Archive for the 'australia' Category

making the rounds

Wednesday, July 19th, 2006

so we’ve been making the rounds of friends, dropping in to catch up with people as we explore the central and gold coasts.

it started out with meeting up with damian, j’s old work colleague in sydney. bar-hopping as his “guests” we severely overindulged until the wee hours, only to suffer the consequences the next day. reasons the partying and backpacker lifestyle don’t mix: a) there’s nothing like waking up and realising you’ve blown two day’s food budget in an evening b) it’s so not fun waking up 20 minutes after you were supposed to have checked out, crashing around the room packing in a blind panic while still drunk c) travelling while hungover is the worst kind of naseous misery known to man. we spent gruelling hours of distance driving in the pouring rain, stopping overnight in port macquarie (and watching the poor south african springboks team get slaughtered at the hands of the aussie wallabys).

the next day we continued up to brisbane, where we spent a lovely chilled evening of dining and drinks chatting with adam (unfortunately simone had left for perth the day before), and enjoying the hotel comforts of his corporate apartment – a beautifully hot and powerful shower, and an incredibly delicious bed. sometimes all you need is a good wash and sleep to feel completely restored.

leaving brisbane, we stopped off at a koala center (where i gave myself whiplash futilely scanning the treetops) and had lunch at surfer’s paradise before arriving at nicola and ben’s house. nick and i are old travel buddies from london so we spent some time comparing stories and catching up on her new baby/wedding/house plans while ben rustled up a fab spag bol, for the four of us, plus his bro and nephew. the next morning nick took us on the grand tour of the coolangatta area, with its resident surfers and unbelievable beaches, and completely sold me on the idea of moving to australia for a year.

we continued back south, and pulled over at byron’s bay – the most easterly point of oz. we sat and soaked up the spectacular views and watched the whales off the coast before continuing on to newcastle, where we were welcomed with open arms by london ex-pat leann (blair being in nz for work). she shared her adorable and comfortable cottage with us, and the next day, in spite of the rain, we took a mini tour, warmed up with some coffees, and spent the evening cooking and chatting and draining a few bottles of vino over great conversation and even more delicious food.

then, sadly, it was time to head off to the airport. all in all, we got to see more than we’d hoped, but not as much as we would have liked. we saw a nice chunk of australia over the course of a week-long roadtrip, and shared the warmth of reunions and friendship.

and hopefully we’ll see them all again very soon. ;)

beach baby

Tuesday, July 18th, 2006

this is my earliest memory – slumbering cradled under the hull of the little “sunflower” to the lullaby of the sea. cool water and hot sun-sparkles in my eyes. sand in my sandwich. the insistent caw of circling gulls. the loughing sail against the sky.

and so the pull of the ocean is impossible to ignore, luring me with its siren call. as we meander along endless coastline, the blinding beauty of sea and shore is overwhelming, heartstopping.

the infinite expanses of blue feel like the edge of the world. the murmur and crash of licking crests is hypnotic in perfect rhythm. time slips by seamlessly watching whales breach just offshore, launching themselves airborne for the sheer joy. a salted breeze musses my hair playfully. dancing sands whorl beneath azure pools warmed lightly under a winter sun.

where else would i ever want to be? i am a beach baby, at heart.

we’re not in kansas any more…

Thursday, July 13th, 2006

so we’re south of the equator for the next few months, and aside from the anti-clockwise drains and inverted seasons, there’s something about being “down under” that lends itself to a more relaxed vibe, a more laidback and open feeling. people being nice for the sake of being nice. maybe it’s harder to be in a bad mood when you’re near all these beautiful beaches.

as i suspected before i even set foot in oz, i could easily grow to love this country, this city. it puts me in mind of some of my other favourite cities – with it’s palm trees, seashore, cleanliness, spaciousness, and mix of old and new, it reminds me a little bit of san diego, toronto, and even boston if you squint hard.

and there’s something about aussies (god help me, but i *cannot* bring myself to say “oz-zies” because, dammit, there’s no zed in that word!) that’s just more familiar to me than other nationalities. they may drive on the left and (gah!) even play cricket, but there’s a certain scrappy go-getter mentality, an eager enthusiasm, and a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps ethic, which seems more akin to north america than the u.k. I’m wildly overgeneralising here, of course, but perhaps it’s the youthfulness as a country, or coming from pioneer stock which generates a feeling of commonality. i can’t quite pinpoint what it is, but it’s definitely there.

and if it weren’t so damn far away from everyone i love, i could easily see myself living here.

so sydney is a welcomely warm city – even if it’s chilly as hell out. we’ve hired a car to head up the coast for a few days and try to catch up with some friends, so if we don’t update for a few, it’s coz’ we’re at the pub :)

(and since rugby’s tri-nations tournament is getting underway and the south africa v. australia matchup is on saturday… go springboks!)

more photos here


Wednesday, July 12th, 2006

34C in singapore… to 14C in sydney.

goodbye flip flops, hello fleecy jumpers. *that’s* culture shock.

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