Australia & Pacific

Back to reality – Sydney style



There’s nothing like returning to work after a long holiday to bring you back down to earth with a bump.

After spending a month in Indonesia and one week in Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, the holiday is over, the tan is already fading and returning to work has been a shock to the system. I had become accustomed to lounging on beaches in the sunshine with an occasional stroll to the bar – a lifestyle in stark contrast to 6am alarm calls and running around a busy Sydney restaurant five days a week. But, as they say, what goes up must come down, and that is certainly the case for bank balances when on holiday, so back to work it is.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. I have returned to Sydney, an amazing cosmopolitan city that likes to have fun and make the most of its assets. For example, even though it is now winter in Australia, and I am living in a coastal city, there is still so much to do. The current highlight is the Vivid Festival, an annual celebration of light, music and ideas which has become famous for projecting images onto the Sydney Opera House. The lights are switched on at 6pm every night for the duration of the festival and by 5pm the harbourside is lined with photographers (amateur and professional), all eager to get the perfect shot of the illuminated building while others stroll around the lighting sculptures and installations dotted around Circular Quay and The Rocks. And the best part? It’s free. All you have to do is turn up and watch.

That is one of the reasons I have fallen in love with Sydney – it’s almost impossible to be bored here. All year there are events held across the city. Some are free, some have to be paid for, but there is always something going on. In November last year, there was an art festival, called Outpost, held on Cockatoo Island showcasing incredible graffiti art in an industrial setting, complete with an open air bar and views across the city skyline. The New Years Eve fireworks are famous worldwide but there are also fireworks every Saturday night in Darling Harbour – just because it is Saturday. Sculpture by the Sea is an exhibition held annually on a stretch of scenic coastal walkway leading to Bondi Beach every summer and the opening night of the Sydney Festival in January was a huge (free) extravaganza with parties in Hyde Park, live music and dancing in the streets. If you’re craving culture, this is the place to be, particularly with the Sydney Film Festival and a jazz and blues event just around the corner.

All this makes it even harder to comprehend that I will probably be leaving this vibrant city in a few months’ time when my visa expires. Unfortunately, that is the life of a traveller, but I feel privileged to have been able to call Sydney “home” for several months and I would recommend it to anyone. It may not have the historic buildings like Europe or oriental mystique like Asia, but it does have a vivacious, young energy that is hard not to get caught up in. For a long time I dismissed Australia for not appearing interesting enough, but Sydney has definitely surpassed my expectations and just seems to be getting better.

Hayley spent her childhood in North Wales but considers Chester her home. She has been travelling for the past two-and-a-half years. Before that, Hayley was a reporter for regional daily newspaper, The Chester Leader. She left the UK in 2009 to go to New Zealand on a working holiday visa and stopped off in Hong Kong along the way, which became her first experience of travelling solo. It was then that the travel bug really took hold. Despite intending to be away for only six months, she ended up spending two years in New Zealand, working and travelling around the north and south islands with a trip to Samoa thrown in for good measure. She then made the move across the Tasman Sea to Australia and lived in Sydney for five months before travelling up the east coast of Australia and across to Darwin, where she currently lives and works.

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