Seeing as I have now been living and working in Sydney for the past 5 months it’s probably about time, I got around to updating the blog regarding this. (It seems I shall also be staying here a little longer as well now, what with this coronavirus stuff, but more on that in the next blog I imagine). Let’s go back to a time when the only thing associated with corona was lime and an ice-cold beer, ah good times. After arriving in Sydney on the 16th of October having travelled down the East Coast for the past few weeks, everyone was ready for a bit of normality again. This, therefore, meant finding somewhere to live and a job. If you can recall from the last blog, I was offered work in the adult film industry about 2 hours after arriving in Sydney – thankfully it didn’t come to that (pun intended). Having rung around various recruitment companies and meeting a few different recruiters I was offered a job working for a company called BSA at Sydney Olympic Park. Not to bore anyone with the details but the company is contracted by the Australia Government broadband provider NBN (basically the Aussie BT) to install internet. My fancy job title was, still is, “Capacity and Forecast Planner”. What I have to do is assess if we have enough technicians to install the internet based on a forecast of upcoming jobs provided to us by NBN. I mean there’s a bit more to it than that but really there isn’t much point going into it. Coincidently I wasn’t the first to start at BSA from our group, nor would I be the last. Although it’s very much not coincidently seeing as we all went through the same recruitment company. Zoe had started working there a few days before me and then about 6 weeks later Fred landed a job there, followed by another one of our mates Ryan in the new year – the recruiter must have made a killing from us. But that was that I’d found a job. At the same time, I’d also made the decision that as much as I had enjoyed the company of Fred and Ollie for the last year, plus Lisa during our east coast road trip I needed some of my own space for a while so looked for my own room in a shared house. I secured a double bedroom in a converted Victorian house in the suburb of Strathfield the day before I got my job. It couldn’t have worked out any better really seeing as the bus stop to work was 1 minute from my front door and my commute about 20 minutes in total. The house was also 3 minutes’ walk from Strathfield train station where a train into the City takes 15-20 minutes, so the location was exactly what I was after at the time. My housemate was an Australian lady in her early 40’s and her two cats – who I would come to hate if I’m honest haha. But she is lovely, and I can’t have any complaints really it’s certainly served its purpose over the last 5 months although I’m very much ready to move on and find somewhere a bit more my age range. I’d been in Sydney a week secured a house and a job and was ready for a little bit of normal life again after being on the road for a year now. Lisa and Fred found themselves a place to live together as did Zoe and Jade, while Ollie went solo too. Connor was also still residing in Sydney, so it was great to catch up and see him after he had left farm work prematurely to move down to the city.
Hopefully, that gives the lay of the land a little bit and to be honest life soon morphed back into the normal humdrum you would expect back in England. Sydney reminded me very much of London, just with better weather. I was excited at the prospect of living in a city something I’d never really done before and just having a bit of routine again. I went to work, I joined the gym, started doing yoga haha and just lived as any normal person would really. The only difference being I was halfway around the world from home. So with routine restored during the week, it was the weekends where we were left to explore the city and all Sydney had to offer so through the rest of this blog and probably a second one as well I shall just detail some of the things myself and the rest of us got up to as a group. I shall try to go through it as chronologically as I can and make it as interesting as possible. But as I say writing this blog surrounding my time in Sydney is different to those I have written before as Mon – Fri I was working and just going about my daily life, which I’m sure no one is really that interested in.
I think the first weekend we all arrived in Sydney, Oktoberfest was on, so we all brought tickets to this. There were also loads of people we had met from farm work who had also settled in Sydney who had tickets, so it was a nice little reunion with everyone. It wasn’t quite Oktoberfest in Munich I must admit – but everyone made the effort, even if that meant buying the cheapest tackiest lederhosen or dirndl they could find. There also weren’t any steins which was a bit of a let-down just little half-pints of larger, where you had to buy like 4 at a time if you didn’t want to stand in a queue for the whole day. There was music playing, the sun was shining and some tasty authentic German food kicking around as well. After the festival had finished, we then ended up in some bar whereby The Tequila song by The Champs was playing which I took as a sign from the universe that everyone wanted a tequila shot. About 90 dollars later I returned to the table with 9 shots of “TEQUILA” where unsurprisingly no one was interested in drinking a “TEQUILA”, so I ended up doing about 4 of them myself. Everyone then sensibly called it a night other than me and Desi who tried to get into a nearby nightclub only to be refused entry at the door. Probably a good thing, all things considering as I’d spent about $250 bucks already that day. Regardless I was celebrating my new job and house and it was great to catch up with old friends throughout the day. The next weekend we attended a music festival, to be honest, my first ever music festival. It was called Harbour Life and as the name suggests was set at Macquarie’s Chair in Sydney which overlooks the Opera house and Harbour Bridge. It was only an afternoon-evening thing with Duke Dumont being the headline act but all in all, it was a decent afternoon out raving away with everyone and when I say everyone, I mean Chris and Ollie as we lost everyone else.
We were now in mid-November really and life progressed as normal. People worked during the week and on the weekend we would explore. One weekend we completed the Bondi to Coogee Beach coastal walk. To be honest it’s a really pleasant little walk that isn’t too challenging and stops off at several smaller beaches along the way such as Tamarama and Bronte beach before finally ending up at Coogee. Although Bondi is by far the most famous and largest of the Sydney beaches, in my opinion, it’s also the worst. Always very crowded on a hot sunny day and to be honest isn’t all that attractive in my eyes. The three other beaches I’ve just named are a far better alternative with Coogee the largest. But be prepared to feel as though you’ve been transported back to England at Coogee beach as it is very popular with fellow backpackers and almost everyone you pass has an English or Irish accent. Another Sydney beach we have ventured to is Manly Beach. Which is north of the city and Harbour. Manly itself is a hip little place and reminded me a lot of Byron Bay. The beach is also lovely. The lads and I played volleyball while the girls soaked up the sun which would often be the norm if we ventured out for a beach day. I must admit it was nice to jump on a train and bus and be at the beach, I only wish they were closer to my house as the one downside with being close to work meant it takes me about an hour to get to the beach.
It was also a time when the bush fires here in Australia were really starting to develop and lasted into late January where we then saw flooding. Not the Australian summer I had hoped for really. Many days you would wake up and be able to smell the smoke in the air. Although the fires never threatened Sydney itself the huge fires just outside the city would blanket the metropolises in a thick dense smoky haze if the wind was blowing just right. It was almost apocalyptic at times. Going outside wasn’t all that pleasant. Beach days, where normally skies would be bright blue were tarnished with grey hazes and other days the heat was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I would step out from work and it would feel like you were instantly inside an oven with a hairdryer on your face. Having chinos and a shirt on only exacerbated the issue. Although this was really the only exposure, I got to the devastating bush fires here the seriousness of the situation cannot be overstated. The destruction, loss of life, loss of lively hoods and loss of wildlife was truly horrific. It serves as a reminder that this is the only planet we have and if we don’t drastically change our ways this will undoubtedly become the norm.
In the weeks before Christmas Connor has decided he was also leaving and would return home to England to surprise his family for Christmas where he would then remain. As something to do before he departed, we went to watch a basketball game at the Olympic Park. Watching Sydney Kings take on Melbourne. The game was decent – although what I’m comparing that to, I don’t really know seeing as it’s the only basketball game I’ve ever watched. It was sad to say goodbye to Connor after all the memories and experiences we have shared together over the last year of our lives. Before coming away although Connor was a friend, we were never that close, which is certainly not the case now. I’m glad that we got to experience all that we did together mate and thanks for creating everlasting memories. I shall see you again soon and look forward to catching up over a beer.
This pretty much brings us up to Christmas time now which was a little odd I must admit – seeing all the decorations going up and everyone getting into the Christmas spirit but the weather being 30 degree and long summer nights just didn’t feel right and I don’t think it ever will. We had a works Christmas Party which Fred Zoe and I attended the main reason being it was a free bar, so as you would expect we got pretty intoxicated – never a good idea around your bosses but in all honestly everyone else was just as bad. Everyone at the event was issued with a wrist band. Black if you were an everyday nobody at the company or orange if you were one of the top dog managers. What this meant was that if you had the black wrist band you were limited to beer, wine or a basic spirt and mixer. If you had the orange band however you were granted free reign of the top shelf and whole bar. About an hour or so into the party I somehow managed to swindle an orange band from my manager and for the rest of the night lived the life of a king, buying shots, doubles and anything else anyone required who didn’t have an orange band. You could say I was the Robbin Hood of the party just instead of giving money I would give out premium booze to anyone who desired. Most likely in no small part to my lavish spending the 10k bar tab was all but gone by around 10:30 at which point you were forced to pay yourself. We all soon left after this, I’m still not entirely sure how I got the right train home.
Christmas day morning was spent at Lisa and Fred house, where Head Chef Ollie cooked up a fine breakfast, with the help of sous chefs Fred and me, we had salmon and dill entree type things followed by poached eggs on an English muffin with ham and hollandaise sauce. Obviously, this was all washed down with vast quantities of Bucks fizz, no Christmas day breakfast would be complete without it. As is now a tradition for us 4 lads on Christmas day morning is secret Santa. This was started last Christmas when Fred Ollie Con and I were travelling Asia and spent Christmas in Vietnam. Where we all brought each other gifts. Most of the gifts were outfit related so we ended up having to wear these on NYE itself. We thought this year we would keep the tradition alive so all 4 of us had to buy one another outfits, what with Connor now sadly being back in the UK he wasn’t there to unwrap the gifts but still participated, although he did fail to wear his NYE, we haven’t forgotten mate. I shall save a view of the outfits for the NYE part of the blog but safe to say it didn’t disappoint and was certainly a laugh on Christmas morning. After breakfast had settled, we then headed to Coogee beach for the day, stocked up with a picnic and many (unfortunately warm beers) the beach was packed but also meant we saw lots of familiar faces. We spent the day relaxing on the sand or swimming in the sea. Although it was altogether very different it was a nice change and the weather was perfect. Ollie ended up back at mine where we ended up watching Arthur Christmas together on the TV haha how cute.
For boxing day, we all attended Randwick Royal racecourse. Which to anyone with an international passport was free. Everyone got glammed up for a day at the races and although unlike any boxing day I’ve experienced previously it was a great laugh. Alas I didn’t win any money on the races and every backpacker in Sydney was there but once again it was a great day out with everyone if not a very different way to spend a Boxing Day. Although I had the best time with everyone at Christmas it did make me miss home a lot having spent two Christmas in a row away from all my family and friends back in England. Therefore, I don’t think I shall be making it 3 and aim to make it home for a few weeks for Christmas 2020.
The week between Christmas and NYE is normally a time where I don’t do a lot, but this year was a little different with having to go to work for a few days. But I mean I didn’t have much else to do. Although I did cook up an absolute storm of a Christmas dinner for everyone seeing as we all missed eating one on the big day. Without blowing my own trumpet too much I did a pretty decent job. After dinner we all sat around playing a few different card games and stuff to ensure although we were having a different Christmas this year, we still didn’t miss out on some of the traditions.
For NYE we didn’t have much planned Luckily Ryan and Louise rent a room in an apartment at Double Bay which overlooks the harbour, Opera house and bridge giving the perfect vantage point for the NYE fireworks without all the ques and waiting around. We therefore went for a curry just around the corner with Fred Ollie and I in our NYE outfits, which was a little awkward seeing as Ollie was only wearing a bin bag, I was dressed as a homosexual and Fred well Fred just looked normal!
After the curry, which was delicious, we headed up to Lou and Ryan’s place for a house party. It was certainly one of my highlights to the festive season. The house party with just us all was a great laugh and then the view and firework display were unreal. It was a great way to end the decade and see in the next. Life over the last 10 years has been very kind to me. I feel very privileged and lucky to have seen and achieved all I’ve done over the last 10 years and I just hope the next decade is as forthcoming. (For a glimpse of the view and the fireworks check the video below, apologies for the commentary and cheering throughout haha)
That takes us up to January then. I shall write the second half of my time in Sydney and finally bring us back up to date in the coming week (one benefit of this virus I can catch up). In the next blog, there are a few weekend trips we went away on which will add some substance, I guess. Plus, I shall also look to summarise my time in Sydney and Australia so far and I guess look ahead to what the future may hold. Although right now it’s as up in the air as ever. Until then stay safe everyone, stay at home and we shall all come through this difficult period together.