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Saturday 31 May 2003
Sydney, Australia

Arrived in Oz!

After months of loitering around south-east asia, Ive finally arrived in Sydney, Australia! My first time in this hemisphere and I STILL havent fallen off the earth... I guess this gravity theory is correct!

The first thing you really notice about Australia is the sky! Even as we were flying over the country on the way to Sydney I looked out of the window on the plane and could see stars Id never seen before... also I saw the milky way in all its cloudy glory (for the first time!). As soon as I arrived into Sydney (around 5-6am) I could see the most amazing red sunrise that Ive ever seen. The sunsets here are also just as amazing. I dont know if its just Australia or if its the hemisphere, but the sky looks like a painting. Ill try to see if I can capture it (and upload it) on the new camera!

The flight over to Sydney from Singapore was more or less hassle free. I didnt sleep, but I had an emergency exit seat so again had a lot of room for my legs! Just thank God I didnt have to try my hand at opening the emergency shoot! We left at 8pm and arrived at 3am (Singapore time - 5am local)

One problem I *DID* have though was on boarding the flight from Singapore: Again I was overweight when I checked in, but this time Quantas wanted to charge something ridiculous like 100 euros for the 11 kilos I was overweight (Cathay Pacific on the other hand, only charged about 20 euros)!! So I decided to take as much as I could (about 8 kilos) out and carry as hand luggage, leaving only 3 kilos overweight which was a relatively small 25 euros! The problem was that I accidentally took out my two penknives and proceeded to carry them to the boarding gate! Doh! Sure enough they found the knives, but I still had 40 minutes till the plane was due to leave (again the advantages of boarding early still paid off!) so I managed to rush off to the post office 10 minutes away and sent home a parcel to Eire with my two knives for only 10 dollars. So folks expect the package sometime this week! PHEW close call there... my two knives cost about 100 euros in total so I wasnt just going to throw them away!

Sydney is a really nice city... Cosmopolitan, glitzy, and the people are really quite friendly which is strange, I thought, for a city of such large scale. I guess the good weather keeps everyone in a cheery mood. Yep, thats right, the weather here is great despite the fact that its now winter! Its sunny (although a little chilly) and I walk around in t-shirts and jeans. The air is also very fresh and clean... and theres a distinctive flowery smell in the air everywhere you go, but I cant figure out what it is from. I noticed this flowery scent as soon as I left the airport terminal upon arrival.

Ive walked around the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge areas and these really are beautiful scenes, especially at sunset when the sky, the skyscraped skyline, and the lights of the city all blend to make an amazing picture! Theres quite an abundance of Irish pubs in the area (from where you can hear the familiar accents eschewing forth!) and Ill have to check one or two out to meet some of the locals!

Im staying in Kings Cross - an area with a reputation for being the sleaze-pit of Sydney, but its actually a really nice and quiet area full of backpacker accommodation. Ive got a nice smallish studio room for 160 AUS$ per week (about 90 euros/week) which is really good considering I get a fridge, TV, hotwater and my own sink/dishes so I can have breakfast lunch in the room to save on money! Theres a supermarket next door too. I could theoretically live in this place for a year and not have to work to supplement funds, despite the fact that Sydney is renowned for being the most expensive place to stay! Excellent!

The guesthouse is run by a big burly Aboriginal guy named Bill who I thought was a little aggressive at first, but hes funny once you get to know him.. plus he has a crushing handshake, so I think I can have faith in the security in the place since he would be able to crush any intruders in a second.

Tommorrow is Sunday, so Ill check with the visa people on monday to get my working visa... the plan so far is:

- Buy a car fairly cheapish... around 2,000 euros max

- Head off northwards, towards Cairns.

Ill update you as I decide what to do...

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