Yes, I agree with FBU 4EVER..it is a great career...most people I work with are happy to be there....about the drinking in slip ports...well, we are Aussies, mate!!..but, generally the amount of frivolity depends on the amount of time in the slip port...we are all getting older, after all!
If you are interested, I went the GA route (being female, in those days, there was no choice..but I would have anyway)...My parents helped tremendously with the financial side, but you always have to work to keep it going...just GET the hours, fly friends around, fly parchute drops etc, just do what you have to do...I went the Instructor route, followed by the instrument rating, multi-engine, etc, because, in those days it was easier to get a job instructing...
As far as the Qantas thing goes...keep your file thick, is the best thing I can say....I used to write to them every month, with my latest hours , or any new experience I had...remember, the people interviewing you, mostly came from a similar background..and they are looking for pilots!..I don't mean today, but, when they do, they are looking for someone like you...dedicated and persistent....just stick with it...the most common factor I have noticed with my colleagues is the will to be there.
See you around