Thursday, September 25, 2008

Rental Crisis

A fact that some of you may not know is that there is a bigger population in Sydney (4.28 million) than in the entire of New Zealand (4.14 million). It's been an interesting transition from the biggest city in the south island to the biggest city in Australia. Obvioulsy the biggest factor in this is that it is a much busier place and a faster pace of life. This has it's positives and negatives and our biggest problem that we have overcome is finding somewhere to live.

In Belfast, it is a case of ringing a listing in a paper or contacting a real estate agent to arrange a viewing. In New Zealand, this was a more confusing issue. Although agents listed properties, contact had to be made between you and the current tennant to arrange a viewing which didn't always work out too well and, personally speaking, is a ridiculous way to conduct business. The easiest way to find property was through a website called TradeMe where you can contact the owner renting the property, arrange a viewing and agree to a deal on the spot.

In Sydney, things are even more frustrating. Agents do not show properties on request but advertise an open showing which usually falls on a Saturday morning or afternoon. In order to maximise viewings, Lou and I chose a suburb and visited all the estate agents in the vicinity to obtain listings of open viewings. We then picked up a throwaway map and highlighted the streets and finally listed the properties chronologically in order of viewing time.

Our first viewing was at 10am and we had 9 properties to see between then and 12.30pm which meant a lot of speed walking between places in 30c heat.

To cut a long story short, every single one of them was the size of a shoebox. What is more is that you are looking at the apartment with up to 15 other people. If you like the look of it, then you must fill in an application form (along with X others) and then wait to see if you are chosen. Understandably there is a surplus of people to housing available but this takes the cake in producing stress lines and stomach ulcers. The application form itself asks for more information than it takes to open up a bank account.

One of the sections requires current employment information and because we are currently both seeking work, having just arrived, I doubt we would be top of the pile on any property. To compound the issue, the Sydney Morning Herald today linked a rental crisis to a migration boost so it seems our problem is caused by others like us - whoops.

Just when it was looking futile and heart-rending, our awesome friend in Christchurch sorted for us to house-share with her sister in Homebush Bay until Christmas time which suited us perfectly as it didn't tie us down to 6 months here and would allow us to see more of the country in 2009.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

New Digs

Today we're moving into a new place that will see us through until mid-December. It's much closer to the city. To give you some idea, we've currently been commuting 60km each way into the centre of the city. In our new digs, this will be reduced to 20km.

Interestingly they used to be the apartments used by athletes in the 2000 Olympics which have since been sold off to the public.

It's in a really quiet part of Homebush close to the olympic stadium and is a self-contained village with shops, cafes and an almost mediaterranean feel to it.

Another bonus is that there is a free shuttle to the ferry of which we could easily use instead of the train to get into work which is pretty cool in itself.

As it was the old haunts for athletes, there are tennis courts, swimming pools and other features that make the place quite appealing.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Until we undertook the journey from Elderslie to the city, I wasn't aware of how far out we were. I knew the skyline of tall buildings wasn't visible from Elderslie but I had put that down to being on a plain and not seeing the forest for the trees as such.

Luckily there is a bus stop across the road that takes us to Campbelltown around half and hour away and the furthest the train goes in that direction. It is then another hour and a half journey through many suburbs and stops before hitting central station and getting the feeling of being in a large city.

We jumped off here and made our way through Hyde parka and Chinatown where we stopped for lunch. I enjoyed a rather large serving of calimari with my first Aussie pint - Boag's. It wasn't too bad at all and was certainly refreshing after our trek.

Today was a paltry 18c with some clouds causing overcast as we made our way long the heaving streets in a northerly direction for the Opera House and Harbour Bridge.

As we neared our destination, I could make out the distinctive shape of both monuments and must confess, I found the harbour bridge quite stunning and the opera house rather underwhelming. It is quite retro and kitcsh and if it was an ornamental present, it would be in a box, taken out and dusted off when the giver came over for drinks.

The harbour bridge on the other hand is grand in scale and looks magnificent. It is also multi-purpose and takes passengers over the water on foot, car and train and thus also appeals to my manly functional side.

There is also a busy wharf and train station close by taking locals and tourists on ferries and jetboats of which we will use tomorrow.

With Sydney harbour taken in, we made our way to the Sydney Museum (not to be confused with the Australian Museum) before heading home. I say this because although Wikipedia would have you think they are one in the same, there are indeed two different types, the latter we did not know existed due to lack of insight.

The Sydney Museum is, for want of a better word, dull. It has 3 floors with not much going on in any of them. Lou and I were hoping that it would have had a history of the aboriginals, a detailed exhibit on the colonisation of a continent by white men but it's a very much short and sweet version of this country seemingly designed for the casual visitor.

Slightly dismayed by our last venture but excited by Sydney itself, we made the journey back to Elderslie.

The other photos of Sydney can be found here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Tuesday was spent with Lorraine and the two eldest boys in a trip into Camden town to set up bank accounts. It was once again a pleasant day with the temperature in the low 20's and the route took us over a river bridge and past an abandoned vineyard (travesty!).

These outskirt towns are small in size but have all the amenities you need. It is basically one long strip with rows of shops and businesses of all kinds lined on either side.

When we arrived home we spent some of the afternoon on the internet getting bus and train timetables and firing off a few emails. That evening we met another of Lorraine's daughters Alison and her husband Bernie. They also have a wee bairn who is looked after by Natalie and Lorrain during the day so it's a veritable creche at times.

They also have dogs who live outside, labrador types, called Honey and Angel who are very approachable and wag their tails instantly when you move towards them. The back garden also contains two pet birds (they look like parrots to me), a swimming pool and a trampoline which the boys are obsessive about.

Tomorrow we venture forth into the city itself for some exploring and site-seeing.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Bonjour Sydney

Our flight to Sydney took around 3 hours from Christchurch and we arrived shortly after 6 O'clock on Monday evening. Even from a warm and sunny afternoon in New Zealand dusk in Australia, at a balmy 26c, felt quite altogether different reminding me of previous holidays to Portugal and Turkey stepping off the plane and greeted with an almost offensive blast of warm air.

We were greeted in the airport by my cousin Lorraine and her husband Bryan. I hadn't seen her in two decades so it was a unique moment in family history. Her mother (my Dad's sister) had another five sisters(!), another two of whom are also in Australia so flinging yourself off to far off destinations seems to be in the genes.

The evening was taken up getting introduced to the rest of the household comprising of my cousins daughter, Natalie, who is our age, her husband Stephen and their 3 offspring, Levi, Henry and George (in order of ascending age). George took great delight in stating quite matter of factly "You're in our house now!" which sounded like a scene in a horror movie where the victim finds themselves up shit creek without a paddle prior to said shit hitting the fan.

They are a fantastic family to live with - very kind and generous - and we owe them much gratitude for putting us up at the start of our new adventure.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Au Revoir New Zealand

Today is our final day in New Zealand before jetting off to Sydney tomorrow afternoon. Last night we rounded up our friends and had a farewell social ending the night in one place we usually don't visit too often - an Irish bar. Tempting fate and further liver damage, I attempted a Guinness and I'm sorry to report, I just couldn't finish it. Nevertheless it was a fantastic night with some great memories and cherished banter.

Aoeteroa has been an enriching experies for both of us and I highly recommend it as a holiday experience. Now we look forward to a new adventure on the other side of the pond.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Land Of The Great White Cloud

As Lou and I coundown our last week in New Zealand before heading for the sunnier shores of Australia, we took a day trip to one of our favourite destinations on the doorsteps of Christchurch.

The photo on the left is of our first stop along the Banks Peninsula, Corsair Bay.

It was a beautiful afternoon as we drove out of the Lytelton tunnel and into the bright sunshine. As you can see, a long cloud formation struck out across the bay which gave a magical quality to one of many panoramic views along the way.

We drove through Governor's Bay to Godley House in Diamond Harbour where we stopped for lunch and practically had the place to ourselves. It has a great view over the peninsula bay and overlooking Lytelton itself. It's quite an historic house dating back to 1880 and has many period features giving it a certain grand country house charm.

From there we double-backed to Corsair Bay where we took a walk along the beach and through the woodland alongside the bay.

It was a great afternoon and something that we will certainly miss especially as we never got around to kayaking there but a place with plenty of happy memories.

The other photos of the day can be found here.

eXTReMe Tracker

Stumble Upon Toolbar