#3 / Summer, Bloody Summer /
Dec 2018 – March 2019
If there was one thing I knew about Australia before coming over, besides the killer crawlies, was that Aus is HOT. Like the sun hates you with every little sun ray of its big burning mass of energy, kinda hot.
I first arrived at the end of summer/early autumn last year and experienced an unexpected and delightfully chilly/pretty cold winter here in Sydney, so at least I can clarify that there are distinct seasons on this side of the continent and world. Phew. Yet, the looming summer made me worry. As a pale indoor-dweller who burns without at least 50+SPF on at all times, the Australian sun is a scary thought and I felt an impending doom as each month ticked closer to Dec, Jan and Feb. The peak.
It’s now March, so I can report that I made it. Thanks only to the aircon and avoiding the bone-burning sun as much as possible. Many days were around 36-38°C, a couple of times 40°+, with a daily UV index of 11 and Sydney is apparently cooler than the other main cities. Hells bells.
On 16 January, New South Wales (Sydney’s state) “broke 14 heat records and eight January records. Conditions are so hot in the state that asphalt roads are starting to melt.” – CNN. And fish baked alive in rivers. Amy did not, because Amy stayed beneath the aircon.
But rewind to Christmas 2018:
On a lighter note, I got to go home for Christmas! Only a short 2 week visit, but a quality one. Landing the day before Christmas eve meant having festive jet lag, but the effects are worse coming to Aus than going back to SA (gaining time), so it wasn’t too bad. Christmas was spent in the Karoo on my uncle’s beautiful farm with the family, surrounded by mountains, sheep, and chickens that roost on the stoep at night.
Flight home… on PREMIUM ECONOMY!
This was the first time flying anything other than economy class, it’s a really comfortable upgrade for sure! You get to board early, get waitered on, by name, have cotton napkins lain across your lap at meal times, greeted with champagne and most importantly… more leg and seat room! You also get proper cutlery and crockery and fancier headphones. But the extra space is definitely the biggest win because you don’t get to your destination any quicker, so it’s nice to be more comfortable at least. Moving into apartment life:
Before Christmas away in South Africa, well more specifically the day we flew out, we moved into our new apartment. The movers brought in our hoards of stuff the morning of our 22hr trip to the homeland. Stressful much? At least we weren’t doing all the heavy lifting in the heat. We were left with boxes upon boxes and furniture stacked against walls with a looming flight to catch.
So when we arrived back in Sydney in early January we had LOTS to do (and sans aircon at the time too). Three months on and we still have a few abandoned boxes patiently waiting to be sorted…
^ I designed a logo for our apartment for the fun of it (details have been changed, sorry stalkers).
When your bday’s on a weekday, your boyfriend’s at work and your friends are in another country, you get to take yourself on a solo adventure! So into the city I went and just walked. I had a few art exhibitions to find and decided to take the scenic on-foot routes and found new malls along the way, magical book stores (Kinokuniya, wow!), buildings covered in plants and all the “Asian towns” one after the other.
While ambling around Chippendale I found Spice Alley and… ramen! at a little joint called Kyo-to. Done deal! Last year I was eating ramen in Tokyo on my bday, this year in Sydney. Not bad.
Australia Day, 26/01:
As a mid-January baby there has never been anything to look forward to other than my birthday that month, and definitely not school or going back to work… and being broke. However, I seem to have struck gold in Aus as there is an actual public holiday just 3 days shy of my bday! Australia Day, the day of barbies and beer is much like South Africa’s Heritage Day (of braais and boerewors), where the nation as a whole is celebrated and the national flag is even more ubiquitous than usual. Yes, many beers were had.
Grand Pacific Drive:
To the south of Sydney city along the coast, lies the expansive Royal National Park, the 3rd oldest in the world! The best part is that you can road trip through the park. Starting at the top or bottom for about 140km all the way down through little coastal towns like Kiama, Wollongong and Shellharbour while taking in the amazing natural Aussie views. Along the way, just outside of Scarborough is the Sea Cliff Bridge, a winding magnificent bridge snaking above the water and is often featured in TV commercials, apparently.
While winding further along the roads through the rather tropical forests of the national park, we took the opportunity to do one of the many hiking routes on offer. One of the shorter loop routes was “The Forest Path”, which sounded good as we would arrive back at the car by the end of the 5km.
The 1st km was great, walking along a road broad enough for cars, but then our route branched off into “the forest”. We were now on a narrow foot path between trees and low-hanging leaves in a rainforest… alone… in Aus-tra-liaaaa. If you were looking for spiders and snakes, this would probably be a good bet. Half way into the unknown, while spooking at any rustle or movement of leaves, we just wanted to get OUT! To be fair, it was beautiful and peaceful, but we were definitely too close to nature for our comfort.
Filled with relief, we finally made it back to the safety of the car. While driving away, however, I found a slimy, squirming leech on my leg. I totally freaked out. I don’t want to relive that experience so let’s move along. We got rid of it though. Probably our last forest adventure…
I hadn’t been to the North before, so when a varsity friend from SA was in town it was a good excuse to explore “the other side of the bridge”. This included walking over the 1,1km long Sydney Harbour Bridge to get there. You take an amble on the footpath next to the buzzing traffic while overlooking the Sydney Harbour with aerial views of the Opera House, giant docked cruise ships and the city’s skyline. A definite tourist must do, and it’s completely free. You can then catch a ferry back across the harbour for a different experience.
Another first for me… going to a big concert! And the Red Hot Chili Peppers at that too! Although, the Chili Peppers were rather tiny from where we were seated so we will probably have to consider booking the standing arena next time. Their performance and energy was fantastic! The hour and a half commute home at 11pm on a Wednesday night, not so much.
CHAPTER #4 to follow some time in the future, soonish.
Follow me on Instagram @shmaymee in the meanwhile!