What A Difference 9 Months Makes – How Blogging Saved Me

I read a lot today. I read my own writing, from my first blog post up until now. In hindsight, I believe this blog saved me from a much darker fate. The act of putting something in writing for the world to see, be it an idea or a thought, an emotion or a desire has strengthened my will to achieve my dreams, and I am proud to say that since the time I started writing publicly, my life has completely changed for the better.

It was sad to read many of my posts. The first 3 months I spent blogging was a very bad time in my life, wrought with depression and other vices that were leading me down a rabbit hole I could not see a way out of. The truth of the matter is that I am usually not a very open person. I find it very difficult to confide in people, or even talk about my state in the simplest of terms. Yet in writing, I find myself telling the world, openly, all the things I cannot seem to tell even those people that are closest to me.

I read posts about freedom and failure, materialism and minimalism. I read about my plans to remove all of the clutter from my life and about the way I want to live. As of this moment I am happy with my life. I travel, I see, I do and I feel free. Since leaving Melbourne I have learned, and learned very quickly, just what is important in my life. I own less than I ever thought possible, yet find myself wanting nothing more than a new book occasionally, or a block of chocolate. I live well, I enjoy my work, I eat well and have good accommodation, and all for less than I could have ever imagined.

Perhaps the hardest hitting revelation I had in this process is recalling just how depressed I was in my ‘successful’ life. Were it not for me putting in writing many of my thoughts I would no longer remember just how much I hated my life. The depression I felt now seems so distant, and my blog serves as a reminder to me that my well being is in my own hands. My current situation is a direct effect of acknowledging that I was not happy and making the hard decisions necessary to change. It wasn’t easy. Much of the journey has not been easy. I have had several serious setbacks and many unexpected turns, but never lost sight of my goal. However, no matter how stressful, or how broke and hungry I may have found myself in the process, the depression that once gripped me has loosened its hold and no longer exists.

A Bad Australian Second Year Visa Experience

On the 5th of October 2014, I arrived in Mildura with some friends from the snow fields, only to find ourselves conned out of $450 each, and exposed to the exploitative state of second year visa work for travelers in Australia.


At the end of the 2014 snow season, two of my traveling friends from Ireland had decided it was time to do their 88 days of regional work in order to qualify for their second year visa. The plan was to go to Mildura, an agricultural hub in Australia and an oasis on the Murray River. It is a small and beautiful town completely surrounded by agricultural land and vinyards producing produce all year round. Myself and another Australian friend from the snow fields had decided, what the hell, we will go too. It will be an experience and potentially an opportunity to save some money.

We had pre-organized a working house specifically set up for second year visa farm work. The deal was that rent was $150/week with 2 weeks rent due up front and a bond of $150 (a total of $450). The organization would then have work available for us and would come by each morning to pick up those that wanted it, and that every day spent in the house would count towards the 88 days needed for the visa. The deal was initially found online and was in-line with all other offers available and so nothing ever seemed suspicious. Myself and my friend Stuart (hairy Irish dude) had both had verbal contact with fluent English speakers from the organization about the house and work.

Almost immediately after arriving in Mildura we met up with a British girl who asked us to follow her to the house. So far all good. We arrive at the house with the British girl and another large man who is clearly the boss as he is calling the shots and telling us about the deal. The man was rather rude, but not such that any of us had any alarm bells ringing. Yet.

We were each handed a piece of paperwork outlining costs and work details. We handed over our $450 each and instantly the man became significantly more vulgar. He was directly and openly sexually abusing the women around him and behaving in a psychopathic manner. Like a man without empathy with a god complex, and shortly after, he was gone.

We settled in. We each had a reasonable bed and a nice enough room. Soon we began to chat with the people in the house. Very quickly I discovered that there appeared to be a huge number of people around, which was strange given we each had our own bed and there simply didn’t seem to be enough space. It was soon revealed that there was something like 15 people sleeping in a renovated garage with bunk beds.

Upon chatting to a few house mates we also quickly discovered that work was very sparse. Most people were only working once or twice a week for only $20/day. A lucky few got $50, and it was back breaking work.

At this point it was obvious to me and the other Aussie that it was a waste of time for us to be there. The cost of accommodation was far more than we could possibly earn for insanely physical work. The irish couple had a slightly different situation though. If they stayed and slogged it out for 3 months they would get there visas. However it quickly became obvious that they would run out of money in the process.

2 days later the man returned. We were loudly and violently kicked out. I called the cops. They turned up and stated that they had no power in the situation.

This whole situation was remarkable for 4 main reasons.

1. The British girl we were dealing with was knowingly and repetitively conning fellow travellers in to a situation that would most often find them broke and without their visas. Serious shame on that filthy lady;

2. Not one person spoke up about the situation they were in before we found ourselves in it to. More shame;

3. The man had obviously set everything up to get the quickest possible turn over of vulnerable tourists as possible just to line his pockets; and

4. The cops, fully and previously aware, could do nothing.

We encountered many travelers in this house that were desperate and stuck. I vividly recall conversations with a Brazilian girl in tears and terrified as the man had taken everything she had and was constantly advancing her sexually. She had no where to go and no money to get there with.

Luckily for us, we cut our losses and moved on. For others, I don’t know. I imagine that Mildura has seen a lot of homeless and hungry backpackers over the last years, as whilst in the house we discovered that this was not a new operation. The man had been exploiting vulnerable tourists for years. We found that 9 news had even done a report on him.

I hope the loop holes that this man operates in are closed. I hope he is thrown in a cell and left without food. Preferably in a foreign country with no hope of communication.

Unfortunately, whilst meeting many people during the remainder of my experience that had been conned by exactly the same man, I also met countless people who were being exploited and conned in other ways. Since leaving Mildura I have only continued to hear horror stories from all over the country. We may think we live in an amazing and fair country, but if we could see it through the eyes of a backpacker that just wants to stay for a second year, that opinion would change. Its disgusting.

My advice to anyone seeking their second year visa in Australia is to do it early. If you find a bad deal at least you have the option to keep looking. Don’t wait. There is a very good chance you will get stuck.

Oops. Your device is too primitive to view my map of Australia. Maybe it's time for an upgrade?

My new beginnings End

It’s been a very long time since I added to my blog. I think the truth of it is that I only really started writing because I was miserable. My life was messy and becoming mixed up in the wrong things. I begin to write again now because my life has become interesting.

This time last year I was a ‘successful’ and ‘professional’ desk monkey. Time passed, yet I had ceased to grow. To many, my life may have seemed on track, as if I was achieving goals and advancing my career. Perhaps if I was someone else I would have agreed. But I am my own man, and have my own goals and desires that are not in line with the ‘norm’.

It’s been 9 months now since I threw in the Engineering profession. In this time everything has changed, I have successfully removed the shackles that people chain themselves with (all except my car) and I now lead a very simple and happy life. I have had more experiences and met more people in this short time than in the previous 4 years combined.

I lived and worked on the Snow in Victoria for 3.5 months. I traveled inland, to Mildura, and discovered first hand just how abhorrent my country treats travelers looking for their second year visas, and how widespread the exploitation is. I left my friends in Mildura and traveled solo to Adelaide with no plan, searching for something better. I lived in Port Adelaide for a few weeks, by the water with the dolphins and jellyfish, and then in the CBD, with the urban country folk, for a few more. I met many people and experienced Adelaide for what it is, however found nothing to make me stay. Only a girl with whom to go.

We drove west. With no real plan, we drove and stopped as we pleased and saw so much of Australia which I was before completely ignorant. The sand dunes, salt lakes, deserts, rock formations, the Bunda Cliffs, the wide variety of sea life and so much more, until we landed in Fremantle. As far west as anyone can get in this country. Here in Fremantle is where our journey takes its leave. But not the adventure. We traveled north to the Pinnacles and for snorkeling, we traveled south to Margaret River and a series of caves further south again. I found a job I enjoy, with a boss I respect and peers I enjoy the company of. I clean pools now, and live in my favorite place in Australia. For a while at least.

Who knows what comes next. For now I am happy and settled. In two weeks I travel to Bali and in 2 months, with the sad departure of my travel buddy, I take a trip to Thailand. What a journey it has been so far. One I will write about. In the hope that a few of you readers might follow my own steps, in your own way, and throw in your careers for an uncertain adventure. I wont be the one wishing I took that risk or did that thing when I lay on my death bed, and I hope you wont either.

Three (more) Things I Am Grateful For

Over three weeks ago I watched this TED talk which inspired me to think harder about some of the things in my life that I am grateful for. Three weeks ago when I first posted on the topic of gratefulness I found it quite difficult to come up with three things. Times have been dark lately. This time however it seems much easier. Things are looking up, more so every day, and as such I get to pick three things that stand out among a much longer list of things I am grateful for. So here it goes again.

Three (more) Things I Am Grateful For

1. The Snow    

In just over a month now I make my way up to Falls Creek, where I get to stay for the entire Snow Season! This, coming from an 8:30 – 5:00 desk job nearly 2 hours travel from home is such an enormous and welcome change. The reality of the situation has not hit home, and likely wont until I get there. I get to spend every day outside on the snow and among people. Even if I am to work full time hours, I gain a minimum of 4 hours to myself everyday to have fun, be social and work on myself. I can’t wait.

2. Failure    

Had I not failed, and fallen as far behind as I have, I may never had made the decision to escape the professional trap and start my life journey. Now, although I don’t know what comes after Falls Creek, I am determined to do everything in my power to really live my life. Because we only have one. Ask yourself, is your life boring? Or is it an adventure? I am also grateful for the debt I found myself in, which is now nearly gone. Having so much debt has really hammered home the value of money. Fact is the significant majority of mine has been spent on things that have actually been harmful to myself. Now I can really begin working on becoming a wealthy man.

3. My Education  

We really are exceptionally privileged in Australia. It can be hard to understand when this is the only way we ever experience life. I have received a top notch (though it never seems so at the time) education. Now I also have further education in the form of real world experience. Although I am now choosing to leave the profession I educated for, I do not regret my schooling in it at all. Conversely, I found that University really taught me how to think for myself, and ask the right questions. When faced with something I do not understand, I have all the tools available to me to investigate and learn about the subject. It is no longer a matter of what can I do, but what do I want to do. I have the resources at my disposal to do anything.

Thankfully this wasn’t so hard this time. Next time, I expect it to be easier again. Next time I will be on my snowboard. Almost every day.

A Van Idea

I live in Australia. The lucky country. That could not be more accurate. On a daily basis I spend at least four hours exposed to the general public, a people that are well dressed, can easily afford to dine out frequently, own fancy cars and most likely hold down reasonably well paid jobs. People are not publicly executed on the streets for petty crimes and I am very rarely witness to acts of violence. It is however a lie to think that things cannot get hard here, we still have our homeless and our poor, though I believe there is a great disparity from the significant majority of the world. All in all, this is a very good and relatively easy place to live. But I have only seen a very small part of it.

So perhaps one of my first moves should be to buy a Van, or a troop carrier, basically anything I can set up to travel in. It would need to include a bed, reliable energy source (back up batteries as capacitors and ultimately solar panels or film as a secondary source of charge), some form of food storage for long stretches of driving (potentially a small fridge) and would need to be very smartly organised to fit in all of the belongings that I would want to take with me.

I guess it has dawned on me that I want to spend my life seeing as much of the world as I can, yet I have not even experienced what my own country has to offer.

Living out of a Van no doubt posses many challenges, many of which I expect will only be learnt whilst on the road. Showering for example. I like maintaining good hygiene, so how often will I find myself stuck between great distances without the means to have a good wash, and how could I modify my Van to account for this? I also expect that living in such close confines will have potentially serious impacts on my health. So regularly vacuuming the inside of the Van to rid it of dirt and harmful particles could become a very important activity. Also, the internet. I expect to be relying on the internet for many parts of my livelihood, so how hard will it be to get good connection in different parts of the country?

These are all only ideas at the moment. But there is no way I’m returning to a desk and there is no way I’m staying put.