Aron Hailey - A Year Down Under - Tips & Advice

A year down under... A surf Mecca, endless sunshine and perfect slippery roads of all shapes and sizes! I followed this dream and I'm going to tell you what it’s like and how to do it.



The Journey:
Now I know you have heard about the horrendous 24-hour flight…well yeah it is. Going to sleep is near impossible for someone of my height. I had watched my 5
th movie and had been awake for 30 hours with many more hours left to travel, imagine. Once I touched down in Sydney, the excitement overrode the tiredness. The weird feeling of consciousness and pure exhaustion. Its 7am local time and I needed to stay up until 9pm or suffer the onslaught of jet-lag and waking up at 3-4am for the next couple of days. The first day consists of doing what you can to stay awake and eating as much nutritious food to fill a vitamin deprived stomach. After being awake for close to 48 hours now I was at the point of hallucination and nodding off mid sentence. It’s a tough day and activities are out of the question. 

Tips for travel:

-Bring your own food

-Sleeping pills

-Book an aisle seat, or complain like hell if you don’t get one

-Bring a plane headphone adapter with some good headphones

-Wear comfy light clothes

-Take off your shoes immediately after boarding the plane

-Go for walks on the plane as much as you can

How to acquire a board:

If you’re coming to Australia for a long time, there is high chance your suitcase is going to  be filled to the brim with clothes and everything else you may need for your trip. I opted to leave my board at home but I took my trucks and wheels, they cost a lot and are easy to store in your luggage. 

Sydney is extremely lucky having the most awesome skate shops called Basement Skate. You may have heard of it associated with Rob and Maga McWhinnie. With racks full with all the latest boards, so you can stand on a few, get a feel and even set it up in shop for a quick skate. 

There are other online options for acquiring a board, but getting your hands on the board straight away and hanging out in an awesome skate shop is far better.

The skating:

Everything you have seen in those YouTube videos is true. The people here shred, there is certainly no messing about when it comes to going fast and sideways. The community is very big, with many skaters of all ages spread across the city. Events are usually packed and it’s easy to go skate with someone whenever you please. Plenty of Facebook groups and chats make it easy to organise a skate.

The roads around Sydney are not what I expected, they are better. A lot of the runs I skate are just your short freeride roads, perfect pavements and a few corners. What sets Sydney apart is how many roads there are in a short distance. My local spots are near Maroubra (eastern suburbs of Sydney) and up towards Bondi beach. There are too many spots to count, all close together and a variety of fun. Whether you choose to go fast with a downhill approach or just shred about doing freeride. 

The one thing about Sydney is that fast downhill is hard to do. The perfect roads for going very fast tend to be busy, so if you want to get your downhill game on a trip out the city is definitely required. 

Luckily, the blue mountains are an hour away (a short trip for Australia), with plenty of amazing roads from 14 corner runs, simple 2 hairpin forest runs and even a simple easy bomb down a fire truck access road, (roads designed purely for fire trucks to reach hard to access regions of the forest). There are roads for all skating styles. There are also heaps of skate parks across the city, so Sydney definitely has you covered.

The Sydney bomb-squad:

One of my best discoveries in Sydney. On my second day I was invited out for a city skate by a group known as Sydney bomb squad. It’s a weekly event where you meet up in the centre of Sydney and then skate around late at night hitting up car parks and little residential roads. It brings some of the best skaters and the people who are just getting started together. Its easy unless you want to attack all the runs for some highly skilled riding. It lasts about 3-4 hours and you are guaranteed to have fun! The night always ends up bombing down the Sydney opera house car park and ending at Maccas (Mcdonalds). This is the best way improve your level of skating and get fit.

Events: 

There are plenty of races and events around Sydney. Monthly night races, full on races spread out across the year and many opportunities to get rowdy with skaters. Most of the events are races, entry a minimum of $10 and winner takes all. The riding level is usually very high and the racing extremely tight. 

The other stuff:

Now you don't go all the way to Australia just to go skating, there’s so much to do and many amazing things to see. From blissful Blue Ocean to the never ending views of the blue mountains or simply passing the harbour bridge and the opera house regularly. The community and people in Australia is something else. I went from knowing no-one to having a group of friends that go out constantly, the weather opens up so many opportunities; simple trips to the beach or BBQ’s are always happening. It’s the dream life and so easy to fall into a sense of belonging. Especially with the cultural diversity and the relaxed open-armed locals. So much to see and do and always someone to do it with. 

Keep reading for The Boring Stuff and How to Guide.

First step get saving:
Unfortunately Australia is probably the most expensive trip ever. Being half way around the world, the flights are going to set you back a cool grand. I booked myself an open return, which allowed me to change my booking, so that I can come back at any point. This is highly recommended in case of emergency situations, I nearly had to pull the plug 3 months in and if I had to fork out another £600 on a return flight it wouldn’t have been good.

Getting a Visa:
All you need to do is go onto
www.immi.gov.au and follow the steps to buying yourself a working holiday visa, this costs around £230. It took me around 13 hours to get it granted and its all done electronically on your passport, if you’re unsure its easy to call up and ask them what you need or if you’re around London you can actually go into the Aussie embassy and get assistance there. 

Renting/accommodation:
Once you have the money for the flight and the visa. I recommend saving at least £2000 which is Aus $3800. Believe me, money is a whole new thing over here. Hostels are around $280 a week, getting your own place is around $1000 on the bond of the house and then another $1000 monthly on rent. Most places go for around $200-300 a week so keep that in mind. The best website for finding a place is Gumtree and Flatmates. Areas that I recommend are Maroubra, Bondi, Randwick and anywhere around the city. 

Finding a job:
There is a light at the end of the tunnel. You will be earning a sh*t tonne of money once you get a job. The pay rate starts at around $18ph on weekdays, $27ph on Saturdays, $36ph on Sundays and $50ph public holidays. Most jobs are going to be around $650 to $1000+ a week if you’re working full time. The savings are purely a precaution incase it takes you a while to find a job. The best way to get a job is a website called seek.com and then the old-fashioned way of going around the shopping centres and handing out C.V’s. 

There are too many things to do in Oz, so get out and go explore, or just come and earn money and have the best time in the world doing it! 

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