One day in January was a particularly great day. Not only did Tam and I have a wonderful day hiking from Watson Bay to Bondi via South Head with a tasty Fish and Chip picnic when we got there, but something was waiting for us when we got back to Sydney proper and 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.
I’ll be down in Tasmania for the next 3 months, so I’ve got a bit of time to *finally* get caught up with what all happened in Sydney and why I’m now down in the little island state of Tasmania.
So onwards to Sydney! I already chronicled my first week in Sydney through earlier posts here – I was playing the role of tourist at the time. But I thought the city was fantastic and was the first place I’d found in Australia that made me really want to sit down and stay a while. So I started combing through online resources for jobs. Except unlike Melbourne, here I was much more focused. Whereas before I’d apply for pretty much any job opening I thought might hire travelers such as myself – cafes, housekeeping, retail, reception, sales, etc….this time I focused more on an area I might enjoy. Travel and outdoor gear. I applied to a few travel agency positions, at backpacker focused travel shops and several outdoor clothing stores.
While I was wandering around the empty streets of Canberra I received a phonecall. An interview in Sydney with one of the largest outdoor retailers in this part of the world: Kathmandu.
It’s been a while since I did any meaningful updates, but that should change shortly as I’ve left Sydney for the time being and am down in Tasmania for the next 3 months. I’ll chronicle my time in Sydney (finally), but I’ll just write a post on what I’m up to right this moment. I’m working to extend my Working Holiday Visa for another year, as I want to spend more time in Sydney with my girlfriend Tam (whom will feature in my Sydney posts, once I get around to them!). In many countries, you would simply apply online or in person and be granted an extension. But not in Australia. To qualify for a second year extension, you must do 3 months ‘qualified’ work in a rural area before the government will allow you to stay. With that in mind, I chose a vineyard down in Tasmania to help out at for 90 days, owned by a Hungarian family. I lasted 3 days.