Australia

I landed in Brisbane after a fifteen hour flight from the Philippines. I didn't know anyone here, so got a flight to Sydney a few hours later. Here I knew people, and after booking into a backpackers in Kings Cross, which was a lot dearer than I had been paying in Asia, I phoned Steve and Cath, who I had met in Thailand. Steve said he'd pick me up, so I waited in a bar in Kings Cross, where some Aussie ribbed me about losing the Ashes, which I didn't know had happened.

I got taken to meet some of Steve and Cath's friends, and then we went to a place where I would go a lot in Sydney, the Oaks, a pub on Military Road, North Sydney. This would be my first crossing of the Harbour bridge. We ended up in a barbeque in North Sydney somewhere, and I had a superb introduction to Sydney life. I has aldo been up for 48 hours non-stop and needed sleep, which I got plenty of the next day.

I was staying in a dorm in Kings Cross, sharing with 2 tree surgeons a mad Danish guy and a guy who had just graduauted from leeds university . We had a luagh, went out for beers together, and myself and the guy from leeds went looking for work. I did a whole range of weird jobs when I was there. First was door to door selling of original Paintings by Australian Artists. It was from an ad in the paper. i went to some house where there were a large group of us, and were given the sales pitch. I was not convinced from the start that anyone would buy art from a door to door sales person. After doing 2 streets with the cold reception I had expected, i gave up and went to a burger bar while waiting for my lift. i was way down in the south of Sydney, and it was a long wait. Cath the next day said she didn't think i'd get anywhere doing such a silly thing. Other jobs I did included variuos leaflet hand outs, which were very well paying, to gardening, Folding cardboard in a factory and working in the mail room of an office. It was easy to pick up casual work, and me and the guy from leeds used to go to a place in the centre of sydney each day at 7:30 and get assigned variuos jobs!

The day before Christmas eve was unforgettable. Two guys I had met in thailand, Jules and Guy, ahd arranged for everyone they had met on their travels to meet up on the opera house steps that day. I went along and there were about 50 of us. We all sat on the steps, with crates of beer and drnak the whole day. How we didnt get arrested I dont know as it was legal to drink outside, let alone with such a big group in the most noticable of places. We stayed there for hours getting more and more drunk and louder too. The only toilet nearby was in the opera house, so there was a big procession to ther all the time! We all went bowling in the eveing and to some pubs around Kings Cross. it was a very memorable day!

Christmas day was an odd one. I had spent Christmas eve in the Oaks, when they were not christmassy at all, and spent the morning in kings Cross with a group of lads that had moved in to the dorm. As we walked up King Cross we were being enticed into sex clubs very loudly, which was so surreal as it was Christmas Morning, and that sort of thing would be unheard of in the UK. there were also loads of shops open. I spent Christmas day having a very hot barbie in north Sydney with Steve and Cath and a few of their friends. and after lunch we watched the Queen's speech!!

It was about 2 days after Christmas that I moved into a flat in Mosman. Steve and Cath had been offered a 2 bedroomed flat from a friend, and took it. They offered me the 2nd bedroom, which I took. It was a great flat, on Spit Junction, owned by the brother of Aussie cricket captain, Alan Border. It had a nice balcony over looking Mosman Criket ground and where lorrikeets used to sit every morning wanting feeding. However it was more expensive than the dorm so i needed to get more regular work than the casual stuff I had been doing. I did manage to cash a cheque in the British Consul to tide me by, and remember this vividly as when i was in there, there was a massive earthquake, which killed quite a few people in the north of the city. I didnt feel a thing in the consul, but noticed a lot of visibly shaken up people when I went outside!

A few days later it was New years Eve, and we went to an all night party in someon's house in the Spit, a very posh suburb. It was a fantastic party, which I do remeber well, as it ended up with a competition to see who could hit an empty tinny furthest into one of the neighbour's gardens with a cricket bat!

I joined a few agencies, howver as I worked for the military, it wouldn't be easy to get the line of work i was used to. I did get a couple of postings to small factories. One of them I got stuck on a lathe, something which I had no idea how to operate. they noticed this after 1 1/2 days, and said that I may as well go home. got paid well for those days though, standing there looking at this machine wondering how on earth it worked!!

Cath suggested trying a few of the hospitals to see if they had any porter jobs or anything casual like that. I phoned a few and got an interview in one, the Mater MiseriCordae Hospital. It was a private hospital run by the Sisters of Mercy which specialised in plastic surgery. I impressed them so much at the interview that they gave me a 1 day a week job to start off with untill an opening came up. 2 weeks later one did, a position in the serilising department, where all the theatre equipemtn is strelised after an operation. I took this and suddenly found myself moving into a  routine. I still kept up some casual jobs in the evening to generate some cash, doing a bit of office cleaning for a while and variuos other things. The hospital work was easy and fairly repetetive, and I worked with a girl called Darlene, who was pretty cool. It was weird after a while I found myself living and working in Sydney and feeling that it was just the norm.

There were some bad points though, we were living next door to a gym, and every saturday morning at 7:30 I was woken up by the aerobics class playing the same annoying Debbie Harry song that was in the charts, 21st century boy. also in the charts, Love Shack by the B52s had also spent 4 months in the charts and it was a relief when jamie's got a gun by Aerosmith kncoed them off. We spent a lot of the time just doing routine stuff like going to the Oaks, various barbies, going to the rocks every sunday, which was the oldest part of Sydney, and an all day pissup every Sunday!. We were hanging around with Steve and Caths freinds, Mal Foster and Harry Ellis, and harry's girlfriend Rebecca. they all knew each other as they were all Quantity surveyors and had all worked together.

I did a lot of discovering of parts of Sydney, Manly was overated, the blue mountains were superb and Botnay bay was a bit dull. I went to loads of parties, many of which i can't remeber, and quite a few booze cruises, where you got on a disco boat and travelled up and down the harbour, much like they do in Plymouth, but with more famous scenery! Also went to see the Pogues live in concert, whcih was funny. Shane McGowan had to be carried on stage, he was that drunk.

One of the best things in Sydney was Taronga Zoo, an amazing zoo more like a safari park than a zoo. It was only 10 minutes walk down the road, just past the Bella vista pub where I had tried to get a job, but when I poured a test glass of beer, they werent impressed with a glass of froth! (You have to try and blag your way into these places!), we still used to go there though as it was a cool pub.

After about 7 or so months of this, i decided to go and see some more of Australia, as I would easily end up spending my whole visa here doing this!! I caught the indian-Pacific train across the country to stay with some friends in perth. i had a stop over in Adelaide, which seemed very nice, but spent the rest of the 72 hour journey reading. there wasnt much to look at out of the window as the train corssed the Nullabor plain, the flattest place on earth. It was like looking out at a brown calm sea for 1 1/2 days!

When i got to Perth, I met up with the friends, and went back to their house for a barbie. Perth was very dull compared to Sydney. It had the worlds biggest casion at the time, but that was about it. I also didnt manage to find work there, and after around 2 months or so, I was starting to run low. One of the highlights was seeing the yacht that had won the americas cup for Australia in 1982, but that was about it. I'm not a gambler as such, so the casino didnt interest me, no matter how many times I got dragged there. A club calld Aberdeens was quite cool, but the only cool one I saw in the whole city! It was just boring!

So I booked a ticket home and flew back to the UK!

I do have some pics from Australia, and will put them up when i get round to it, though there are sadly very few, lack of camera, untill the last day in sydney when i got a disposable one!!

Website designed by John Finch 1997-2005. Email john@plympton.info for details.