Arrival in Australia


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Oceania » Australia » New South Wales » Sydney » Glebe
October 23rd 2013
Published: October 25th 2013
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A guy in the neighbourhood makes sculptures and "gives" one (or several) to each house. They are...unique.
After much planning, anticipation and general pandemonium the time had finally come for us to depart for our 6 month adventure in Sydney. Houses rented out, cars stored, phones put on hold, job quit (ok, that happened a while ago – wouldn’t want to leave everything to the last minute!). Sherpa was settling into her new home with a former colleague of mine. She is likely to receive more love and attention there than in her regular life. Maverick was deposited with our friends Blair and Aleks for what will likely be the most fun and active 6 months he’ll ever have. Ready.

As for the flight itself you won't be surprised to learn that Shelagh was booked business class and I had an upgradeable economy fare. We went to all the trouble of staying up until 12:45 one night (that's very late for us) to get online at the earliest possible moment to upgrade me but…no luck…cattle class for me. We all know that Shelagh was not meant to travel in the back of the plane so she enjoyed the food, champagne and lay flat bed while Heather…didn’t. But alas, I survived with the regular people.

Arriving in
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Our kitchen window opens by remote control onto the deck, making for a beautiful outdoor space.
Australia is always interesting because although they want the tourists to come, they don’t want any of the things we might have with us. They spray the inside of the plane (particularly the overhead storage bins) with some chemical that apparently kills planty/animaly type things but is harmless to people. Right, one of those chemicals. I had purposely brought snacks with me because I didn’t think the flight meal times (or meals frankly) would agree with me. I knew when purchasing them that I’d have to throw them out because they were fearsome products that can ruin a society (jerky, dried mangos and a bag of nuts). Even though the contraband was still in my bag as I deplaned when I filled out the customs form I checked “no” to all the boxes that said “Do you have jerky, dried mangos and a bag of nuts with you”. I did however check “yes” to “have you been to a farm or natural area” because we brought our bikes with us. Luckily the guy asked us if we had cleaned our tires and we said yes which was true but he didn’t check because they wouldn’t have been the kind of
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You know there might be a problem when the landlord leaves this...
clean he was looking for. He then said “everyone forgets their shoes, show me your shoes”. Well little did he know I had about 10 pairs of shoes in my bike bag so we pulled out just our bikes shoes and he went off and washed them with special “anti BC dirt soap”. Again, luckily he didn’t look at the bikes or the other shoes in the bag cuz we would have been there for hours!

We arrived at our new house, got keys and a quick rundown on the basics and there we were…home. The house is a small and funky house in a great neighbourhood. The kitchen has a big window that opens like a garage door and there are several patio doors out to an outside sitting area so it creates an inside/outside living space concept. Lots of restaurants and bars and shops within walking distance and a short walk/ride to work for Shelagh were our criteria. Buses into downtown and some other fun areas are super-frequent and quick. House doesn’t appear to be insulated and has single pane windows so outside noise is a bit of an issue. The first night shortly after we went
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Good beer in the Lord Nelson pub. Good times!
to bed I was positive…POSITIVE… someone had come into the house. Turns out neither Shelagh nor I are particularly brave when it comes to home invasions. Anyway, turns out it was just the neighbour (I’m guessing), and now when it really, really, sounds like someone is in the house I just assume they aren’t. House also seems to frequently welcome crawly things of a number of varieties.

The first afternoon we opened a bank account, bought groceries and got cell phone plans. On that note for those of you who would like to contact us here’s the options: 1) we both have free facebook on our phones and check it regularly so a facebook message is a good idea. 2) Those of you with apple devices can “imessage” our gmail accounts (NOT our Canadian cell numbers). 3)our gmail accounts. 4)this blog 5)Heather is slowly working her way into using twitter as a medium for her random short thoughts (unlike this blog which is already incredibly long)

What does one do on their second day in Australia? Buy a car. We hummed and hawed about this, looked into long term rental, etc and ended up buying a brand new,
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You may have seen her before but that doesn't make her any less beautiful.
like from a dealership, Mitsubishi ASX (a cross between my Imprezza and Shelagh’s Outback in size). We test drove it to our house, made sure the bikes fit in it, and bought it. A pretty easy process altogether actually. Now we just have to cross our fingers that selling it at the end is just as easy. Driving in a very large city on the wrong side of the road was terrifying at best to begin with but I’m now pretty comfortable with it. Our street is incredibly narrow and doesn’t always have a spot available which is a bit of a pain but we’re surviving. The car is really for going biking in the evenings and for weekends away because paying for parking in Sydney is NOT an option. We had one ill-fated trip downtown where we thought we would be lazy and take the car. We drove around for over half an hour (would have been a 20 minute bus trip) then we finally found a parkade and the parking was $15 for the first fifteen minute and I think $30 per hour half hour after that. WHAT? We paid the $15. Drove out of the lot and back home. Got on a bus and went back downtown. I’ve given you the shortened version that leaves out the ugly part where I lose it slightly.

Sydney was celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Australian Navy with the Fleet Review. It basically meant a whole bunch of warships and tall ships from Australia and other countries gathered in the Sydney harbour. We went down and had a look at the harbour, the opera house, the boats and the thousands of tourists.Note: we didn't actually take any pictures so Shelagh "sent" me down to the harbour to take bridge and opera house photos to prove we were really there. The good news is the weather seems to always be beautiful here so this is what it looked like that day...well...add some more ships and waaaay more people and that's what it looked like.

We also began our search for road bikes. We have decided to use the time in this place with beautiful weather and a strong road-riding culture to begin our road biking careers. After some exhausting hours spent in bike shops we decided to take our new-found information to a place where we could really mull
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Not very mountainous and only a little blue, but stunning nonetheless.
it over and make some solid decisions… the pub! We found one of Shelagh’s new favorite pubs The Lord Nelson. She is very happy to be back in a culture that has true pubs where you elbow your way through the people to order at the bar, and most importantly, you don’t tip! Food and drink here is very expensive. That hasn’t stopped us from eating a lot and drinking even more. There is whole new country worth of micro-brews that Shelagh has to taste. We haven’t even really started on the wine yet!

The Blue Mountains

Before coming to Oz I signed on to an online women's mountain bike forum called Silent Revolution. A bunch of people offered to take us for rides when we visit various parts of the country. In addition, the group in NSW arranged to spend a weekend in the Blue Mountains. So, 3 days after arriving we packed up the car and headed out to the Blue Mountains to meet random people in a parking lot and spend the weekend with them. Well, there is something about mountain biking and mountain bikers that it doesn’t matter where you are or where you
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There has to be a 3 sisters everywhere...This one doesn't get snow on it at any time of year.
are from but its very easy to find things in common, go for a rid and, spend a weekend together. We met some great people.

As for the trails, if I had to describe them in one word it would be “pedally”. They are very much xc with a dirt/sandy surface in most places and bits of rock – including some small sections of slickrock. So far the technical level is not that high but people ride fast to make up for it. Hopefully this will help both of us learn to ride faster on the trails back home.

When we arrived at the first ride site the Cicadas were so loud they were deafening. You could hear them from inside the car. The first piece of advice we were given was “watch out for snakes”. Apparently where we did our first ride is well known for brown snakes. You know, the super deadly brown snake. We asked what to do if we see one and were told “oh, you likely wont see it in time to do anything about it” followed by “bunny hop it”. Well, shit. I have been saying I’d like to improve some of
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The noise of these things was unbelievable. They did not like the heat!
my skills like bunnyhopping, I guess this might be the motivation I’m looking for.

On the second day we did a downhill trail that was…not worth the effort of the shuttling. There were a couple jumps at the bottom and someone had put a fake snack at the base of the jump. I almost lost my mind! There was cursing and braking and swerving and more cursing. That’s it, I’m putting fake bears on the trails at home just to scare random Aussies.

For those of you who have been to Oz and the Blue Mountains, I’m happy to report that we had beautiful weather and actually saw the Blue Mountains every day. They were even vaguely blue. We went to a few of the famous lookouts including the Three Sisters – there has to be one everywhere doesn’t there?

Overall a great weekend, good exercise and nice people. We didn’t realize at the time that it might be our only chance to see much of the beauty there as the Blue Mountains are now engulfed in flames in the midst of what will likely be one of the worst Bush Fire seasons in history. NSW has called a state of emergency and evacuated a lot of people. Some of the places were rode in have completely burned.

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25th October 2013

I put two 'likes' in - one by the bus story and the other with the fake bear. Can you blog with room for comments along the side? I had some witty remarks to throw in but forgot them by the time I got to the end.
25th October 2013

Blue Mountains
Glad you saw the Blue Mountains a bit different from the last time we were there when we went to the cinema because of the rain. Mum &Dad
27th October 2013

Great blog, Heather! So glad you and Shelagh have arrived safely. Was wondering about the impact of the bush fires...keep us posted. You will be glad to know that it snowed today in Calgary :(.

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