Intro- welcome to my blog site!
My name’s Thomas, a now 27 year old male from good old England. I hope you enjoy reading my blog, and gain some inspiration from it. Here, I’m going to tell you a bit about me and where I’m at in my life, and why I decided to go travelling.
Jobs, education, and reasons to change
Ever since I left school, I was determined to get a good, well paid job, and eventually run my own business. Now I’m past my mid-twenties, and not sure whether I’ve got anywhere really? I hoped to be fairly well settled both financially and in my personal life by now, but the best laid plans never seem to work out.
Leaving school with reasonable GCSE results, I enrolled at college on an animal management course as my ambition at the time was to work with dogs, doing training and behavioural therapy. I did so well on the course, after that, I started a 3 year degree at university in Cambridge on animal behaviour. I couldn’t hack it. I finished the first year then dropped out early. Sitting in a dark theatre hall on staged seating with 200-300 other students listening to someone recite a Microsoft power point presentation for two and a half hours at a time wasn’t for me. I needed more stimulation then that. Unlike at college, there was no real learning interaction. You had to chase the lecturers to ask something and the paperwork and assignments schedules were just a mess.
During the summer holidays, I took a job at a small electrical retailer in my town selling TVs, DVD, and white goods. It was only supposed to be a stop gap- I stayed five years in the end! This was partly due to being in the middle of the global economic recession and a shortage of other options. On the whole though, I liked my job as they were a good firm to work for, and after a while I considered myself quite hot on the technical side. At the age of 25, I felt I had outgrown the job, but also knew I would have to retrain in some way. I wanted to avoid slipping into another basic job and get something more long-term. This would have been easier in my late teens, but what could I do?
I figured construction might be a good area to look at- reasonably good pay, flexible hours etc. I secured an apprenticeship with a large commercial carpentry contractor for two years, and the offer of a job as a sub-contractor thereafter. This also involved a trip back to college (again), where I spent block releases from work with 16-18 year old school leavers, and got more qualifications (again). It felt awkward at first, but college worked out well in the end. On-site work basically consisted of repetitive slave labour, being treated like a tool or a second-class citizen. £25 a day for the first year, and £50 (minimum wage because I was older than other apprentices) for the second year. You wouldn’t even get eastern- European immigrants to work for that (sorry Polish people, no offence)! They didn’t pay any travel costs either when I had to use my own car, but was lucky enough to get a lift with colleagues most days. How they ever expected me to start my own tool collection in the first year, I’ll never know?
By the end of the 2 year apprenticeship, after doing 6 months, working 14 hour days, travelling to a site 60 miles from home, I finally received my college certificates to say I’ve passed the course. At that point, I told my boss I’d had enough. You didn’t need a calculator to realise the numbers weren’t adding up!
After that, with winter on its way, I fancied an indoor job so took a temporary position in a timber factory working on various sawing machines. It was okay, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t want to spend my life doing that for too many years. It was during that time I decided I needed an adventure! It’s been eleven years since I’d left school, and I felt as though I’ve been running a marathon ever since. And for what? Most of the things I did with good intentions turned out to be more pain than gain, usually putting money into someone else’s pocket whilst I did all the graft. I had spent more time enduring rather than living and experiencing.
Australia was a country that had captured my imagination since early childhood. Before I was able to walk and speak English, I loved animals, wildlife, and the natural world. I was inspired by the wide-open landscapes and unique fauna the Oceanian continent displayed on wildlife documentaries. There was also the romance of the Crocodile Dundee films, the “in your face” (late) Steve Irwin, but I realised the human demographic and culture was a lot more than these extra-reality stereotypes. I’ve been on a few nice holidays before, but now I want to travel for longer and experience a more flexible route plan.
When, where, and how?
As I plan my travels, I have been working with my Dad as a painter and decorator. We sometimes do in bit of carpentry as well (keep up my skills), and general property maintenance. It’s all good practice, to which I will come to in a minute.
- When– 27th August 2015- 26th November 2015 on a return flight (the cheapest way). I may stay on though, as I do have a 12 month visa (read below). Stay tuned to find out.
- Where– flying in to Adelaide international airport. I hope to travel north up the eastern coastline visiting major towns and cities en route to Cairns, and perhaps beyond?
- How- on a 12 month working holiday visa (subclass 417). I shall write a separate article to fully explain the “in’s and out’s” of getting one, and what it entitles the traveller to do. Please, please, people do your research before booking any flights or making other plans.
Whilst in Australia, I hope to get a temporary job (or several) as part of the working holiday visa scheme. This income will help supplement my savings as well as the opportunity to meet other people and make contacts of sorts. Hopefully my carpentry and painting background will broaden my appeal as an employment prospect, and possibly open the door to slightly higher wages than other less skilled jobs. I intend to stay in backpackers hostels, but may also try out services such as Airbnb (see https://www.airbnb.co.uk/), and Couchsurfing (see https://www.couchsurfing.com/).
I intend to write reviews on many of the previously mentioned topics separately in order to provide more detailed information that’s easy to find.