24 December 2006

Arriving in Melbourne in summer - clothes

Summer in Melbourne is unpredictable. A day may start with hot north winds and reach 40 degrees C, before a cool change in the afternoon which drops the temperature to 20 degrees in half an hour. Then the next 3 days can be cool and wet, with night temperatures down to 10 degrees and maximum daily temperatures below 20 degrees. A few days later the wind direction will change and the temperature rise again.

For people coming from tropical climates, you need to bring warm clothes for the cool nights. People coming from cooler climates can be uncomfortable on the hottest days and you'll need to bring something cooler than jeans. Air conditioning is not always installed in homes or workplaces.

Australia gets some of the highest levels of UV in the world. I think all foreign visitors are surprised by the ferocity of Melbourne's summer sun. Spend too long outside without sunscreen and you will change colour. If you have ever been sunburnt, bring some sunscreen (sun burn cream) with you.

18 November 2006

Factory Outlet Shopping

Shopping at factory outlets, markets and clearance centres is a great way to buy clothes and other items at way below ordinary retail prices. I've created a community search engine and put it the right of the page. You can use my Discount Melbourne Swicki to search for the best markets, warehouse shops, factory outlets and fashion sales in Melbourne - from DFO clearance centres in Cheltenham, where I've bought fashions at heavily discounted prices, to sportswear in Smith Street Collingwood.

08 August 2006

Wanna enjoy free caLLs using a VoIP facility??


Heard of Yahoo phone, Skype n other VoIP softwares ???
Well here is one which gives you free talking minutes for selected countries..

The software is from Axill Europe Limited and the product is "Globe7".


*FREE calling by watching videos
*Earn half a cent of a dollar (USD) for every one minute of watching videos on Globe7 to make free international calls.
*FREE 1GB storage space!
*Upload files of your choice and share with your Globe7 friends.
*Breaking News
*View latest News feeds in your Globe7. Customize News feeds as per your choice.*
*Video Calls
*Free High quality PC to PC Video calls with your Globe7

Thats the general features Globe7 offers...
The interesting part is that who ever downloads the software from the globe7 messenger website will get 100 minutes of free talk time***

*** Free talk time can be used for calling,
-Aussie land line
-Both mobile and land line of US
-Both mobile and land line of HongKong
-And many more.. Check the Globe7 website for more details

All new users will get free credit of ONE US$ (can call any mobile/landline in the world using this credit). Also there are a number of "sponsored minutes and credits to be won. For more on this and for downloading the messenger log on to

Please check your firewall/proxy settings before using globe7..

02 August 2006

Customs/Quarantine Declaration Cards

Advice from Sophia to students about to arrive from India:

Unlike India, Aus has very strict customs and quarantine laws, which people there aren't aware of (had to laugh when my grandpa told me to take mangoes with me). Don't bring any milk products or fresh fruit (they will throw these away/make u throw these away and if you don't or don't declare it, they will fine you). Some non/incorrect declarations can lead to prosecution.

So make sure you declare (by ticking off things on the form they give u on the plane), that you're bringing food, etc if u do bring food because the quarantine laws are really strict and you can end up with a massive fine or worse if you don't declare something you've brought with you (however minor you may think it is) and they find out.

Anytime I travel overseas (not just India cos I hardly go), I tick everything that I may remotely have. For example, I had antibiotics and on the checklist, medicines were categorised with non prescribed drugs or something along the lines of something illegal you may have... and I got asked about it and I'm like ye it was just antibiotics and the officers were like ye that's cool.

Also, you can bring more than $10000 into Aus but you need to declare that too on the same card.

Better to be safe and tick if you're unsure than sorry!

01 July 2006

Voice over IP. A cheaper way to phone?

I'm sick of paying so much to in phone bills. Every month I pay about $100 for landline, broadband and mobile. I don't even make many calls. $80 of that is for the privilege of having landline and broadband connections. All I really want is the internet but how do you get broadband internet without having to tack it onto a phone line? In the past, the only way was if you were lucky enough to be in a cabled area*, or you were unlucky enough to live in student accommodation with broadband. Now there's another way, Wireless Broadband. Plans range from about $30 per month & I'm looking at getting one at about $35 - $40 per month. There are some special discounts here in the ISP area.

So what's the point? Once you have a good broadband connection you can use it for your phone calls too. Fine, you can use all the free PC to PC services, and PC to phone eg(Skype Out) but you can also get a "normal" phone service from Engin at a cheaper price than the landline telcos. One of my friends has been using it for the past couple of years & there's no way she'd change back. At $10 a month, she gets voicemail and 10c untimed calls around Australia and doesn't have to keep her PC switched on. As a bonus, with Engin her number isn't listed in the white pages, so she doesn't get sales calls from call centres.

*Find out whether you can get cable from the major telcos' websites, eg bigpond broadband availability.

28 June 2006

Opening a bank account in Australia

Which Bank?
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Opening a bank account

The Australian bankers association says

"When you open a bank account, for the first time or with a new bank, you’ll be required to complete a ‘100-point check’. This is a test that the bank uses to make sure you are you, and not someone posing as you, in an attempt to commit fraud. It’s the bank’s first line of defence against identity theft and money laundering.

To open the account you’ll need to take along some identification (ID), such as a birth certificate, a driver’s licence, and/or a Medicare card (you need to make up 100 points according to the list below). Once you’ve provided sufficient ID, the bank will be able to open your account.

You will also need to provide your tax file number (TFN) so that you can be identified for tax purposes. While this isn’t essential, if you don’t provide your TFN, any interest your accounts earn will be taxed at the highest rate."

Some banks may insist that you have a permanent address in Australia, although I don't think this is a legal requirement.

The 100 point check:

Group A Must include at least one of these
*Birth Certificate (persons under 18) 100 points
*Passport (for persons under 18) 100 points
*Passport (for persons arriving in Australia in the past 6 weeks) 100 points
*Passport (current or expired within 2 years) 70 points
Australian Drivers' licence (if the licence is a replacement for a lost licence at least 2 other forms of ID are required) 40 points
Australian Tertiary Education Institution Photo ID card 40 points

Group B
*Birth Certificate 70 points
* Citizenship certificate 70 points
Public Utilities record 25 points
Medicare Card 25 points
Financial Institution Passbook, debit or credit card 25 points

*only one of these may be used. i.e. a Passport and birth certificate only count as 1 form of ID.

27 June 2006

Clothes to bring for a Melbourne winter

First of all, if you're staying for a year or more, don't buy a whole lot of warm clothes in your home country to wear in Melbourne. Inevitably the fashions here will be different & you'll either be left with a whole lot of clothes you won't use or feel out of place for the next six months. If you arrive in June or July, there should be warm clothes here in the shops at half the normal price, as they sell out of their winter stock.

My advice seems to conflict with others talking of the high price of clothing here. Do bring any warm clothes you already have, especially underwear and bedding, as clothes are cheaper in some parts of the world. You can expect to pay $A50 for a sweater, $A100 for a coat, $50-$100 for a pair of shoes. If you bug me, I'll write a blog on where to go to get clothes cheaply.

What you'll need:

  • sweater / jumper / pullover / windcheater
  • coat or jacket
  • closed footware eg: shoes, boots, etc.
  • probably a scarf
  • gloves and hat are purely optional. You don't need to buy these before you arrive.
Melbourne winter temperatures get down to 2°C regularly, but only at night. The daily variation is wide, with daytime temperatures commonly reaching 14 or 15° C or even higher, even in the winter months.

22 June 2006

Accommodation advice to an arriving overseas student.

I assume you are on a low budget, in which case a "hostel" will probably be the best place for the first few days while you sort out something else. That is unless you have a close friend or relative you can stay with. I just had a quick look for temporary accomodation for you. These two websites
and have plenty of options & the rates are what I would expect. You would be sharing a room there & don't expect security to be fantastic, but they are cheap, convenient & you'll get to know your way around. If you're going to be studying at Caulfield, the hostels in the Melbourne city centre are the most convenient, at only a 15 minute train ride away. You should be able to book a hostel online before you arrive, & then sort out your permanent accommodation when you get here.

If you're going to one of the universities which has on campus accommodation, I would suggest you try that first...I was an OS student in London & the experience of on campus accommodation when I first arrived was invaluable. Monash Clayton, Melbourne Parkville & La Trobe Bundoora have on campus accommodation. Gets you orientated & u get to know some people. For example, places like University College or Mannix College.

Other than on-campus accommodation, your second best option for permanent accomodation will be to band together with a few other students & rent a house or flat.
If you find friends who want to rent a flat or house with you, then you can look on eg:

Shared accommodation in an existing household is a cheap option, but more difficult to organise before you arrive. You'll get a quick guide to prices and availability here:

Most of the Universities have online facilities to help you find somewhere to live. For example, you could try the Monash off-campus accommodation listing Once you're here and enrolled, there will be student noticeboards you can check for shared accommodation.

21 June 2006

Phone Rates to India - phone, card & PC

Example Rates to New Delhi:

Skype - Free for PC to PC - Free for PC to PC

Skype Out - PC to Phone 20 c / min

Time calling card at Connection fee 69c, 9.9 c/min

Mega India Calling Card 9.8 c per min -

Jajah 19 c per min

Asiadigicall 18 c per min (PIN-less account) Connection fees apply to some destinations.

Telstra $1.10 per minute.

Melbourne Campus Map

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