Aus Chap #4 – Winter Wanderings

Straya-Header_4.jpg#4 /  Winter Wanderings: Melbourne, puppies & conventions /
April – July 2019

Relief! The heatwaves and harsh sun finally moved on up to taunt the Northern Hemisphere for a while. Yay for winter!
A few things I got up to over the past four months are: I finally got to experience Melbourne, my parents came to visit the country of kangaroos and killer spiders and… we got a puppy!

First off though…

Campbelltown Challenge Walk, Sun 10/05:
A bit of exercise on the weekend, especially when it’s in your area – for once – is definitely a challenge you should give a go. The course was two laps in and around the Australian Botanical Gardens, but turned out though that we had to complete the 11km course in under 2 hours to qualify for a medal. The catch? Running is forbidden. So it was basically 11km of uncomfortably fast-paced walking for 2 hours flat. We got the medal… just. But next year we’ll definitely be opting for the 6km route rather, unless they decide to let us run.2
Art show adventures:
Oh, there are some really great art fairs happening? Want to go, but they’re mid-week? No problem when you’re a freelancer! It’s called research and inspirational trips, ok. Jokes aside, these two events (below) were fantastic. I particularly left The Other Art Fair feeling really inspired and impressed by the selection of art on show and the artists were all super friendly and keen to chat. 1

Grow With Google – Western Sydney, Fri 15/05:
Another weekday adventure to be inspired by and to learn stuff from! The #growwithgoogle seminars were focused on analytics and search engine marketing (SEM). It was even fully catered for and we were given a personalised lanyard and branded notebook and pen to keep notes with. Oh, and a giant Google sculpture thing to take selfies with.

3-google

The parents come to Sydney, 11/04 – 17/04:
When you live on the other side of the world it definitely becomes a whole other level of difficult to just visit, and particularly be visited by your parents. However, mine were able to make their Sydney debut in April.
I don’t think they were entirely prepared for the amount of walking to be endured when I said, “Bring comfy walking shoes.” Add jet lag into the equation and it’s next level. 4-ParentsOur first big outdoor adventure was a day trip to the Blue Mountains, where we marvelled at the views and rode on all the cable car rides at Scenic World. Next, when in Sydney, you obviously need to do the whole “pose-in-front-of-the-Opera House, explore Circular Quay/The Rocks, walk the Harbour Bridge and catch the ferry back” package. Note: when in doubt, always wear takkies/ sneakers to do so!

Sydney checklist:
– Opera House / the Harbour – ✓.
– Mountains / the great outdoors – ✓.
– Coastal experience? Another must when in Aus! So we did the Grand Pacific Drive, through the forests and along the coast, stopping off to watch the paragliders at Bald Hill. We ended with a little picnic at one of the many beaches after walking along the winding Sea Cliff Bridge.
There was also some retail therapy and relaxing involved, so a pretty good itinerary for just 6 days before they headed off to Perth.

Easter in Bendigo + Melbourne adventure, 19/04 – 26/04:
Melbourne has always been on top of my Australian bucket list and we were able to cross it off over the long Easter break this year. First though, we spent a few days in Bendigo with friends for the Easter weekend where we got to climb Hanging Rock and eat way too many Easter eggs and Lindt bunnies. I also got to see kangaroos in the ‘wild’ for the first time. They seem to roam freely on private properties there, before I’d only seen kangaroos in the zoo or dead on the open roads – delightful. 4-Melbourne

In Melbourne, we stayed in the city centre, right in the action and coincidentally also in the Asian restaurant area. Even better for us was that this included Korean spots too! I highly recommend Buza Chicken for serious real deal chimaek (deep fried chicken – the best and worst life choice!), Cass beer (and/or soju if you’re feeling festive) with the complimentary (and oh-so-missed) sides of kimchi, coleslaw and pickled radish. Obviously eaten with chopsticks and with the trusty service bell button on the table.

4-Melbourne2.jpgThroughout our stay, we also found alleyways with cafes, bars and restaurants tucked away, a roof top bar, a basement bar and best of all, a pinball bar. The architecture is really beautiful (as with Sydney’s CBD) but with more magic and vibe, also thanks to the novelty of trams everywhere, a new experience for me.

So basically I can sum up our Melbourne experience as “food, beer and buildings”.  It did not disappoint, we shall be back!

New addition to the family, Sat 27/04:
We’d been on the search for the perfect pup for a few months but were holding off until after Easter for when things would settle down. We definitely didn’t expect to find said pup on the way back from Melbourne. We’d developed a bit of a French Bulldog obsession, and living in an apartment we needed a breed that is small and lower energy but with huge character. 5-PippaSo when we saw this little thing online: a Frenchie, female and fawn coloured, we were sure it’d be sold already, but nope! We booked to meet/buy her the next day, and just like that we were three. The cutest ball of brown fluff, pooping and peeing everywhere. Her name? Pippa – named after the parodical character of Pippa Middleton in The Windsors, kind of…

1st race in Australia, Sun 02/06:
It’s a long trek to go all the way to the city on a cold Sunday morning to make yourself run for over an hour. But I did it, my first race in Sydney, and Australia! The course was lovely though, starting in the Royal Botanical Gardens, along the water’s edge with a great view of the Opera House at a few points. It does make it a bit harder when you have to do two laps because then you know what you’re in for on round two… 7-10km

The queen gave us a day off to drink beer, 08/06:
No work on the queen’s birthday? Not something you get in South Africa, but no one ever says no to a long weekend, or beer! 6-queens-bday

CHAPTER #5 to follow some time in the future, soonish.
Follow me on Instagram 
@shmaymee in the meanwhile!

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Aus Chap #2 – Settling Down Under

Straya-Header_P2

#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.

Flight1

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.

Adelaide-1.jpg

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.