After just over six months later, we have left our lives as Sydney Siders and are on the road again!
Time flies when you’re having fun and as predicted, it’s gone by in a flash but we’ve certainly bucket listed the hell out of our relatively short stint on the other side of the world.
There’s been over 7 jobs, 4 homes, 2 road trips, a cruise, a promotion (and a redundancy), an acting debut and copious amounts of marvellous memories made.
Tell me more I hear you say!
Well, as I roll about in the back of our motorhome currently trundling along New Zealand’s South Island coast, your wish is my command.
You can see some of our time down under in the video below, but read on to see our monthly highlights:
This year Sydney had a particularly long summer, so to our delight we arrived at the end of the month in glorious sunshine with the temperature reaching thirty degrees. We hopped straight on a train from the airport to Circular Quay, which is home to the spectacular sights of the Opera House and Sydney Harbour bridge as soon as you walk out of the station. Having travelled on an overnight flight from Bali, our shorts and vest attire contrasted the suits and business wear of the majority of people around us on their way to work.
However, it did mean that our ferry across the water to Manly (where we would shortly be reunited with Ed’s school friend Will) was practically empty, giving us full appreciation of the spectacular view and what must be one of the most pleasant commutes in the world as we headed out of the quay en route to our first home.
To satisfy any homesickness we might be feeling, I’d persuaded Cat to work her magic and persuade the captain of that big boat she works on to take a quick trip to Sydney to see us. Thankfully, her persuasiveness paid off and a few days after arriving in Australia, The Queen Elizabeth II cruise ship was waiting for us back in Circular Quay along with my darling friend ready to take Ed and I on a mini cruise up the coast to Brisbane.
We were exceedingly grateful for the experience, where we were treated like kings and spent most of our time eating the all you can eat buffet as well as admiring Cat absolutely nailing her job. The trip took 4 days, stopping briefly in Newcastle and coincided with Ed’s 27th birthday, which will be a memorable one spent bobbing about on the ocean and learning to foxtrot with the oldies!
After a pitstop and a mooch in Brisbane, we caught a final flight back down to Sydney to get cracking with getting our finances back in order and a more permanent roof over our head. We managed to secure an Airbnb in an area called Canterbury (we soon learnt that many places had names we recognised) and Ed was offered a Marketing Executive role at Children’s Cancer Institute within 2 days of job searching – way to make it look easy!
Meanwhile, I wanted to use our ‘Gap Year’ to try something new and dip my toes into the TV world (cue dad jumping for joy), so as Ed started back into the 9-5 routine, I sat researching and badgering as many people as possible within media and television.
Oh, I forgot to mention. I also signed up to an extras agency to pass the time and potentially earn a little extra cash but ended up being cast in a couple of adverts, including a series of social media campaigns for Bundaberg – a major drinks brand in Australia!
When I last checked, one video had had over 250k views, so I’m practically famous now.
Fast forward a couple weeks later, we had moved into a small flat in the heart of King Cross for a month which we soon discovered was not a particularly nice area. While the location was outstanding, some of the locals were a combination of questionable or intoxicated although they did provide us with a new game: ‘Dead or passed out?’
Thankfully we moved again this month to Double Bay into a lovely flat with sea views, and lovely housemates, and immediate felt much more settled.
By this point, I managed to get a casual contract with Australia’s biggest broadcaster ABC in two roles as a Screen Producer and an Interview/Guest Producer. Both roles, (for someone who has never worked in a 24 hour news room let alone in a foreign country), were intense and incredibly fast paced to say the least but I was happy to have a bit more stability and be given the responsibility that I did. I mean, who’d throw someone that’s done the job 2 days straight onto writing the strap lines of live TV interviews in the UK?!
Being on a working holiday visa (emphasis on the HOLIDAY), we also visited the nearby wine region, Hunter Valley, where we spent a glorious afternoon touring the vineyards and eating cheese and chocolate!
The Australians also have a bank holiday in April called Anzac Day to commemorate fallen soldiers from WWI. Similarly to Remembrance Day in the UK, services are held throughout the country for the public to pay their respect and hold a minute of silence, so on the 25th we headed down to Bondi Beach to watch the sunrise as the trumpets played.
The somber atmosphere around the city quickly lifts throughout the day as people head to brunch and enjoy an afternoon of ‘Two Up’ in pretty much any drinking establishment you go into. This is a game that soldiers apparently played during the war and is essentially an elaborate betting game of head or tails, as two coins are flipped and must land within a circle. It’s weird but wonderful and we’ve bought back a flipping paddle for next year…
So as to sooth our itchy feet, in May we embarked on a road trip to The Blue Mountains which are one of the most recommended things to do when you visit Sydney.
Accompanied by a couple of friends, we drove a couple of hours north to our Airbnb nestled in the mountains and although we had brilliant sunshine the two days we were there, we were glad we’d bought some extra layers! Winter was most certainly coming.
There are plenty of walks/hikes you can do in The Blue Mountains, but we chose just a couple of fairly easy tracks past ‘The Three Sisters’ as well as taking a tour of Jenolan Caves where we were shown plenty of stalagmites (I think). The views were stunning and we only lost the car once…
On the job front, Ed was ticking away nicely and as my work at ABC was casual shift work, I decided to cement something full time so began a job as a Video Production Assistant at an agency until…
…The owner came in three weeks later and made us all redundant.
Still – onwards and upwards! It’s called FUN-employment for a reason, right?
(Following this, I worked for a couple of weeks as a ‘Night Transcriber’, although the 8pm – 5am was too painful to do long term).
While winter had technically set in, Sydney was still boasting temperatures in the mid twenties for the most part so we filled our weekends with plenty of activities and adventures, including visiting Toronga Zoo, local beaches like Balmoral, Vivid Sydney (an annual light installation event around the city) and taking another bank holiday road trip.
This time, we drove a hire car to The Royal National Park where we went on a ‘bush walk’ before continuing down to Jervis Bay, home to delicious fish and chips and Hyams Beach which allegedly has the whitest sand in all the land…
It was quite the nature filled weekend, as we drew the curtains of our little Airbnb in someone’s back garden to see a ‘troop’ of wild Kangaroos greeting us for breakfast. I also unintentionally Doctor Doolittle-d a flock of parakeets, and we were lucky enough to see our first humpback whale in the distance – with a little help from our binoculars!
(At some point this month was also an excellent three week contract that I had as a Production Runner for a show called ‘All Together Now’ which airs in Australia in November!)
July was a bit of a football fuelled blur, with Ed and I having to wake up at silly o’clock to watch the World Cup.
The scores of fans congregated at a number of bars around Sydney to watch the games at more sociable times, including the Star casino where we watched England v. Sweden at 1am. Ed also joined our friends Max and Alex in watching a 4am game at a pub before work, however, this was the game where it became apparent that football was NOT coming home…
In other news, we stayed put in July, but still tried to max out our weekends by exploring new boardwalks and watching Ben Howard play at the Opera House.
And great news – I’m employed again! This time by Hays Recruitment as a ‘Candidate Resourcer’. Different direction, but I loved the team and have happily opened another door for when we return. Meanwhile, Ed received a promotion to a managerial position for his last few weeks at the charity to oversee a major cancer awareness project!
Along with my lovely friend Emily from home, we went to watch a Bledislow Cup rugby game between Australia and New Zealand this month. The All Blacks inevitably won, but the atmosphere within the ANZ stadium in the Olympic Park was electric, despite how cold it was!
Being this side of the world and having made Australia our home for so many months, we decided to visit the nation’s capital and stay with Ed’s friend Katie (and her boyfriend and french bulldog, Bug) for a weekend. We did as many cultural/free activities as we could during the days to justify ending up in a brewery in the evening…
On our last day in Sydney and the last day of August, Ed’s efforts at work culminated in him orchestrating the lighting of the Sydney Opera House in gold for Children’s Cancer Awareness Month in September. We sat across the harbour in our favourite bar – Squires Landing – and toasted to an incredible 6 months living and working in Australia!
September brings us to the present, where we have so far enjoyed a weekend in Melbourne and are now campervaning across New Zealand until we plan our journey home.
Thank you to everyone who made our time in Sydney so special – we’ll certainly miss this awesome city, especially as the days are getting longer and the summer is creeping in but we’re looking forward to our next adventures and seeing you all at home soon!
For now, I’ll get back to marvelling at the unbelievable scenery that we’re driving through and tell you all about it when I’ve got over how beautiful it is. If that time ever comes…
Jess and Ed xx