Royal National Park is a massive national park just to the south of Sydney. It actually is the 2nd oldest national park in the world (Yellowstone NP is the oldest), having been set aside as such in 1879. An early morning train ride from Sydney CBD saw Tam and I prepared to ferry over from Cronulla to Bundeena and start a day of exploring the national park!
Australia Day is Australia’s version of Canada Day…sort of. Australia didn’t gain independence on Australia Day (that instead happened January 1st, 1901), but it is the day that the First Fleet arrived in Botany Bay, beginning the European colonization of Australia. Still, it’s a big public holiday with lots of fireworks and celebrations. So Tam and I went around to take in some of the events.
We began with the Opera House and watching some boats and ferry races. Yes, they race the ferry boats here, and even dress them up. Then we wandered some parks, filled with festivals and food stalls. And since all of these places were filled with people, we decided to take a break from crowds and went and saw a movie instead (Wreck-It Ralph, lots of fun). We then returned to brave more crowds as we watched the tall ship parade in Darling Harbour.
What, it’s April? Whoops. Oh well, I’m getting to the photos now! For the second year in a row I spent New Year’s Eve in a major city. 2011/12 were a major bust in Wellington. How did 2012/13 fare in Sydney?
Much, much better.
Sydney of course is one of the most famous in the world for New Year’s celebrations, as it is one of the first major cities to ring in the new year (Tokyo being another). The Harbour Bridge is iconic as are shots of the harbour being lit up by fireworks. So I was excited to see it first hand. And the weather would cooperate this year.
I went with Tam to dinner with her friends. It was my first time meeting many of them and I had a great time. Lots of tasty homemade food and fun conversation. We also watched the first round of fireworks from their balcony in Pyrmont. Sydney is pretty neat in that they provide two sets of New Year’s fireworks – the first round is at 9pm for the families and youngsters. Pretty great idea!
Around 11pm we started to file out onto the roads and chaos of New Years Eve. People were everywhere, and we weren’t even close to the main celebrations in Circular Quay / Sydney CBD! We were heading to the shores of Pyrmont to stake out a spot where Tam and friends had watched the fireworks in years past.
One of the things I tried to do was to still get out and walk a bit on nice days. I partially succeeded. I’d often walk for my groceries (about an hour return), and I walked to work once (about 2 hours by foot). One day I decided to tackle a bit more of the inner Harbour area, more ‘upriver’ than Sydney and Drummoyne.
With a fully stocked cupboard of my own spices, ingredients and lots of counter space, naturally I fell back to doing something I really enjoy doing for others…BAKING!
Having travelled nearly non-stop for around 16 months, one can get a little travel-weary. Not to mention you start to long for a few things that are pretty standard in a ‘normal’ life – routines/patterns, an income, and a space to call your own. I would find all of these in Sydney.
For routine, being a part-time employee for Kathmandu did mean that my hours would change each week, but even then my manager Karen usually kept some structure to the schedule. Namely, I’d almost always have Monday and Saturday off, I’d always work Sunday (1.8x pay that day!), and I’d average between 20-30 hours of scheduled work. I specify scheduled work here because I’d often get a call asking if I could cover another person’s shift – assuming I wasn’t doing anything, I was happy for the extra hours and money.
So I had a job…but where was I to live? This was actually more difficult than the job part as it turned out.
Hostels in Australia had definitely lost their lustre for me. Unlike their often small, clean, convivial, warm and enjoyable counterparts in New Zealand, the hostels in Australia tended to be large, dirty, bland experiences filled with drunks, miners or just obnoxious people. Not to mention expensive – room rates in Sydney were exceptionally high, usually well over $30/night for a bed in an 8 or 10 bed room. It wasn’t a great environment to spend time in anymore and one that I was keen to escape in Sydney. So once my training started, my room search began.