Today is Thursday; Thursday is shepherd’s pie
Just chronicling my travels to and around Australia. Sort of a digital diary.
Anyway I got the idea to come to Australia to fight fires during our off-season Part way through the summer. I applied for a working vacation visa back in August and expected it to take a couple weeks. Turns out they sent me an e-mail which went into my neglected junk-mail folder telling me that they would get me the visa as soon as I got a new passport as mine was due to expire within one year.
Meanwhile I was sent to Idaho as part of a 20-person crew to help out on their fires for a few weeks.
The application process opened and was closing while I was in the States so I had to fill out the application on my iPod, which was interesting to say the least. Once I had that out of the way I had to get my passport and Visa settled which was a bit of a scramble. They originally wanted me to be in Australia for an interview on the 18th, less than one week from when they originally contacted me.
They agreed to delay the interview until the 25th to give me time to get over there and ready for the interview.
I got my new passport on Monday the 17th, got my working vacation visa approved by Tuesday evening and had my tickets booked within a couple hours. I was flying out in just over a day. Time to start packing!
The flights were fairly uneventful. I left Saskatoon early on Thursday the 20th. I was supposed to have a 1-hour layover in Denver then 11 hours in San-Francisco, problem was they made us wait in the plane for 45 minutes for customs to open and by the time I got through US customs my connecting flight was supposed to be in the air half an hour ago.
Took a train, switched terminals, and ran to the gate for a (6th?) final boarding call, apparently there were strong side winds on the main runways and the flights were all backed up so we left about one hour behind schedule, which was alright by me.
The wait in SF was all right as there were some semi-hidden benches I could sleep on and plenty of shops to wander around. I had a $25 beer and burrito for lunch and a $13 pre-made sandwich and coffee for a snack. So much for food being cheep in the US.
The flight to Australia was pretty good, I sat between a lady that grew up in New Zealand but lives in Perth and a girl from Calgary going to see her auzzie boyfriend in Sidney. The only problem was I was right behind a bulkhead and while I had lots of knee room I could not stretch out my legs at all. It was also sort o funny taking off on the 20th and landing on the 22nd.
Switched planes in Sidney and flew to Melbourne where I took a buss to the city, put my stuff in a locker and wandered around for the morning and afternoon taking in the sights and sounds. I managed to set up a bank account at the only bank I could find that was open on Saturday and got a hold of my friend Sam who invited me to come out to his friends house outside the city for a barbeque and some drinks. We all stayed the night and I woke up fresh and rested at 8:45 am. Jet lag? What jet lag?
Sunday was a bit of a blur, met more people, saw some more places, got more used to people driving on the left side of the road and all the turnabouts everywhere.
Monday I went with Sam to another part of town where he had a physical and I went down the street and got a pre-paid SID card. My new phone number is 04########. I checked the option for international texts and calls. Not sure how much those cost though.
On Tuesday Sam had his fitness test and I had my interview. The fitness test was on the way to the interview so it worked out really well. I helped out a bit during the fitness test and met some firefighters from various bases. Everyone tested passed with a fair margin and we made some plans to meet up the next day for some drinks to discuss the summer.
I got to the interview about 20 minutes early which let me fill in some paperwork then had a really good interview with the base supervisor, the district manager and two crew leaders. I was feeling really good about how it went and they told me they would contact me within the next three weeks. After the interview I went with the base supervisor to finish up some other paperwork for police checks etc and he told me that the job that I applied for was already filled but there was a position at Powelltown (where the interview was) I told him I didn’t really care where I ended up and would actually prefer Powelltown as it was further from the city. He told me they would get in contact with me within the next 2 or three days.
The next morning I got a call saying I have been successful in securing a job at Powelltown and now just need to do a physical and a bit of training starting on October 22nd. I am pretty stoked about it and currently looking at places to stay/camp and a vehicle to get around in.
So far comparing to places I have been I would describe the outskirts and suburbs of Melbourne to be a sort of interesting combination of Guatemala, Santa Cruz, and the Fraser River Valley.
Is everybody happy? You bet your life we are!