide was entertaining everyone on the bus with loads of enthusiasm.

After a  40 minute ride, we already arrived at our first stop: Featherdale Wildlife Park. Truly amazing if you're into wild animals, Koalas, kangaroos, crocodiles… the park has it all. I was already really excited about seeing them, so can you imagine how excited I was when I heard I could feed them? Yes, very excited! That's something I can tick of my bucket list as well.

Around noon we arrived at the Blue Mountains. It was very cloudy at first so we couldn’t actually see the Three Sisters. Despite the clouds and the cold weather, the guide still managed to entertain us. He even showed us a spot where tourists don’t find out about unless someone has told them about, this being the Katoomba Falls. They were literally so pretty! Definitely a big plus to this trip, thanks to our awesome tour guide!

After the Katoomba Falls, it was time to take our 45 minutes walk through the mountains. The clouds were gone by now so we were finally able to see the Three Sisters. Yay! They were so stunning. Seeing them in photos just don’t do them justice,  if you really want to know what it’s like seeing them in real life, you’ll have to visit Australia to really appreciate the beauty of the place for  yourself.

I’m so glad I could go to the Blue Mountains during my first week and see some kangaroos, and koalas as well. It was a real amazing experience. So, if you’re still doubting whether you should go or not, then stop! You should!


Surf Camp Experience

What do people do in Australia? Surfing, of course.

The Work and Travel Company gave me the chance to participate in one of the best experiences I have ever had in my life: Surf Camp Australia.

Excitement level was so high the night before, I couldn't sleep properly.

Get up Joana, you have a bus to catch, I told myself in the morning.

I arrived at the pick up area, and what did I see around me? Lots of Backpackers - of course, a few young couples, a 42 year old man who decided to leave his old life for a new adventure, and a dad with his daughter spending their holiday together. It's amazing how we all felt so connected through our excitement to learn how to surf and adventure, given many of us were strangers to each other a few hours ago and for some of us, we  got to know each other just a few days before hand.

The trip up to Surf Camp was uncomplicated and quick and once we arrived at the camp, it was immediate that we were going to have a great time. The vibe was just amazing!

After a brief introduction, everybody took their own place in their cabin, got fitted for our wet suits and headed out to the beach for our first lesson.

The cabins itself were very clean and comfortable and they're all placed in a circular formation facing the common area, giving a sense of small community. All the staff and the instructors are amazing! They made sure everybody stayed safe in the water and they were very helpful and patient with us no matter what our skill level or surfing experience was. You could see straight away they had passion for the their job, but not only that, it was obvious that they weren't new at this either.

Surf lessons are divided in two parts: theory and practice. We learn about how to identify good surfing conditions like waves, wind and the tide. The instructors made sure we practiced the tactical moves like standing up on the board first on the ground and then in the water.
After the afternoon class, dinner was served (the food was soooo delicious and plentiful), after dinner that night we just chilled for a bit and enjoyed each others company. Music played in the background and it didn’t take long to animate the group.

There are lots of things to do while we had some downtime to reflect on the day that was. When I looked around there were people playing cards and board games, people singing and people laughing. The atmosphere was at camp was insane. I couldn't have asked to be doing this with a better bunch of people. But one thing was for sure, it felt like we were a world away from everything, we all just felt at ease, there was a sense of calmness, peace and freedom.

If you get the chance I highly recommend sitting on the beach at night time, our group witnessed the most beautiful starry sky I had ever seen in my life, it was just something else!

Seven Mile Beach is outrageously beautiful and it is mostly reserved for the surf camp people.

If you ever wanted to learn to surf this is the only way. I had a chat with the 42 year-old man and he told me he didn’t know how comfortable he would feel being around 20 year old backpackers. Not only was it not an issue, he was appreciated for being an older person within the group. More importantly, he and we all could surf within three days. Literally. We could stand up on our surfboards and catch some good waves from day 2. I loved it.

Whether you are from overseas or a local, do yourself a favour and DO IT! Go to Surf Camp Australia and learn to surf!


written by Joana Nucci


Farewell Sydney, from beautiful Watson's Bay

Sydney has never stopped surprising me, there is just so much to see and do in this city, it feels endless – you never get bored! My last trip during my internship at WTC was to the beautiful Watson's Bay – what a great way to finish this trip to Australia!wb6

The unique suburb Watson's Bay is only a short ferry ride away from the city. It offers some nice views of Sydney’s magnificent skyline and there are restaurants, bars and cafes in the area to suit anyone's tastes.

The Watson's Bay Beach Club Restaurant is one of a kind and definitely my favourite. The Restaurant has the perfect spot overlooking Sydney and the gorgeous Watson's Bay Beach. The atmosphere is unbeatable and is definitely an amazing spot to catch up with some friends or just enjoy the view with your favourite drink in your hand.wb5

I highly recommend to catch the Ferry and see Watson's bay. It’s beautiful, it is only 30 minutes from the city and it only coasts you a couple of dollars to get there; so why not? While you are there and have some spare time, you should walk the five kilometre cliff-top walk (‘The Federation Cliff Walk’) from Watson's Bay to Dover Heights. It's a stunning postcard view out to the Pacific Ocean and, if you are brave enough, there are some places where you can go cliff jumping (tick that off your bucket list!!)wb3

This is my last post for the WTC blog and my interning has sadly come to an end :-(  I am so very grateful for this amazing and unique opportunity and I couldn't have been happier with my time in Sydney and at WTC. I have learnt that anything is possible, you just have to believe in yourself and it will all work out! Over these past two months I have grown so much, and learnt a lot about myself. I have gained invaluable experience which will be useful for my studies and my future carrier in the Travel & Tourism industry. I have created life-long memories for which I will be forever grateful.

Thank you Sydney for the amazing time and I will see you again one day (for the fifth time!)  Like the WTC travel agent said (in his charming Aussie accent) when I said goodbye: ‘You are like a boomerang, you just keep coming back!’ And I guess he is right, this was definitely not the last time I will travel to the land down under.wb4


Home and Away in Palm Beach

Recently, I was lucky enough to get a chance to go to Palm Beach, also called the "Jewel of the Northern Beaches". Palm Beach is the northernmost of Sydney's beach suburbs, and this place is pure paradise! The beautiful beach and suburb is about 28 kilometers from Manly and less than an hour drive from the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the CBD. You can get here by bus, which is very convenient, but I recommend to go by car if you can - you will want to stop for pictures and to gaze at the spectacular ocean views and beaches along the way.  This was my second trip to Palm Beach and it is definitely worth visiting more than twice – the breathtaking views, the ocean breeze and the friendly locals with the most relaxed lifestyle, it just makes you want to stay there forever...

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Palm Beach has a few nice little restaurants and cafes, but my favourite one is the amazing little Boathouse (see all the pics). The food is delicious (especially their freshly made juices), this place will definitely be one of the things that brings me back on my next trip to Australia. The restaurant is located right on the water, and what could possibly be better than listening to the sound of the ocean while you’re enjoying your lunch?IMG_7890

12312342_10153143036036790_382160340_nIf you have some spare time, catch one of the small ferries that run across Broken Bay to Patonga and have a look at the National Park Ku-ring-gai, which is a Bushland reaching down to the water. Make sure you don’t miss the the fascinating Aboriginal Heritage walk, where there is rock art and engravings of the Guringai people of West Head (this part is also ideal for cycling, fishing and bushwalking). This is a great way to experience a little bit of Australia's history.

Palm Beach is also the home of TV series Home and Away, a perennially popular Australian television show that has been on TV from 1988, with over 6300 episodes! I’m fortunate enough that my Australian friend, who also came with me on this trip to Palm Beach, is an actor on Home and Away. She told me it is an amazing experience to work with such a popular Australian TV series, which she has grown up watching; can you imagine growing up to work for your favourite show as a kid? The actors and the rest of the Home & Away team are very friendly and easy going too!

Palm Beach is also known for its famous lighthouse bushwalk. The uphill walk is 1.2 kilometers and it is definitely worth every step when you finally get to the top. I have seen a lot of stunning views in Sydney, but this particular one from the historic Barrenjoey lighthouse would have to be one of my favourite views. With spectacular 360 degree views, you can see the uninhabited rocky island resembling a resting lion which guards the entrance to Broken Bay (Lion Island, fitting name!), its northern arm Brisbane Water, and Pittwater. The lighthouse was built of sandstone in 1881 and its light can be seen 19 nautical miles out to sea; yes, it still operates! If you go to Palm Beach sometime during May to November there is a chance you would see whales during their annual migration, which by itself makes the trip worth putting on your bucket list...


42 Degrees and a Few Glasses of Wine

It was already over 30 degrees Celsius when I got to the YHA pick up location at 7.15 am. And it was predicted to be about 42 degrees in the Hunter Valley today. What would be better than relaxing at an exclusive wine tasting tour this particular day? Not many people would say no to a day trip out to Australia's oldest wine production region, especially not if you mentioned that a wine crawl is included in the price!

As soon as we left the city behind us I could feel how relaxed and calm I was. The city is nice but nothing beats being surrounded by open fields and the atmosphere of the farmland and vineyards that stretch as far as the eye can see.  We were a small group of 10 people including me and we were all from different places around the world, like America, Mexico, Switzerland, Denmark, Germany and Sweden.

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Our professional tour guide took us to three different wineries and we tasted like 20 different wines; red, white, sparkling, fortified and rose! We started off with the world-famous McGuigan wines, which has won “International Winemaker of the Year” at the International Wine and Spirit Competition in London - 3 times!… and they also had a nice little shop with their own wine and some delicious cheese.

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After the second winery we sat down and had lunch in the shade, and finished off at the Wynwood Estate winery (my personal favourite). The whole experience there felt genuine, and the host made us feel very welcomed... AND the wine was absolutely amazing!

Even if you are not a massive wine drinker, you would absolutely love this trip and will probably love wine after the tastings. You'll at least feel like a wine expert after this tour, since the winemakers explain in detail the process and the character and quality of every wine you get to taste. A really good thing is that you will also support the small local family producers who are so important Australia’s wine making, so it's a feel-good experience beyond just a load of wine! And who doesn't like cute boutique shops, incredible cheese shops, and a brewery tour too??

I have always liked to meet new people and have always been interested to hear their stories; it's inspiring to hear where they have traveled and what has led others to where they are today. As we drove back to the city, I couldn’t stop thinking of how lucky I am who get to do all these amazing things with my life and see all these beautiful places.

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***Want to book the famous ‘Hunter Valley Winery Tour’ for yourself?  Message the Travel Desk to get the best deal in town.

Hunter Valley


Why hike it when you can bike it?

The great thing about Sydney is that there is so much to see and do, it seems endless! And what could be more amazing than experiencing beautiful Sydney by riding a bike through it! (it's such a nice change from public transport, buses and taxis too) I highly recommend this tour as it's such a different experience, it really takes your breath away: the fresh air, being outside soaking up the sunshine and the beautiful weather!

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The harbour bike rides takes you on a 12 km joy ride around some of the most iconic Sydney harbour scenes. It's a nice way to see a different side of the city (the north) and enjoy the cute cafes and sights along the way. It takes about 2 hours, and you are free to stop whenever you want and take photos or just stroll around in North Sydney.

 
It’s an easy ride and anyone can do it, even if you are a beginner! You get a close up look at some of Sydney's most iconic scenery, like riding across the harbour bridge - you can't get any closer than that! I thought climbing the bridge, which I did a few years ago, was the most amazing experience; well, this topped it, just when I thought it couldn't get any better. Riding a bike though Sydney wasn't something I dreamed of doing, but it's made me more grateful of the beautiful world we live in. Many friends back home in Sweden would love to have this amazing opportunity!

 

It's never too late to try new things. Sometimes it may be a simple thing like a bike ride, but I'll never forget it. Do more of what makes you happy!

 

Call or Email the Travel Desk to book your bike ride today! You might be surprised how cheap it is :-)  travel@worktravelcompany.com.au

 

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Buying Travel Actually Makes You Richer

Captain James Cook was about 19 years older than me when he first discovered Australia. I was 23 years old, and pretty much didn't know what to do with my life so I booked a flight to Australia ‘the land down under’ and applied for a Working Holiday Visa. People told me that Australia would be an easy country to travel, work, and meet new people - even if you're travelling alone. And they were right!

I didn't have a plan. I didn't think about it at all to be honest. I just jumped on that plane, and moved from Sweden to the other side of the world; I didn't know what to expect. I took a risk and, to be honest, Australia wasn't one of the countries to tick off my bucket list, but I couldn't have been happier! It was the best decision I have ever made in my life and I wouldn't change a thing.

This is now my fourth trip to Australia; every time I left, I promised myself I would come back, and so far I have... I lived in a beach house (with 4 Aussies and an American) on the Northern Beaches where I made friendships that I never thought could exist. I've worked in a beach side restaurant, and I've worked in a local pub in what felt like the middle of the outback in Queensland where I experienced the 'real local' life living in a big house in a small country town ('becoming a local' in QLD is an unforgettable experience everyone should have!)

Four years later, I am back in Sydney again, doing my internship with the Work and Travel Company and loving every minute of it! It's been great to use my own experience as a traveller to help WTC members with all their questions, because I really know what they are going through firsthand. I get the opportunity to develop myself and my career, working alongside experts in the industry I love the most: Travel! This beautiful country has so much to offer and there is so much to see and experience. Even having done so much already, I still have plenty more places in Australia I would love to experience one day! Working at WTC, I will get to see so much more of Sydney this time, and create more life long memories for which I will be forever grateful.

I believe everything happens for a reason, and good things do come to those who wait... but they also come to those who go out and get what they want and chase their goals. I believe I achieved mine by getting on that plane all by myself and taking a massive risk: travelling alone, not knowing what to expect. I just believed in myself, and knew that I could do this on my own; if I can do it, anyone can! You just have to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Travel is one of the few things you can buy that actually makes you richer.

My name is Emelie and this is the story of my Australian experience. And it's just the beginning.

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