I’ve been in Australia for a month… A month! It doesn’t seem possible! When I moved to Earlwood three weeks ago, I have to admit to feeling a little apprehensive about staying in Sydney for such a long time before starting to travel up the coast. I feared that it was going to be too expensive, I wondered if I might run out of things to see and do and, as more and more of my friends from the first week started to flit off to different parts of the vast country, I could feel my feet beginning to itch.
It turns out that I needn’t have worried, Sydney has so much to offer and I feel as though I have managed to take full advantage of my time here. I’ve been lucky enough to see the city at the height of summer and experience the vibrant atmosphere of the Sydney Festival culminating in the celebration of Australia Day on January 26th. We spent the morning watching the ‘Ferrython’ from a lovely little park underneath the Harbour Bridge where there was a large enough crowd to provide a buzz of excited ceremony, whilst being small enough to avoid the provocation of claustrophobia.
After stuffing ourselves full of free hotdogs, we made our way to a friend’s flat. It’s in walking distance of Bondi beach with beautiful balcony views of the sea, a wonderful place to continue the celebrations with the musical accompaniment of Triple J’s Hottest 100 (the British equivalent would be the countdown to the Christmas number 1) and plenty of delicious Australian treats. What was loveliest about the party was the mix of people, amongst us ‘Pommies’ there were born and bred Australians, a smorgasbord of Europeans and a sprinkling of Americans; everyone sharing an interest in travel and intent on seeing as much of the world as possible. As well as hearing stories about places that I am excited to visit, it was gratifying being able to gush with pride about England and Yorkshire to people for whom England is a strange and far off land. Seeing the excitement that my stories of home aroused in others made me realise how lucky I am to have lived there.
The evening may have filled me with champagne fuelled joy and lightness but the morning after, suffering through a throbbing headache in the stifling heat, was far less enjoyable. If anything is going to put me off drinking whilst I’m out here, it’s the fact that I simply can’t function with a hangover in the heat. Add to that the information gained whilst attaining my Responsible Service of Alcohol certificate today (a mandatory process if you’re seeking bar work) and you’ll understand why I’ve vowed to drink plenty of water on my next night out. Nothing makes me feel like going teetotal more than hearing horror stories about alcohol related illness and incidents, I guess I’m a sucker for scary statistics. As well as the hangover, there have been other, inevitable low points; I’m talking, for the most part, about bearing witness to Australia thrashing England in the 20/20 cricket on Sunday whilst being surrounded by Aussies in the ANZ stadium. It was truly mortifying… but I’m sure that, in time, the embarrassment will subside.
All things considered, I feel as though I’m leaving Sydney at the perfect time. Staying any longer than a month without working may have upset that perfect equilibrium of being sad to leave and happy to go at exactly the same time. As I depart Central Station, Woolgoolga bound, I can happily mull over the last month in my head knowing that those memories won’t have been sullied by overstaying my welcome, all the while bristling with excitement about what lies ahead.