Finding work in Perth, Western Australia.

Finding Work in PerthFinding work in Perth, Western Australia. My boyfriend and I had talked for years about giving up our jobs and going travelling – we had both done a bit in our youth – but were now fast approaching 30. All our friends were buying houses, getting married and having kids. We talked about it and decided we were still too young for all that -- so we dusted off our backpacks and headed Down Under for a year. It was our last chance to do it on a working holiday visa as the upper age limit is 30, and you have to enter the country before you turn 31.
We arrived in Perth, January 2013 and checked into what was, in our experience, the cheapest and grubbiest backpackers’ hostel in the whole of Australia. We had left our nice little house and our nice little jobs behind, along with the British winter temperatures hovering between zero and 5 degrees. In Perth, apparently they were having a heat wave, oh the fun we had... 42 degrees, jetlagged, walking for miles carrying our backpacks trying to find our hostel, our bed still sweaty from the previous occupants, no air conditioning and a ceiling fan whirring so loudly we were petrified it would come flying off. However, all those details are now forgotten – well almost. We were overjoyed, we had finally done it.
Unsurprisingly we were pretty much the oldest people in the hostel and within a couple of days had somewhat assumed the role of adoptive parents to some of the youngsters, you know, giving them a beer occasionally or sharing some of our crisps, or chips as the Aussies like to call them.
We ended up having an awesome time, we quickly overcame our jetlag – quick tip, staying up all night drinking is a fast track way to get over jetlag but in 42 degree heat, do ensure to drink responsibly. However, it soon became apparent that our British Pounds were not as strong as they used to be and the Australian economy was booming; we needed to get jobs, it was all about finding work and fast.
We chatted to a few of the guys in the hostel about work; most of them were using Perth as a base to get farm or fruit picking work. We had to make our decision quickly, if we wanted to extend our visa and stay in Australia, the easiest way to secure a second year was to do 3 months farm work. By this stage, Alex- my fella, had already turned 30, we would have had to do the farm work almost immediately and get our visa applications submitted before he turned 31. We decided not to put ourselves under the stress. We also struggled to adjust to the heat, it may sound magical while you’re freezing your arse off in England but in reality, it’s hot, very hot indeed. So we attempted to find work in Perth.
I usually work as a hairdresser, and Alex as a chef. We both expected to walk straight into jobs with our experience. After about a week of unsuccessfully finding work we began to feel despondent. I placed an advert on Gumtree, foolishly saying I was looking for work and would be willing to do anything... The next day I was inundated with calls from weirdos: Would I do some topless housekeeping? Would I be willing to have someone take pictures of my feet? Did I have any interest in using a whip? Well, we were not that desperate... yet. Then I had a phone call from Keith, after all the bizarre calls I was sceptical, he said he had a job which involved some customer service, he sounded a little cagey on the phone but I arranged to have an interview with him anyway. He said he would come and pick me up from the hostel the next day. I was obviously a little dubious as to what I was letting myself in for so asked Alex to come with me.
Keith picked us up and took us to his house, he explained on the way the job would involve driving private charter minibuses. He had around 5 buses and had staff accommodation which was a lovely air-conditioned apartment and the rent was much cheaper than the hostel. We were so happy when he offered jobs to both me and Alex; we almost bit his hand off.
We moved in a couple of days later, we had to get Australian driving licenses, luckily we could just show them our UK licenses and pay a fee, we didn’t have to do any tests. We then had to apply for F-extensions; so we could legally carry fare paying passengers. The jobs were varied, we did everything from stag (or bucks as the Aussies call them) and hen parties, wine tours around the Swan Valley, airport transfers and hospital visits. Keith paid us well and even allowed us to use an old bus to go shopping or to use on our days off. We had a friend due to visit from the UK and by the time she arrived at the end of April we had managed to save enough to travel for the next few months. We were actually pretty devastated to say goodbye to Keith, although he was a little eccentric he really looked after us – we are still in touch and we did send him postcards from all our destinations during the rest of our trip.

Finding work in Perth, Western Australia – Kelly Alexander

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