Monday, 31 October 2011

Thoughts from the Treasury Gardens, Melbourne

I miss my friends, I really do. I would love to go to the Hogs in Aberdeen, Huddies in E.K. or the Slug and Lettuce in York for a night out with my friends. I miss inviting myself to dinner and sharing wine whilst watching Strictly or a film. I  miss being able to pick up the phone and talk to them. I miss my family. I miss my daily hugs from my mountain friends and hanging out in the Railway Square YHA common room in Sydney. Yet right here and right now I am happy. Sitting in the treasury gardens by myself knowing there is nowhere I need to be. No-one I need to report to. Nothing I need to do. Well, except buy cake on my way back to my friends apartment. I am happy in my own company.

I worry about this sometimes. I love my friends, worry about them, care for them and am happy when good things come their way but I am okay about the fact I am not always there to share those moments with them. Does this mean I don’t care as much as I should? Is it grief that has made me this way? I built my world around one person and I thought that they would always be there. I was wrong. Maybe that makes me scared to care too much, too deeply, to dependently. Am I scared to love?

I don’t want anyone to depend on me. I don’t want to be anyone persons all and everything. I want to travel. I like meeting new people and discovering new places. To live like this I need to let people go. I’m getting good at letting people go never knowing if I’ll see them again or not. Am I cold? Or am I just practical?


Whereas my first six months was about meeting new people and discovering new friendships my second six months are shaping up quite differently. I’m in Melbourne spending time with two very different friends. One I met whilst travelling in the USA last year and one from my time in the snow. Before Melbourne I returned to Sydney specifically to see some friends from my first six weeks in Australia and some different friends from the snow. Tomorrow a friend from the UK arrives, my second UK friend in fact. Once she leaves I shall be meeting yet more friends from the snow before heading to the west coast to stay with family.

I’m still seeing new places and meeting new people but mow they are friends of friends not randoms. It’s nice. It gives me hope that despite my worries of not being there for my friends I can still be their friend. I sometimes feel bad that I had to come half way across the world to get to know myself, to work out who and what I am. I know it’s hard to understand as I’m only now beginning to comprehend it for myself.

The thing is I’m somewhat of a wiki friend. I’ll be whatever my friends need me to be. Not on purpose, it’s just who I am. I tend to understand and I think it’s fair to say I have a decent amount if empathy. I like that I can make people feel better. I want to support my friends I but I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t be there for them and figure out what I wanted and how I wanted to live my life. I had to walk away from everyone else’s opinions, ideas, morals, ethics, thoughts, emotions, hopes and ideals because there were too many. Not one of my friends would impose any of this on me I just absorb it switching between them like a chameleon changes it’s skin. I found myself falling back in to this habit when I was in the mountains. I think I do it because it helps me to understand other people, which is fine up to a point. What I am trying to learn is where my centre is so I can still see where my friends are at but return to me. Having said that I don’t want my ‘centre’ to be fixed. I need it to be flexible but the changes to it have to be considered. Not this flitting from one place to the next as is my habit.

When I arrived here I felt tired and older than my years. Now I feel young. I am uncertain. I am unsure. I do not know what tomorrow will bring and it doesn’t bother me. I have half a dozen ‘homes’; not places that belong to me but places where I belong. My friends are my extended family. I love them and I miss them but I know they are always going to be there for me. They might not understand my wandering but they accept it as part of who I am.

 When I arrived I hated that I was no longer the world to one person but now I realise that as no one person is my world either and that makes me free. I know my friends are taking care of each other. There is not one friend I can think of and not think of at least one person who is there for them that they can always count on and I know that just because that person isn’t me it doesn’t mean they love me any less. They simply do not need me there and that is a gift I am fortunate to receive many times over.

When I first told people what I was going to do some though that I was running away. Maybe in part I was but now I am sure I was also running towards. I knew I needed this. I’m not afraid to love. More than one person has found space in my heart since I got here; joining the many friends and family I left behind. I’m not afraid to stay. If I’m needed somewhere I’ll stay as long as I am needed. But I love to travel. I love to explore new places. My grief is the same as it ever was but my jar is certainly bigger and I look forward to discovering how big I can make it. It will never be so big that my grief is lost. I would still swap this life for my old one in a heartbeat. But I can’t. And somewhere in the last six months I have started to accept that this is my life and that in this way I can live it, just as Jonathan would want me to.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Melbourne on my Own-ish

I arrived in Melbourne at 23:00 after a fourteen hour bus journey. I actually quite like travelling on the buses in Australia as the drivers have always been pleasant and the long journeys give me a chance to sort through my photos, write my blog and catch up on any missing sleep. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t very glad to arrive in Melbourne and get off the bus though! I was excited to be in Melbourne as it gave me the chance to catch up with a friend I had made whilst travelling round America last year. We met in Nashville where mostly we drank but she was also one of the group who visited the Jack Daniels distillery with me. When I was looking for information about good places to stray in Melbourne she kindly offered me her couch for a few nights. It was bizarre to see her again but after we took my stuff to her apartment we went out to take some noise readings for one of her work projects and we were soon chatting like before.

My Aussie friend had work the next day so I took the time to do the exciting business of laundry and catching up my blog. One of my housemates from Jindy has move on to Melbourne for a few months to find work over the Christmas and New Year period so I also contacted him and arranged to meet up to watch the rugby the next day. I did leave the apartment briefly to get some lunch from one of the many excellent cafes in the Brunswick area. Not only was the pork and pumpkin lasagne tasty but it was much more reasonably priced than any place I had been to in Australia before. Once my Aussie friend was finished work for the week we took a quick trip out to do some more noise readings and get some dinner. I managed a quick skype back home before a small group of us headed out to one of the local pubs which specialised in whisky. We had a couple of wee drams there before heading to a sports bar which was a lot more pleasant than it sounds. Once the pub closed we all returned to the apartment to listen to music and discus life the universe and everything, as you do after a drink or two. All in al it was a very pleasant introduction to life in Melbourne.

The next day my Aussie friend and I enjoyed a long lie so once we did get up it was straight in to the city centre to meet up with my other friend. We did take time to stop by a different cafe and pick up a wee snack. If you do visit Melbourne I highly recommend the Brunswick area for the food if nothing else. We made it to the CBD with enough time for a mini tour of the main streets and sights such as Federation Square, Flinders street and Degraves Street  to name a few. On my first visit to Melbourne CBD I was met by a giant demonic baby and a man cracking a flaming whip which so far makes it the most interesting introduction to an Aussie CBD so far. Demonic baby investigated and whip cracking man avoided we made our way to the pub and the rugby via one of the many cafes on Degraves street for a late lunch. I feel that I missed an important part of Melbourne by failing to sample any of the coffee but I was impressed by how seriously they take their coffee making there even if I don’t enjoy the stuff myself.

Typically my English friend found us and English pub to watch the games. The Ireland-Wales game was disappointing as I was supporting Ireland who lost. The second game was very hard as I had promised to support England but they played so poorly it was hard not to sheer on the French and sadly I feel that in both games the better team won. Despite the fact it was an English pub there were a fair few French supporters there so at least I wasn;t alone in my support. As we were in the pub the games were accompanied by a few pints and it was after 9pm when we left the pub to check out a bar in St Kildas where the band of a friend of a friend was playing. It was a fun if somewhat blurry night. We ended up play pool (badly) and a Sega racing game (also badly) and getting a taxi back home between us. I may not remember much of the end of the night but I remember that it was fun, even if I did need my photos to remind me of some of the highlights!

Sunday was unsurprisingly a lazy day whilst we recovered from our drinking. The girls made it too Ikea and offered to take me with them but I opted to stay at home and plan my week ahead; which somehow ended up with me reading instead though I did manage to book a wine tour for myself and friend.

My first weekday in Mlebourne was mostly spent at the International building of the National Gallery of Victoria. On my way I stopped to take a few photos and admire the city and on one of these instances I was approached by a Chinese girl who shook my hand then took my photo with as she was recording 100 handshakes to celebrate 100 years of friendship between Australia and China. She didn’t seem bothered that I wasn’t Australian and I thought it was a pretty cool thing to do so it was a good start to my day. I was welcomed to the gallery by yet more demonic babies which I stopped to admire before heading in to the gallery itself. I visited the early European pieces first before investigating their upstairs cafe for my mandatory gallery hot chocolate and cake/lunch break. On my way round the gallery I was particularly taken with their funky stained glass ceiling. I was also pleased to find many interesting artefacts to practice my photography on. The collection was impressively extensive and I managed to spend the whole day wandering round the maze of rooms exploring the different exhibits. I managed to leave the gallery with plenty of time to get back to Brunswick and do some shopping. I took great pleasure that evening in attempting a vegetarian chilli as a way of saying thank you for the use of their couch. I reckon it didn’t turn out too badly and the girls seemed to agree so I shall hang on to the recipe for future reference.

Tuesday was wine tour day. We went with a company called ‘A Tour With A Difference’ and were not disappointed. Having taken a tour of Sonoma and Napa the previous year I was curious to see how Australia would compare. First of all they are much better value for money on quantity as we were given many more wines to taste. I found the staff more friendly too; not only did they not mind me taking photos of my stuffed companions they actively participated in the silly photos. Wine wise the quality was more impressive. Where as in Napa I found the wine lacking compared to the Virginian wines I had tried here I was tempted to buy more than one bottle from various wineries. It was also nice to have company in the form of a friend who also appreciates a nice glass as we could discuss our opinions without me feeling too pretentious. An added bonus was the break for lunch which involved a beer tasting. I’m not a big beer fan but I do enjoy trying different things so I liked this twist. All in all it was a fun day out and we finished the day nicely by meeting up with my Aussie friend for dinner and a drink or two before we got an early night, after all there is only so much one can drink when one starts at 10am.

On Wednesday I visited the NGV Australia building and the State Library. As always I was impressed by the Drysdale pieces but it was a Gleeson paining that really caught my eye and had me returning again and again.  What was most interesting for me was tour round the Aboriginal exhibits as it helped me to understand and appreciate the art more. I am not generally a fan of aboriginal art and now I think I know why. Their art tells a story. They understand the story and I never will. I think non-aboriginals who enjoy the art do so on an aesthetic level and for me it’s just not my thing; having said that I now have a lot more time for it now I understand some of the basic principles. Where as before I had it with Picasso in the I know it’s good but I don’t get it I will now take the time to look at it more closely and try see some of the story even if I don’t appreciate the aesthetics as some do.  I think I enjoyed this gallery more as a once off visit but I can see me returning more to the international gallery if I lived there as I think it would take longer to tire of.

On my way to the state gallery I passed yet more demonic babies which were of course an city wide exhibit. The library itself was an impressive building which had the right feel of gravity and age about it. I was very excited to be able to explore and take many photos.They also had two exhibition space which were showing the history of Victoria sine European settlement and the history of books. Both were fascinating in different ways. I loved seeing the old books. They had everything from ancient religious texts copied by hand to novels printed when mechanical printing made reading accessible to the masses and children’s books and even the evolution of the graphic novel. I think it’s fair to say I was in a very happy place on Wednesday. I once more headed back to the flat to eat with my friend and her flatmates and have a quiet evening sorting though my many photos from my visit so far.

My last day on my own started nicely with a long lie then brunch at a cafe known as Greens. I had their most amazing breakfast stack and would recommend a visit there to anyone who is visiting the city. After brunch I took the tram into town with the intention of wandering about and seeing what I could see. If I had any destination in mind at all it was one of the gardens as it was yet another sunny Aussie day and perfect for appreciating them. I left the main streets and ended up walking past Parliament House and towards Fitzroy Gardens. I sat in the Treasury Gardens for some time listening to my music and writing in my book: I think I will try type up the pages I wrote and publish them next as it feels like a ‘thoughts’ post. Once my writing was finished I got my camera out once more and headed in to Fitzroy Gardens which surround Captain Cooks Cottage. I had been told it wasn’t worth paying to see the inside of the cottage felt no inclination to find out for myself as I was enjoying the surroundings too much. After taking many photos I decided to head back to the main shopping streets and pick up some chocolate cake to take back to my Aussie friends apartment. Knowing she was planning on going to an exercise class I got a quick pub meal before heading back. Apparently the pub was more interesting than the class though as on my return I was directed to a nearby pub. One of the plus points of Melbourne of Sydney is the predominance of local pubs which Sydney is sorely lacking. We had a quick drink with my Aussie friend and her friend and his adorable pug before returning to the flat. The rest of the evening was spent chatting and drinking wine with the chocolate cake. It was a fabulous end to my first week in Melbourne and I hope they were serious when they said I could stay again as I am looking forward to my return visit already!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Sydney Take 3

One of the bad things about being an unorganised backpacker is that I left it too long to book my accommodation so instead of staying at the Railway Square YHA I ended up in the Glebe YHA and in hindsight I am pleased that I did. For one thing I got a free hair cut out of it. One of my newest roommates was in the process of applying for a stylist position at what turned out to be a rather nice salon. I volunteered and she was pleased to have me as a model. Originally she did a creative cut to show off her skills but as it was a bit unmanageable I ended up with a short bob in place of the long unruly and damaged hair I had had before.

The Glebe YHA is a 40 minute walk from the Railway Square and on my first night back in Sydney I head over there to catch up with some of the first friends I made in Australia. It was great to see them and we had a relaxing evening sitting in the hostel common area chatting and it felt very like old times. The next day was the day I got my creative haircut and then it was back to the hostel to book my bus to Melbourne and do some much needed laundry before heading over to Kings Cross to have dinner with my first ‘long term’ roommate. It was great to catch up and see her settled in her own place. I did try and meet up with some friends from the snow after dinner but it was a long weekend and my phone battery was low so after one drink in a very crowded pub I headed home to bed.

Sunday was the first day of daylight savings in NSW so I had a long lie which seemed like longer due to the loss of an hour. I was worried that my friends would be annoyed that I had slept so long as we were meant to go for pancakes but in the end one of them slept even longer than I did. Thus our morning pancakes turned in to afternoon pancakes at a place called Pancakes at the Rocks which really does do the most amazing pancakes. Since it was a lovely day we walked up George Street with a certain backpackers pub in mind so we could watch the rugby with beer or in my case cider. I don;t think it’s come up before but since arriving in Australia I have become a cider drinker. Where as before I would Have The odd pint in NSW I regularly had a scooner or two of cider and when we were drinking in the hostel it would be a bottle of cider in my hand rather than a glass of wine. Anyway a few ciders and some pizza later and Wales and Ireland were through to the semi-finals of the rugby world cup. At this point I head home for to skype my family and reassure them that I was well and still enjoying myself immensely.

During our late pancake lunch on Sunday one of my friend told me about a fiesta that was happening at Darling Harbour. There were three area show casing various latin dances and music and a few classes for those who wanted to join in. Therefore when I met up with another friend on Monday I suggested that rather then head to Glebe for lunch we head there however oty turned put we were meeting a mutual friend at Glebe so we stuck with ur original plan. I was delighted to be able to catch up with a friend who I hadn’t expected to see and it was fun hearing about their trip to the hunter valley which they had just returned from. We found a cafe hidden behind a book store which served tasty healthy food at a fairly reasonable price by Sydney standards. After lunch we decided to catch the bus down to the Harbour to check out the fiesta. The weather was beautiful and the harbour full of people with latin music and dancing all over the placed not to mention a few stalls and pavement acts. It was a fun afternoon and I even got to meet a friends mum when we stopped for some hot chocolate. When we went our separate ways I once again went to Railway. This time I was meeting a new friend, the mother of my friend who died. We had been in touch via facebook so it was good to meet her in person. She brought over some photos and a recording of Sam’s funeral. Four of us met up and went for dinner, It was really nice to hear about her travels as she has been going to all the places Sam visited in his many travels especially as it brought up stories of Sam’s own travels and his younger days. After dinner we headed to the hostel for a few drinks and more chat before I headed back to my own hostel once more.

I spent my last day in Sydney CBD with a the friend I had stayed with the previous week, after she finally made it to my hostel that was. I don’t blame her for getting lost, Sydney seems to be to be something of a maze and her satnav had a hissy fit at one point which didn’t help as it was her first time driving in the city. Taking all that into account i was impressed that she was only an hour late! Having been in the car for hours she chose to walk to the rocks as I had promised to introduce her to the amazing pancake restaurant. It was a long walk but it gave us plenty of time to chat about our weekend and our plans for the coming months. In the end the walk was worth it as she loved the pancakes and I discovered that they also do very tasty milkshakes. Our lunch helped us to recover from our long walk and we decided to walk slowly back up George street, stopping as a bar for a cold drink along the way. Our destination was the Railway Square YHA for burrito night and a final catch up with my friends. Not long after dinner my roomie from the Jindy arrived and she and our other friend head to my roomies home near Parramata.

The next day my roomie took us into to the Blue Mountains to visit the Three Sisters. We had a good look and walked down to the nearest one. ON our way we visited the information centre where I adopted Terry the Platypus for my mum and my friend adopted Pete the Kangaroo for her own travels. Having two new companions provided us with many fun photo opportunities on our way to and from the tallest sister. Being a lil’ bit unfit we soon headed back up the very steep stairs and back to the car so we could finds a picnic spot for our late lunch. Since it was a weekday and spring we only had to share our picnic spot with one other group and a few ducks. After lunch we headed home for a night of films and sweeties (NOT lollies, there were no sweeties on sticks!). The next day arrived too soon and then I was of again and on my way to Melbourne.

Monday, 10 October 2011

What do you do once the snow has gone?

On hearing that we would be closing early due to the lack of snow I think most of us were a little relived. Whilst working in the snow had been fun the last few weeks had been hard due to the lack of customers. When your role is customer service and there are no customers what do you do? Well there is always something to clean and our hours got cut some we had some lovely early days but in the end when you run out of customers it’s time to move on.

One of the things I love about being a backpacker is the lack of restrictions I have on my time. On hearing that we were closing early I turned round to one of my friends and invited myself to her house. Now I have to defend myself here and say that I was kidding, however when she came back a few minutes later and said I was actually invited I was delighted that I was able to take her up on her offer. So after the snow had gone I for one went home with my friends. It made leaving easier for me knowing that I was going to see my roommate again and that I would get to hang out with one of the closest friends I had made since coming to Australia.

My friends parents are wonderful. They obviously love their daughters and are happy to have people coming and going from their house. They welcomed me into their home and therefore allowed my friend and I to put off the next part of our adventures a little longer. I stayed near Wollongong and we had lunch out everyday whilst my friend showed me her home town and its surroundings. The day after we arrived my ex-roommate visited to collect some things we had brought up for her and we spent the day hanging out together. The next night after another lunch out and some food shopping I cooked dinner for the family and tried to format my friends hard drive so it could be read by her tv. The other evenings of my stay my friends mum cooked and I thoroughly enjoyed the home cooked family meals, even if it did make me a little homesick for my own families. 

On my final day we were forced to lunch out again before heading back to the house to enjoy a Jurassic Park marathon. I had a lovely few days with my friend in her home town. I was sorry to leave her home I but I was comforted by the fact we had arranged to go to the Blue Mountains the following Wednesday with our other friend and my ex-roommate before I left NSW. Of course that didn’t stop me from being my usual lackadaisical self and having to be hurried along by my friends mother who was concerned that I reach Sydney whilst it was still light. Eventually though I got myself packed and sorted and it wasn’t long until I was once again on my way back to Sydney.

Thoughts on the End of the Season

Before I went to Sydney to visit my friends at the beginning of September I did consider not returning to the mountains. There was a severe lack of snow and I wasn’t sure how much longer I would have a job for on my return. A few things made me decide to return: 1. I was promised that there would be some work for me on my return 2. I had promised my manager I wouldn’t leave until she told me to and 3. I wasn’t ready to leave the friends I had made there. I loved spending time in Sydney with my friends but I knew they wanted and needed time to explore it on their own so leaving them wasn’t as hard as you might think. On my return to work I got to catch up with my friends and it was great to see them again as I did miss them even though I was only away for a few days. I can safely say I am glad I went back to finish the season.

Being one of the last people to leave the snow is very odd. For one thing there wasn’t much snow left. In our last couple of weeks we wore shorts on our days off and on one memorable occasion spent a few hours sipping wine on our balcony in shorts and t-shirts soaking up the sun as if it was a summers day instead of early spring near the snow fields. Sadly the lack of snow meant an early end to what had been a pretty poor season snow wise but pretty awesome otherwise.

I took the job in the mountains because it paid. It was something to do for three months where I would have a guaranteed income, accommodation and be able to afford some half decent food and eventually some half decent wine. I didn’t go up there with any expectations I really was just passing the time of day until I went to Melbourne in the spring. Luckily it didn’t stay that way long. I made a number of good friends during the season and actually enjoyed my time working in the snow and enjoyed my time relaxing away from the snow even more.

Strangely one of the things I liked about staying until the end was that I got to say goodbye to people as they left. Usually I like to be the one leaving but it was nice to see my room mate off on the bus; though that could have been because I knew I was seeing her in a few days. I enjoyed seeing everyone outside of work and just hanging out. In my final week I worked only 2.75 hours. I was meant to work 3 but I was 15 minutes late as I had been out the night before. Typical me that I wait until my last week to make it to the local night club and that it makes me late for work on my last day. Luckily I wasn’t really missed hence it being my last day. I did try and clean but there wasn’t much for me to do and I was happy when my lovely manager told me to go home and not come back, especially since we were allowed to stay in our accommodation for the weekend.

Nothing momentous happened during my stay in the mountains and I still miss Jonathan every day. There was no big flash of light or loud voice from the sky but somewhere between arriving in Jindabyne and leaving it I have lightened up. I am interested in my life once more and curious to see what I can do with it. When I arrived there the thought of having to go home terrified me but now it doesn’t. I know that if I have to go home I’ve had a good time out here and I have learned a lot about who I am. I also know that having started to travel here I would work two jobs day and night and save, save, save so that I can travel more! I have well and truly caught the travel bug and thought I am sad to be parting with the friends I have made whilst I am here I am once more looking forward to the next part of my adventure. Tallyho, as some friends of mine would say ;-)

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Sharing Sydney

Before I came over to Australia many friends told me how they would love to visit me and a few of them even said they’d try. Well Australia is a long way away so you can imagine that I wasn’t counting on anyone coming over whilst I was here. Which is why it was so extremely awesome that one of my closest friends’ partner was asked to speak at a conference in Sydney and even more awesome that my friend decided to join him for two weeks afterwards for a holiday. Obviously they were anxious to have a holiday together as they have both been working very hard over the last few years but they were able to share a few days with me as I travelled up from the Snowy Mountains to see them.

I am slightly embarrassed to admit that though I spent six weeks in Sydney when they asked about things to do I was rather at a loss. The opera house, aquarium, tower and bridge came to mind but in hindsight I spent an awful lot of my time in the hostel just passing the time with my friends. This time though it was completely different. With only two weeks to see as much of Sydney and the surrounding area as they could our day together were much better organised than I had been.

On my arrival we went to find me some food as I had been on the bus for seven hours. From our afternoon snack we headed to the botanic gardens with a bottle of wine to toast our reunion and watch the end of the sunset. We had planned to watch it all but choosing the wine and finding some plastic glasses took us longer than anticipated. We then made our way to Darling Harbour to meet up with a friend of mine from my previous stay in Sydney.  I really wanted us to eat there at least once as I love Darling Harbour; which I am sure makes me very touristy indeed but I don’t care, I think it’s fabulous. After dinner and some more wine it was time to call it a night as it had been a long day for all of us. However I was distracted on my way to my hostel room by another old acquaintance from my previous stay. One of the nicest things about being in Sydney was getting to say hello to the people who made my arrival in Australia so fabulous, though on this occasion I was struggling to string words in to sentences more than usual so after a quick hello I headed off to bed.

Day two was supposed to start with me doing some necessary shopping but my body seemed to realise I was on my day off and decided I would sleep in instead. After a lovely long lie I met up with my friends again and we headed in to the centre of the CBD in search of sushi for lunch and a touristy wander round the various shops and arcades. My friend and I then headed to the Chinese Garden of Friendship without her partner who decided his hayfever would probably be better if he avoided the garden and headed to the aquarium instead. I must say as much as I like my friends partner it was nice to spend time with just her and the surroundings were beautiful. We spent over two hours exploring the garden fitting in tea and scones at the end of it and much girly chat along the way.

Garden well and truly ‘done’ we then went to find my friends partner at a brewery pub he had been keen to visit. My friends had kindly bought us tickets to go to the observatory in the eveing so we walked to the Rocks where we visited the Lord Nelson Pub before having the most delicious meal at Fish on the Rocks. The best thing about dining with close friends is that we were able to sample on anothers meals so I can confirm that every dish we had was as superb as the service. At the observatory we checked out some amazing night photos from a recent competition before heading our side to get a tour of the Southern sky which of course included pointing out the Southern Cross which I had so far failed to recognise. We were then introduced to a 150 year old refractor telescope which was kept in mint condition and worked perfectly allowing us to have a look at the moon before we moved on to a less retty but more powerful newer telescope. Sadly the clouds were moving in on us so we opnly had time to look at one binmary system before it was tio cloudy to see anything. The tour ended with a few short 3-D presentations which turned out to be much more interesting once we realised the polariser in the projector was the wrong way wrong and turned our glasses round to compensate.

My third day in Sydeny with my friends started early as my body clock seemed to be stuck on the idea I was only allowed one long lie a week. This allowed me plenty of time to pack and do some much needed shopping before I had to check out of my room. Check out complete I stored my bags and headed to Circular Quay where my friends and I took a very scenic ferry ride to Parramatta. I was very excited to be going to Parramatta as my room mate is from there. On arrival we decided to wander until a nice place caught our eye for a hot chocolate before heading back towards the centre and the train station.

We caught the train to Town Hall and went to the Queen Victoria Building for afternoon tea, an experience I highly recommend. The surroundings were pretty enough but it was the afternoon tea that made it worth the visit. Tiny delectable cakes and rather large scones with proper cream and a mind bogglingly large selection of tea and my friend was in heaven, as was I. I am always surprised at how filing afternoon tea is, even though we finished everything it was a struggle and none of us felt like eating much for the rest of the day. Though still relatively early the sun was getting low in the sky so we walked to the Shangri-La and took the elevator to the bar at the top. We didn’t quite make sunset but we caught the end and stayed for one drink to enjoy the view of Sydney harbour by night. Lovley though the view was we didn’t feel it was worthy of more than one expensive drink therefore we wandered slowly up George Street towards the hostel managing to stop for one last leisurely drink along the way. However as all good thing do my time in Sydney was coming to an end. Before I knew it we were back at the hostel and I was waiting for my bus and it was time to say goodbye again. One overnight bus ride later and I was back in Jindy with just enough time to get home showered and get ready for work exhausted but with some fantastic new memories of Sydney to get me thought the day.