Finding my feet in Sydney

So, after having no luck finding work in Darwin or Brisbane (although I did come close in the former), I came to Sydney primarily to save money. How, you ask, considering it’s a big city and more expensive to live? House sitting.

This is apparently a big thing, and there are websites where you can stay in someone’s house while they’re on holiday. It might involve looking after their pet(s) or it might be just to make sure there’s someone home, so it doesn’t look like a target for thieves. I’m not sure, but it’s a friend of mine who offered me the chance and I took it – especially since right now I have both a dog and a cat to keep me company.

The CBD and Opera House from North Sydney

I admit, living in Sydney had never really appealed until this point. It reminded me of London, which I enjoyed visiting but couldn’t imagine living. The same felt true of Sydney on previous visits. Having been here a few weeks, I’m reconsidering that idea.

Finally getting a job

A bigger city means more opportunities for jobs, that was the hope. While I had a few weeks of free rent, I planned to use that time to get my New South Wales RSA and find a job somewhere. As it turns out, that wasn’t necessary.

I contacted a recruiter the day before I flew from Brisbane and the next day, I had an interview book for the end of the week. Thirty minutes after the interview, I had a job! Not in a bar or hospitality but in my chosen field of digital marketing. A short-term contract in the education industry that pays very well!

I couldn’t have hoped for better as I can easily save money for the next part of my travels while living comfortably, if a little frugally, for the new few months.

Immediately, I’m more at ease. I’m glad to have this opportunity and continue gaining experience, and once I’ve had a few pay checks, I’ll get on with exploring Sydney more thoroughly.

I’m in my third week already, so that’ll happen soon!

Getting some time to myself

One of the advantages to house sitting is getting some personal space. It’s a welcome change after so long in hostels. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve met some great people in hostels…but I’ve also met some utter *****. That’s to be expected, and it will continue for as long as this adventure does. More on that, shortly.

Sunset with Sydney Harbour Bridge

While I’m working full-time much quicker than expected, I’m taking this time to clear my head, relax and do some solid writing. I have a book that I want to finish this month, which should happen unless something drastic happens.

I’m also going on walks and just generally exploring the area. I’m in North Sydney, which isn’t somewhere I’d normally think of going but walking over the bridge is impressive and there’s a nice walk along the shoreline where you can see the CBD, the Opera House and such. There’s more to see, even more so on the other side of the CBD but that’ll come soon enough, I’m sure.

Making plans for the future

While my Australian Working Holiday Visa runs until February 2020, I’m not sure I’ll stay that long. I want to go to New Zealand and I’m in the process of applying for their WHV. I have to do it now as I’m getting VERY close to the cut-off age, so now is the time.

While I don’t have a set plan just yet, I’m thinking November. Part of it will depend on work and what else I want to see and do before leaving the country. There’s more to see and I’ll be back to see it one day, although I also get the feeling I’d like to live in the country for a longer time one day. That, however, is something for another day.

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Returning to Brisbane

Despite what it looks like, it’s not far to find this view of Brisbane

Brisbane was always one of those ‘what if’ cities for me. I spent two days here on my East Coast adventure last year but it didn’t feel like enough. That said, it’s not the biggest city in the country but I barely scratched the surface last time so it felt like I had unfinished business here. Combined with knowing a couple of people in and close to the city, I was in higher hopes of finding a job here than in Darwin.

That didn’t mean I was going to waste any time, though. My flight landed at about 7am (seriously, what’s with the flight times in and out of Darwin?! Cheap, sure, but not always convenient) and after dropping my bag off at the hostel, it was straight onto looking for work.

Continuing the job hunt

Okay, so the library wasn’t open when I got there but that’s fine. I went and grabbed some breakfast, a sugary one to keep me awake (it’s times like this that I wished I liked coffee). Then it was onto the job sites like Seek and Indeed, Facebook groups and company websites. I emailed recruiters, digital marketing companies, shops, cinemas, bars, restaurants and more over the next three weeks.

I didn’t even get one interview – I almost did! Then they found out I was a backpacker and that got shot down. Great.

While some places took my CV, a lot seemed to have already hired or were more interested in locals. That’s fair enough, I guess, but I do have a lot of experience in both digital marketing and hospitality.

I did get a (very) casual gig, which I hoped would be the start of more – not from that place, just in general – but it never really took off. It’s a shame because what I saw of Brisbane was really nice!

Living frugally

If there’s one thing the last few months have taught me, it’s how to live cheaply. This meant cutting back on the luxuries like booze and snacks to save money, hunt the shops for food going cheap and buying cheaper clothes to tide me over.

Brisbane from Mt Coot-tha

Travelling itself isn’t cheap. There’s rent to pay, transport costs and then the price of activities or things to do. Sure, there are some free things but there’s only so often you can do those before going crazy.

I had some savings but the big thing I told myself was to still do stuff. The things that cost could be done, in moderation, and

going for a couple of drinks won’t hurt too much if you keep a handle on it – and find somewhere cheap, which I did!

One example was taking the bus to Mt Coot-tha – and that’s because it’s a really steep hill! I was rewarded with a stunning view of Brisbane and made the walk down to explore the botanical gardens at the bottom. Top tip: the café at the lookout has some really nice ice cream.

Brisbane CBD at night

I also did a lot of walking around Brisbane, exploring the parklands of South Bank alongside the river, the CBD, Fortitude Valley and beyond. At night, you can get some great sunsets crossing the river and the lights are quite something, changing patterns and colours quite regularly.

Moving on again

Alas, after three more weeks of not working, and being no closer to finding a job, it was time to move on again. I had an offer to house sit for a few weeks in Sydney, which would save me a fair bit of money and, hopefully, help me find a job in one of the country’s biggest cities.

Again, to not waste time, I was straight onto the recruiters to find out what was going on. There’s one opportunity that might pay off, but we’ll see how that goes before I go getting my hopes up.

Thankfully, the flight from Brisbane to Sydney is not only cheaper and shorter, but at more reasonable times.

Time to see what Sydney has to offer!

The East Coast: Sydney and Surfing

This is something I’ve been looking forward to since booking it on day one of my Australian adventure. I spent a lot of money sorting it and I have a lot of things planned, which I won’t spoil here – you’ll just have to wait and see.

Now, you’ll know I don’t drive so I’m relying on public transport. There were a few options but I chose a hop-on-hop-off Greyhound pass. I booked the journeys in advance but pay just once. It makes sense. The first trip was from Melbourne to Sydney – a twelve-hour trip that I booked as an overnight journey. This means no accommodation costs for that night but that I wasn’t likely to get much sleep, and so it proved.

Obligatory selfie with Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge

Obligatory selfie with Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge

I was sat next to a guy (who had the window seat) who kept falling asleep on me and leaning into me. I’m not ashamed to say he got a few elbows and nudges over the trip, which woke him up grumbling but I’m not a damned pillow!

It was a relief to get to Sydney. An hour’s sleep, maybe two at most. Couldn’t check in for a few more hours but stored my gear. Went north and found the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House, walked over the former (then back) and around the latter, taking plenty of pictures. The botanical gardens were right besides the opera house and I’d been told there was a great spot to get a picture of both and to the obligatory selfie. I did that and then explored the gardens.

Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach

I actually bumped into some friends from Melbourne back at the hostel, leading to impromptu drinks, which was a great way to round the day. The following day was more drinks with another friend who I met in Melbourne but lived in Sydney followed by a pub quiz where I got a free pizza for coming in last – but remember I was playing alone!

Of course, I had to go to Bondi Beach and it was beautiful. I took a coastal walk south to find Clovelly Beach, which was also beautiful and ran into more people along the way. It really is a small world, huh? The walk took longer than it should, thanks to my excessive photo-taking habits.

Checkout was the next day and I was very boring and responsible by doing work for most of it, as I had another overnight Greyhound trip to surf camp!

I can surf!

I can surf!

This was at Arrawarra Beach, near Woolgoolga, at a place called Spot X. We slept in converted shipping containers and you know what? They were actually quite comfortable!

I surfed every morning and afternoon (but the morning lessons could be as early as 8am! Ugh) but it wasn’t until the second day I was able to stand up at all, thanks to some great instructors who took the time with everyone to make sure they were doing the right things. After that, it’s just practise. By the end of my three days, I could stand up most of the time, speed up and slow down as well as turn…usually.

It was really fun but I ruined myself. Covered in bruises from head to toe, board rash on my legs and rubbed away half the skin on both hands. That meant there’d be no surfing for me for a while until I healed. A bit annoying since there were some good spots coming up but better to play it safe.

Sunrise at Spot X

Sunrise at Spot X

One thing I did do at Spot X was get up one morning for the sunrise at the ungodly hour of 5am (so I had time to fully wake up). Trudging to the beach wasn’t fun and, typically, the only clouds in the sky were over the horizon. A bit annoying but I waited anyway.

And I’m glad I did. Seeing the sun rise over the clouds and hit the beach was incredible. Such a beautiful way to start the day with gorgeous colours and tones hitting the water and sand. I wasn’t alone, plenty of people made it down, ad when you combine that view with the soothing sound of the ocean…yeah, I can see why people do this so much.

Not saying I’ll do it all the time, but every so often? Yeah.

A lot of the friends I made at surf camp are doing the same trip as me, but slower. I was one of the first of ‘our group’ to leave and head to Byron Bay.