Yet Another Reason Why You Should Go to Australia Quick

12 February 2007

Okay, let's be blunt. Not that Australia is suffering from any major tourism low point right now, but we just want you to get there quick. There's no better place for that holiday vacation than in Australia. If you have never been here before, then don't let Australia be just something you read in books or see in the Discovery Channel. Discover it for yourself.

It's so easy to lose yourself in Australia. The first thing you'd probably be amazed to discover here is that you arrive not knowing a single soul, but only for a few seconds. Aussies are a friendly bunch, you can bet on that. Watch out for mates asking if you could kindly stop by at their table to share a beer or a cafe au lait with them, because the next thing you know, you'll be toasting with them for the nth round while you talk about both meaningful and meaningless things.

And the rest of the world is in here too. Greeks, Chinese, Indonesians, Brits, Italians, Vietnamese; the attendance sheet goes on. Walking along any of Melbourne's kaleidoscopic streets, you get the feeling you're in some kind of movie, with high-powered action, all-star cast, and grand production design. And the story goes on well into midnight, as caffeine-awake folks bounce from theater complexes to museums to parks to restaurant and back to cafes. There really is no need for a plot to the story; you just need a willing suspension of disbelief.

Of course, the most interesting part of any journey is the detours. Take a hike in the outback and discover the ancientness of Australian soil like a true aborigine. Be in your own National Geographic episode. Be your own director and photographer and plain witness. Be awed by the sky and sun and nature seen at a new and upside down (if you will) perspective.

So make Australia your holiday destination now, while you still have good knees.
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Skilled Migrants May Face Tougher Visa Tests

18 October 2006

OVERSEAS students seeking to remain in Australia as permanent residents may face strict new visa conditions as part of a government rethink of the skilled migration program.

A discussion paper being circulated by Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone flags the likely imposition of a higher English language requirement for skilled migrants to ensure they do better in the Australian job market.

It also points to the likely creation of a temporary visa category targeting overseas students studying in Australia to make sure they get skilled work experience locally before they become eligible to migrate.

The Immigration Department has appointed an outside panel of labour market experts from Monash, La Trobe and Flinders universities to assess the performance of skilled migrants in the workforce.

The evaluation of the General Skilled Migration program will focus on areas where large numbers of recent graduates with permanent resident status have flooded job markets already in oversupply.

The report will be handed to Senator Vanstone early next month for presentation to cabinet.

Changes to the skilled migration program are expected to be introduced in May.

One of the report's authors, Monash University's Bob Birrell, said that although the evaluation looked at the entire skilled migration program, it focused on onshore visas granted to students.

"There are problems, particularly with the overseas student group, because they are the most rapidly growing group," Dr Birrell said.

"The enrolment of overseas students has been mainly driven by the potential for permanent resident outcomes. So we are looking at how they are doing in the Australian labour market, and I think it's fair to say that there are some problems."
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Three Things Only Australia Can Throw At My Face

13 September 2006

Some days you just know it's all worth it.

It's only six thirty on my watch, and the coffee is percolating in its pot, and I've taken off my trainers, and I still have some time to go back to bed and sleep. But I'm too awake for that. I know the sun is good outside, perfect for just about anything.

Yikes, have I gotten too optimistic and sunshiny now? This is what Australia does to you; I've been living here for little over a year now, and I love it. It's seeping in my skin. It's an in-my-face kind of bliss.

Here are three things only the land down under can throw at me.

1. Fishes: Lots of them and all kinds. Barramundi, flathead, cobbler, gummy shark, lungfish, the list goes on. And they're always fresh! I can never figure out how to cook them properly, but I try my best, and they still come out tasting good. It helps that Australia has countless restaurants with cuisines from all over the world because when I'm feeling lazy, I just leave it to the experts.

2. Mornings: Jogging is almost a religion for me. It makes me sweaty and short of breath. If I don't jog in the morning, I'd be guilty the whole day. Haha. But seriously, I know for a fact that the Australian air and sun is the healthiest. And you have to admit, there's simply nothing like being the first to see the sunrise, hearing birds chirp, making friends with other joggers, and knowing you're alive. Simply put, in Australia, I learned how to run for my life.

3. Market Days: Which is to say, everday. Australia has lots of good and exciting markets. Exciting because you never know what you're going to see and get. It's a hodgepodge of everything: Chinese incense, German sausages, Italian herbs, New Zealand pavlova, Greek cheeses. To shop here is to take a trip around the world.

At the end of the day, it's never really about what kind of stuff you're going to bring back home. Not jade bracelets, or rutabagas, or cocoa tablets, or Japanese lanterns for that matter. Whether I'm on the beach or in the outback, or a sushi bar, or a football stadium, I'm always sated when I get back to my house. Sated with the friendship of people. It's about participating, it's about involving one's self. I'm in Australia, and it's all that matters.

Neoli Marcos
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