There is a lot of competition for jobs within the not-for-profit sector, so I was really pleased when my first temporary work assignment in Sydney placed me at the charity Relationships Australia New South Wales.
RA supports various communities in Australia, offering counselling and mediation services and education programs. More information on the excellent work that the charity does can be found here.
I was delighted when, at the end of my week’s assignment, I was offered a 6 month contract within the finance team at RANSW. The office I am working in sits in the suburb of Lane Cove, a leafy green area with a small collection of unique shops, some delicious eateries, and a small plaza where I like to sit and enjoy the sunshine on my lunch break.
Aside from my good fortune work-wise, that same week I was also lucky enough to win $500 worth of wine. I hadn’t even remembered putting my name in the draw for a chance to win, so when I received the e-mail to tell me I was the lucky winner, it was completely unexpected. Given the choice of two cases of average wine, or one case of smashing wine, I opted for the smashing wine, which Tom and I agree was an excellent choice. Meerea Park Hell Hole is a Shiraz from the Hunter Valley, priced at around $42 (£28) a bottle. It has featured in our celebrations for my new job, and also for Tom’s birthday, and there are still a few bottles left!
On Wednesday we took the free city bus to Circular Quay. Looking out at the water, you can see the Sydney Harbour Bridge to your left, and the Sydney Opera House to your right. As the weather was so beautiful, we decided to spend the day outside, in the Royal Botanic Gardens.
The gardens are absolutely beautiful, sat alongside the harbour with trees bordering the remaining sides. There are huge areas of perfectly cut grass, a lush, vivid green. A collection of themed gardens house a vast array of different trees, plants and flowers . Various paths wind their way around, sometimes leading you into a quiet sanctuary.
In the Oriental Garden you can find wild and cultivated plants from China, Japan and Taiwan, to name a few. Flowers here include the highly perfumed Magnolia, and the plant from which tea is produced, called Camellia. Dotted around the garden are stone oriental lanterns, which were presented to Sydney by Nagoya in Japan, to mark their sister city relationship.
The Herb Garden is full of delicious smelling plants. Some are used in cooking, such as the curry leaves and lime-scented geranium. Others are used in medicine, such as catharanthus roseus, which is said to slow down the progress of leukaemia, and prunella vulgaris, which has been used to treat wounds and cuts as well as fever and rheumatism.
The gardens are so tranquil and peaceful, one of the most quiet, relaxing places you could hope to find.
We quite liked Glebe, with it’s slightly hippy vibe, quiet streets, amazing fish and chip shop and a few quirky boutiques. However, we wanted to be nearer to the centre, so after a couple of nights we moved to Big Hostel in Surry Hills.
This hostel is better than the last one; light, clean and airy. Everyone is respectful of each other and cleans up after themselves in the kitchen. It is here that we met Taka, visiting Australia from Kyoto in Japan. We said farewell to him this morning and hope to meet him again when one day we travel to Japan.
The hostel is also in a great location. Hyde Park is just a short walk from our hostel. It is a large park, with tall, imposing trees which create a kind of canopy, well-maintained grass and places to relax, both in the sun and the shade. Even though there are busy roads around all sides of the park, the plant life surrounding you makes you forget that you are in the middle of the city. The park is a hive of activity; some people jog along the paths, or practise yoga on the grass. Others lay soaking up the sun, or reading a book under the shade of a tree.
Chinatown is also close by. Paddy’s Market sells a huge array of fruit and vegetables from around Asia, and along the streets are all manner of eateries, including Chinese, Korean, Thai, Malaysian, Japanese and Indian foods.
Compared to some of the cities in England, Sydney doesn’t actually seem that big. Some of the architecture, structural engineering and infrastructure appears to be on a grand scale, but in terms of wandering from one area of the city to the next, you find you haven’t walked far before you are in a new area. With the hot sunshine and balmy breeze, you can stroll around all day.
Here we are, in Sydney! We’ve had a tiring couple of days…
Our journey to Australia went smoothly, starting with a flight from Manchester to Paris. From there, we changed planes and flew to Guangzhou in China, before boarding a plane to Sydney. Despite being confined to the typical uncomfortable aeroplane seats for long hours, we managed to get some sleep. Apart from Tom’s amusement at my swollen feet and ankles, the journey was otherwise uneventful.
Arriving in Sydney, we were greeted by a blue sky dotted with white, fluffy clouds, hot sunshine and a warm breeze. By train and then by bus, we made our way to the district of Glebe, weary under the weight of our heavy backpacks.
Our first day in Sydney
For the next two nights we are staying at Glebe Village Hostel, a basic but clean place with friendly staff. We have had a productive afternoon, opening an Australian bank account, which is a necessity if you are planning to work in the country. We opted for Commonwealth Bank, whose staff were most helpful and friendly. The whole process was incredibly straightforward, unlike in England.
We have so much more exploring to do, but tiredness has taken over and sleep is calling. Tomorrow we should be refreshed after a good night’s kip!
Thanks for reading.