Travelling Australia as a Teacher

I receive at least one message a week from teachers who are planning to hit the road and want to know whether teaching whilst travelling is a viable way to fund their travels, how easy it is to get work teaching whilst travelling and how they go about registering to teach interstate. This article is only meant as a guide, and is based on my own experiences teaching whilst travelling in 2016 and 2017. Everyone’s situation is different and I strongly advise you to do your own research before travelling.

How much work is there out there?

If, like me you’re from a populated area on the east coast of Australia, you will know that finding reliable work as a teacher can be difficult. The good news is, this is not the case in many parts of Australia. Remote and regional schools throughout the country find it very difficult to find good quality teachers, especially to fill temporary or short term contracts. I registered to teach in the NT and WA and was inundated with job offers. Every time I looked for work I found it. In term 4 of 2016 I was looking for a 10 week contract in either the NT or WA. I applied for twelve positions and was offered eight. I have turned down many more contracts than I have accepted.

What do I need to do to teach interstate?

1. Apply for registration with the accreditation body of the state you wish to teach in.

If you’re from any state other than NSW, and you are fully accredited in your home state, you can apply for registration under mutual recognition. This means you only need to fill in one short form and provide some identification and proof of registration in your home state. If, like me, you’re from NSW, you can still apply for registration interstate, but you need to fill in a different form and send in your university transcripts and statements of service too. Once you’re registered in a state that is not NSW, you can then apply for mutual recognition in other states. Teacher registration costs anywhere from $80-$150 depending on the state or territory and must be done separately for each state you work in. This can usually be completed online but you’re best advised to call the accreditation body and have a chat over the phone about your particular circumstances. You cannot teach without being registered so it is best to organise this a few weeks before you start looking for work.

2. Apply for a Working with Children Check.

This is usually a fairly simple process that can be completed online. It involves proving your identity, giving some information on past addresses and paying a small fee (usually $40-$70). Again, you cannot teach without this and the process can take time so ensure you organise your clearance prior to looking for work.

3. Apply with the Department of Education.

This process is completely different in each state, but usually once you have your teacher registration and Working with Children Check, you can apply to teach with the DoE. Usually, once you have done this, you are entered into the pool of teachers looking for work and will be contacted by schools when they have appropriate vacancies. In Western Australia you do not need to complete this step, but you do need to go onto the jobs WA website and register for the fixed term contract pool.

How do I find work?

I have used three main ways to find work during my travels.

1. Schools contacting the teacher.

Once you register to teach in a state, you can elect to go on the list for short term or temporary contracts. If your experience and availability match a vacancy at a school, then the school will call you. I undertook a 2 week block at a school in Central Australia using this method.

2. Applying for advertised positions.

Many short term contracts are advertised online. I applied for an advertised position at a remote school in Arnhem Land and the school rang me the next day asking when I could start. I travelled to the school a few weeks later and had the most amazing teaching experience of my career.

3. Contacting schools directly.

When we were travelling through the southern half of Western Australia and the funds were running low, I simply emailed my CV to every secondary school south of Perth along with a letter explaining that I was travelling and was looking for 2-4 weeks work. A few days later a school just outside of Perth called me and I spent 4 weeks teaching English there. It was a wonderful position and they were very thankful to have a capable teacher fill in whilst they were looking to fill the position permanently.

How much will I get paid?

This depends on a number of factors. Each state will require you to provide university transcripts and statements of service in order for them to place you on the correct pay rung. You will generally be on a similar pay rung to that of your home state, but the actual pay varies greatly. I am from NSW and in both the NT and WA my rate of pay was significantly higher than it was in NSW. On top of this, if you take on work in rural and remote schools you may be eligible for extra loading and benefits. When teaching in Arnhem Land, we were supplied with a 3 bedroom home and our relocation costs to and from the community were compensated. When teaching in Central Australia I was paid an extra $100 a day due to the remote nature of the school.

Can I enrol my children where I am teaching?

This will depend on the rules in each state and where you are teaching. When teaching in Central Australia our 4 year old visited the preschool each day with his sister and father. When teaching in Arnhem Land, we enrolled him in the local preschool.

Why should I teach whilst travelling?

Other than the obvious reason that teaching whilst travelling will help you fund your trip, there are so many other benefits. I have gained so much experience in a wide variety of schools which has benefited my teaching practice enormously. Every place I have taught, has taught me something new. On top of this, my CV is varied and I have so many more skills listed. The other reason to teach whilst travelling, is that schools in rural and remote parts of Australia need you. They struggle to find quality teachers who are willing to go the distance.

 

I hope this has answered some of your questions and will inspire you to travel Australia and teach as you go. The paperwork involved may be huge, but it is definitely worth the effort.

In a few week's time, just as our time on the road hits a whopping 14 months, we'll be arriving back where we started. We'll be selling our caravan and then heading north to settle down for a while in a house. I am terribly sad that our epic trip is almost over. It's been one of the most amazing, life changing things we've ever done. I've loved every minute of travelling Australia with my business and my family, but there are certainly a few things I am looking forward to. Here they are in no particular order:

1. Having my own bathroom.

I am so excited about unpacking my shower bag for good. I'm excited about using a clean shower that I don't need to mop afterwards. I'm excited about going to the toilet without listening to other strangers poo in the stall next to me. I'm excited about my 4 year old being able to go to the bathroom on his own. I'm excited about toilets that flush and bathrooms that don't require a key or a code to get into.

2. Multiple rooms.

Whilst I am not looking forward to having an entire house to clean, I am looking forward to having space. I am excited about being able to retreat to a room and close the door and have some privacy. I'm excited about getting dressed in the morning without someone making toast 2 inches from my backside. I'm excited about cooking without 2 children at my feet and about being able to kindly send my children to their bedroom when they're behaving like lunatics and need some quiet time to settle down. I'm excited about having space to create that is free from distractions and is actually comfortable.

3. Having my own laundry.

I'm excited about getting rid of our twin tub and having a real washing machine again. I'm looking forward to putting my dirty washing into a machine and being able to press a button and walk away. I'm excited about being able to dry my clothes in the dryer on rainy days and about not having to carry my pegs to the clothesline. I'm excited about it taking an hour to tie dye clothing instead of 3.

4. A backyard.

I'm excited about having a veggie garden and being able to walk outside and pick my own herbs. About having grass to lay on with the kids and an outdoor space where I can relax because there's fences and gates and they can't run away when my back is turned.

5. Routine.

Whilst I love being spontaneous and I love the freedom of being on the road, I'm kind of excited about going back to a regular routine. I'm looking forward to being able to remember what day of the week it is and about actually remembering to pay the bills on time. I'm looking forward to predictability and actually getting the kids to bed at the same time every night.

6. Services.

I'm looking forward to having regular access to basic services. There's a lot to be said for being able to see the same doctor whenever someone in the family is sick. I'm looking forward to taking the kids to regular children's activities where people actually know our names and I'm excited about sending our son to preschool. 

7. Friends.

I cannot wait to have friends again who I see on a regular basis. I cannot wait to have friends to catch up with for a chat who know me back to front, who I can vent to about my family (because things don't go so well when you complain about your family to your family). I'm excited about having people to call on when I need help who I know I can return the favour to at a later date because I'll actually see them again.

8. Power, water and internet.

I'm excited about having utilities that I don't have to plug in, ones that are reliable. I am excited about having fast internet with downloads and water that tastes good all of the time.

9. A real fridge.

I'm excited about having a fridge that I can fit everything in easily, a fridge that I can see what's in it at a glance. I cannot wait to buy and cook in bulk again.

10. Mess.

I'm excited about making mess, about leaving things out on benches and the floor and not having to pack them into a tiny cupboard the next day. I'm excited about giving the kids an indoor space where they can run around and make as much mess and they want. I'm excited about leaving a mess in the kitchen and not having to the dishes immediately after meal.

 

I'm sure that after a week of living in a house again I'll have a list of 100 things I miss about living in a caravan, but at the moment I am going to focus on all the things I have to look forward to.

This afternoon was HARD. The kids wouldn't stop screaming. Tantrum after tantrum after tantrum. We had arrived in a busy caravan park, after weeks of quiet camping and many late nights and we were all tired. The kids yelled at us. We yelled at the kids and at each other and made absolute fools of ourselves. At 5:00pm we'd had enough, we put the kids to bed and I went for a walk.

During my walk, I found the ocean. I found my calm place. I found my forgotten source of abundant energy. I breathed in, I breathed out and then I understood.

The tantrums, the yelling, the crying and the difficulty of it all. You know what it was? The slow whisper of change. It's calling us. As one journey ends, another is beginning. Yes universe, we hear you. We are ready.

New Year's Eve Reflections

2016 was the year I got my first tattoo. It was the year I got rid of more than half my worldly posessions. I held a garage sale for the first time. I bought my first caravan. I learnt how to tow. It was the year I said goodbye to Sanctuary Point. I travelled 23 000km over 4 states and territories with my family. I learnt to live in a very small space with very few belongings. I discovered that I could cook amazing meals with very little. I learnt that I could hike over 11km with a toddler on my back and that I could run in 36 degree heat and not keel over. I learnt how to live without close friends and how to make new friends very quickly. I discovered that travel brings families closer together, that I still enjoy spending time with my husband and that life is easier on the road. I took my business on tour and sold my creations to people at markets all over Australia. I returned to the classroom for the first time in 3 years and rediscovered my love of teaching. I fell in love with the Northern Territory, indigenous culture and hot weather. I enrolled in TAFE and started studying for the first time in 6 years. I turned 29, celebrated my 6th wedding anniversary and spent an entire year breastfeeding.

I swear every year just gets better and better. Bring on 2017!

We're back on the road!

We're back!

After an absolutely amazing 10 weeks living in East Arnhem land in a house, with me working as a teacher, we're finally back inside our caravan. Today we drove for over 8 hours along 600km of slippery, muddy and corrugated dirt road back out to Katherine. The kids lasted 7 hours happily looking out the window before asking to watch a movie. That NEVER happens. We were worried our caravan might have gone mouldy or leaked whilst we were away as it's been so humid and wet up here but it was perfectly clean and didn't even smell stuffy. It then took us four hours to unpack the car and repack the van and we decided we've accumulated too much stuff so we'll spend the next couple of days doing a big clean out before heading over to WA. Hopefully after Christmas we'll get our website store back up and running and start to visit markets again too.

It's the small things

Rain is pouring down. We came back to Katherine from East Arnhem Land with too much stuff to fit in the caravan. I spent the afternoon running back and forth in the rain from the caravan to the front of the park meeting people who were picking up stuff I sold on the local Facebook buy swap sell page. I sold lots of stuff but then we realised the new bikes we bought the kids for Christmas don't fit in the van or car without getting rid of the old ones. After some discussion we decided to tell the kids what they're getting from us for Christmas and explained that we needed to sell their old bikes today to make space for the new ones. To soften the blow we told them they could have whatever money people paid for their bikes because, as we all know, parenting is half bribery. Dave barbequed dinner in the camp kitchen whilst the kids ran around in the rain. They were wet and muddy but we couldn't be bothered showering them so we didn't. Months ago we had ripped the table out of the caravan and suddenly it's wet season and we're like, where the f@#$ are we going to eat when it's raining? But I had the genius idea to put the outdoor table inside the caravan and it actually fit. We ate dinner and felt like we'd conquered Everest, because we had somewhere dry to eat dinner and enough space for all our stuff.

Crafting on the Road

In the two months we spent preparing for our trip, one of the things I spent the most time planning was how I was going to run a handmade business whilst travelling Australia in a caravan. The idea of having a Tree & Pixie stall at markets all over the country really excites me. I love what I do and having the opportunity to take my products to hundreds of different places and expose them to thousands of different people is truly amazing. When you’re a crafter and run a handmade business you do what you do for love, not money. What I do probably won’t make me rich, but I get real pleasure not just out of being creative and making beautiful things, but also from seeing other people enjoy the things I make. I hope to bring the things I make to as many people as possible over the next year.

A week and a half into our trip and I’ve set up a Tree & Pixie stall at one market so far, in Mudgee NSW. My plan is to find a market around every two weeks to hold a stall at so I have time in between to create stock, look after the kids and enjoy our travels. I made quite a bit of stock before we left home, but had to maintain a balance between having enough to fill a stall and website, but also not have it take up too much space in the car. Mudgee markets were very successful and I found that I hadn’t quite made enough stock and that the car (thankfully) had a bit of empty space meaning I could make more stuff before the next markets.

We’ve spent the past 3 days staying in a lovely little caravan park in Armidale, NSW. This meant we’ve had mains electricity, access to running water and a laundry, perfect conditions for creating fabric button accessories and tie dying clothing. In two days I have tie dyed twenty two items of clothing and made twenty fabric button hair clips and ten bookmarks. There’s still more to do, but the messy part of the job is out of the way.

Before we left home, I thought long and hard about how I was going to tie dye clothing on the road. I set myself up with a couple of buckets with lids and stocked up on dye and salt. Yesterday I put my new set up to the test and tie dying whilst camping was easier than I expected. Our caravan has hot water, so I could fill up the buckets and mix the dye at our campsite. I just used the laundry sink in the caravan park to rinse the items when I was done and chucked them all in the industrial washing machines. I even found a great spot inside the caravan to hang up the clothes to dry. The only thing I forgot to pack is an iron, so I might have to pick one up along the way. I think I’ll very quickly get used to doing this on the road.

In many ways, tie dying has proved easier to do on the road than making fabric button accessories. It takes up quite a bit of space to lay out all my fabrics and design each item and space is something we don’t have much of these days. It hasn’t helped that the weather has been rainy and miserable. Thankfully the caravan park we’re at has a large rec room that seems to be empty at night. Once the kids were asleep, I sat down in front of the TV in the rec room with a glass of wine, some leftover Easter eggs and spent a good couple of hours crafting. Space! Me time! Bliss.

The one thing I didn’t think through before we left home was gluing together my fabric button accessories. The glue I use is industrial strength. You shouldn’t breathe in the vapours and it takes 48 hours to set. At home I just glued everything outdoors and then left it all my garage to dry. The only solution I came up with for completing this process on the road is to glue everything outdoors and then sit it in a container (with predrilled aeration holes) under the caravan for two days. The only problem is that the container I have brought with me can only hold around 20 items at once. I wasn’t anticipating selling so much at each market and having to make so many items as once. I guess I need a bigger container.

 

I’m sure in time I’ll streamline the whole process and find my feet when it comes to crafting and running a handmade business whilst on the road. Even with the challenges of such a confined and unique space, it really is a joy to be creating beautiful objects for others to enjoy. I can’t wait until our next market. Northern NSW here we come.