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Shabadoo and wifelette down under

The Real World

AUSTRALIA | Wednesday, 26 March 2008 | Views [512] | Comments [3]

I hate to drag everybody away from James' flights of fancy, entertaining as they may be, but I thought I would take opportunity to bore folks with, you know, touristy stuff.

We arrived in Sydney on a gloriously sunny but not too hot day on March 1, and the weather has been on our side ever since. A couple of nights it stormed, but as we were safe and snug in our wee hostel room, that was just fine with us.

Our hostel was perfectly servicable yet v. basic, and in King's Cross, and we were very pleased to discover its proximity to the town centre and the harbour. In fact most days our journey into the CBD was through the Royal Botanical Gardens, which are lovely, and some days we didn't even make it into town and just collapsed on a grassy bank (not knoll, conspiracy fans) and stayed there for an arvo (yup, I'm hip with the Ozzie lingo already). The Gardens are full of birds (the feathered kind) and bats and have awesome views of the harbour and the Sydney Opera House. If they allowed camping we would probably have set up our tent there.

A couple of days were spent doing fun adminny stuff like getting a Oz tax file number, medicare card (we're all set now for health care mums and dads), bank accounts, and of course buying a car - see James' stories for more on that.

So far Australia reminds me both of South Africa (big skies and big roads) and America (big skies and big roads) but I think there's definitely a closer relationship with America here. A lot of the houses have that wooden cladding which is reminiscent of American homes in California and, especially in the cities, the older, terraced homes have that delicate wrought iron design work on their balconies and porch railings that makes me think of New Orleans.

Sydney is full of sights to spend money on, but as we're on a budget we limited ourselves to finding all the free things to do. And of course we did lots and lots of walking, just soaking up the sights and the city. We walked across the Harbour Bridge, which gives excellent views of the city in both directions, and rewarded ourselves with the most hearty chicken-salad sandwiches I have had in a long time. Foolishly James insisted on chips as well, and of course we didn't get near finishing them and made some local seagulls very happy with the leftovers.

We found the Sydney Observatory, which has been turned into a museum and spent a good while wandering through the info-packed rooms. The scientists which worked here not only watched the stars, but also provided early Sydney with accurate time-keeping. We took some star charts and now I can quite confidently point towards both the Southern Cross and Orion's belt in the night sky. But as I should have known these from growing up in SA anyway I shouldn't really shout about it.

To save money we made sandwiches everyday, which we usually ate in the aforementioned Botanic Gardens. One night we treated ourselves to steak at a restaurant (a celebration after we put a deposit down on a car) but both blanched at the cost afterwards so haven't rushed out to do it again. These are big city prices so we shouldn't really be surprised but after months and months of saving up in England we're finding it a little difficult to unclench our purse-string fists.

Determined to see the sea proper we went to Bondi twice, once on our own and the second time with James' uni friend Rob. The beach seems a typical city beach, more about the tanning than swimming, but then again Australians also have to swim between those two stupid flags whenever they want to have a cooling dip. We didn't swim, but enjoyed the walk along the coast which takes in other smaller beaches like Bronte before it ends in Coogee, another seaside town.

We ended up staying longer in Sydney than we planned, because of car probs, so headed to North Sydney and Lane Cove Tourist Park to camp and save a bit of money. It is a gorgeous national park alongside a river and is bursting with birds and animals; a refreshing change from Sydney. It also had very good facilities so we were able to use the camp kitchen and cook and use the internet (to check the footie scores of course, what else?)

Here we saw possum and bandicoot that usually came out in the evening to feed on worms and stuff. The bandicoots were more elusive but the possum became a regular sight and made a hellavu racket, especially when there was some tree-top disputes over who had the best branch. There were also many colourful parrots of all shapes and sizes, kookaburras and pigeons with plumes on their heads - I haven't figured out what they're called yet (probably plumed pigeons I imagine) and need to get my paws on a bird field guide for Australia. I've been trawling the second-hand book shops as books here are quite expensive, at least compared to the UK, but will keep looking.

Once our car was sorted, a Ford Falcon station wagon (yes we're camping now, not sleeping in the van as originally planned), we decided to head south towards Melbourne. More on that later.

Hah! Proof that I am indeed camping and it is not all a lie. Note camping bedhead is slightly worse than normal bedhead.

Hah! Proof that I am indeed camping and it is not all a lie. Note camping bedhead is slightly worse than normal bedhead.

Comments

1

Okay! Okay! I'm finally IN! I gave up trying to wrestle Joe away from Championship Manager and have 'entered' the inner sanctum through my workly portal.
So I've been through the whole lot to date and cannot find a mention of me anywhere! Correct me if I am wrong but it all seems to be about youse two.
Maybe just a little self-centred Mmmmm?
Am I missing something?
XXXXX

  Mum/Liz Mar 26, 2008 10:42 PM

2

Glad your tetanus shots are up to date. Does the local wildlife suffer from rabies in Oz? Sounds like one needs an anti-tet/anti-rabies hypodermic at the ready to counter attack any other beasties that launch themsevles at you. 2 bites in as many weeks, hmmm.
Statistical projections thus show that you only have another 38 happies to go before you wobble your way back to US/Blighty. Of course, re-reading Bill Bryson's book doesn't help. A good portion of his text is devoted to all the goggas/noonoos/inyonkas and ananzis that can change your life for the worst.
I suspect every continent (other than good old sedate Europe)lays claim to having the nastiest reptiles, arachnids etc. Where would our sense of national pride be without them?
Today is absativelly geeeorgous here in the Big Guava. (Apart from a manic carpenter a few doors down.)
Grrrr.
Off to lift some weights with my hunk.
Lotsaluv
Mum

  Mother Heather Mar 28, 2008 7:36 PM

3

Glad you having a great time, it's nice to hear a more balanced and less pent up anger type report as from himself, although he has me in stiches lol. It sounds just great, wish I was there, but then if I were there, we would all have to be there and would it ever be the same after? I see Liz has finaly worked out how to do this? (Giggles)

  Other Dad Mar 29, 2008 1:18 AM

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