Time in Australia: 8 Days
Number of spiders seen: 3 (all tiny and dealt with immediately- RIP)
State of paranoia: Unreasonably high
I have been here a week - exceeding my own expectations I can happily come home now!
I keep changing my mind about my intended length of stay but for now I still have no return flight booked. I'm hoping Richard Branson will discover some super speedy way of getting me back to London by the time I'm ready to go. I've dropped him a tweet and given him a highly reasonable six month deadline. If not, I'm going down the Night Nurse meets Jack Daniels route to get through it.
My most pressing concern is that I'm being followed. By an evil looking bird - He's everywhere! I've researched him and discovered he's a Currawong (google it and be terrified). But I've called him Bryan because he's just as scary as the other Bryan (Adams). And he has yellow eyes. He looks like one of our magpies crossed with a crow crossed with a monster. I am certain he's following me because whenever I turn around he's hopping towards me with malicious intent and when I look out my window I can see him sitting in a tree, watching. I engaged in a staring contest with him in the park for at least four minutes. Bryan won then followed me home.
Things that have surprised me about Australia:
The birds are pretty (with the exception of evil Bryan) - Rosellas, Galahs, Cockatoos, Kookaburras. All better than pigeons.
Australian houses actually have that mesh door as well as a real one, like on Neighbours.
Apart from a few more trees and the beaches, it sort of looks just like England.
Things that have disappointed me about Australia:
It's actually not that sunny - most days it's been cloudy.
Lack of Kangaroos, I've resorted to whisper-shouting "Skippy?" in the park, just to see.
Lack of Koala's.
Lack of enormous spiders (I know I'll regret saying this but I travelled ten thousand miles to be scared stupid by an eight legged beastie and they're nowhere to be seen).
It's been a relatively quiet first week in Australia. I spent most of it in Canberra, which is actually the capital of Australia… I had no idea. It took a while for this to sink in because I was convinced it was Sydney or Melbourne. But it's known as ACT, Australian Capital Territory. Which is actually quite a big clue.
Canberra is only a couple of hours drive to the centre of Sydney and the beaches. It's quite a chilled, peaceful place and all the buildings are very clean and modern. This is because the city is actually only 101 years old. Ten years older than my Granddad Tom.
On my first full day in Canberra I was mega organised and set up an Australian bank account and phone number. So I'm practically Australian now. This was all thanks to my friend Erica. She has been an excellent (and extremely patient) Australian guide, pointing out the local sites, telling me all the names for the birds and answering my questions. Things like, can you drink water from the taps here? Or, can we free the mud crabs from the tank at the Chinese restaurant? (Yes and no.)
Feeling brave one day I went out on my own and walked to the shops round the corner. The main shop here is Woolworths but it's not what you think. There's no Pick n' Mix. It's Australia's version of Tesco's. This was enhanced by the fact I got ID'd whilst trying to buy alcohol. I was annoyed to still be dealing with this nonsense on the other side of the world but also quite relieved, I thought for sure the journey had aged me at least ten years.
There were a few things to see in Canberra and I was given some great suggestions like the museum, the zoo, Lake Burley Griffin, the war memorial… Erica and I opted for the less touristy approach and ended up drinking Prosecco and sunbathing on the balcony. One night we even had a Geordie Shore marathon.
Despite the ID incident and the doomed mud crabs I loved the time I spent in Canberra. The people I met were so friendly and welcoming and it was a brilliant introduction to Australia.
The next step of my journey is to head back to Sydney as I have a job in a suburb called St Ives. A part of me thinks I'm not doing this right, I know a lot of people travel around Australia with a backpack, staying in hostels and showering only when it rains - but look how well I coped with the flight here.
Anyway, during my days off I plan to pop into Sydney and do a bit of exploring so there should be more news for the next blog entry. If not I'll do a bungee jump to shake things up a little…