Exciting news – we have a new page on our website!

On our fridge, and in more detail in my head, we have a To Do List. It’s not one of those boring ones about hoovering and chores though, but about all the places to go and things to do while we’re over here in Australia. We’ve added the new page to share it with you and you’re more than welcome to give us ideas too! I’ve also summarised what we have done so far with handy links in case you want to know about something in particular.

You can get to it by clicking the button under the main picture called To Do List (to the right of Home) or by clicking HERE.

Kangeroo

Today its six months since we arrived in Australia, which seems like a good time to reflect on how its going.

First off, its gone pretty quickly, and we’ve done a whole heap of stuff since we got here. Here’s a quick roundup of the dull and less dull bits:

  • Found a flat to rent, and moved house into it, using the bus and train. Kitted out the flat with mainly new furniture, appliances, crockery and all the other bits and pieces you need, took shipment of our kit from the UK and bought a car
  • Work wise, I prequalified on two bids and finished RoadsPlus’s first major bid (due tomorrow!). Matt got promoted.
  • Joined the climbing club, became ‘semi-rad smoogers’ and been on loads of climbing trips
  • Done a whole heap of touristy stuff around Sydney itself (Reptile Park, Taronga Zoo, Maritime Museum, Vivid fesitval, Tower Eye, Art Gallery, Aquarium…..)
  • Visited Brisbane, Wollongong, the Blue Mountains and Ku-Ring-Gai
  • Had visits from Lizzie Short and Ellie Biggs, as well as meeting up with Toby Jeffries who also moved here from the other side of the world

At the moment its winter. Apart from a really wet week back in June, its been pretty good really. I’ve put the heating on for maybe an hour about ten times, and that’s it. Sure, you need to wear a coat outside, but its never been below 8 degrees. It seems to hit 20 in the day time a fair amount still too. We’re getting to grips with the local shops and products, different road rules and funny words for things.

What to we miss about the UK? Our friends and family are definitely the main one there. There’s some big weddings and events going on at the moment which we’re missing – boo! Other than that, a whole host of small stuff – decent TV, the ubiquity of baked potatos, countryside, our garden and mud (Matt said that one).

What would we miss about Australia if we left now? Here’s the top 5:

  • Exploring new places: I really enjoy seeing new things and going to new places
  • The better weather: its really makes a big difference to your general mood and ability to do stuff when its warmer and less rainy. I might have a different view come summer!
  • Modern, open plan living: I think it would feel quite weird going back into our 1970’s house now
  • Food things: the variety of cuisine is awesome here, not only for eating out but in shops too. And as well as the decent food there is of course also Twisties,Tim Tams and raisin toast!
  • And to be materialistic for a moment – our shiny car. Its just way nicer than the ones we’ve ever had before and so much less hassle to look after.

We might move when our lease is up – try out somewhere different, escape the noise building work next door, downsize to one less room and upgrade to a decent view. Time will tell though, flat hunting is a right pain here!

I’m glad we came out on an adventure and we’ve got plenty more exploring to do. I’m looking forward to visiting Melbourne, Canberra (not very exciting, but we should go) and Darwin, hopefully in the next 6 months. After that, more things on the list are the Barrier Reef, Uluru, Tasmania, Fiji, Perth, Bali and of course the Short/Millis Southern Hemisphere reunion!

06. July 2013 · 1 comment · Categories: Settling In · Tags:
Our Hyundai i30 (and balloon!)

Our Hyundai i30 (and balloon!)

After about three months in Sydney without wheels, we finally gave in and bought a car – hurrah! Here’s a Q and A style summary.

What car did you get?

Its a Hyundai i30 Elite. Petrol. 5 doors. Automatic. MY13 (=new) in metallic blue.

Automatic?! Elly, what were you thinking?

It turns out automatics are a lot more popular here. The majority of people learn to drive in them, so only have automatic licences. That means reselling manuals is much harder and they don’t retain their value so well. Also, Sydney traffic is a right pain, so we were persuaded into taking the lazy option. It does have a manual over-ride although I’ve yet to work out how to use it.

Why didn’t the car club work out?

There were a few reasons we decided to get our own wheels. The main factor was that we will mainly use a car for weekends away, which work out very expensive in the car club. The sheer convenience of our own car was a big factor too, and if we see it an an investment, we can get a big chunk of money from selling it when we come home. Also, the car club people annoyed me with their silly rules on fuel receipts and cheated me out of money – grr!

How did you pick what to get?

We did a fair bit of research and looked at SUVs as well for ground clearance for dirt roads, but decided we didn’t need one of those in the end. We narrowed it down to the i30 (voted Australia’s best small car) and the Honda Civic spaceship model. After driving both of them, making an Elly style comparison table and haggling with the salespeople about what the price actually was, the i30 was l round value for money (although not quite as cool looking!)

How come you went for something new? 

Well, it turns out the car market here is quite different to the UK. I would never have got a new car in the UK. Our starting point (having come from having two cars about 10-12 years old, which both had a lot of problems and ended up costing a lot of money) was we wanted something about 2 or 3 years old. Looking into it, depreciation here is much less for some reason. There aren’t a lot of cars for sale that a few years old, and the ones that are are only about  $2,000-3,000 the cheaper than a new one. Bearing in mind that the new ones are new (having had no thrashing about or other unknown history), come with full warranty, capped priced servicing, green slip, stamp duty (yes, see below!) and breakdown cover all chucked in, going new is a pretty sensible plan once you’ve saved up the money.

I thought Stamp Duty was for houses?

Me too! Here, when you buy a car (even a used one) you pay 3% of its value to the Government as stamp duty! For new cars this is included in the price. You also pay a ‘rego’ (car tax – also included on ours) and need a Green Slip which is basically third party insurance. Then you can add on more insurance to upgrade to fully comp if you like (obviously we did this for a new car!). Also, you pay more for black and white number plates rather than yellow ones – weird!

How were the salesmen?

Pretty much as you might expect! We met some pretty useless ones, and had an interesting (fun?) time haggling with them at the end. I was fairly pleased with my overall negotiation skills.

What features has it got?

There are many features. My favourite ones are:

  • Dual zone climate control – I am always cold in the car, Matt is normally too hot. This is great! 
  • Automatic mirrors and welcome – when you have the keys in your pocket, and wander near by, the mirrors (ears) fold out and the lights flash at you to say hello!
  • Push button start – This makes me feel like being in a space ship!
  • Sat nav – we have no idea how to get anywhere at the moment! 

There is also Bluetooth which Matt appreciates. Oh, and it came with a free balloon! (That’s now no longer with us).

Hows  it going so far?

Good! I am loving having our own car again. As well as getting out and about to cool places I’m happy just to be able to go to a supermarket that isnt the equivalent of a Tesco Express which is pretty much where we have done most of our shopping so far.

Our container of stuff arrived about two weeks ago. I thought I’d do a video before we put it all away, so here’s what we brought with us!

What would you take with you if you emigrated?

People here have a few phrases they use a lot more than you hear back in England. Here’s the top 5:

G’day: Matt’s noticed this informal greeting more than I have.

How ya going?: This is the common greeting, just like ‘how are you?’ really. It seems the correct reply is ‘Good thanks, you?’

No worries: People over here really do say this a lot. I think its only a matter of time before I convert from ‘no problem’.

Too Easy: This is for if you do a good job at something and get thanked, or if you get asked to do something which you’re pretty confident about. It can be combined with ‘no worries’.

Yeah, no: I can’t work out if this is an Australian thing or an individual thing. But it is confusing!

Abbreviations and alternative words

As well as the phrases, there are a whole host of abbreviations, and alternative words for things including:

  • Barbie – barbecue
  • Rego – car registration
  • Arvo – afternoon
  • Compo – compensation
  • Anything else you can stick and O on the end of!
Exciting kinds of Dairy Milk (not 'lollies)

Exciting kinds of Dairy Milk (not ‘lollies’)

Alternative words:

  • Manchester – bedding (this is the oddest)
  • Dooner – duvet
  • Bottle shop – off licence (also called a BottleO)
  • Lollies – sweets
  • Thongs – sandals
  • Capsicum – pepper (the vegetable)
  • Pom – British person
  • Bogan – cross between townie, chav and redneck

The only things I say so far really are barbie and no worries. How long before more of these terms weasel their way into my vocabulary though?

 

Porters Pass

Porters Pass

For the last 6-10 years in England (depending on which of us you talk to) we have always gone down to Cornwall with the climbing club for the long Easter weekend on a trip called Splosh. There is climbing, tea shops, pasties, chips, the pub, card games, camping, mead (lots of mead), chicken and chips on a wooden plate with no cutlery and lots of awesome fun people!

This Easter we couldn’t go to Splosh for obvious reasons, so decided to go to the Blue Mountains instead. We left it a bit late to look for a hotel, as it turns out to be quite a popular place. Luckily my boss offered to lend us his tent, and we had roll mats and sleeping bags as they have been our bed for the last 2 and a bit months anyway!

So, Friday morning, we went and got the train to the mountains with a couple of massively heavy bags. It was about 2 hours 20 mins on the train, and cost $8 one way – yes $8!! That’s about what a glass of wine costs here!

We camped at a place called Blackheath, a couple of stops up the line from the main tourist centre of Katoomba. On Friday we stuck the tent up and went for a walk in the mountains, past  Centenial Glen, Shipley Upper and, Porters Pass. these places have climbing so of course Matt checked them out for future reference.

Centenial Glen

Centenial Glen

Having been about 25-28 degrees in Sydney, the temperature dropped off a fair bit on the first night and we were actually pretty chilly. By the next morning the weather got its act back together.

BBQ Breakfast

BBQ Breakfast

The good thing about the campsite was they had BBQs you could cook your food on, so in true Easter camping tradition we made bacon sandwiches for breakfast! Sadly I didn’t have a mug or any tea supplies, so no tea – tragic. Over the trip I actually went about 52 hours without a cuppa!!

Grose Valley

Grose Valley

On Saturday we went for a longish walk, past Popes Glen, to Govetts Leap and Evans Lookout. I hurt my knee so we didn’t get to the Grand Canyon, but will save that for another time. Although they are called Mountains, the Blue Mountains are actually canyons – you end up at the top, looking down over the cool scenery, rather than up at it. The trees and rolling terrain goes on for aaaages. There were loads of weird sounding and strange looking birds, and not many other people about at all. The scenery has a definite blue tinge because of the eucalyptus.

Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls

Grose Valley

Grose Valley

On Sunday we did the tourist thing and went to Scenic world in Katoomba. You pay to go into the park, with the worlds steepest railway (newly refurbished), a cable car and skyway (horizontal cable car). This was all good, but totally over run with tourists (not like us ‘locals’ – humm).

Scenic Railway

Scenic Railway

From the cable car was a good view of Katoomba falls which you could also walk around too.

Katoomba Falls

Katoomba Falls

We walked from Scenic World to Echo Point, a famous lookout where the Three Sisters rocks are. These were pretty cool, but had even more tourists than Scenic World itself due to the close proximity of the coach drop off and free view! We didn’t walk to the bottom because of my dodgy knee, but no doubt there would have been far fewer people at the bottom of the 900 steps to the valley floor!

Three Sisters

Three Sisters

After a quick fish and chip pitstop, we headed back to Sydney on Sunday night as it was due to be wet on Monday.

Overall verdict: Excellent trip, lovely place with epic scenery and a total bargain on the train. Getting around would have been easier in a car, and we will be back when we have one, if not sooner. Scenic World is one to see, but not really anything better than the rest of the mountains. Would have been improved by: pasties; cream teas (or any tea); mead and koalas!  Next year I think the USMC should have Splosh in the Blue Mountains!

15. April 2013 · Write a comment · Categories: Settling In · Tags:

When is your stuff coming?

It is Container Eve! Container Day is tomorrow and I am excited!

Our things left England about a week before we did, on the 5th February. They shipped their way across the Seven Seas, to arrive in Sydney on Easter Sunday (late March). After getting through customs without any problem, they arrive at our flat tomorrow.

After a long 2 1/2 months of the air bed and sleeping bag we were finally getting our  bed back! It is like Christmas waiting for the container to come. After quite a long time, I forgot a lot of what I packed!

What did you bring?

Elmo hitched a ride on the container - minus the tiarra

Elmo hitched a ride on the container – minus the tiarra

We didn’t bring a lot of our furniture, becasue it was either old (but not old enough to be antique) or not really worth shipping. We managed to sell a lot of it before we left via Gumtree for some cash and got new stuff over here which we like a lot and will probably bring back to the UK with us. The only item we did bring was the bed, as it turned out the cost of bringing it wasn’t much more than all the other stuff we wanted to bring.

We used Crown Relocations, a professional moving company arranged by my work. They repacked our stuff into their fancy boxes, and made a nice list of it all. According to the inventory, we had 20 boxes. Here is what it says:

  1. Samsung TV
  2. Speakers
  3. Quilts and speakers
  4. Bed slats
  5. Bed rails and screws
  6. Rock climbing equipment
  7. Wooden chest and camping equipment
  8. Mattress
  9. Head and foot-board
  10. Crate with camping equipment
  11. Crate with clothes
  12. Crate with clothes
  13. PC Tower
  14. Holdall with clothes and TV stand and kitchenware
  15. Suitcase with shoes and clothes
  16. Kitchenware
  17. Shoes and camera and magazines
  18. Jewellery box and cables
  19. Printer, boots, linen and board games
  20. Crate with (non-hazardous) toiletries

I guess this is an interesting insight into what we thought was important to us when we left! Weirdly Elmo didn’t get a mention.

More about what we are looking forward to getting is here. 

 

 

 

11. April 2013 · Write a comment · Categories: Settling In · Tags:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The majority of the container contents

*** STOP PRESS!!***

This is a totally unscheduled, hot of the press post announcing… Container Day!

Our container finally arrived in Sydney on Easter dunay, after leaving the UK in early February. I had the cll earlier today confirming it will be through customs on Monday, and delivered to our flat on Tuesday. This is very exciting!

The top three things I am looking forward to from the container are:

  • Our bed and associated ‘Manchester’ – two months on an air bed in a sleeping bag is wearing a bit thin now!
  • More clothes – I’m bored of wearing the same things over and over again, and have been pretty good so far and not bought more clothes over here
  • Cuddly wedding Elmo and Tristan the lion – Roy the Pengiun wants his friends back! Hopefully the poor little guys had a good time on their cruise by breaking out of their box and exploring the ship, rather than suffocating in a box! (Becasue Toys come alove at night you know – it says so in Toy Story).

The top three things Matt is looking forward to (I’m not sure of the orfder of preference) are:

  • Climbing kit including rope, gear and boundering mat
  • The computer
  • The TV

Stay tuned for more container updates. What else did we bring? What didn’t we bring that we should have? Will it get through cutoms with no fees for cleaning mud off tents or shoes? Where am I going to put all the extra clothes when they arrive?

Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach

We were lucky enough to have Matt’s sister Lizzie and her friend Steph come and stay with us for a few days recently.

They decided to power on through the jet-lag after an epic jounrey via 11 hours in China. After some traditional bacon and egg rolls for breakfast, we got the bus over to Bondi and went  on the Bondi to Coogee beach walk.

The walk is about 6km along cliffs, with about 6 different beaches on the way.

The world famous Bondi was the first stop. We didn’t see the TV crews, but there were plenty of Bondi lifeguards in their traditional blue outfits. Apparently its smaller than it looks on TV. It was about 28 degrees, so the beach was packed. We had a quick paddle in the sea, got some free sweets from a shop and decided to head on down the coast to find somewhere a bit quieter.

Tamarama was the next beach, which was small but nice. Matt, Lizzie and Steph braved the fairly big waves and went for a swim.

Tamarama Beach

Tamarama Beach

Round the corner we got to Bronte, where it was time for an ice cream!

After Bronte was Clovelly. On the way was a giant graveyard and bowling green on the cliff! Clovelly had a big concretey platform you could sit on, and loads of people snorkelling. We were on the look out for a shop selling snorkels during the walk, but sadly didn’t find one. We have some now, so will be back to Clovelly soon.

Just around the coast a bit more was Gordons Bay a nice secluded bay with an underwater snorkelling and diving trail which is well reccomended.

Gordons Bay

Gordons Bay

The Coogee stop came just in time as the jet-lag was starting to get serious for our visitors, and we were feeling the heat. We got the bus back home in time for dinner.

You can find full details of the walk, here 

Verdict: 8/10. Very good walk, nice and convenient from the city. Would have been even better with a snorkel and a shop selling proper ice creams!

04. April 2013 · 1 comment · Categories: Settling In · Tags:

Until recently, our lounge area looked like this – empty!

Our furnitureless lounge

Our furnitureless lounge

We now have some furniture which we got from Early Settlers and a sofa from Plush. Early Settlers had a set we liked, and it was pretty reasonable for what it is too. In the UK we had a lot of furniture from different places which didn’t really match, so its nice to have a set now. We got a coffee table, TV stand (empty for now apart from speakers), bookcase, extendible dining table and 6 chairs (for when we have friends)! We got a lovely penguin picture from our new nearest relatives  the Millis’s in Wanaka, New Zealand which has taken up residence on the book case – thank you! 🙂

Bookcase complete with penguins and Robin from The Pigeons Nest in England!

Bookcase complete with penguins and Robin from The Pigeons Nest in England!

We took a risk on our sofa – again! In the UK we got a total ebay bargain with a four piece leather suite worth over £1,000 for about £300 and a van. This time we had the sofa we wanted picked out, but when we went to get it it was only available in lime green, unless we wanted to wait 12 weeks. It goes without saying, neither of those were good options!

After some discussions with the sales assistant we ended up with a choice between a more expensive corner sofa with integrated sofa bed we don’t really need, or the ‘mystery sofa’. The Mystery Sofa was the last one left. It has a corner facing the right way we wanted. It was half the price of the sofa bed sofa. It came in an acceptable colour (grey). And, we could have it in a week. Becasue it was the mystery sofa though, we couldn’t see it or sit on it. It was in the warehouse, not the shop.

After a quick wander about the shopping centre and some deliberation we were totally sucked in with the cheap mystery option. And here it is…..

Our new mystery sofa, coffee table and dining table

Our new mystery sofa, coffee table and dining table

I’m pleased to report it is pretty comfy! Having not had a sofa for a few weeks probably anything would feel comfy, but we think its genuinely good. The colour is a bit darker than I wanted really, but then darker should be nice and practical  Its bigger than I expected, but really good as we can both easily lie on it at the same time. I think the back looks a bit weird with the bumpy bit, but for the price I can definitely live with it.

 

Wild Life Sydney is a small zoo right in the centre of Sydney (see here). We went a couple of weekends back to look around and bought Merlin passes on-line for $90. This gets us unlimited entry to 5 Sydney attractions and some other ones in Oz, for a whole year. Compared to $36 walk in price for the zoo and the same for many of the other attractions its a total bargain!

I love animals, so had a good time even though the zoo was only small.

Koalas

These were definitely the cutest chaps in the zoo. They were in close competition with the wombats, but they were hiding down their holes asleep so it wasn’t a fair competition.

Awwwwww

Awwwwww

Koala1

Lunch time for the koala

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Princess the Cassowary

We went to a short talk about Princess the Cassowary. Princess is a boy, but apparently a diva! The cassowary is basically like an emu or ostrich, but with better colours and a keratin (what nails are made from) bit on their head. They eat a lot of fruit, and have an evil claw which can be used to kill people! They’re pretty rare and only like in Australia and New Guinea.

Princess the (boy)  cassowary

Princess the (boy) cassowary

Reptiles

I particularly like lizards, and there were quite a few there, including a giant goanna (related to the monitor lizard).

 

A couple of unidentified lizards

They had a lot of snakes as well, big and small, poisonous and pretty ‘armless ones too.  They had an unusual one called the Hoop Snake.

Rex the Big Boss Croc

 

Rex the 'Big Boss Croc'

Rex the ‘Big Boss Croc’

We also went to a talk about Rex, who is what is known as a Big Boss Croc becasue he is huge! (700kg). Rex’s story is quite interesting. He used to live up in Darwin and ended up near a spot where lots of locals used to like picnicking and swimming. Many of them had dogs go missing. ’nuff said. The rangers decided Rex needed to be relocated as he was getting too aggressive and there was a fair risk he’d have gone for a person sooner or later. But giant crocs have really good homing instincts, so if they moved him he would have just come back.

So. Rex got caught and sent off the the Crocodile Farm. Its basically for breeding crocs, they look after them and then eventually make them into products as a way of reducing poaching. Sounded a bit dodgy to me, but apparently there are a lot of them. The idea was, in return for his food and board Rex would make new crocodile babies with the females at the farm, and pass on all his good ‘big boss croc’ genetics. Unfortunately, instead of making babies, Rex mauled all his potential girlfriends. 🙁

After a few years the farm got fed up with Rexs bad behaviour, so he ended up at Wild Life Sydney, where he lives with a few water dragons and gets fed 6 days a week (but not the day we were there).

Rex's giant body

Rex’s giant body

Verdict: 6.5/10. It was good, but only small, so worth a trip with some sort of deal ticket. Not too many scary spiders. Some of the enclosures were a bit small – I felt sorry for the kangeroos.

Last weekend on Saturday we ordered our sofa (woo) and went to Balmoral (Beach), which is a fairly short bus ride from the flat. The Queen wasn’t there.

Then, on Sunday, we took a trip down south to Wollongong. We met up with my friend from Uni, Toby, and his girlfriend Kendall. They took us on an excellent guided tour of the area, mainly around the countryside as we were keen to get out of the city. The train trip was 1.5 hours, and only cost $11 each – bargain!

First off we went in the soft top (grin) up a wiggly mountain road. The temperature dropped from about 25 to a relatively chilly 16-17 (don’t worry, I don’t expect any sympathy). The area is known as the Southern Highlands, and looked a fair bit like South Wales – lots of rolling hills, forests and cows.

Fitzroy Panorama

Fitzroy Panorama

We parked up and did a walk around an area called Fitzroy Falls. The view was stunning. There was a cliff ridge / break (I’m not sure of the proper technical word) which we walked around the top of. The falls went over the end, down a loooong way, surrounding by trees and bush as far as you can see. We were pretty sure there were Hobbit’s down the bottom – but it would have been pretty hard to go and check. I guess the scale of the bush is even more impressive when you get properly out into the remote bits of the country, so I’m looking forward to seeing that.

Fitzroy Falls

Fitzroy Falls

After the walk we went for a drive back down into the valley (it warmed up again) and had a good pub lunch in a place called Jamberoo. Being St Patrick’s day we had some pretty traditional Irish food, listened to a band in the sunshine in the beer garden. I had pie – yum. Matt got a pint of Guinness. Over here beer mainly comes in schooners (285ml), which are less than a pint, so getting an actual pint is pretty exciting!

In Australia there is a bit of a trend for ‘big stuff’. Some towns and cities have big things as landmarks. We went past Robertson, which is home of the giant …..potato! It’s a pretty weird landmark, and gets more points for obscurity and humour than historical interest. There’s no detailed explanatory sign, just a tourist sign with some actual potatoes stuck on it, that people have drawn faces on. We guess Robertson used to be home to lots of potato farms. It would have made me crave a baked potato (as I miss them here), but luckily for my stomach it was still full of pie!

The Robertson Giant Potato

The Robertson Giant Potato

After the excitement of the potato, we went down to the coast to a place called Kiama. It was incredibly windy which made for good (if slightly damp and salty) viewing conditions at the Blow Hole. It made a pretty cool boomy noise too. None of my pictures do it justice I’m afraid.

After the blow hole we got ice creams (mango plus double chocolate for me, white chocolate and raspberry plus old English toffee for Matt). They were goooood. We ate them so quickly I didn’t even think about a picture. Next, we went to a place with 360 degree views around the area, with beaches that went on for miles – but not quite the 10,500 miles to London. To round off the trip we went for a walk in Woolongong by the Harbour and along some of the beach. Its a lot quieter than the Sydney beaches and looked pretty nice if it wasn’t for the wind!

It was an excellent day out – we need to save up for a car so we can go on lots of other mini adventures out of the city too!

Thanks Toby 🙂

Hello, avid blog readers!

By popular demand, I’ve bumped down the zoo post, so you can see the video of our new place. I hope you enjoy it – I hate listening to myself in these, so I’ve not watched it again.

Recently, in the flat we have:

  • Put beer in the fridge
  • Got some hooks for our hand towels and calendar (I do like having the calendar up)
  • Got the internet connected
  • Ordered the sofa and
  • Acquired a gigantic very comfy air bed from a work colleague

Our new furniture comes tomorrow, so there will be some pic shortly, and the sofa on Saturday.

Enjoy a nose about!

10. March 2013 · 1 comment · Categories: Settling In · Tags:

So another week gone down in Australia. Its been a busy one.

Moving 

We got confirmation on Tuesday that someone else could take on our place in Glebe on the Thursday, if we moved out. This would save us a weeks worth of rent on two places at once, so of course we obliged! Moving by bus and train with only a day and a half’s notice was a bit too much like hard work but we are in now. I got a few funny looks with my giant suitcase and Roy in my handbag on the train! 🙂

Moving with Roy

Moving with Roy

More shopping

We’re fully moved into the new place now and have been checking out the local area.  Unfortunately there is no ETA on the fridge yet, so no nice chilled beers or wine for us unless we go out. On Thursday we ordered a very nice matching dining table, chairs, coffee table, TV stand and bookcase for a pretty good price. We had a bit of an odd collection of furniture in the UK, so it will be nice to get a matching set. Its coming on the 21st, so under 2 weeks to go.

Saturday we hired a car again to go and buy more things as we’re  still short of lots of bits and pieces you need to live comfortably  Sadly it was a bit less flash than the upgrade we got the time before, but it did the job.

Micra

Micra

Many hours and another trip to Big W (=Woolworths), Bunnings Warehouse (=B and Q), Good Guys (=Currys), Freedom (=Habitat) and Ikea (=place of meatballs) later we are well on the way to a fully functioning flat! Key items we managed to acquire include breakfast bar stools; an outdoor table and chairs (to be used inside if we need them for now); nice crockery; a travel mug; microwave; drawers and shelves for clothes; a coat stand and a bin.

More purchases

More purchases

Our new crockery

Our new crockery

Being tourists 

We decided Sunday would be for stuff more fun than shopping, so we went to the zoo! (Last Sunday was climbing, so it was my choice!) There are two zoos in Sydney, Taronga Zoo (accessed via ferry) and Wild Life Sydney. We got annual Merlin passes for only $90 which get us in 5 attractions in Sydney as much as we like in the year, plus some cool places in other cities too. This is a massive saving on even just doing more than two of the things individually, so seemed like a good idea. It includes Wild Life Sydney, the Aquarium. Madam Tussaudes, the Sydney Eye and Manly Sea Life centre (where the penguins are). I can now see penguins all year for $0 additional cost! Wooo.

Wild Life Sydney was cool. There were lots of very cute koalas, lizardy things, kangeroos, a wombat (sadly hiding), a cassowary (like a colourful ostrich) and a ‘big boss croc’. It was low on scary spiders too, which was good. I have a lot of pictures to sort through, so I’ll do another post with them – here’s one for now.

Koala at wild Life Sydney

Koala at wild Life Sydney

After we shared a duck pizza for lunch in Darling Harbour looking at the water. The pizza was yummy although we got stung on the good deal by a $6 weekend surcharge – boo.

This weekend we’ve also been playing a new board game we bought called Dominon. Its very good and has lots of variety possible which keeps it interesting for 2 people. Current score is one all. We’ve not had much luck shipping our boat, so no idea where the rest of our board games are!

Dominon cards

Dominon cards

 

We’re just assembling flat pack this evening and hopefully off to try out the pool after dinner. We went earlier but it had about 10 people in it, which is about as many as I think it will hold, so second attempt coming up.  In the mean time we’re cooking baked potatoes. I’ve missed these as I ate a lot of them in England and they don’t seem to be sold as a separate thing over here.

How are you guys over in England?

Hi all,

Sorry for the slight delay between posts, we’ve been proper busy.

Week 2 at work took me on a quick jaunt up to Brisbane. It rained properly hard when we got there. Apart from doing a lot of work I got to try ‘Moreton Bay Bugs’. These are amazingly yummy crustaceans, somewhere between a crayfish and a lobster. I’d definitely have them again. We stayed on the South Bank, where next to the river they have an artificial beach and pool. I didn’t bring any swimwear, but had a quick paddle before work on the second day.

Brisbane South Bank

Brisbane South Bank

This Saturday we had an epic day of moving. Although, when I say moving, we only moved two suitcases and a rucksack! Most of the epicness was actually buying new things to kit out the place with; as we basically bought nothing with us apart from clothes. Some things are coming on the boat in about a month, but in the mean time we need to sleep, cook and eat!

Our new flat is in St Leonards, on the train line to the north of Sydney. Its just a couple of minutes from the train station, has three bedrooms (more than we need), a very nice interior with some wood floor, a balcony with a gas BBQ hookup, a gym and pool in the basement, car park space and a storage cage for storing stuff, or where guests can sleep if they upset us! 😛 (You have been warned). Unfortunately the only appliances it comes with are a cooker and dishwasher, and the only furniture is the built in wardrobes.

Here’s a sneaky pic, and we’ll do a video tour later.

Our new flat

Our new flat

After signing the contract on Saturday we got the keys and “moved in” with our two suitcases and one rucksack! The estate agent found this pretty amusing! We checked out our parking space, but still cant find our storage cage. I think it might be behind a door for which we don’t have the key.

From there we walked to a car hire place to pick up our ‘smallest model they do’ car. Unfortunately they didn’t have any small cars, so we got a reasonably good looking bright red Ford Falcon. Win! As we didn’t buy the collision waiver I drove it like a sensible person, but was happy it looked better than a Punto!

Ford Falcon XR6

Ford Falcon XR6

First stop: Ikea of course! We didn’t have anything to measure up the flat with, so we got some paper measuring tapes to take home! The big furniture we checked out, but weren’t inspired by anything other than the drawers we didn’t know the measurements for. We got loads of barginacious bits and pieces including pillows, garlic press, colander, bath mats, containers for the kitchen, cutlery inserts, ice cube trays, glasses, wine glasses and so on. After Ikea you could get 50c ice creams, so that was a good break. I also enjoyed the free refill tea in the cafe before we started, and was very restrained with only the two cups!

Next stop: Target, a sort of Australian version of an upmarket Wilkinson’s. We were doing well, but still no crockery we liked. Energy levels starting to flag after 3 hours (!!) so time for a Subway pitstop. Yup, they have subway here.

Next stop: Home HQ. We picked up a kettle, toaster, iron, ironing board and hoover from the Good Guys and haggled a fair bit of money off too.  From there we went to Chatswood Chase shopping centre, to Kmart. Kmart is like Primark, only also with home stuff like Wilkinsons. We got some crockery to last us till we find something we really like, some silicone utensils and a couple of other bits and pieces.

Shopping Haul

Shopping Haul

 

Here is our final haul, packed and unpacked.  By the time we unpacked it all, put it away, dropped the car off, walked back to the station, had a quick take away and got into town it was 9.30pm so we missed the Mardis Gras parade, but it will come around next year.

Stuff we bought

Stuff we bought

The washing machine and fridge have been ordered (thank you credit card for finally turning up!) Next we need some furniture, especially a sofa.  For now we are living in Glebe still, ready to move and squat in the new place if they find someone to rent our place early.

Stay tuned for the video!

From…..

Elly!  (Other Elly models are available)

Elly!
(Other Elly models are available)

View from Blues Point

View from Blues Point

We’ve just had our second weekend in Sydney and as usual we crammed a lot in!

On Saturday the weather was pretty epic. It rained a lot and was very windy too. North up the coast they had some pretty bad flooding and evacuations, but we were fine in the city. Saturday we were going to go house viewing, but we managed to find a place we liked on Friday and filled in all the mountains of application paperwork for it. Fingers crossed it will all go through, and then we’ll give some more details.

Saturday AM we went to see a flat that looked OK as it was just around the corner. Luckily it wasn’t as nice as the one we applied for – phew! We got pretty soggy on the way. After that we took the train up to St Leonards, N of the Harbour where the new place hopefully is. From the station it was ten mins to the climbing wall, which we wrote about in the last post. on the way back to the station we went to a shopping centre full of places selling furniture and homeware. It was useful to have a look about and get a feel for the sort of thing you can get and the prices.

Indoor Climbing Wall

Indoor Climbing Wall

At the moment we’re seriously watching the dollars until pay day (28th). We only brought a set amount of cash over from the UK and don’t really want to get more out because of all the fees. Although the bank were very good initially we still don’t have bank cards yet and our credit card application only just went in. The cards had better come before pay day!  So although there are a load of nice looking places to eat on our road we’re staying in for now. Saturday night we made pizza. After a slight ‘lack of a tin opener crisis’, my pineapple was released and the pizza was yummy. 🙂

Sunday was a bit cloudy but warm again, without the epic rain. After a trip to the supermarket to get food for the week and some lunch we got the ferry over to Blues Point. There is some bouldering there, which Matt will write more about later, and we saw a lizard. No spiders, whoop.

Lizard at Blues Point

Lizard at Blues Point

From there its a short ferry hop to Luna Park. This has the level and style of ride of a cheesy fun fair, with the outdoorness of Australia thrown in so I think its open most of the year. The entrance is a scary clown – these aren’t as bad as spiders, but are on my list of things I don’t like. I convinced myself it was a funny looking person and we had a wander about. We didn’t go on any rides becasue of the aforementioned scrooge mode, but might do if we go back again.

Luna Park entrance

Luna Park entrance

Luna Park is right to the north of the bridge and opposite the opera theatre. We walked back over the bridge which had good views, although slightly obscured by all the metalwork to stop people jumping off of it! From there we wandered around the Rocks area which had a good market with cool things and a gelato stand.  Yummy.

In the evening we made fish cakes (pretty successful, even without potato in them) and watched a weird American version of Sherlock.

This week I am up in Brisbane for work for 2 days, which should be interesting although mainly we’ll be in the office this time. See you soon!

 

Last Saturday we went to my boss’s house which is north of Sydney in a place called Pymble (about 30 mins on the train). We started off the visit with our first Australian ‘barbie’. We took along and ate kangeroo burgers. They were nice, quite gamey and flavoursome. I did feel a bit bad afterwards though, as kangeroos are pretty cute.

Bobbin Head - N of Sydney

Bobbin Head – N of Sydney

After lunch we drove about 10-15 minutes from Pymble to a National Park and place called Bobbin Head. We went for a walk on the board-walk and saw lots of little crabs, living in the mangrove swamps.

Crabs in a mangrove swamp

Crabs in a mangrove swamp

From there we drove up the hill to a visitor centre where you can go on a wildlife walk. We saw bright parakeet type things.

Parroty birds

Parroty birds

More excitingly, we got really close to 2 kangeroos. One was sleeping in the grass and another one was quietly minding his own business in the trees. He stood up to get a better look at us funny British people.  When they stand up they are surprisingly big, probably taller than Matt. Eventually he hoppety hopped off.

Skippy!

Skippy!

 

After the kangeroo, on the way out, I spotted something unusual. We had a look and it turned out to be a 3m-ish long diamond python! They are pretty much harmless unless you really annoy them when they will give you a bite. It was impressively long and wide. He snaked his way along the ground and eventually curled up under a tree. To think you could just wander about in the woods (on a climbing trip, say) and come across one of those is a bit crazy!

Snaaaaaaaaaaaake!

Snaaaaaaaaaaaake!

What animals will we see next? How long before I get to see a penguin? Stay tuned!

Now that we have settled into our new flat a bit, we thought that we would give you a video tour.

If we do more videos in future you can check if our accents change too! Enjoy.

15. February 2013 · 1 comment · Categories: Settling In · Tags:

G’day folks!

Day 1

We made it to Sydney and they let us in! The immigration people didn’t even ask any questions at all, which I found a bit surprising. We had a long gap between when our flight landed and when we could get to our apartment, so we checked our bags in at the airport baggage store and get the bus to Bondi Junction. There we managed to resist the familiarity of Subway, and have an excellent bacon and egg roll for second breakfast (first breakfast was on the plane).

Bondi was a bit smaller than I expected, and pretty busy, even on a weekday. It was pretty full of stereotypical surfing types who clearly spend more time at the gym than the average person! We even saw a man riding a motorbike holding a surfboard. Even though it was cloudy it was hot!

 

Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach

We got into the apartment which is nice and open plan. Its modern, has a dishwasher (woo), bid fridge, air con (handy as its hot), washing machine, dryer, big wardrobe (but not enough coat hangers) and a terrace bit. If I feel brave enough later I’ll do a video tour. We are staying an an area called Glebe which is one of Sydneys oldest suburbs. Its a nice place, not too city like, with a very large amount of restaurants.

We adventured into the shopping centre nearby yesterday afternoon and got some bits at Coles supermarket. Lots of the food is much more expensive than it is in the UK, which will take a bit of getting used to. There is an across the board inflation, and then some things are just weirdly some things. 3 peppers (or capsicums as they are called here) were $7! (£4.69!) I don’t think we’ll be getting as many of them as we did at home. We could have got Tetley, PG Tips and Marmite (in the special ‘foreign food’ section) but resisted. They had kangeroo steaks too, but I wasn’t sure how to cook those.

Verdict on the food so far:

  • Peppers – damn expensive! 
  • Tasty cheese – Ummm, tasty
  • Mighty mite (Matt doesn’t like vegemite) – Not as strong as our stuff
  • Tea – OK 

Last night we had a nap, watched some telly then went to bed early to sleep off the jetlag.

Day 2

This morning we managed to get onto the free wi-fi from the Health Centre next door. Win!

We went to my new office and picked up my iPhone 5. Double win! We’re setting it all up now.

After that we had an appointment at the bank to activate our account.  We got a pretty good personal service, although the bank cards will take a bit longer and we need to make a decision about credit cards.

We went and looked at Freedom Furniture which looks pretty good, but there’s no point getting any until we know where we are living and how big it will be. Again, it all seems pretty expensive.

 

Sydney Monorail

Sydney Monorail

After that we went for a ride on the Monorail. This was pretty cool, but mainly becasue there aren’t many of them about and its a bit of a novelty. It was busier than I thought, mainly with tourists. The view wasn’t a good as I expected as everything is quite closed in around the monorail. I’d recommend it for novelty, but it is closing down at the end of June so not long left. Overall, 5/10, probably 6/10 from me as I am a transport geek.

Best view from the Monorail - over Darling Harbour to the city

Best view from the Monorail – over Darling Harbour to the city

We rode the tram back to the apartment and did a bit more walking around Glebe, cooked some dinner, set up the iphone and looked for some houses.

Day 3 

Tomorrow we are going to visit my new boss who lives in a suburb called Pymble. We might have a barbie if the weather is good and are going to drive into the countryside which I’m looking forward to seeing. Apparently he has redbacks in his garden though, which I am NOT happy about. Spiders terrify me. On the upside we may get to see kangeroos. 🙂

Counts

I am going to keep a count of important things we have seen:

  • Penguins: 0
  • Deadly spiders seen: 0 (I’d like it to stay that way)
  • Kangeroos: 0
  • Penguins: 0
  • Koalas: 0
  • Wombats:0

I have made a list of fun things we would like to do, which I’ll post another day.