Lizards & Turkeys!

The last few hours in Sydney were good ones. After picking up her Backpack from Wake Up! Jessie only had to walk across the road to Central Station for her Greyhound Coach. She was booked on a coach leaving at 7pm and would arrive at the Bohemian and beautiful Byron Bay at 7:45 am the next morning.

Jessie wanted to catch up with her friends Tom and Macauley, childhood friends from the age of four. They had left the UK the same week as Jess, but started their journey in Melbourne and would eventually go to New Zealand to work. The pair were a bit further North than Byron Bay, but were going to meet up in Noosa.

The Greyhound pass was quite a simple App on her phone. Adding dates and destinations on the Greyhound Route and easily changing them if the plans changed.

Jessie What’s App’d me when she was

Currently driving over the Sydney Bridge

to let me know it was

Such a PENG coach!

Getting herself comfy with the boomerang shaped travel pillow her brother gave to her as a useful Christmas pressie, her Greyhound, East Coast, Backpacker Trail, Road Trip had begun!

At 11pm she tucked into some chips at a service station before settling down again to get some sleep for the remainder of her 12 hour coach trip to the Subtropical destination.

Having loved the Surf Camp so much the week before, Jess booked herself into another Mojo Surf Hostel for a couple of days of Surf n’ Yoga.

Exhausted at the end of her first Greyhound Coach journey she waited for the free shuttle bus to take her to the hostel at 8am. She was a little bit confused however as the place it took her to was called the Arts Factory!


The Arts Factory Lodge is a cool, tucked away budget Hostel, created by Hippies in the 70’s. It then became a Rock n’ Roll venue in the 80’s and is now a hip place to “Relax, Rejuvenate & Recycle”. With its Hippy Roots and Tents I thought Jessie would feel at home.


We stay in teepees…crazy…..This place is crazy

There are Lizards n’ Turkeys everywhere lol

She settled into her teepee with 3 other young women, then had a very laid back lunch before her first Surf lesson. The Mojo Surf Camp is made up of a fun Tipi Village. Each one has 4 beds with access to a shared bathroom and kitchen, although all the food is provided on this package. The camp is located right next to Byron Bay Brewery which has DJs, Gigs and performances in the evenings. There is also a nice pool and hammocks to relax in. It is a 10 minute walk into town and all that has to offer!

On her second day at the Arts Factory she had a choice of Yoga or Surf and also managed to have a good look around the town. Jessie thought I would love it there with all its Organic food shops, Jewellery makers, quirky streets and colourful Street Art.

BYRON Bay Street ART

I love that my daughter is doing this trip and it is inspiring me to become a “Silver Surfer” at some-point in my future. This is quite a U-Turn for me as I was quite happy thinking that I would become a Wicker Basket carrying Yummy Granny. I glad to say that I have now sold that Wicker Basket on Ebay, along with a load of other items that will hold me back.


With more self confidence Jessie made much more effort to connect with people. While waiting for her surf lesson a young woman smiled and spoke to her

I recognise u, were u in Bali?

n’ I was like OMG I stayed in a Hostel with u in Canggu – Small World

They had such a good day, talking, surfing, lunching,chilling and Yoga-ing. The Yoga Jess did was called Ashtanga Vinyasa –

a more physical movement. It’s about focusing on the heat going through ur body

It was probably good that she had done some beginner classes in Bali to give her an idea and feel for the poses.

Feels good, it’s hard work, but worth it!

Byron Bay

Jess bought some snacks from Aldi for the next leg of her Greyhound Journey in the morning, but before that she had Reggae Night at the camp to enjoy.

In the morning she had a pre-paid breakfast voucher left, so decided to get the Red Lentil Dahl as it came in Take Away tub and would eat it at the Bus Stop.

The journey to Noosa stops at the Gold Coast for 4 hours

So I’ve got my bikini on to go for a swim or whatever

When she arrived at the Gold Coast Jessie left her Backpack at the Greyhound Store at the Bus Station and headed to Surfers Paradise.

Gold Coast

Buying a large Subway Roll she sat and watched the surfers and looked around the area and gazed up at the

Gurt Q1 Tower


After 4 hours hanging out at the Gold Coast, Jessie made the rest of her journey to Noosa to meet her friends. The bus rolled in, she got off and made her way to Nomads Hostel and there they were waiting for her. They picked her up, swung her around and she cried with happiness and relief ( I think).


Welcome to OZ

With all the planning and paperwork just about completed and a Bank balance secured to be allowed into the Country, Jess settled down to enjoy the Vegetable Cannelloni and her flight with Virgin Australia. Besides from including the Visa which had to be obtained before leaving the UK, the STA Work Package included the following benefits below.

Firstly, the Airport transfer to the Hostel via an email link. The Airport transfer would take her and other fellow backpackers to the ‘Wake Up!’ Hostel in Sydney for a stay of 5 nights – food not included – to start the Australian Dream. ‘Wake Up!’ is a 2 minute walk from the nearby STA Sydney Branch that would hold the ‘Orientation Day’ (the following day). There she would get lots of other Work Package benefits – a mobile SIM card, a pre-paid Opal card ($25), a work mentor, help with setting up Medicare, Job assist, Tax File Number, CV help and ability to print out forms and use computers.

Before leaving they had also sent lots of advice and tutorial videos to help including setting up a Bank Account. All that Jess had to do was locate the Bank and ‘present’ herself to get her Bank card. All of this was a lot easier than she thought, and for her it was worth paying a bit extra for the Work Package. There were no hiccups and it did what it said!

What wasn’t easy was being in her own company!!


After a few weeks of laid back Island life, City Life was quite a bombshell! Having made new friends and then saying goodbye to them, including Pat and Matt – who still had a month left travelling before arriving in Oz – Jessie after arriving 10 hours earlier wanted to get the first plane back!

Everything was too BIG, and loud and alienating. After a long reassuring pep talk and a midnight room swap – organised by the very good staff at ‘Wake Up!’ – into a much smaller, quieter, all female dorm, Jess woke up the next day with a much healthier, positive attitude.

Off she went to get her Bank sorted and a little walk around the area. Lots of interesting places to discover – ‘Wake Up!’ is located on Pitt Street in the China Town area of Sydney. The beautiful Chinese Garden of Friendship is a 10 minute walk. A good place to be by oneself. The Orientation day went very well and by the end of Day 2 Jess had a long list of things to sort and do. This included signing up and paying for a 5 Day Surf Camp featured at the Orientation.

“It jus seems sick”. and “I’ll meet loads of people there as well”

So at the top of the list was Putting name down for Surf Camp – 5 days of surfing at Seven Mile Beach, living in huts, all meals included! I reminded her about her final Rabies Jab. But she had sorted it already, she had to go to a Doctor and get a referral to another doctor.

“it’s quite straightforward”


At 8:30 pm Jess had butterflies and the sick feeling in her stomach again, she couldn’t stand the feeling of being alone and didn’t’ want to stay. But by 10:30 pm a new girl arrived in the dorm and asked her if she wanted to watch the fireworks going on outside – It was Year of the Pig and a lot of early celebrations were occurring. Bingo!! New friend. The following day the pair met another girl and they went on a Tour Book walking tour! -Amazing!

“I’m currently in an Art Gallery”

A few hours later they were off to Manly on the ferry at the discounted Sunday Price of $2.50 instead of $7.50. Jessie’s new friend recognised a few young women on Manly and they very kindly bought them all a bottle of Prosecco for lunch. Sailing by Sydney Opera House with excellent company and the rest of the day at Manly to enjoy Jessie had found her rhythm again.


Jessie had to pack and get ready to go to Surf Camp. The hostel were helpful and allowed her to cut her stay short by one night but let her have that night back in a weeks time for her return. This must be common practice as she was given a card to keep and show on her return. Seven Mile Beach is a 2 hour drive South of Sydney and the tour bus collected her at 9am. Let’s just say she was very excited! There is limited Wifi there, but it can be bought for extra cash if desperate. The camp uploads photos and videos so after 2 days I was able to see how much fun she was having. It was a healthy, happy, positive place. She did manage to get a few messages to me though –

“Stood up 4 times today”

“Soz, just got back from surf was such a good day we are about to eat and look at the film they made”

Jess made lots of good buddies and happy memories plus acquired a new skill and love of Surfing. They had great food and the staff were excellent hosts. Jess shared a hut with 5 other girls of all different nationalities. She found out that she loved being outside and by the sea and didn’t want to be in the City.

With that in mind she made the decision to buy a Greyhound Pass to travel North along the coast after the camp and meet up with some good friends who were also in Oz. Luckily STA in the UK were still having their Winter Sale and Jess was able to buy a 45 Day Greyhound Pass for the price of a 21 Day Pass. She emailed her work mentor at Work OZ / STA in Sydney and they organised it, she just had to pay. Excellent News!

Jess planned ahead and got a seat reserved to go to Byron Bay the day after her return from Surf Camp. She had her one night at ‘Wake Up!’ already booked and a day to explore Sydney a little more.

Plus a friend from home had bought Jess an Airbnb experience. Jessie had been looking forward to this since she arrived in Australia – A walk around Cadi Jam Ora, an award winning garden in The Royal Botanical Garden, Sydney. She was to have a one to one tour with a guide who could share his knowledge about the culture of Aboriginal Peoples and the Cadigal and let her enjoy her love of being in good company!