Aus Chap #2 – Settling Down Under

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#2 /  SETTLING DOWN UNDER /
Sept – Dec 2018

I’ve been back in Aus for 3 months now since returning in September from a good time at home. During my “holiday” (well not really, as a freelancer the work travels with you) I was lucky to be home for my brother’s, gran’s and mom’s birthdays as well as my best friend’s 30th, in the space of 2 months. This time was also spent packing. Oh the joys. By the end of the lengthy process of sorting, donating, chucking out and packing I was able to edit my belongings down to just 2 [big] boxes… not including clothes.

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BOX SAGA:
After getting a good quote from U-Bag (and great service – free advertising here!), my boxes were finally picked up in PE to arrive at Sydney airport the week I was set to land. To collect my boxes myself from the freight terminal on the other side was half the price of them delivering to my door. Had I known just how much effort and inconvenience I was in for, I might have chosen differently. Getting to the airport is an effort on its own – a 40min drive in bottleneck traffic (due to roadworks) with tolls ($$$). But I thought that’d be the hardest part and I’d just grab my boxes and go. WRONG.

Having made the trip on the public holiday just after the boxes arrived (after phoning to check all was open), we were told customs was not actually open once we arrived and we would have to come back during the week. This meant I’d have to do that drive by myself, the ever nervous driver I am at the best of times.

Flight2

And so I did. The next day I journeyed back. The entire feat took 5 hours! It involved having to wear a “high-vis” orange vest while getting lost in the freight terminal area, dodging trucks and trying to find the Customs House (which has 0 signage and about a km from the Qantas office where the boxes were held, over a bridge and far away), signing customs forms (and luckily passing without inspections, so don’t expect to see me on Border Security…), returning to the freight terminal with the paperwork and another confusing wait as to where to collect my boxes. And once I finally had my damn boxes I was relieved but $270 short after having to pay for handling fees and storage (separate from the shipping costs) and still had the stress of the drive back. P.S. I (and the car) made it back in one piece in the end.

ADELAIDE:
The box saga wasn’t even the first adventure since arriving back in the country! The evening after I landed (and 4 days before the box debacle started) we set off on a 14 hour drive down to Adelaide in South Australia for the long weekend, with my jet lag in tow. The point of the trip was for my bf to tie up loose ends (having lived there for 4 years before moving to Sydney this year, just before I came to visit initially), to see his friends and for me to experience a new city, his old city.

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Adelaide is great from what I experienced during our short stay. Smaller and less overwhelming than Sydney, with great pub streets and a much younger chilled out vibe. There is lots of street art around, pretty parks and a tram system. On Sunday we did a brief tour of Hahndorf, the little German village just outside the city hidden among the green hills, before the hectic 14 hour drive back up to New South Wales. The long drive home is inland so it’s basically dry flat stretches of roads dotted with kangaroo corpses. Because there wasn’t much else to do, we played Count-the-Kangaroos and came to an average of 3.6 dead kangaroos/1 km over the particularly bad stretch. #funfact

Fairlight Place:
About a month after I’d unpacked my boxes and finally had some of my home comforts up around the house, we found out we’d be moving the next month. And so the spring cleaning, chucking out and packing began once again. Back into boxes. Back into limbo. Shed

Because we had to be out of the house a few weeks before we could move into our new place, we had to make a plan by living in a Quest hotel apartment while our stuff was moved into storage. Having room service everyday has been pretty sweet though. 

Quest

01/12 – BLUE MOUNTAINS:
I’ve really been wanting to do a Blue Mountains trip, so one Saturday morning we decided to make it happen. The drive was about an hour and a half, and once you finally exit the city the scenery becomes wonderful as you drive past flowers and mountains and pass many little towns boasting antiques and art stores. We’ve already decided to come back soon and stop at these treasures as well as find the Jenolan Caves and explore more. But for our first trip to the Blue Mountains we decided to go the tourist route and pay for an entrance to Scenic World ($43). Blue-Mountains.jpg

This gave us an all-day pass to ride the Skyway and Cableway (basically cable cars), the Railway (the steepest passenger railway in the world at a 52° incline) and then access to all the walkways around the park. We decided to just choose one of many paths to hike after catching the Skyway high above the mountains over to the other side of the cliff. We ended up heading down into fern-covered subtropical forest paths with waterfalls and rivers (and very few tourists). As someone who isn’t such a fan of the sun, this was perfect as it was all in the shade and cooler than being at the top of the mountains. Of course, when you go down, you have to go up again… and tackle a lot of stairs. We were also able to get many shots of the iconic Three Sisters rock formations at various angles throughout the walk. We shall be back soon for more!

For now, we are getting ready to fly home to SA for the short Christmas break and back to move into the new apartment to start 2019. 

 

 

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Aus Chap #1 – Sydney Saunter

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(
Aus Chap. = ‘Australian Chapter’ [of my life; of this journal; or Aus Chap = my bf.)

#1 /  SYDNEY SAUNTER /
May – Aug 2018

This blog post has been sitting in my drafts with a title, a few edited pictures and a blinking cursor since early-May. At the time of titling it, I was living out my two-month plan to visit my boyfriend in Sydney (from the end of March) with a flight scheduled home for late May. However, the title should rather stand as “Sydney Snowball” as things escalated pretty quickly since then to me pushing the flight back to July, applying for a long-term visa and booking a one way ticket back from South Africa in September.

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So that’s the low down if you’ve been sceptically following my seemingly never-ending holiday Down Under on Instagram (and now in SA, as it’s already August and I’ve delayed this post by a whole country…). Maybe you were thinking that I seemed way too comfortable and had
surely overstayed that flimsy 3-month tourist visa, and wtf…bought a car there?! Yip, yip and yip. (I’m on a bridging visa now btw – if any authorities are reading this).

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But to start from the beginning, this was my first time going to Australia. I left SA end of  March just a month after returning from my year in Korea to experience a new country, making it my forth country to be in for 2018 (Korea, Japan, SA and now Aus). 

^ at the time of that post, it was A$1=R9.08. Today (25/08) it’s R10.45. 😦

Coins
^ The coin proportions feel so off. Cents vs dollars.

During my stay, however, no one offered me shrimp on the barbie, I hadn’t noticed kangaroo steak on any menu, I’d seen ONE man dressed like Crocodile Dundee (in the mall, and very out of place) and yes, a lot of people do say ‘mate’. And ‘fair dinkum’. And go to the ‘dunny’ to pee.

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Ah, Vegemite! This stuff has been around for 95 years, and I didn’t know it was such a thing in Aus thing till I got there. I’ve tried it, but Bovril all the way for me, thanks. Although the smoothie bar, Boost Juice recently released a Vegemite Smoothie . It also has banana, chocolate and yoghurt and other good stuff in it too though, so all good – I guess I’ll have to give it a go.

TOURISTY THINGS:Sydney-Opera-House

What’s Sydney without its iconic Opera House? Ok, quite a lot from what I’ve since found out but it’s obviously top of the list of the first things to see when you get there. Although it’s an impressive building, I was actually more impressed by its location at Circular Quay, with its flurry of ferries and the magnificent Harbour Bridge stretching across in the background. The Royal Botanic Gardens are right there too, offering a scenic and peaceful meander through the beautifully kept gardens right next to the water. I have yet to find Mrs Macquarie’s Chair which apparently is at the point that offers some of the best views of the harbour.

I arrived in Australia in March with a stronger idea of what the outback might look like than the cities, and when imaging Sydney I just saw the Opera House and Bondi Beach. Klaar. So I was very pleasantly surprised to find that the architecture (particularly in the CBD, older areas) is beautifully Victorian and Edwardian styled (and many more).

Cathedral
The first time walking in the city while passing statues, parks, old-style detailed buildings and lampposts I felt like I could be in London. This style fades out the further you go from the city centre unfortunately, but it’s beautiful and impressive every time I go into the city.

ZOO ZOO KANGAROO:ZooIt took me over a month after I arrived to finally see a kangaroo for the first time ever. A MONTH! And we had to go to the zoo to do so. Guess they don’t roam the streets like expected (this is a joke). The Taronga Zoo is across the harbour from the Opera House, so you can catch a ferry to the other side, which I really enjoyed. This also allows for the zoo, in particular the giraffes (not just because of their long necks), to have an impressive view of the Opera House, the bridge and the city skyline from across the water. I also got to see some koalas, wombats, echidnas and Tasmanian Devils for the first time.
P.s. Almost R500 for a day ticket into the zoo…

PUBLIC TRANSPORT:

Opal

I find figuring out an unfamiliar country’s public transport system rather exciting, but also a bit overwhelming and frustrating. In Sydney, the trains (which are double decker) are really reliable/on time, but I’ve found the buses can be a bit hit or easily missed. And not quite cheap either. 

ROADTRIPPIN’:COastal

One weekend we decided to take a road trip south of Sydney along the coast in a general direction and see where we ended up. We stumbling upon quiet and beautiful viewpoints above the ocean, whale watching points (the whales were on winter break though), a blow hole in the rocks and small holiday towns with quirky shops and paths along the water’s edge with pelicans and stingrays. On the return trip just before taking the road home, we found a detour along a “Tourist Drive Route 9”. And suddenly we were snaking along a narrow road among green rolling hills and farm lands filled with cows while the sun slowly began to retreat on our spontaneous day out of the city.

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VIVID SYDNEY: the light show
This is a yearly festival that lights up the city (in and around the Circular Quay area and a few places beyond) with light installations, music and food events. This extends to The Rocks which is the historic and touristy precinct with restaurants, bars and shops in the old buildings along cobbled roads and through old archways. Very English feeling.

vivid.jpgParticularly impressive (as well as the many tall buildings being lit up with moving colourful displays) is the whole of the Opera House’s exterior painted in light and moving images that change designs often. You can get a great view of it from the other side of the quay. Despite the rain on the night we chose to go, we saw a lot and enjoyed it. Because we live far south, we had booked a hotel a short walk from the main event so we could enjoy the festivities till late. And by late, we found out is only 11pm when bars start closing. 11pm. During a festival period in the main part of a huge city…?

INCREASED MOBILITY:
Living in the spread out suburbs means that running simple errands or going to the mall takes double the time and planning when you don’t have a car and need to rely on the bus which comes once an hour. And so, after much scouring on car sites online and used-dealerships in person, my little baby was found hidden among many cars. I’ve had a car crush on the Fiat 500 since 2011 when I first saw it in a series I was watching at the time. And now she’s miiiiine 😀
Car

FYI: I can drive with my SA license as long as it’s current and has no suspensions etc. 

CHAPTER #2 to follow once I return/move to Sydney at the end of September and get some adventures going.