Ozztrarlia - The start of 5 weeks I will spend here
After a 4 hour flight from Christchurch, I touched down in Sydney at 7pm on Monday 25th February, and was met by Phil Gilroy. For those who are unaware, Phil is the husband of my Godmother, Gerry, and is the father of the family I would stay with for a week, whilst in Sydney. Upon arrival at their house in Mt Kuring-Gai (North Sydney) I was greeted by two rather excited boys, Jack and Liam. These two were great fun all week. Gerry and I had a decent chat that evening about anything and everything, and began to catch up after 6 years without seeing each other. The following day, Jack and Liam had school, Gerry and Phil had work, so i spent the day sorting my life out for the coming week, catchig up on some sleep and generally chilling out, as well as motivating myself enough to go on a run.
Wednesday 27th February was a big day. I began by getting the train into Wynyard Station (central Sydney) and meeting Hannah Metcalf (a friend from work at Gatwick). We visited the Aquarium, saw the opera house, the harbour brigde, and generally wandered around the city being tourists. The Aquarium was very impressive, and it was exciting seeing the sights that had previoulsy only been pictures or mental images. After this day with Hannah, I caught Bus 431 to Glebe Point Road, meeting Rich Gell and his friend Jon. Rich was the gap year student at Reigate Grammar two years ago, and we had become firm friends in this time. It was really good to see him and to catch up on things, as well as sharing and reminding each other of old stories. We then prepped ourselves for a big night out (as it was freshers week for the Sydney Universities). Box wine galore while we BBQ'd. At the bar/club after this pre-lash Rich and I bumped into Mill Bradley (the girl gap year student at RGS last year), who was rather "festive" as it was freshers week, and pretty much burst into tears when she saw me (which was strange...but Rich hadn't told her I would be there).
On Thursday I made my way back to Gerry and Phil's house. I had a good laugh with the boys and continued catching up with, and getting to know Gerry and Phil. Friday saw me fo the Bridge Climb. This is where you are all kitted up and climb up the side of the Harbour Bridge, to the summit, then down again. This was very impressive, and well worth doing. This was a gift from the Gilroys to me, and one that I was, and still am very grateful for.
On the Saturday, the family and I went to watch Jack play cricket in his league's semi-final match. This was good fun chilling out in the sun, and was slightly marred by Jack being hit on the chin with the ball being thrown in by a fielder. He took it like a man though. We went shopping after this and the Gilroys once again showed their immense generosity by buying George (my brother) and I gifts that they would send home to England. That evening we went to Hornsby RSL for dinner, sport on TV and drinks. We (along with the rest of the room) supported the NSW Waratahs. This was a good chill out and one that I really enjoyed.
On the Sunday, as part of my last full day with the family, we went to Bobbin Head, in the Kuring-Gai National Park. This was real Ozzy bush. I sorted my belongings out that morning too (while the family was out), and prepared myself for departure the following day.
Monday 3rd March saw me depart from the GIlroy family after a week spent with them. I had to venture into town that morning to sort out my coach ticket to Byron Bay for that evening, but apart from this I had very little to do except make sure I had everything with me. These days are all too rare when travelling, and I find great value in. The days where you have very little to do, no pressure to get somewhere or do something, and you can just forget about the time and relax. That evening it was goodbye to the Gilroys and the end of a very good week. It was so nice to catch up with them all, get to know them a lot better, and I am thoroughly grateful for their generosity, company and hospitality.
On the whole, Sydney appeared to be a busy modern city. There was a very substantial asian and particularly Japanese population, and chinatown was enormous! The city had such a good attitude to health, cleanliness and pride in your enviromnent. For example, during my visit was "clean up Australia day", a day in which people take to the streets and clean up. They put rubbish in the bin, erase graffiti and generally make the country look better. Sydney is a city with a good vibe, and one that I could definitely live in.
13hours on a Greyhound coach and I arrived in Byron Bay. It turned out that Hannah (who I had met up with previously in Sydney) was on the same bus as me, with 6 of her female friends from home. So they invited me into their group...and being a man with a brain...I of course accepted.
7 girls + me = good ratio!
Hannah, Maddie, Sophie, Jo, Hattie, Lizzie and Rachael were all lovely, and i had a good fun 5 days with them. We checked into Cape Byron Lodge, where we spent one night and in the mean time, lazed around on the beach and found a fantastic 6 person house for the rest of our stay. We had a quiet night in (as we had all slept very little on the coach the previous night) and then moved into our 3 storey town house on Wednesday. I slept on the sofa for a few nights, but it was fine and good to have a dwelling, as opposed to a hostel. Beach during the day, baking sun, the occasional tropical storm, goon (box wine - 4.4litres @11.5% for 4pounds) and clubbing at night. What a place! Such a good youthful vibe. However, the bouncers were "very unreasonable" and "unfair". They would kick people out of their clubs for literally no reason whatsoever, whenever they got bored. It was quite amusing, providing it wasn't you! Cheeky Monkeys and Cocomangas were fun clubs, and the goon made the following morning rather blurry.
I have to say I was quite pleased with myself to manage to call my brother, George, at 7:20am (English time) on a school say to wish him Happy 16th Birthday on Thursday 6th March. But then again, he deserved it.
On Saturday 8th March I moved onto Brisbane, for my East Coast adventure to continue!