A Travellerspoint blog

Life as a Working Woman!

sunny 30 °C

If there is one thing I cannot get my head around, it is the fact that everything bureaucratically-minded is so lax in Darwin! Let me start from the beginning though...

As you may have read before, I was called into UNO MS one Wednesday afternoon to have a chat with Ben's boss Ewan about taking up a secretarial position at the company. Rather than it being an interview, I was called upon to attend an induction meeting with Ben about the company, its origins, its policies, some background information about Darwin, and so on. It was all a little overwhelming, especially as I did not apply for any roles and had no idea what was coming at me. It's just the way things go in Darwin, it seems! And so on Thursday and Friday, I had my first two days of work at UNO MS with Ben and Ewan. Unfortunately, these first couple of days also turned out to be the last. It was lovely being able to drive into work with Ben, we really enjoyed each other's company and Ben's boss Ewan is the sweetest employer you could imagine, but it soon became clear that I was not cut out for the job.

First of all, I was surrounded by engineers and my work involved things which my brain could not cope with. The tasks at hand weren't necessarily difficult, but I was merely following instructions without understanding the reasoning behind it. Add to this that UNO MS would be hitting their 3rd anniversary in a few weeks time - an all important milestone for new companies! - and I was constantly worried that I would be doing something wrong and prevent them from achieving their goals mistake-free. It confirmed that maybe this was not the right career-path for me and I was happy when the weekend came and I was given some time to think my options over.

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UNO MS

Fast-forward to Sunday evening and as I was chatting away to my grandmother on our newly installed landline phone, my mobile phone rang and Ben picked up. As it turned out, I had received a phone-call from the hotel across the corner and Ben - hopeless as he is when it comes to answering important messages - forgot to get a contact number for me to return the call. What followed was a mad rush for me to get out of my pyjamas into something decent, and run across the road to the hotel, hoping to catch the mysterious lady, supposedly named Lyn, but in actual fact called Glenys (close enough Bennie, close enough!) at the reception desk. She was completely gob-smacked that I had come in to see her at this time of night, but it soon paid off as I walked out with a uniform and an offer to start work the next morning! Yeay!

And this is how, on Monday 25th of June, I started work at Quest. Unfortunately, another girl had recently been hired to take over the front office position, so they wanted to take me on as a housekeeper with the promise of getting me trained as soon as possible. Everything would be discussed during my first "trial week". During my first few hours I was taken through all the routines of cleaning and servicing rooms and then it was up to me to remember every detail and get on with it under team manager Christine's supervision. The work was stressful and physically exhausting. The work did not bother me but more so the fact that everything had to be timed. Housekeepers literally get 35 minutes to get a studio flat ready and this includes getting rid of rubbish that has been left behind, stripping linen and making the beds, thoroughly cleaning the bathroom, the windows, the air-conditioning filters, doing the dishes, dusting the room, vacuuming and mopping the floors as well as restocking all the additional goodies such as magazines, notebooks, soaps and gels, all sorts of towels (all to be folded in a certain matter) which all had their own special place in the room. The work is incredibly pedantic. Painfully so even. I suppose that if guests leave the room behind in a reasonable state, it can be done in 35 minutes providing you rush and speed things up. If you have messy clients, it can easily take you more than an hour to get the room looking sparkly and new again. And with me being a bit of a perfectionist, I knew from the very beginning that this could not be done without breaching the high standards that Quest had to adhere to and I soon realised that the other staff were cutting corners wherever they could.

As the days went on, I started to feel more and more miserable and it was made worse by the fact that none of the managers talked to me about working hours, pay rates, receptionist training and so on. I had to take every day as it came and was unaware of what lay in store for me. It wasn't until Friday afternoon whilst speaking to the main manager that it became clear that Quest had been leading me on and that the receptionist training was first of all unavailable until December and something they could not promise me. It made me rethink my situation over the weekend and it was obvious that this would be the end of another career-path for me. I suppose a lot of it has to do with pride as well as the knowledge that being a housekeeper here was not going to bring me any further opportunities to grow in the industry. And since Quest is a small chain, housekeeping was all they could offer me.

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Quest Parap

And so it was back to square one on the job front. The relaxed attitude towards job-recruitment was starting to frustrate me. Sure, it is great that employers are so lax about rules and regulations, but it also means that quite often you do not get to understand the fine print until much later in the game. I never even saw or signed a contract whilst at Quest! And had they been up front with me and taken the time to take me through the work requirements and long term employment plan, I would have been able to save myself from diving into another disappointment. After a week of sulking and sending endless e-mails to what seemed like a gazillion businesses, companies, organisations, you-name-it, I decided that it was time to go for a different approach. The sectors which were "absolutely" and "immediately" going to get me a job, because of my "incredible" language and people skills turned out to be a dead end. And in all honesty, I was getting sick and tired of hearing people's nonsense of how "easy" it would be for me to find something as well as the cliché "you will be fine" and "everything will be alright". Do you have an omniscient glass ball I am not aware of? No? Well, then quit feeding me false hope! And so I went for the one thing which seemed impossible ("too many laws", "too many restrictions", "you do not possess the right qualifications") and chased my dream of being an early childhood teacher/ educator...

Armed with a full case-study including a CV, a personally addressed cover letter, printed references glorifying my existence and copies of every possible document, I began my career hunt and stormed into every childcare centre in Darwin and suburbs. Being able to hand in a complete file really worked to my advantage as it stressed how serious I was about this. Within a few weeks I had landed myself interviews at the best childcare centres in Australia, one in particular which I had set my eyes on for months but could not previously get through to. Euphoria!

Unfortunately, neither of my interviews could be scheduled for that same week, so there was another week of anxious thumb-twiddling awaiting me. And once the interview with my favoured childcare centre was done, dusted and successful, I was challenged to a bureaucratic conundrum, with another long waiting time, which is still in full swing today...

But... - and there is in fact a very happy "but" to this story - I can now at last let you all in on the fact that very soon, I too will be a working woman! More details on where, what, why, how, and so on will follow once everything is set in stone. There is still a slight chance that things will go pear shaped, but I am obviously hoping that I at last struck the right chord! We shall see! One thing is certain, never take someone's word when it comes to job-hunting or anyone who utters the words "you'll be fine"! I learnt that much!

Much love, a very happy Emilie xxx

Posted by Fat Face 20:11 Archived in Australia Comments (4)

Darwin, June & July 2012

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Despite the last blog post's referral to some "sulking" and "fretting", we weren't as stupid as to waste our time away entirely. In between our unhappy episodes, we did actually get up to doing some fun things as well. So rather than the weekly diary-like entries of our New Zealand blog, we will take you on a trip down memory lane of the past month and a half!

Saturday, 23rd June finalised both Ben's first working week (aswell as the end of my trial-week) with UNO MS. We had our very first sleep-in since living in Glasgow, which was heavenly. After breakfast, we went to the local market - right on our doorstep - with Scott, followed by a quick dash into the Casuarina shopping centre. For your own sakes, it is best you remember the word 'Casuarina' as it will no doubt be featuring in this blog on a regular basis ;) As soon as we returned back home, Scott received the call we had all been waiting for: the nine-seater sofa was finally ready to be picked up! And so we dropped our shopping bags and set off to the furniture store. From there, we were given the address to the depot centre, which would be closing in 30 minutes. We made it just in time only to realise that the trailer given to us by the furniture store was not big enough to fit the sofa components on. So whilst Ben and Scott dropped the first bits off in the garage back home, I was in charge of guarding the remainder of the sofa until they could come back for it. Another trip to the furniture store to drop the trailer back off and back to the house to assemble the sofa. Or so we thought... the sofa was too big to fit through the door frame! Up through the balcony then! I was in charge of ensuring the items would not scrape against the wall downstairs or squash any of the plants, whilst documenting the scene. Ben and Scott simply had to pull up the items. The first items came up smoothly, until we came to the biggest item. Ben and I were meant to meet up with the French couple, Laurie and Julien, whom we had met through HelpX, so we invited them along a little earlier to see if they could lend a hand. At that point, our flatmates Kate and John came back from their outing as well, so we had more than enough people to make it happen. What followed can be seen on this video:

Sofa Video

Sofa safely delivered through the balcony, we quickly assembled it and stared at it in awe for a moment before getting ready for the evening. There was an Indian festival on at the beach, where the Mindil sunset markets are usually held and so together with Laurie, Julien and Scott, we went out to enjoy it.

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India at Mindil

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Feeling proactive and realising that we had not properly explored Darwin CBD (central business district), we set off on a walk to town on Saturday 30th June. Our apartment is located a short 30 minutes walk from the town centre and we thought it would be a nice way of getting to know our surroundings a little better. As we stupidly decided to head out in the heat of the day, we took the shorter walk by the motorway, rather than going for the scenic walk. From there, we went to the Darwin Waterfront, which is the St. Tropez of the city. As the beaches in Darwin are unsafe, Darwin Waterfront has created a netted water inlet for tourists, locals and families to enjoy a day by the water. The netting keeps out the dangerous predators and there is a really great holiday atmosphere around. We sat down and enjoyed the people walking by for a little while...

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Walkway to the Waterfront

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Darwin Waterfront

Darwin Waterfront also boasts an outdoor 'Wave Pool', similar to the attractions you will find in most water recreation parks. There is an entrance fee to enjoy the waves and it is packed with tourists, but even though I doubt we will ever try it out, I like the initiative to give children the option to experience waves without the fear of having a limb chopped off by a hungry crocodile.

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Wave Pool

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Sunday, 1st of July marked the annual celebration of the Northern Territory, also known as "Territory Day"! Ben and I were woken up to the sound of loud bangs and when we opened our bedroom door we stumbled onto an assembly of fireworks and crackers of all shapes and sizes. Our flatmates John and Scott spent an obscene amount of money on what was the only day of the year during which Australians were legally allowed to buy and set off fireworks. And they were not going to let this opportunity pass them by without a bang or two:

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Happy Territory Day!

In the evening, we set off to see Darwin's biggest fireworks spectacle. We decided it was safer to walk to town and were happy we did as around every single street corner someone was setting off their own collection of fireworks and crackers. The sky was adorned by thousands of colourful explosions and we got so side-tracked by it all that we did not even realise that we missed the actual show. It was such a surreal evening. Everyone channelling their inner child, with all the consequences imaginary. With explosions coming from every angle, we did fear for our own lives a few times, but as we sat by the beach, we could see Darwin lighting up as never before. It was magical!

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On Friday, 13th July, after a week of sticky humid highs, Scott took us for an outing to nearby Lake Alexander. It was a beautiful tropical lake, close to the beach and most excitedly: it was safe to swim! Darwin may be situated on miles of beautiful sandy coast line with a handful of lush rivers, but unfortunately, crocodiles and box jelly fish make it a no-go zone. So encountering a place to swim that isn't a swimming pool, is something very exciting!

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Evening Swim at Lake Alexander

The muddy ground had soaked in all the warmth and so the water was just perfect for an evening dip while the sun set around us. As lovely as it was, both Ben and I did fire Scott with questions as to how sure he truly was about there not being any crocs or jellyfish - we were petrified! It was a great end to the working week and when we had enough of it, we drove to the East Point and enjoyed the last moment of the sun sinking into the ocean.

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East Point Sunset

We enjoyed it so much that the three of us went back to Lake Alexander the next day to enjoy a lazy Saturday afternoon in the water. We did get a little sunburnt, but other than that, it was pure glorious relaxation! That evening, to get rid of the salt from the lake, we had our first dive into the swimming pool at night, when it was all lit up. It was really great!

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Day Swim at Lake Alexander

PS: a week or so after our adventures in Lake Alexander, Ben's boss Kirsty told him that there have been incidents of crocodiles escaping through the fencing around the nearby beach and finding warmth and some human meat in the lake. We have no idea whether or not anyone was devoured, but it is safe to say that we are unlikely to be swimming there in the near future. We'll most likely go for a paddle around the edges of the water and not unless there are more than 5 other chunky people in the lake. Scary stuff.

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On Sunday, 15th July, Scott held a pre- flat-warming party with friends from work. The apartment was not fully furnished yet, so it did not qualify as a proper flat-warming party, but you could have never guessed that based on Scott's incredible hosting. He pulled out all the stops and bought oodles of snacks, bottles of refreshments and delicious sausages for the barbecue. We did not know any of his work mates, but it was still a great day and we really enjoyed it.

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During the dry season, the Darwin Waterfront organises a free outdoor movie every month and on Sunday, 22nd of July, they decided to show Steven Spielberg's adaptation of the famous Belgian comic book hero: "Tintin". It was really great to sit by the water, huddled on the ground with a blanket and nothing but stars above us. It was lovely!

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Tintin

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Other than that, we have regularly been going to some of Darwin's amazing tropical markets. There are many more to explore and now that we have somewhat of a disposable income, we are planning on organising a "market marathon" one of these weekends. You will get the full account with pictures and videos whenever that happens. One thing is certain: we love the markets!

So, as you can see, it has by no means always been "doom and gloom" lately. We are getting out and about as much as we can and are hoping to be able to experience Darwin even more over the coming months. We better make the most of it, as some of the outings will be limited during the dreaded Wet Season. Much love and take care x

Posted by Fat Face 06:20 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Rekindling our Fire

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I owe you all a very big apology for not having kept up with my blog writing. There seems to have been no end to the busyness and crazyness of our current lives. When we have not been working or actively looking for work, we have been putting furniture together for the flat, going in and out of the Casuarina shopping centre to buy necessities such as food and work-related things and catching up on sleep. Add to this the usual bonding with flatmates and catching up with friends and family now that we have wireless and unlimited internet (for the first time in over a year!) and it seems as though we hardly have any free time on hands. Well... that isn't entirely true. See, Ben has had some trouble getting into the whole work routine and I have had some trouble adjusting to sitting at home waiting and hoping that I will get a call one day from someone who would be happy to employ me. We are slowly, but surely getting beyond the feeling-sorry-for-ourselves stage and so it is time for me to come out of my shell and let you in on what has really been going on lately.

Making a choice based on rational thinking, rather than impulsively going for the obvious means that it takes time for the heart to follow into the head's footsteps. After a rush of non-stop mad rush of events we are finally settling in, although despite our good fortune, this took us some time. For a long time, we were living off pennies and when our first pay checks came in, that money was immediately spent on necessities: paperwork had to be filed in Australia, as well as shipped over from back home, rent and utilities had to be paid on time, we needed new clothing for work to compensate for our old rags that seem to have gone through war and back, we had to buy groceries, Ben desperately needed a new laptop, and so the list continued on. Other than the few items to help create a home for ourselves, everything we bought was a necessity, leaving nothing more than a handful of loose change. Splashing out big amounts of cash was never something we were good at anyway and we are used to living frugally and managing our money to the nearest cent, but it was frustrating that it postponed getting to know Darwin and surrounds better. And as what usually occurs when you have time to ponder about every nitty gritty detail: you dive into the negate rather than seeing the positive. And let me be honest in saying that we did you a big favour not to let you in on our ridiculous mind tricks of that time!

All things considered, we have had a very lucky streak. Sometimes, however, we wish things could run a little slower. It would have been nice to enjoy our apartment for a few days instead of moving in on Sunday afternoon and starting a new job on Monday morning. And it would have been nice to spend some time getting to know Darwin. We know the Casuarina shopping centre like the back of our hand, but the CBD and surroundings is still one big unknown mass of land. Up until recently, we had not even tested our pool out yet!

But slowly and surely, things are falling together. We are getting back into the routine of cooking and eating our own meals at our own pace, whenever we want to. We are able to sleep in during the weekends again and we can stay up however long we want to. In a way, we have gained back some of our personal freedom, although being tied to one single place after being on the road for so long is also something we are slowly having to get used to. Life is a funny thing: when you are travelling, you dream of a stable home and income; when you have a home and a stable income, you dream of travelling again. Either way, the concept of freedom is somewhat distorted. As is the misconception that people have about working in Australia. Sure, the hourly pay rates are high and the opportunities aplenty, but the cost of living is very high too. Without exaggeration, even the simplest things such as food, clothing, books, transport, etc. are twice as expensive as in Europe.

So here we are: more than a month after last posting a proper blog post, but oodles more positive! And giddy with excitement that a big fat pay-check came into our account today!!! Not that we will go on a mad shopping spree, but it will be nice to be able to focus on getting some basic items for the apartment, to stock up our pantry on all the foods we dreamt of cooking and to be able to enjoy Darwin's bonanza of wonderful tropical markets. Ben has also been dreaming of getting a book or two and we are excited that we can finally experience the infamous "deckchair cinema" one day soon too! I suppose you could say that we will at last be able to continue on with the living, rather than with the fretting. And that is a very exciting prospect. Add to that, that I will hopefully - fingers crossed! - be able to start my new job soon (blog post to follow!) and the world will be an infinitely happier place for us both. Anyway, dear blog readers, I assure you that with our rekindled excitement and love for life, the blog writing will at last be able to continue on as before. So, join us on our explorations in and around Darwin!

Much love xxx

Posted by Fat Face 05:17 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Our New Home

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New home equals new address and it feels so good to be able to pass this on to you:
Ben & Emilie, Mitaros Place, Parap, NT 0820, Australia.
Explanation: 16/4 means: Unit 16, Building 4. NT means Northern Territory and is the standard abbreviation used across the country. It is a handy 5 minutes to the CBD. This housing estate is so new that it does not yet feature on Google maps let alone on any of the local maps, so no worries if you cannot find any information about it! For an idea of where we are located, please see the customised map below:

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Our location on the map (yellow home) Darwin CBD (blue info icon) Ben's work (blue man)

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Sunday, 17th June: Moving into the apartment:

We moved in on Sunday afternoon and Scott was so kind as to give us a lift from our current home-stay in Wagaman to Parap, so that we did not have to haul around our bags and groceries in the heat. When we arrived, the apartment was just as amazing as we remembered it to be the evening before. This time, we also got to meet Kate and John, a lovely Australian couple that are renting the other room. It all went so smoothly that it felt as though we had known them for a long time and we were happy that we were going to be sharing our home with nice people. Kate and Scott gave us another tour of the house, this time in a little more detail. Even though we were moving in with nothing more than our clothes, our laptops and some groceries, there was nothing major to worry about as Scott bought the kitchen utensils, crockery and pots, as well as the necessary cleaning appliances and products, etc. for us all to use. "If you are going to buy something, make sure it is something which is lacking - there is no need to waste your money". It is very sweet of him and means we can save our money until we get our first pay check. So after unpacking, catching up with our new "roomies" and generally feeling very happy with ourselves, we made another trip to Casuarina Square and bought some necessities such as bed linen, proper fresh towels, clothes hangers, etc. It was such a lovely feeling being able to buy things for our new home and we were such happy bunnies! The nicest thing was that Ben could have a proper night sleep in his new home before his first day of work, rather than beginning a new chapter with his head full of worries.

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Our new home!

Inside our new home:

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Floor plan of our apartment.

The apartment is newly built and very modern. The floor plan above is exactly how our apartment is laid out and this is what it offers in a nutshell: clean lines, neutral colours, granite bench tops which grace the kitchen and the bathroom, fully tiled floors, spacious rooms, choice of both fans and air-conditioning in every space, separate laundry room, underground secure parking with a storage cage per apartment, on-site pool, tropical gardens and a large private balcony with power point and tap so that we can one day entertain outside. Scott obviously lives in the master bedroom with ensuite (see 'bed 1' on the plan above), Kate and John have chosen 'bed 3' and so we live in 'bed 2', which so happens to be the second biggest room.

We are still waiting for some of the furniture to be delivered. It was due over a week ago, but as with everything in the Northern Territory, the relaxed approach of the people means it is taking a lot longer. Poor Scott hasn't even got a bed yet! As of yet, the living room and balcony look very bare and somewhat sterile. There is a big elegant dining table with the most comfortable chairs and there is a gigantic TV with all the latest gadgets. Not much really, but luckily all the important areas are finished such as the bathroom, the spare bedrooms and the kitchen.

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The beautiful kitchen and dining area

As for the bedrooms, Scott provided us with comfortable beds with soft leather back panels (amazing for sitting up to read a book), pillows and big spacious cupboards (no more living out of our suitcases!). If we want more things, we will need to sort that out for ourselves, but luckily there are some bargains to be found to start us off with.

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Our spacious cupboard! (before we cluttered it with our things)

Modern elegant apartments aren't usually the type of homes we would go for, but in Darwin, this new build has a lot of advantages compared to traditional housing. First of all, it is new and built to perfection. This means that we can safely know that there will not be any defects, leaky roofs during the wet season, that problems will be attended to in a jiffy, and that it is as cyclone proof as possible - very important! Then there is the fact that Darwinians have an unjustified and somewhat disproportionate paranoia about aboriginal crime and as a result, insurance companies demand that every property is entirely fenced off, has bars in front of every window and that all the doors are reinforced. Additionally, most people have aggressive dogs guarding their homes that ferociously bark at any passer-by. It makes the homes look uninviting, dark and prison-like. And then of course, there is the issue of living on the ground floor and attracting venomous creatures to come and pay you and your shoes a little visit. We do not have to worry about any of it and that in itself is priceless. I think we got ourselves a pretty good deal here!

More pictures to follow as soon as it is all furnished and it becomes more homely!
Take care and much love to you all, (a very happy) Ben & Emilie xxx

Posted by Fat Face 23:28 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Best Weekend of Our Lives!

- Times They Are a-Changing! -

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We have just had the busiest craziest most life-changing week of our lives. Well, going to Ghana and then to New Zealand was all of the above as well, but wait for it, this news is pretty special as well!

We decided upon arriving in Darwin that Ben should look for jobs first, as being an aerospace engineer is a very specialised field and work might not be as easy to come by. Then that way, if the search turned out to be futile, we could move elsewhere to try our luck without being tied by anything or anyone. Since our arrival, we both helped each other look for work and more than 60 CVs were sent out to different companies and organisations found through job advertising, the local newspaper, recruitment agencies, public announcement boards, the yellow pages and so on. On top of that we both created profiles on several websites, which was incredibly time-consuming. For a while, we really doubted our chances and were slowly thinking that we had made one giant mistake coming to Darwin, so far from any other Australian city. But then, something amazing happened...

On Monday, 11th of June - a bank holiday as well - Ben received a call from Kirsty, the director of the small engineering company UNO Management Services. She had come across Ben's profile online, through the one website which requested the least bit of information, and asked him to send a current CV and cover letter. The following day, on Tuesday, Ben found out that Kirsty was leaving the Northern Territory for a few weeks and that her partner, Ewan, would be getting in touch with him shortly. And so he did. Within a day, a date was set for what we assumed would turn to be a gruelling interview. On Friday, 15th June, Ben set off, armed with all kinds of documents, his passport, his CV and some bullet points and reminders of a rehearsed speech about why he would make an ideal contribution to the company, why he came to Darwin and so on. It turned out to be a waste of time as the company had pretty much decided already to take Ben on regardless of any references and all they wanted to discuss was working conditions, current projects, additional incentives, and a casual: "any chance you can start on Monday?" - "What, like starting work?", let's say neither of us saw that one coming! Nor any of the things that followed the conversation, such as the offer to get Ben a company phone as an incentive and when finding out that he did not have his own vehicle, the promise to look into maybe setting him up with a used company car. Or when asking about me, the request to send in a CV to see if they could possibly provide me with a part-time position too. Let's say it was a very overwhelming morning to say the least and we were literally at a loss for words. Due to the fact that Ewan had to take things over with Kirsty over the weekend, we could not spill the beans until Ben officially signed a contract as there might have been a miniscule chance that things might go pear shaped. We never got a call though and so on Monday, 18th of June, exactly a year (on the day!) since our departure to New Zealand from Glasgow, Ben walked into his new job at UNO MS! Hip Hip Hooray for Bennie!

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UNO Management Services Logo.

I have to say that we were a little worried that it all might be a scam. No way would this happen anywhere else in the world. After all, Ben never had to produce any documents, references let alone show his passport or University diploma and never did they test his supposed skills. Luckily, our fears were revoked when we walked around the Casuarina Square shopping centre and there were billboards of engineering projects fighting for the engineering award of the year from the Northern Territory Government. UNO MS was one of their candidates. Aha, so it is a legitimate company! ;)

The days that followed were full-on. On the day of the interview we realised that Ben would really need a replacement laptop after his beloved one passed away during our travels in New Zealand. We were not too sure whether UNO MS would be providing him with one on top of the mammoth of a computer which he would be working on, so we made sure to only look into laptops which could be returned and refunded even after use. It so happened that there was a 'Winter' sale on and Ben walked away with an initial $100 reduction and then another 20% off the reduced price. We could not let a bargain like that get away, so we went for it. And as long as he takes care of the device and does not scratch it, he will be guaranteed a return and refund if there were to be a need for it. Spending that much money did feel strange and somewhat sickening, especially when you have been saving your pennies and living off a tiny budget for so long. That feeling melted like ice in the sun when we opened it up and had a play with it - it's an amazing device, so powerful and exactly what he would be needing to do work from home if necessary. Leaves us with one more thing to sort out: a home!

So after an amazing job offer and a fancy new laptop, it was time to find ourselves a place to live, something we had been dreading for weeks as accommodation is very hard to come by in Darwin. The standard joke seems to be that places that offer cheap and abundant accommodation have no job opportunities, and in this case, places with many job opportunities have a severe lack of lodging. And with the financial boom in full swing, masses are being sent out to the Northern Territories to start a new career and the accommodation becomes scarcer and more expensive by the day. As a result, families that rent out a spare room in their house can ask the most extortionate amount of money as there is often nothing else around. It is both upsetting and frightening.

At first, we thought that we would just stay with another host and see whether I could make up for Ben's working hours to reach the agreement of work in exchange for food and accommodation. A host named Stefane got back to us and offered that we rent out his room instead. We could not believe our luck and so on Saturday afternoon we paid him a visit to check it out. Our happiness soon disappeared when we were shown what looked like a nuclear concrete bunker in the garden with hardly any space to move around, not a single window, a small bed and a rusty old fan as only means to cool down from the coming heat. Not only that, but half of the already tiny space was taken up by storage cupboards filled with his things. Stefane was friendly enough, but we soon realised he was a bit of a playboy. Living in his ancestral home, striving to be the new up and coming DJ of Australia and dating one of the young helpers during her very first HelpX experience, we soon got a little weary. And the price we were meant to cough up for all of that was just unbelievable. We were so disappointed.

Our only back-up was an advert which we had found online for a high end apartment in one of the most sought after suburbs of Darwin. It was clearly too upmarket for us and we had it in our minds that we would be in for a major disappointment again, but we were running out of options. And just like that we gave the landlord, Scott, a call and he came to pick us up for a viewing. He is a friendly 27 year old pilot from Sydney, who has travelled the world for two years and was offered a job on the day of his interview (hey, where have we heard this before?) and bought himself the luxurious apartment the very same day. We could immediately see why: even entering the secure car park and immaculately polished hallway, we already wondered what the heck was wrong with us. Why torture ourselves with the prospect that we could never possibly afford this place? We had been shown pictures of a show home in the same complex, but when we entered the apartment, it was even better than what we expected it to be. Three spacious bedrooms, a lovely bathroom, the most fabulous kitchen with the biggest walk-in pantry I have ever seen, a gorgeous balcony, a communal swimming pool and garden area. What more could you ask for?

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Online Advertisement for the Apartment.

Scott lived in the master bedroom with en suite, and an Australian couple was already renting one of the spare bedrooms. So only one bedroom was still up for grabs and we loved it. It was spacious and light and as with all the other furniture in the house, Scott had bought the best and most comfortable he could get his hands on. He had made sure that there was everything available for renters to move in immediately: the bathroom had been set up with additional towel rails and shelving, the kitchen had the maximum amount of cupboards to ensure there was space for everyone and everything and he had bought all the necessary appliances. The front room was still waiting for the delivery of the sofas, the internet still had to be installed and Scott was still in the process of choosing what outdoor furniture he wanted for the balcony. He has such good taste though that it did not bother us that we would not be able to see it fully furnished before making a decision. This place was simply amazing!

We were floating around on our blissful little cloud when Scott hinted that we should make up our minds sooner rather than later as another few couples were scheduled to view the room later on in the evening and all day tomorrow. And somewhat impulsively, yet entirely based on gut feelings and rational reasoning we signed the contract there and then. I have to admit that we both felt a little sick to our stomachs for a while, but we knew we had found our home and we could not let it slip between our fingers. There wasn't much to reason about though. The alternative would have been to stay in a backpackers hostel at the cheapest rate, which meant sharing a room with 8 other strangers. No guarantees of having a good night's sleep or to have any time to yourself. And the rent for this lovely apartment would not even cover the cheap backpacker dormitory room, so it was definitely a bargain! We moved in 18 hours later, on a beautiful Sunday morning :)

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Our new home!

And so ended our overwhelming, exciting, gob-smackingly amazing week(end)! Within a matter of three days we went from being homeless and unemployed, to having found the perfect home and Ben having found the most perfect job, giving me the thumbs up to start my own job hunt. It is true what they say, if you give it your all and never give up, your luck can indeed turn within seconds in Darwin. And for Ben, the rumour that you can find a job within a week has proven to be almost true: it took him exactly one week and one day!

Stay tuned for Ben's account of his very first week at work and a special blog post featuring a tour of our new home! * exciting * :) Thanks to those who have been supporting us with kind messages - we really appreciate it!

Posted by Fat Face 00:24 Archived in Australia Comments (6)

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