it’s been ages since I’ve posted something. many of you know that I’ve been living in Australia since the end of March. Sander has been back home in the Netherlands. We were a bit behind on our blog post about South Amerika. But everything is up to date now, So al that remains is 5 months worth of Australia :p. Better get down to business!
On the 12th of March Sander and I flew into Sydney airport from Santiago in Chile.
Those of you close to me have probably heard about my fear of flying. It’s getting worse with every flight I take. Sort of bad timing no? Especially now I’m stuck on this huge Island in the Soutern Hemisphere. Thankfully some very nice stewards (and Sander) did their best to make me comfortable. After hours of holding Sanders hand, watching on board Entertainment ( Sander was not impressed with the sound quality) and many nervous glances towards the aircraft wings, We landed Safely in Sydney. It suddenly hit me, Sydney, Australia!! We’re there! This huge place you’ve heard so much about but is so far away. We’ve made it!
With two feet very happily and steadily back on the ground I quickly noticed that we were back in a more familiar world. English signs, English speaking people. Easy, understandable and, auch… expensive. (let us not go into the price of the airport railway service) As a British national, getting through customs was a breeze. I had to wait at least 40 minutes for Sander to come through. We declared our little wooden Karagia man, but the customs officer didn’t even want to see it. ( Our guideline with strict customs is: when in doubt, declare it!)
Our first hostel in Sydney was in Bondi, near that very famous beach. We both marvelled at the pristine sandy beaches and blue blue water. 7 Months of South Amerika with great beaches doesn’t take any of the shock away when seeing these amazing Australian beaches. That first night we just ate at Hungry Jacks ( Oz name for Burger king) and zonked out. Unfortunately, I don’t keep as strict a diary when travelling as Sander, So I’m not too sure anymore what we did exactly in the days to come. Two of the highlights for me were certainly; walking over Bondi beach and seeing different kinds of jellyfish washed up on shore.
And buying a fresh loaf of bread ( Hallelujah decent bread) and a huge tub of Hummus ( how I missed you) from the Farmers market and devouring it together on the stairs outside. Ah familiar food. Amazing to rediscover food that is just there at home, but just about unavailable in South Amerika.
Trying to do as much as we could with the time we had together in Sydney, We moved to a hostel nearer the centre of town. Unbeknown to me this would become my home for the next 4 months. It was called Tokyo Village.
Sander and me set off to explore Sydney. When you think Sydney, you think Opera house, and for those who’ve been there, also Harbour Bridge (unless you’re my dad, who was quick to remind me that one of my ancestors worked in the mine that supplied the iron to build the bridge). Our route towards the Harbour led us past the earliest settlements in Sydney. An area called the Rocks. There is a Youth hostel there that has a small free museum underneath it. A remnant of the Big Dig (archeological dig) with some old foundations and stories of the first settlers and their families in Sydney.
We then made our way onto Harbour bridge. The bridge is open for pedestrians on one side. If you’ve got the money and no fear of heights, you can even climb it. We soon caught our first glimpses of the famous Opera house, and could not resist the temptation of taking a few too many pictures with it.
The Opera house is nicely nestled in Sydney Harbour, overlooking many of the comings and goings of boats, yachts, cruisers and ferries.
Although always white in pictures, the famous building is a tinge more yellow than I thought. What I also didn’t know is that you can walk around the opera house. Whilst doing this we were overtaken by many a jogger who had a lap around the OH in their running route. Sander joined them for a run a few days later (once he found the right shirt)
Another suprise was at the back (or front) of the OH. Here you can find steps leading into the water. They can’t be used because sea lions have decided to turn it into their resting/sunbathing area. Another unexpected aspect of the OH is the tiled roof.
There’s a lot to do for tourist in Sydney, especially if you’re new to Australie. Close to Sydney Harbour are the amazing Botanical gardens. Here you can spend many an hour goggling at Australian fauna and flora. The birds of this country truly intigue me. More so than in South Amerika. A loud screechy noise at home would usually be a crow. Here the screech is louder and belongs to the Cockatoo. Crows sounds like some sort of animal dying. The paradise lorekeet is never alone and truly beautiful.
Walking through the botanical gardens, there is lots to see. Huge ancient trees with runners everywhere, wonderfully shaped flowers and ferns, lots and lots of ferns in Australia.
We also visited Darling harbour and the Chinese garden of friendship (so many koi everywhere, I’m suprised there isn’t some old man with a fishing rod trying to catch them) And the overwhelming but fantastic paddy’s market (think Chinatown meets souvenir shops in a hall catering to thousands)
We really wanted to get a taste of some Australian nature, and talking with the owner of our hostel (henceforth called Charlie) We very kindly got an invitation to his home in the Blue mountains and lots of information for 2 great walks. One being a short one in Wentworth (blue mountains), with a stunning background. The other a 2 day trek through the Royal National park just south of Sydney.
The Blue mountains are amazing. Charlie is a knowledgeable man and was able to tell us loads about the area and the difficulty that the first settlers had with crossing the mountains. For a bit of gardening work we got a warm welcome into his home.
The next day we were dropped off in Wentworth, right at the start of the Charles Darwin walk. Himself having walked here quite some years previously. Walking through bushland and remarking on the funnily shaped fruits and flowers of the trees, You are again reminded on how different Australia is from home. You can sort see how Mr. Darwin was able to put two and two together. We had lunch next to a small waterfall. (spot the yabbies, but don’t touch) (bravo if you know what they are) The Charles Darwin walk ends at an amazing waterfall, from where the next leg of our mini trek began; The National pass. Set partly into a cliff, with phenomenal views of the surroundings, all you can think whilst walking this track is wauw.. this is amazing.
A few days later we set off towards the south of Sydney. After an hour of Sydney public transport, We arrived in Cronulla, where we took a ferry which led us to a small village right next to the Royal National park. On the boat, a lovely green little thing, we spotted our first pelly (pelican). Soon after coming ashore, our first kookaburra (although we didn’t know what it was when we first saw it, as is often the case with the animals in Australia). The kooks are family of the kingfishers (imagine its bigger brother, but on steroids) famous for its laughs, Which reminds me of extremely loud monkey howling. I am very fond of them though and always like listening to them.
Our campsite for the night was right next to the sea. Whilst the tide is out, there are thousands of these tiny blue shelled crabs swarming about ( I think they were called soldier crabs)
We spent quite a long time just observing these queer creatures, which would burrow into the sand, leaving no trace if you got too close. We actually hadn’t really noticed them when we were putting up the tent. Only on closer inspection do you suddenly see and hear these hordes of crabs making their way through the sand.
At night a few deer past splashily through the water (and returned early in the morning). Early that morning we left the camping and made our way through the village to the start of the Royal coastal bush walk. The day was warm and the views stunning. There is a small river that runs of a cliff right into the sea, thus forming a coastal waterfall. It was extremely windy up there though and we didn’t dare venture too far to the edge to take a picture.
We had lunch (yeah instant noodles) next to a beach and a lizard kept us company. (inciting Sanders inner photographer to go picture crazy) After the lizards photoshoot we continued on walking south and soon met some enormous and extremely territorial red ants. They had huge pincers and thought it a good idea to attack my walking sticks. After a bit of prodding, we left the ants behind and continued on. There is only one legal campground on the trek, 18 km in (of the 27km). So the first day we had quite a big walk.
The trek itself is diverse, trekking over cliffs, through sub- tropical forests and bushland. You cross quite a lot of windy beaches too. Towards the afternoon the weather turned for the worst and it decided to have a good rain. The fist time this happened we were able to take shelter under a big rock. Jutting out just enough to cover Sander, and half of me. (the backpacks we left in their waterproof covers to fend for themselves). The second time it stormed we were a bit caught out, with nothing but some small trees and brush for cover. We decided to squat down next to the path and wait it out. We were walking uphill. The Rain came down hard. Whilst we were trying to keep ourselves dry by being as small and motionless as possible, I looked to the right (uphillwards) and I saw water suddenly cascading down towards us. okay that’s a slight exaggeration, but our path had become a small muddy river. Although we were slowly getting soaked I still found it a funny phenomenon. We were nearly at our camp for the night and we set off as soon as the river stopped running. The last descend had turned into a muddy free for all is my foot stable here or am I going to slide walk. I slipped up and took a small tumble. Always scary when you’re wearing a backpack walking downhill in a foreign country. But we arrived safely at our camp, sharing it with only one elderly gentleman. There were some strong winds about though, and we had to think about the best location and direction for our tent. We cooked an easy meal next to the no flush eco toilets (bit smelly). But at least no wind. Returning back to our tent, it was dark and we saw two lights coming down the hill. People arriving late. I felt bad for them having the dark as an extra obstacle. That night it was terribly windy, with lots of rain. The late arrivers had left either in the night or got up very early because they were gone when we got up. Leaving behind their broken tent and a few possions. They must have gotten soaked. Our small little tent has turned out to be one of the best purchases we’ve made and I’m glad we put a lot of thought into everything we bought. The next day we were a 9 km walk away from the end of the trail. Which turned out to be a good thing for it was hot, we were running out of water and we only found a muddy yellowy looking stream. Finishing a trek, even a small one like this, always gives me a small sense of exhilaration. Yes, we did it! I just finished an amazing walk! A town called Otford was the end of the line. From there you can easily catch the train back to Sydney central station. Back at the hostel we both realised our last days together had come. On our last day we tried not to think to much about the separation, enjoying good food together ( sushi and lebanese cuisine) We did however argue in the evening. Both not sure in how to handle our impending separation and our feelings towards it. We soon made up though and the our farewell day came. The 24th of March. Saying goodbye was difficult. there were quite a lot of tears. How did I decide to cope? by buying a book and surrendering myself to it. The next two days I spent reading, reading and reading. I then got a job offer from Charlie, he asked if I would like to work in the Hostel and I agreed. Whilst Sander was landing safely in The Netherlands, my working life in Sydney had begun.
To be continued….
Join us again next time for more Life in Sydney and Tokyo Village. Thank you for reading 😉