Working 9 - 5 its so hard to make a living!!!

Trip Start Jul 27, 2003
Trip End Jul 26, 2004

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Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Thursday 1st January 2004!
We had a lazy day today. It is very warm now here as summer has officially kicked in. We headed into town to buy Simon a new pair of flip flops as he only has his steel toe cap work boots and his sandles and wanted an alternative!! We had a general mozy around town and then headed home to make pizzas and watch the final 2 episodes of The office on cable. So glad Tim and Dawn got it together!!

Friday 2nd January - Happy Birthday Toby
I worked 9 - 5 today on the boat which wouldn't have been a bad thing if 400 people hadn't been on the boat on New Years Eve! I spent all day cleaning up Party Poppers and polishing glasses. Simon met me after work and we headed to the cinema to watch Love Actuallyu which has just come out here. It was so good. It reminded us what Christmas was like at home.

Saturday 3rd January.
Today we walked along Oxford Street and its trendy shops and eateries to Paddington. Every Saturday there is a really good market here and we spent a few hours wandering around the stalls. There were some good stalls with great clothes, pictures and jewellery. We had a Pad Thai from one of the food stores and then went to check out some of the shops nearby. I found a Crumpler shop and was really tempted to buy some bags as they are so much cheaper here, nearly half the price of home but I think I best leave it as I already have too much stuff to carry around!! We wandered back home and then I headed to work for a busy night.

Sunday 4th January
Nadia and John moved out today as they head to Melbourne and the rest of Oz to carry on travelling. We moved into their room as they have an enormous balcony which has amazing views of the Sydney skyline. We spent most of the afternoon sunning ourselves on the balcony reading and chilling before my shift tonight.

Monday 5th January
Back to work!! Simon headed back to his building site and I am now working for The Office of the Attorney General with the New South Wales Government, which is no different from government agencies at home with long Friday lunches spent in the pub on the corner!!

Tuesday 6th January - Happy Birthday Cosima
After work we met our new house mate, Jason, a kiwi. He seems cool as the fridge was full of beer!! We had a few beers with him and watched TV.

Wednesday 7th January
After work I did a shift on the boat to help out as loads of people left after New Year. A lot of travellers move on after New Year. I said I would help out if they needed me for extra cash.

Thursday 8th January - Welcome to the world Nate!
After work we did a shop and stayed in with a few beers.

Friday 9th January.
After work I went to work!?! Another shift on the boat. It is Sydney Festival now for the next few weeks and Darling Harbour has got loads of events on. We had a latino festival sponsored by Bacardi so we were really busy and I was knackered - must sleep now!

Saturday 10th January
Today we headed to Bondi Beach with Jason. He has a Boogie Board and was teaching us the basics. We lay on the beach with the occasional energetic burst of energy into the sea getting battered by the waves before heading back to the beach to chill. A most enjoyable day! That was until 4.30 when we headed back as I had to work at 5.00. I left Simon and Jason on the balcony drinking beer!

Sunday 11th January
Couldn't be bothered doing anything today. It was a scorcher outside and we had enough sun yesterday. We camped out in the living room watching bad films and eating rubbish all day.

Monday 12th January
We did very little after work. Just sat on the balcony with a few beers watching the sun go down.

Tuesday 13th January
Simon met me from work and we headed to the book shop to read some Lonely Planet guides on South East Asia - feet are getting very itchy now, need to get going again and soon!

Wednesday 14th January
Tonight Tamlyn came round for a few beers and Claire my friend from the boat who comes from Essex came round with a bottle of wine. We all sat nattering till the early hours when we kicked them out so we could get some sleep.

Thursday 15th January
I did another shift on the boat after work. Going to finish up for good this weekend as I can't be bothered anymore and need the weekends to fit in some sightseeing before we leave Sydney!

Friday 16th January
Went straight to the boat after work. Got off at 1am and was met by Simon and Jason who had been touring the bars of Darling Harbour!!!

Saturday 17th January
Got up early (even though Simons head wasn't up for it!!) and headed down Oxford Street to Paddington. We had another wander round the lovely markets and Paddington before getting a late lunch in a sunny courtyard. We wandered back to Darling Harbour and I headed to do my last shift on the boat (Hurray!!) and Simon went to meet up with Tamlyn as it is his last day In Sydney tomorrow as he carries on the rest of his travels in Oz and then heads back to Shrewsbury via NZ.

Sunday 18th January
We headed to Paddys Market today to get some groceries and I wanted to buy a couple of tops to replace my sunbleached and looking ragged ones! After a good hour of retail therapy we met up with Tamlyn and headed to Sydney Fish Market for a seafood platter for lunch. It was delicious and we sat in the sun watching the pelicans doing some fishing of their own!

After lunch we headed to The Harbour Bridge where we climbed on of the Pylons. You get to climb up the first pylon and the views of the opera house in Sydney are fantastic. After an hour or so we headed down and walked down and round Circular Quay to The Opera House we allthen fell into the comfy couches of the nearest Starbucks for Flat Whites and Carrot Cake. We had a really great day and decided to end it off with homemade Pizzas and a video.

We said our goodbyes to Tamlyn and arranged to meet up in Brisbane and travel to darwin together.

Monday 19th January - Happy Birthday DCP!
After work I headed to a bar in Darling Harbour to have leaving drinks with a guy I worked with who is leaving Australia to go travelling and work in London! It seems bizarre that he is leaving Sydney to go and work in London! He will be in for a weather shock! I headed home and Simon had rented Finding Nemo which has just come out here on video. It is such a good film and I didn't know it was based in Sydney so that made it even better!

Tuesday 20th January
Had dinner on the balcony tonight as the weather was lovely. We then watched a bit of UKTV before heading to bed.

Wednesday 21st January
Tonight we trawled iour guide books to finalise our plans for the rest of Oz. Campervan is booked, cabins at Ayers Rock are booked, as is Great Barrier Reef trip and internal flights. We just need to get through two more weeks of work and then we are ready.

The good thing is they are not even full weeks as next Monday is Australia Day, a national holiday. Now it depends who you are as to what 26th January, Anzac Day, actually means. If you are a white Australian it is the day that your ancestors from the UK arrived and started to build the country that is so great today. If you are a Brit it is the day that the boat of convicts sent from the UK to get rid of a bad sort finally landed in the inhabitable place that today is called Sydney! If you are an Aborigine it
is the day you were invaded and wiped out in your thousands by new diseases and spears!

Whichever way you look at it it is the countries biggest holiday and hosts lots of activities including more fireworks!! Anyway more importantly it means a four day week!!

Thursday 22nd January
After work we had dinner and watched the box before going for a walk around Darling Harbour.

Friday 23rd January
After work we headed to our local Wagamamas in Darling Harbour for dinner. We had a lovely Katsui curry and a bottle of wine and then walked round Darling Harbour on the way home.

Saturday 24th January
Today we headed to the Australia museum which is Sydneys eqyuivalent to Londons Natural History Museum. It is a gorgeous sandstone building and nice and cool inside as it is another scorcher today. The museum has a dinosaur secion and shows some examples of prehistoric relatives of Australias marsupials which mainly looked like enormous kangaroos! There was also a large room which houses examples of all Australias insects, reptiles and birds. We got an idea of what to look out for but to be honest I would make a run for it if any spider came near. There was also a nature photography exhibition which was amazing. It was funded by a joint project with the BBC and London Natural History Museum so it may well be on in London. It was a competition with a number of categories to find the best nature photograph, some were amazing shots and some I think were amazing flukes of being in the right place at the right time.

After the museum we took a walk past the Cathedral and stopped for a quick look in and then headed to Woolloomooloo where we hade heard about a snack van that had been in the same place for over 50 years and was a Sydney Culinary Institution selling the best pies in the Southern Hemisphere. You basically pick a pie and your toppings and they build you a mountain on top of your pie (stop drooling Merlin and Owensy!). I had a beef pie with mash, mushy peas and gravy and it was lovely. Simon had a pie with beef and chilli con carne which was also lovely. The van is called Harrys Cafe de Wheels and it has photos of all the celebrity customers they have served in the last 50 years.

After lunch we walked it off by taking in Hyde Park and The Domain on the way home. We sat reading on our balcony in the afternoon. We then headed downstairs to have drinks with Jason and his girlfriend Cindy who had just moved over from New Zealand. We then all headed out to Zaffran which is a lovely Indian restaurant overlooking Darling Harbour.

Sunday 25th January
Time for some sightseeing. My mum had sent us some money for Christmas and wanted us to spend it on something as a treat rather than rent or groceries so today we headed to Kings Cross and collected a hire car to spend two days in The Hunter Valley. After the Napa Valley we had decided to try and visit as many vineyards as possible!! We tooka drive up the coastal road and and arrived at our destination in just 90 minutes. We stopped just north of a town called Cessnock at The Hunter Valley information centre.

We found ourselves some accomodation at a place called Splinters and got a map and some leaflets to find our way around. We headed off and in the afternoon visited some amazing vineyards. The scenery here is just stunning with miles and miles of views in every direction. We headed to a little shopping village and wandered around sampling hand made chocolates and ice cream and then to the farm shop to sample quince, chutney and cheeses.

We headed to our accomodation which was just stunning. We were greeted by Ben and Bella the resident golden retrievers and then shown to our room which had a complimentary decanter of port, bottle of wine, cheese platter and chocolates (can I point out this was just under 40 pounds a night!) It was stunning. There was a pool and far stretching views to the vineyards in the distance.

We dumped our bags and had a cold drink on our verandah before heading out to fit in another couple of vineyards, Margan, where we just had to buy a bottle of their dessert wine and Oakvale where we tried the nicest sparkling Shiraz and Choclatey Tawny Port. On our way back to Splinters we stopped at the Blue Tongue Lizard Brewery where we had a cold refreshing alcoholic Ginger Beer and a sampler paddle of lagers.

When we got back to our room we had an hours kip before getting ready for dinner at the restaurant next door (about half a mile away!) The restaurant was lovely and we had a gorgeous dinner. I had a warm lamb salad to start followed by a Hunter Valley steak while Simon had Lobster Ravioli followed by King Fish. Then for dessert we had a dessert platter which had a sample of every dessert on the menu! We finished off the night sitting on the verandah drinking our decanter of port and chatting to a Norwegian couple from the next room.

Monday 26th January - Australia Day.
It is Australias biggest holiday today (similar to 4th July in the states) and there are huge celebrations in Sydney but we are enjoying the peace and quiet of the Hunter Valley. We planned to stay here for most of the day and head back the scenic route this afternoon. Fortunately Simon was driving so I got to sample lots more wines today. We went to Rosemount and Lindemanns but much preferred the smaller family vineyards and spent some time at one called Petersons where they gave out cheese and biscuits and you sampled the wine in the outdoor smapling area which overlooked the Hunter Valley. we decided to end the day with a walk through the vineyards.

We made our way back down the scenic road home stopping at Wollombi, a little village, for lunch. We got back to Sydney in time to see the Australia Day firweorks from our balcony with a bottle of HV wine!

Tuesday 27th January
Back to work and nothing else to report for today!

Wednesday 28th January
After work we headed into Chinatown which they had on for Chinese New Year. There are two weeks of activities and events here for the year of the monkey so their New Year drags on a bit.

Thursday 29th January
After work we had a few beers at home watching the box with Cindy and Jason.

Friday 30th January.
Tonight we had been invited to dinner on The North Shore by Bronwyn and Jason, friends of Tim Steels who we met at his Christmas Party. They have a really cool house in Cremorne. Bronwyn is an interior design and Jason is an editor liek Tim except he does films instead of TV and the lucky sod did Moulin Rouge and Mission Impossible which means he worked with Tom Cruise and Ewen MacGregor (lucky sod!) We had a really nice evening and caught up with Tim and Sue. We had gourmet pizzas and champagne. We had soon had too much champers and it was time to head back to Sydney so Tim and Sue dropped us back at the Harbour Bridge and we caught the bus over it and we walked back home through Darling Harbour.

Saturday 31st January
They were offering double time for overtime at work this morning with it being my last week at work - Hurrah - It was a 9am - 1pm shift. Simon met me from work and we headed to a little cafe for lunch in the sun. After lunch we took a walk through town and down to Darling Harbour.

A guy I worked with on the boat selling tickets for the Yellow Taxis Water Cruises and offered us to go on the next one as a freebie so we did. It was really good and took us out of Darling Harbour and under the Harbour Bridge. he then took us passed the Opera House and showed us Russell Crowes house and Nicole Kidmans House. He took us close into the Harbour and out to Garden Island and round Shark island. Shark Island got its name because it was once a whaling station and when the whales were cut up the blood used to run into the sea and of course attracted a lot of sharks. The driver then headed back to the Opera House on the other side which gave us amazing views of Sydney.

We went passed Taronga Zoo which has the best location overlooking Sydney and then passed John Howards house in Kirribilli and then under the Harbour Bridge and passed Luna Park which is a Sydney Icon, its a sort of permanent fairground but is closed at the moment for refurbishment. We then headed back into Darling Harbour where the trip ended. It was great to travel around Sydney by water and see the familiar sights from a different perspective.

We rounded off the afternoon with a schooner of lager and a gin and tonic on the balcony of a bar overlooking Darling Harbour.

Sunday 1st February
Today we got up early and walked down to Circular Quay and caught the ferry to Taronga Zoo. The Zoo is located directly opposite the Opera House and the trip across th harbour gives you its best views. When you get to the ferry port you get a cable acr ride which takes you to the top and takes you over some of the animal enclosures. You then walk your way gradually back down the hill to make you way home. The zoo is fantastic more because of the location you can walk in with the Koalas or feed a giraffe while overlooking the Opera House. We wandered around all day looking at the animals basking in the sun. We saw an example of a saltwater crocodile at 7 metres long which we need to look out for when we head up the East Coast in North Queensland and The Northern territory. The fact that crocodiles live in the sea is incomprehensible to me!!!!

We had lunch at Cafe Ritazza on site. We headed down the hill towards to exit to watch a bird show which was really good. The birds were flying over the audiences head and they showed you some amazing Australian Birds of Prey up close including the wedge tailed eagle and the White Breasted Seagull which is massive!. It was soon time to head back to the ferry to get back home.

Monday 2nd February
Last Monday morning at work for a long time!

Tuesday 3rd February
After work today we went to Wagamamas to have a free dinner with some vouvhers we had picked up last time. We went with Cindy and Jason and had a really nice night. Simons Mum and Dad arrive tomorrow so it was a sort of final night out as we head off soon.

Wednesday 4th February
David and Rachel arrived today so I knocked off early and went to meet them and Simon at my local coffee shop - Typically it was pouring down for the first time in a month but it was nice to get the air cleared. We had a walk round Darling Harbour showing the sights then headed home so they could have an hours snooze to ward off any jetlag before heading out to dinner. We headed to Chinatown as it was close and had a lovely dinner and a few drinks to catch up before going home.

Thursday 5th February
David and Rachel wanted to spend a day seeing the Opera House and a day at the zoo so we decided to go back to work for the day instead of revisiting the same places and give them time to get acclimatised to Sydney!

Friday 6th February
I had my last day at work and had a cake for my leaving which felt odd because I only just started!! After work we cooked dinner and sat on the balcony and watched the flying fox bats fly overhead.

Saturday 7th February
Today the 4 of us picked up a hire car and headed out of Sydney for the weekend. We were heading to the Blue Mountains which are named because of the mist that is caused on a hazy day turns blue due to the Eucalyptus trees. We had a leisurley drive to the town of Katoomba stopping at Penrith for Krispy Kreme hot doughnuts on the way. We arrived in Katoomba and stayed at a lovely guest house called No. 14. on Lovell Street. It had just been built and had a deck overlooking the trees which were home to some cockatoos.

We dumped our stuff and headed down to Ecco Point. The view was stunning and vast and is almost like a min Grand Canyon filled with thousands of gum trees and it is true that the look blue. It was another scorcher today so we decided to do a short walk to the Three Sisters which are a set of rocks and the most photographed part of the blue mountains.

We had to go dowb part of the Giants Staircase to reach the Three Sisters which is a set of steps cut out of the valley wall enabling you to reach the valley floor. It is a long way down and we only went down the first stage to where you can sit under the three sisters. We then made our way back up the Giants Staircase and got back to Ecco Point and we all sat and ate sandwiches for lunch. After lunch we headed around the top of the Canyon to The Gordon Falls and walked down to the viewing platform to see little more than wet rocks. There has been little rain so none of the waterfalls were up to much. There are strict water restrictions in place and it looked like someone had switched the waterfalls off.

After a day doing the walks we were soon all beat and headed back to the guest house to have cold drinks on the deck. we sat until we could see the sun was about to set and then we headed back to Ecco Point to watch the sunset as the sun dipped down behind the mountains we made our way into Katoomba to get some dinner.

We found a cosy little Australian restaurant and headed in so we could all try some Australian cuisine. We had Tempura Barramundi, Kangaroo and Emu and it was all delicious. We finished off the evening with a nice bottle of wine before heading off to bed.

Sunday 8th February
Today we headed round to scenic world where we could go down to the valley floor and walk through the rainforests on boardwalks. To get to the bottom you could take an old coal railway which was used during the old mining days which was used to shift coal from the valley floor to the top. The railway is the worlds steepest incline railway in that it is almost vertical. We decided (well David decided!) that this was the only way to do it! We sat in this open cart in seats that lean so far backward we were almost lying down and then it tipped over the edge to the soundtrack of Indiana Jones and plummeted the half mile to the bottom. At the bottom they have boardwalks along the rainforest floor. We decided as it was still early and quite cool to do the longest walk which was only 2 km but took you right into the heart of the rainforest.

The rainforest had many types of gum trees and info boards telling you about the rainforest and the many ways the plants fight for light. We also got to see some termite mounds and lots of amazing birds. We got to the end of the boardwalk and headed back up from the valley floor this time on the cable car which takes you above the canopy of the rainforest letting you see more amazing birds. We headed back through Katoomba to buy a picnic lunch. We then headed to Wentworth lake and sat under a shady tree to have lunch. After lunch we went to Wentworth falls and hiked down the mountainside to a viewing platform to where we could see the waterfall. It wasn't a raging river but it was still acceptable as a waterfall after some of the others we had seen today. We were soon knackered after all the walking and the heat so we got back into the airconditioned car and made our way back along the highway to Sydney.

Claire had organised getting stuff ready for a BBQ so when we got back we left David and Rachel to get freshened up while we started making burgers, kebabs and salads. We all sat down in the garden with our housemates and had a scrummy BBQ and a couple of boxes of wine.

Monday 9th February
My mum arrives this morning so we headed off to the airport first thing to pick her up. We got home and sat and chilled drinking cups of tea until about 11am when the five of us set off to go to the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Simon and I had been before but thought it was well worth another visit with the folks. We mulled around there for a couple of hours and then headed to Harrys Cafe de Wheels for our last pie! Its weird to think we only have tomorrow left in Sydney! Its become like home to us. We all sat on the waterfront enjoying our pies and fending off the hungry seagulls before making our way back through town and into Darling Harbour.

We decided to take a visit to the Chinese Friendship Gardens which was just a couple of minutes walk from our house but we never got round to going. It was beautiful. It was a haven of tranquility in the middle of the city. There were babbling brooks and little waterfalls and temples dotted around. We spent a good couple of hours walking round and watching the water dragons and the geckos enjoying their little habitat.

We all headed back to our house and had cups of tea and put our feet up for a while before driving up to Bondi Beach for Fish and Chips on the seafront. It started raining when we got there so we stayed in the car while it lashed down outside. The windows steamed up and it soon felt like we were back in England, we could have been sitting on The North Pier of Blackpool beach! We headed back to Sydney dropped David and Rachel off at their accomodation and headed home.

Tuesday 10th February
Last day in Sydney! Today I was doing a whistle stop tour of Sydney with my Mum. We first headed to the Harbour Bridge with David and Rachel to do the pylon climb. We spent a couple of hours learning about the bridge and how it was built and enjoying the views of Sydney. We then left David and Rachel as they were heading to the Maritime Museum and my mum and I headed off to the Opera House. They had a Sydney Style Design exhibition on which was free so we wandered in more to see the inside of the Opera House than anything. From inside its nothing special so we didn't stay long. It needs a refurb inside as it looks really gloomy and dated.

We took a walk around it and then sat on the famous front steps while we waited for Simon who had wanted to use his last morning to go for a swim in the open air Olympic Pool. We then went to one of the many cafes next to the Opera House for lunch. After lunch we took a leisurely stroll through the vast Botanic Gardens to watch some of the wildlife. The Botanic Gardens at this time of year is home to thousands of bats and you can see them all flying overhead or just hanging around upside down in the trees. We saw hundreds of them and they are huge, the size of at least a very large crow.

We had an ice cream in the sunshine before taking our final walk through town! Sydney is an amazing city and has really quite quickly become home for us but we are also ready to get going again! We got home and started to pack away our lives into our 55 litre bags once more (and quite a bit into Mums to take home for us!). We had an early dinner that Jason and Cindy cooked for the five of us and then had an early night for our flight tomorrow morning!

That is about half up to date now - I will leave the rest for maybe the next day or two (maybe tomorrow if I feel like typing) We have done a whole load of stuff since this including a 3000km drive through the Outback and 2 major World Wonders! We are now in Brisbane but will try and get our Red Centre and East Coast adventures up to date. We head to Darwin tomorrow for the Kakadu National Park and then on to Perth so only 2 weeks left in Oz before South East Asia so will get bang up to date before then! Also should have photos in a couple of days!
Take care as always xxxxxxxx
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