12 months and 12 photos (2019)

Hi everybody!!! It has been a while. I haven’t written a blog in about 4 months, sorry for that. To be honest, I haven’t had much to say or write about as there has been no travelling for the past few months (except Melbourne twice but does that even count?!). I have been attempting to lay low and save my pennies/cents for the big year that is to come in 2020. A fellow blogger has been carrying out 12 months and 12 photos and I loved this idea. It’s a great way for me to create a blog and keep me in the game. It’s the first time I saw another blog post and thought, yes, I want to do that. So thanks to Tanja from @theredphoneboxtravels for the inspo. I have picked my 12 photos (not an easy task by the way, if you have a few things going on each month) and added a little caption to each one. I hope you find them of interest πŸ™‚

January – Taveuni

Taveuni
The holiday of all holidays. We won a trip back to Fiji and we decided to visit the garden island of Fiji that is Taveuni. An absolutely amazing place with the best people. We made memories there that will last a lifetime.

February – Belfast comes to Melbourne

Belfast comes to Melbs
2 of our really good friends Brian and Rachael came to Melbourne. I didn’t want to miss them so I flew over to spend the weekend with them and had the best craic!

March – Meet my parents in Thailand

Thailand
I had the oppotunity to visit my parents when they were in Thailand celebrating their anniversary. I couldn’t miss this, maybe my only ever chance to have a holiday with just the 2 of them all to myself. A really chilled out holiday with memories I will always cherish.

April – 10 years later

10 years later
We love our Sydney walks and for me, my photo opportunities! We sat here to have a photo taken and realised we had sat here 10 years ago also. We have lived in Sydney in 2009 for 1 year and had made it our dream and mission to return. I like this photo as it highlights how far we have came and what is achievable if you want something bad enough.

May – Home

Home
We love our trips back to Northern Ireland. This was our 2nd trip home since leaving for Australia. We had an amazing time as always, plus we attended 2 very special weddings. The landscape in Northern Ireland is stunning, it definitely needs to be seen if visiting Ireland.

June – A time of reflection

Reflection
This is the Chinese Garden of Friendship. The perfect spot for reflection and gathering your thoughts. I was really happy to have been shown this place.

July – Quality time

Quality time
July was a month of spending time with the other half and taking in the beauty of Sydney. Lots of nice walks and this day we were whale watching, a really unbelievable experience!

August – Leura

Leura
This is my birthday month!! I really wanted to head away for a couple of days. We decided on Leura, in the Blue Mountains. I would highly recommend this to everyone. It is a really quaint little town with a lot of character. The Leura Cascades are impressive and amazing walks in the heart of the Blue Mountains.

September – A personal journey

Personal journey
I have been going to the gym for about 2 years now. I am loving it and acheiving results that I am super happy with. This was the month I hit a personal milestone as I had hit the 10kg mark. Thats a 10kg increase in weight (muscle mass). I was delighted. May the journey continue.

October – Wedding dress shopping

Wedding dress
Never thought in a million years I would be doing this but it was an incredible experience. To be there for my best friend on such a huge occassion in her life was a true honour. We had the best weekend and not a bridezilla in sight!!

Novemeber – My cousin

My cousin
My cousin has been in Sydney for a year and we have loved it. To have a family member here is amazing, to share old memories and make new ones is incredible. We were sad to say goodbye as she heads off on her travels and then home but we have had the best year and again made the best memories.

December – Christmas time

Christmas
One of my favourite months of the year. This year we are spending it together, just the 2 of us. We are heading away on what will be our only holiday as a couple since 2014. Keep an eye on my socials for photos to follow. Merry Christmas everyone!!! See you all next year πŸ™‚

L E U R A

Leura is a small town situated in the Blue Mountains. We wanted to see somewhere different within the mountains as we have been a good few times now and luckily there is still always something new to see. Blackheath, Katoomba and Leura are the 3 main towns and so we had already visited the other 2 towns. It was my birthday at the start of the month, so we thought it would be fun to have a weekend away, a mini vacation. We wanted somewhere that we could travel to by train, so we could save the hassle of hiring a car like we normally would do. Leura has its own train station and is less than 2 hours to get to from Sydney. Perfect spot because you are within the Blue Mountain region, great for stunning scenery and long walks ☺️. I had heard Leura has lovely cascades with picnic areas, so for me, that’s what I really wanted to see. I also wanted to simply see the mountains and feel a million miles away from the normal daily routine.

We used booking.com to book a lovely cottage in Leura, a 5 minute walk from the train station. The cottage was The Priest’s Cottage at St Raphael (no priests were spotted) and it was really special. Extremely cosy with its own little electric fire and it even had electric blankets that was a really nice touch. It was freezing at night when we were there but luckily you wouldn’t have known staying in this cottage. It was very easy to find and so close to the town. A really quaint little place that was pretty spacious and had all the amenities you would hope to find. Outdoor seating area too that would be great in the summer.

First thing you do on a holiday/mini break, check in and check out your surroundings. We took a walk to the town and had a look around. The main street is really quaint with lots of cafes and really cool shops. Our favourite findings were the vintage shops (particularly The Leura Emporium Vintage Collectables) and the really cool Teddy Sinclair’s Man Cave. This shop was awesome, you could spend all day in it. It smells amazing as you walk in with all the leather wallets, bags, coats, jackets etc and it has lots of men’s accessories from shaving utensils to travel bags, jewellery, watches and gifts.

Flemish Flavours

This is the best spot, in my opinion, for a beer and some food. This bar/restaurant is situated in a heritage listed mansion overlooking Leura. The outdoor space and gardens are stunning. This is a really cool spot to try out some Belgian beers and gourmet food. The beers were delicious and the atmosphere here is quirky and cosy. Be sure to check this place out this month as the restaurant/bar will be leaving the premises here for new pastures.

Bygone Beautys Treasured Teapot Museum

If you love tea as much as I do then this is the place for you. You can pay $5.50 in to see the museum or you can be admitted for free in the condition that you purchase a cup of tea after. The museum has the largest collection of private tea ware in the world and boasts more than 5,500 teapots from all over the world and from different eras. The staff here are super friendly and helpful and the atmosphere and surroundings create the perfect place to have a cup of tea, where you can choose from an array of different varieties.

Leura Cascades

I was super excited to see these!! I was just looking forward to heading out for a walk into unknown territory and seeing something a little different. We walked to the cascades, it takes about 30 minutes from Leura itself. We brought a picnic as we’d heard there are lovely spots to sit and have lunch, plus there are no cafes or shops nearby so best be prepared. The cascades themselves are stunning. Not overly big but tucked away amongst the trees and rocks to create a special ambiance. The walking trail is pretty easy to navigate with some steep stairways if you want to head upwards and see the views overlooking the Blue Mountains. Definitely worth the trek up as the views are spectacular. As soon as you see the mountains it’s a truly breathtaking moment. You really feel the vastness of the area and at one with mother nature. There are lots of areas worthy of having a picnic, with some picnic benches also provided. You can walk as far as Katoomba from here but we decided against it. All in all the walk takes about an hour and a half.

We did, however, head to Katoomba later that day as it’s only 5 minutes from Leura on the train. We always feel we have to see the infamous 3 sisters. Although we’ve now seen them multiple times, they still manage to make us feel in awe.

Two places to check out for dinner:

1- Miss Lilian Tea House

This is authentic Asian casual dining. If you want something tasty but not overly fancy or overpriced, this place is the ticket. Food was delicious and the decor is pretty funky with a stress on birdcages. It’s in Katoomba but a bit of a walk to so we travelled by taxi here. Definitely worth the fare πŸ˜‰

2- Leura Garage

This award winning restaurant and bar has been on my list for a while as I have always heard good things about it. Using all local ingredients and wines, it was really amazing and didn’t disappoint. It is really handy, basically across the road from the train station. It is always busy so be sure to book ahead.

So that’s my mini weekend guide to Leura. Hopefully some of you find it helpful. This little town is most definitely worth seeing and is often a looked over little gem of a find. Next time your in the Blue Mountains be sure to check it out.

Thanks for reading,

W 😊

Autumn in Sydney πŸ‚πŸ

Hi there! Welcome to my latest blog post. I have been laying low for the past couple of months as I have been travelling a lot and need to build the funds back up again. In addition, we are going home at the end of this week!!! Exciting and definitely worth it, being sensible for the last couple of months πŸ˜†. Nevertheless, laying low in Sydney as autumn arrives is not too shabby at all. It has been really enjoyable to take it easy, have lots of home cooking, working out in the gym, early nights and wearing some warmer clothes. Therefore, I thought it might be the perfect time to write about activities to carry out when in the autumn season. Things to do that do not require a lot of money or effort. Appropriate for when trying to save for the next holiday πŸ˜‰.

1 – Spice Alley

I had always heard of this place and people always had a good word to say about it. I had assumed this was a restaurant. I had no idea that it is in fact what the name suggests, an alley way!! It is an alley tucked away in Sydney’s CBD (very close to Central Station) that offers an array of Asian cuisine. There are numerous kitchens in the style of street food stalls and you could be forgiven for thinking that you are entering a street taken right out of the Asian continent. It is a fantastic place, full of life and the smells of tasty Asian cuisine. This is definitely a place to check out for some authentic street food and something a little different and quirky. A very ‘Instagrammable’ place too (this is a thing now). πŸ’πŸΌβ€β™‚οΈ You can see the types of food available here.

2 – Gin Lane

If you want to try an array of different gin concoctions then this is the place for you. As part of Spice Alley this place is also a feast for the eyes. Set in an old historic house, the atmosphere is perfect for treating yourself to something a little fancy. The taste, presentation and uniqueness of these gins/gin cocktails is exquisite. The outdoor sitting is pretty cool and provides the sense of sitting in an old backstreet of 18th century London. The happy hours are daily and at different times depending on the day of the week. Find out more at the Spice Alley website above. Unfortunately I don’t have a decent photo to show you as it was quite dark inside and I didn’t want the flash on my phone to illuminate the whole room πŸ™ˆ.

3 – Vaucluse House

I have always had a love/fascination with old stately homes. Back home in Ireland we have heaps but it was cool to be able to find some here (albeit not as old πŸ™Š). Living in Bondi, I wanted to check out Vaucluse House as it’s pretty close being in the Eastern suburbs too. We took a tour of the home and thoroughly enjoyed the inside, informative knowledge. It was interesting to learn the history of the home and gardens that had once been owned and lived in by the Wentworth family. I won’t go into the details but it is worth checking out here. The gardens surrounding the mansion are really impressive and the tea rooms are extremely quaint if you are in the mood for a scone or something more substantial πŸ˜‹.

4 – Seven Shillings Beach

After visiting Vaucluse House we took a short bus ride to a beach in the Eastern suburbs that we had not seen before. It’s called Seven Shillings Beach and can be found by walking through Blackburn Gardens at Double Bay (so many names!!). The gardens aren’t that big but are quite pretty and lead to this spectacular beach. I couldn’t believe that I had never heard of this place, let alone see it. It’s a really cool beach as it offers an enclosure for swimming in the sea called Murray Rose Pool. A walkway takes you out to the sea, almost like a jetty but in the form of a walkway and back again to the beach. A really amazing spot to relax with city views in the near distance. There is also a cafe situated here for food with a view. called Red Leaf Cafe. Perfect if you forget your picnic! We cannot wait to return here 😁.

5 – Angel Place

This street is very much a hidden gem of Sydney’s CBD with many locals having never even been. It is home to a piece of art called ‘Forgotten Songs’ by Michael Thomas Hill and features many, many empty birdcages hanging from a great height. It represents all the birds that were once present and even has all of their sounds playing, changing throughout different parts of the day. It’s a real feast for the eyes and is usually pretty quiet if you are looking to take photos without any other people popping up in the picture (a rare find these days unfortunately). We were able to find this with help from Google maps.

6 – Lavender Bay

This place was a find by chance for me. I was strolling around Milsons Point over in North Sydney when I came across this beautiful bay and gardens. Here you can find Wendy’s Secret Garden, apparently Sydney’s worst kept secret πŸ™ŠπŸ€£. Here you can find many native flower species, stunning flowers and impressive views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It is a simple garden but I found myself strolling around here for ages, it’s so tranquil and feels like a safe haven from the busy every day life in Sydney. You can read more about this garden here and find out why it was created by Wendy.

Thanks a lot for taking the time out to read my blog. Sydney remains an amazing city with so much to see and do, not only in summer but also heading into Autumn πŸ‚.

Ps. I have just returned from Seven Shillings Beach for the 2nd time and I honestly think it is even better again. My new favourite beach area in Sydney!!!

Take care all,

W 😊

Cremorne Reserve πŸ’¦πŸŒΈ

I had to write a blog post about this place as it is truly magical and has all the elements required for a great day out. Every Sunday we have free, we like to do a new walk around Sydney and see new places. I use this link that gives you a run down of good walks to do around Sydney. It is my aim to complete them all soon. We picked Cremorne Reserve as it is close to us and pretty short at only 3km roundtrip. We had no expectations of this walk although I was looking forward to seeing the lighthouse that was mentioned.

You can get to this reserve by taking the ferry from Circular Quay to Cremorne, it’s the 1st stop. Once there, grab a coffee from the little coffee shop and head up the steps. You have then entered the reserve. Take a left to start the walk. You can also head right to see the Robertsons Point Lighthouse. We did this at the end of the walk so I will mention it again later.

Heading on our walk the first thing you will come to is a path veering off to the left. We were eager to see what was down there and to our surprise we found an outdoor swimming pool. It’s called MacCallum swimming pool. Honestly the walk to the pool through lots of greenery is amazing and to reach a pool at the end makes you feel truly blessed. The pool is really cool with absolutely amazing front row seat views of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge.

After a swim, head back onto the track. The walk along this is class. You have views of the water to your left with pretty houses and many, many boats. To your right are beautiful gardens and really impressive houses (like million dollar homes), how the other half live. If you like architecture, design and all things quaint then you will enjoy seeing these. There are lots of places to stop and sit, appreciate the tranquility here or pack a picnic.

Along the track we stumbled across the most stunning little hand made garden, made by 2 volunteers Lex and Ruby in 1959. The garden has many different plant and flower species and has steps that take you through and down to the waters edge. Such a delight to see and you really feel like you are entering the secret garden.

Having finished the walk and returned to the wharf, we took the path to the lighthouse. I am honestly so glad we were able to see this. I have to say, I think this is my favourite lighthouse that I have seen to date and I have seen a lot. It’s the sheer slightness of it, it’s surroundings and the quaintness that makes it stand out for me. It is like something taken from a movie. Maybe I’m a bit over the top but I really thought it was magnificent πŸ™ˆπŸ€£.

Anyhow, if you ever get the chance to visit here, you really ought to. It’s a unique location in Sydney and one that isn’t laden with tourists.

Thanks for reading!

W 😊

Nursing in Australia: Moving from the UK

Hi everyone.

As you may be aware, I have moved to Australia and am currently working as a nurse, havingΒ previously nursed in Belfast. I receive a lot of messages on how I made the move and what people need to do to become a nurse in Australia. Therefore, I thought it may be beneficial to compose a blog about what to do and offer some tips that I wish had been offered to me. It is no easy task becoming a nurse in Australia and is a complete minefield when you first start to research the process, especially if you do everything yourself. However, it is completely do-able and totally worth it when you receive your registration. I had considered hiring a migrant agent to help me as it seemed so confusing, however, it is a simple process when you break everything down and take your time. You will save a fortune doing it yourself and if I can do it, anyone can!

First things first. You will have to join AHPRAΒ (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency). From the website you can download the form for international nurses. The form is called AGOS-40 and can be downloaded from here.Β  There is lots of helpful information on the site, make sure you read every link available, it will save you time in the long run. If you have studied the nursing degree in the UK, passed everything and graduated, then you should meet all the registration requirements. You will need to ask your university to send your university transcripts directly to AHPRA. This is basically a break down of everything you have done at university, e.g. your hours of study and placements, topics covered etc. etc. The address to post this to will be at the end of the application form. Just pick a city that you want your documents to go to (to be honest it doesn’t matter which city,Β I picked Sydney because I was coming here). You can organise this before you even start your application form. AHPRA will set up a case file for you as soon as your first document arrives to them. All other documents, including your application form will be added to your case file.

Ok so let’s go through the application form. Sections A and B are self explanatory. Section C: Proof of identity can be tricky. You have to provide 1 piece of evidence from categories A, B and C. For category A, if you are using an overseas passport with current Australian visa, you can apply for a holiday visa for free here. This will suffice for the AHPRA application. If you do this, you should be ok for categories B and C.

Section D is fine, section E you will most likely be answering with NO. You will need to attach certified copies of your qualifications. You will also need to write out a list of all your qualifications, including A levels, GCSEs etc.

Section F is registration history. You previously were able to get a certificate of registration from the NMC website here. However, it now states you can get this from your original school of training.Β  Section G you will need to attach an updated version of your CV. Section H is criminal history. Question 16 you will be answering YES. You will have to carry out an international criminal history check. You can find this here.Β Question 17 will determine your English competency. You will complete a list of your schools and state that they taught you in English. It is good to organise a letter from the schools to state that you were taught in English. If the schools cannot send this directly to AHPRA, you can print the email and have it certified by a justice of the peace. Alternatively you can complete and English language test with IELTS. Question 21 regarding indemnity insurance, the answer will be YES. The following questions are fine. There is a great checklist at the end to ensure you have answered everything correctly, it is best to use this. There is a payment to be made of $520.

Having completed the application form, you can then decide which visa will be best for you. If you are under 31 and have never been in Australia, you can apply for the working holiday visa here.

If you cannot apply for this, you can apply for the sponsorship skilled migration visa. You can find details here.Β To be honest, this has changed a lot recently and causes much confusion. Basically you will will need to find a company that is willing to sponsor you in Australia. This is difficult for nurses if you want to live in the big cities. If you want to see more rural Australia then this could be for you. Many hospitals in more rural settings will offer sponsorship with great benefits.

Another option is to apply for permanent residency. Information can be found here.You will have to carry out an English test for this (IELTS is a great one to do and available in many big cities across the UK). Details can be found here.Β You will also have to gain a skills assessment. For nurses this can be done with ANMAC (Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council) and can be completed here.Β This works similarly to AHPRA in that you can send all the relevant documents straight to ANMAC or have your university etc send them directly to ANMAC. They will set up a case file for you so documents can keep arriving to them and kept in one place. If you are doing this skills assessment, it is best to send all your documents needed to AHPRA and ANMAC at the same time, that way you are not asking different people to send things twice, it can be done at the same time (I hope this makes sense). After all this, you can set up an account with the department of immigration and border protection. A tool called skill select is used to see if your skills are needed in Australia. You will submit an expression of interest here.Β When you receive a reply (usually pretty quick)Β you will know whether you can continue to apply for the visa through skill select. You will be advised then how many points you need to gain entry (think this is 60 points) and how you will gain the points needed. If you reach the number of points needed, you can apply for permanent residency! The application is completed online and is pretty straightforward. You can upload your documents needed directly to your skill select account. You can find out the outcome usually within a few months.

I know this has been a really long blog but I hope it will give some insight for those nurses seeking to work and live in Australia. Just remember, if you are sending copies of documents, you will need to have them all certified. A justice of the peace will do these for free. If you choose a solicitor you may well be charged for each document being signed. AHPRA provide information hereΒ on who can certify documents, this is pretty standard for all documents being sent to Australia.

If you have any questions at all please do not hesitate to contact me. I will be only to happy to help in any way that I can. Ps. I found www.britishexpats.com really helpful when I was doing all this. It is a forum for like minded nurses looking to emigrate. It was amazing when looking for advice.

Ok fellow nurses, thanks for reading and good luck!!!

W πŸ™‚