Trip Start Jun 25, 2011
7Trip End Dec 31, 2016
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Where I stayed
Canberra itself is an attractive city
Tom’s contract runs out at the end of this year and he is on the lookout for a new role. Initially we thought we would stay in Canberra where there seem to be plenty of government IT contracts paying the best wages in the country. However, finding a second contract is proving to be more difficult than we anticipated. We suspect it might be because all of the government jobs require security clearance. At present Tom only has the most basic level of clearance and even this was a real effort to obtain. Most jobs require higher levels of clearance and employers seem only interested in hiring people who already have such clearance as the process is so time consuming. Furthermore, because Tom has lived in the UK for most of his life, getting him security cleared is likely to be much more troublesome than for the average Aussie and so we get the impression that employers might be avoiding him for that reason.
As such, Tom has started looking further afield for work. Sydney is one such option and Tom actually had a job interview there last Friday. Having never been to Sydney, we decided to make a weekend of it. We drove our little Hyundai Getz hire car the 285 kilometres along the Federal and Hume Highways passing through lovely bush scenery including some dramatic river gorges
Our new Tom Tom guided us effortlessly to our home for the weekend, a lovely little house in the suburb of Newtown, which reminded us a little of Brighton with lots of quirky one off shops, bars and restaurants, the majority of which were Thai. We found the house on a website called AirBnB which is basically a global network of people who rent out rooms in their houses allowing people a cheaper and more interesting alternative to hotels. Our host for the weekend was a friendly woman called Debbie who has recently emigrated to Sydney from New Zealand. She works in international development and lived for ten years in Laos so we chatted to her about our recent travels to South East Asia.
On our first evening we dined at a Thai fusion restaurant called Thai Riffic where we enjoyed Betel Leaf Fish and Papaya Salad to start followed by Octopus Salad and Deep Fried Barramundi in a chilli, kaffir lime and Thai basil sauce all washed down with a couple of glasses of crisp Riesling and an aromatic, rose Turkish delight infused Gewurtztraminer!
The next morning we drove over to famous Bondi Beach where we walked along the cliff tops overlooking the bay and visited the Marine Discovery Centre where we learned about the local marine life. Despite it only being about 18 degrees, there were loads of surfers and swimmers, mainly groups of men in red speedos!
In the afternoon we headed to Sydney’s north side cruising around some of the more expensive suburbs admiring the flash beach style houses that surround the harbour and must be worth millions. The downside of living in Sydney is that it is one of the most expensive cities on the planet, with property prices higher than both London and New York.
The next day we left mid-morning after Debbie made us blueberry pancakes for breakfast. We decided to take a detour and head south along the coast towards Wollongong before cutting west back to Canberra. Our route took us through the beautiful Royal National Park where the road descended into several deep river valleys and passed through areas of temperate rainforest. Then we followed the Grand Pacific Drive along dramatic coastal scenery, stopping for lunch at a little surf beach before heading inland back to Canberra.
I can now see why people love Sydney so much. It seems like a really cool city with loads to see and do. The only negative is the high cost of living. We figured out that even with Tom on a good wage, we could only afford a tiny apartment or townhouse with little room for guests to stay. As for the job interview, it went well and it seems that they are keen to hire Tom
Watch this space!...