Sydney, Maggie and the coming of friends


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Oceania » Australia » Queensland » Townsville
June 28th 2009
Published: June 29th 2009
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Hi all,

Sorry I have not written for so long. I have been busy. No excuse I know, you’re all busy. And sorry to the family and Fi who have seen me or spoken to me so know most of this anyway.

Please send this to other family and friends as some people have said they have not received it. If you send the link they should be able to see the pics as well.

So I now have transport and a job. Only a ‘to get me through uni’ care job not a ‘the reason I moved over here’ one. Global recession you know. I have now being doing it for a few months and the house of guys I look after has slowly descended into anarchy. Hopefully things will change and the verbal abuse will stop. I am hardly working in July anyway. The moneys good at the weekends and it is better than having to smile at people all the time, i.e. hospitality. I am still seeing if there is any work that will give me marine biology experience and a roof over my head. The other people I work with are really nice though.

My transport is a 1 person 50cc blue Yamaha moped. It has no gears and its top speed is less than 50mph but it looks sweet and there is not much that can go wrong with it (I hope as one of the guys I look after threw eggs all over it the other day). I scoot around in my white sunnies little white open faced helmet like Harley Davidson bikers have as opposed to a big full face one like Dads. It costs me $7 a week to fill up! When I need a car I borrow Adrians family saloon or Toms Land Cruiser, both of which are different to the scooter. Warmer and more difficult to park.

So what have I been up to? I go to uni of course and have been doing well in my coursework. It turns out you DO get what you put in.

I have been doing some fun things. My very good friend Sus came up from Brisbane and we had a great weekend swapping clothes with people and just chilling out together. I had not seen Sus for 2 years, which is something we are used to living on different sides of the world. We are making plans to see each other more often but such is the nature of Australia my closest friend is still a 2 hour plane ride or roughly 20 hour train ride away. My housemate just got back from seeing his Dad in Brisbane (his Dad is a world famous butterfly expert living in Africa - how exotic!) and he said it makes you realize how isolated Townsville is. I defo have pangs to move south but the sensible side is telling my impatient side to chill out. It may well be shouting at it after I have been to Sydney! The ‘ville as the locals call it (Townsville) is developing fast with flats shooting up everywhere but it still has a country town feel in that everyone know everyone. I am hoping this will work in my favour when I mingle with more marine biologists.

Why were we swapping clothes? The pub crawl was a rubix cube party where people turn up in multiple colours then swap clothes so they are only wearing 1 colour. Sus & I were very civilized and watched until near the end when I decided one of us has to change. The mad Swiss/ Austraian guy who organized it was my target as a) he had been through about 8 changes of clothes already and b) I thought he could fit into my dress. This was not the wisest idea as his face was painted blue and green so 3 bleach jobs later I still have facepaint on my white dress.

Saying goodbye to Sus was rubbish but we are catching up again a couple of times in the next few months. Once on a research boat of hers getting samples from whales and the other for my birthday in Byron Bay, a beautiful part of the country in northern New South Wales.


I also made it over to Magnetic Island, the island I can see out my window for the first time since I got here. While my housemates went on a boys fishing trip over Easter me and my friend Scott, who also had to work over the break went over with a very large tent and his motorbike. Being Easter and more importantly being the dappy Scott that was organizing things we ended up putting the tent up in some bush next to a backpackers and sneaking in to use their facilities as there was no space there. Now I know I need to get used to creepy crawlies but this is the tropics. Everything is either huge or bites. Or both. So as we cram our tent between 2 trees Scott is giving me the advice ‘we are fine as long as there are no green ants - you know when you have been bitten by one of those’. This as he wonders around in bare feet. I look down at the branch centimeters from my arm and the thing is crawling with green ants. We also nearly walked into a huge spider hanging in its web slung across the path to the beach. I insisted we walked on the nearby road after that.

To give Scott his due it meant stayed in a lovely part of Maggie away from the windy wet weather hitting the other side of the island. We chilled out having snags on the beach barbies and visiting all the bays and beaches on the motorbike. Our one bit of excitement was when Scott briefly decided to take up kleptomania and nicked a bottle of spirits that was left on the bar. An hour or so later we both got marched out. Scott is generally a good upstanding citizen so he went back and apologized profusely and bought the staff a beer. In good Aussie fashion, i.e. they are very used to being drunk and doing stupid things, they were all very jolly about the whole thing.

We also had a ‘drs and dentists’ bbq. It was a house warming but I decided students and the professionals, with their kids etc would not mix so only invited a select few friends. As with many of our weekends this descended into anarchy.

My weekends are similar to the UK, i.e. I go out a lot. I think I am going to get bored of this soon as there really is only one street full of bars to go out and I am weary of them already. A lot of the time is spent on our balcony with a beer with my housemates. We all get on brilliantly and other people just randomly turn up throughout the weekend. We have ‘Guitar Hero’ world tour as of a couple of weeks ago so our evenings are spent rocking out or shouting at the larger lady on Masterchef. We love it. I try not to turn green when I come back from work at the weekends and the guys have been out in Adrians tinnie (boat) for the day. I am now officially allowed to drive a boat here after getting my licence on Thursday. Hooning around on a 28ft charter in the port and pretending to save people is a good way to spend a Thursday.
There is often the air of things not quite being done right here and a good example is the local festival ‘Groovin the Moo’. Apart from the name of course, that is BRILLIANT. De La Soul were there and I was really looking forward to it but the sound quality was appalling. We met one of Adrians friends from back home and had a great weekend. We are going to ‘Splendour in the Grass’ with him and his twin brother so that should be cool. Splendour is hailed as the best festival in Australia and ticket day is like Glastonbury, no one can get online yet the tickets sold out in 2 hours. Its in Byron Bay, which is a lovely place and its the weekend of my 30th birthday and immediately after my intensive modules finish. Intensives are a whole module crammed into 2 weeks. On the plus side at least one of those weeks is on an island on the Great Barrier Reef. I love that this seems normal already. Its my first time to the universities research station out there and I am really looking forward to doing some hands on stuff.

The biggest thing though was the arrival of Miss Cass, best pal and mischief maker extraordinaire. We met up in Sydney and had a blast. We went to the Blue Mountains to get some mountain air and ended up sleeping in due to too much grog in the local pub. The pub did not sell wine so you had to go to the bottlo attached to it and they gave you glasses. Clifton Wine Bar it was not. We went out for a meal with my Mums cousin Mark and his wife and as always they were great value. We got all dressed up on the Friday and went gallivanting, which is what we do best. I loved being in a city with people that did not look like they married a cousin. Believe me when I say there is not much eye candy in the ‘ville. 3 suburbs later with the sun coming we went back to our flash hotel. This is where we realized how old we are as it took days to recover.

After a week of frantic essay writing Fi came to join me in the ‘ville. I think its best not to describe the mayhem we got up to. We did go out on Adrians boat. I love being on the water. You would think it would happen a lot given my study but no. My housemates go out nearly every weekend……when I am work. Understandable but bloomin’ frustrating.

So Fi left, I sank into a depression for 2 days, which in classic boy stylee was ignored by going to play golf while I moped. I have not been doing much since then except for studying, working and going out at the weekends. Exams have been and gone and were much less stressful than my undergrad ones, mainly because I did some work this time. I have got loads of cool things coming up (I am actually writing this last bit at the research station I am at for a few days) so will regale you with that at a later date. Let me know how you are.

Nik x



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