On the 30th December I flew to Sydney for the penultimate stop on my four week tour of Australia. I landed and travelled to the city centre to meet up with Anna to get the key to the flat I would be staying in, which was in Corvelly on the Eastern side of Sydney and on the cost to the Pacific Ocean. Anna married Richard in October last year in Australia and in reality, whilst I’ve met Anna before, it’s Richard I know through work. Richard joined LTSB at the same time I did in 2004 but in 2007 Anna persuaded him to emigrate to ‘down under’. They’d agreed to put me up for the four nights I was to stay in Australia’s biggest city.
One of the first things I noticed different about Sydney to Melbourne was the heat and the humidity. I was sweating (as we say) like a priest in a primary school!! It was very hot and very humid. That first evening went along the lines of trying to cool down, laundry and dinner, which we did in a local restaurant. I had Kangaroo Steak with Mash and vegetables and it was very nice. It was also a nice opportunity to sit down with Rich & Anna to catch up.
On New Year’s Eve, the following day, I travelled into the city to meet up with Owen – a fellow Northern Ireland football supporter – for lunch. We met in the Circular Quay area and had a yarn and lunch before I headed back to the flat to get ready for NYE. This time I’d planned ahead and booked a ticket for the ‘Barmy Army’s’ party by the harbour, thinking that it would be the perfect spot to watch the fireworks. I discovered on landing back in the city that it wasn’t… I did however meet up with a few other stragglers and we passed the evening away talking about all manner of nonsense including football, cricket, NYE, TV shows and Norwich City FC. I apparently had managed to meet both of the NUFC supporters in Sydney inside 20 minutes…
As midnight approached, we headed outside to see if we could in fact get a view of the bridge and after one false dawn, eventually I found a spot where I could see the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and no more… meaning I saw about 30% of the fireworks on show. Now, this was my second attempt to see these fireworks and so far, I’m pretty disappointed with my efforts. If I’m spared, I’m going to make a concerted effort some day to come to Sydney for NYE and do it in style, ensuring I see the whole spectacle. I believe, following a call home shortly after midnight in Sydney, that Dina’s on board!!
What Sydney did do well however was the free transport home afterwards… I literally got to the bus stop, saw my bus, it took off and I was home in good time. I wouldn’t say Sydney transport is as comprehensive as London’s but they run it to the minute and they did a great job on New Years.
NYD started in great style, with back to back ‘two and a half men’ on Fox8 – one of the entertainment channels. After about five episodes however, it was time to head down to the beach at Corvelly to wile the day away. When we reached, two of Rich and Anna’s friends joined and se set up a Gazebo on the grass, laid out our towels and seats and set about perhaps one of the best NYD’s I’ve ever had. We had the BBQ on the go, we played boules on the beach and even ventured into the Ocean for a swim.
The 2nd Jan 2011 saw me not really achieve an awful lot… I headed into the city to meet up with Anne – an old travel friend who I met when I was travelling through Scotland – for lunch and in the afternoon Rich, Anna and I sat up in the lounge with dinner and preparing ourselves for the Cricket the following day. It did however involve witnessing a major Thunder and Lightning storm pass by the flat.
And so, on the Monday it was the first day of the fifth test of the Ashes. Rich had arranged seats for us in the O’Reilly stand of the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) and we managed to see nearly 60 overs of play before Rain got the better of us and the game. By this point, Australia were 4 wickets down for a measly 130 runs after a terribly slow run rate all day. Unfortunately for me, this was my last taste of Sydney as the Tuesday was to see me flying to Cairns in Queensland.