Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Christmas in Brisbane & Byron Bay

Greetings from sunny Byron Bay!

It has been a long 5 weeks since I have posted anything here, so apologies for the long gap between blogs. But since leaving my job, leaving Brisbane and leaving the crappy weather behind, I am finally able to sit down for a good hour to update you all on the latest comings and goings of my six month haul around Oz. I have a mere 5 weeks left here before flying home on 1st of Feb, so there is lots to do and see before I return to chilly England.

I left my job at the call centre a couple of weeks ago, having worked for about 2 months out of the 11 weeks I spent in Brisbane. Although repetitive, it was a great challenge for me, especially as it is a financial services firm - and anyone that knows me will know I am essentially incapable of managing money! So despite the fact that I had to google 'equity' on the morning of my interview, I am now highly knowledgeable about the Australian tax benefits for working home owners - none of which will ever apply to me given that negative gearing doesn't exist in the same way back home... but I digress. It was a very handy job for a backpacker, and I will dearly miss all the strange and wonderful people I met during my time there.

After leaving my work, I spent a couple of weeks essentially killing time with my flatmate Lou, who quit her bar job around the same time. Brisbane is a charming city in many respects but after 11 weeks, you will have essentially exhausted every possible outlet of fun. And when one is on a tight budget, one does not have the luxury of eating out, shopping incessantly and all of the other delights associated with holidays. And there was also the rain. I gather from people back home that the floods in Queensland have been on the news, and I can definitely confirm that there has been no end of rain in Brisbane in the last few weeks/months. It isn't even quaint English drizzle - it is a full on deluge daily, with flash flooding all over the city and small streams running down the pavements. It is such a relief to see some sunshine again now that we are in Byron.

The main event of the past five weeks was of course Christmas - which is an extremely weird thing to celebrate when it is over 30 degrees outside. All the way through December neither Lou or I felt remotely Christmassy. Christmas is about big jumpers, open fires and home made soup - not bikini shopping, sunburn and flipflops. It is also a time of year most associated with family, and I was worried that spending it away from Fryers in general would cause unbearable homesickness, replete with excessive drinking and wailing into the night. Fortunately that was not the case. Lou and I had a lovely Christmas, complete with roast dinner and santa hats. We opened pressies (largely shipped over by Mummy Fryer) and drank vodka all day long, which was of course brilliant. Unfortunately, Christmas was not without drama.

To cut a very long and dramatic story short, I have been robbed. Yes, gentle reader, I have actually been robbed. The man who cut off our internet on Christmas Eve (despite us paying for it, and deliberately so we couldn't skype our families the following day) was due to give us our deposits back (about $400 each - which is about 200quid) the day before we left Brisbane. However he coincidently went MIA the day before, and we were unable to get our money back. Despite explaining the sorry tale to the police, we were unable to file a report as due to the technicalities of it being a deposit - and the drama continues. No solution has yet been found but I will keep you posted should anything happen. It is highly dramatic though, and has kept Lou and I suitably stressed since leaving Brissie.

Speaking of which, we packed up our bags (how have I acquired so much stuff?) and trundled down the 4 flights of stairs to our front door with FOUR bags each. Despite initially adamant that we would indeed walk all the way to Roma St Station (a 20 minute walk on a good day), by the time the handles of my handbag all simulataneously snapped we called it a day and got a taxi. (NB an average handbag which you got for $10 will not hold the weight of three books, a laptop, a purse, two pairs of sunnies and all the other crap I had squashed in there).

We got the 8am Greyhound to Byron and arrived here at lunchtime yesterday. Byron Bay is famous the world over for its beaches, its waves and its hippie dippie culture (trust me, you can get stoned just standing in the street here). It is a hippie haven where barefoot bohemenians come to relax and escape the cities, and where backpackers gather en masse for the sun, sea and surfing. It is also adjacent to Nimbin, a small town inland of Byron which is famed for its total tolderance of pot smoking and pot themed nibbles. But you don't need to go as far as that to get high - merely walking through the hostel will do that for that. Byron is also home to its famous lighthouse, which marks the most easterly point in all of Oz. It is a beautiful town with fierecely protective locals (hence, there is not a McDonalds in sight) and is home to what appears to be a daily tye-dye convention. If you like your brownies spacey and your beer organic, Byron is the place to come.

The next stop for me is Coffs Harbour, where I will be visiting a friend from England, then it is on to Syndey to catch up with Lou. Then flying over to Melbourne before driving the Great Ocean Road (Google it - it's stunning!) and then it's back to Adelaide for a week before I head home!! Officially leaving on 1st Feb and arriving back at dawn on the 2nd. I dearly love you Australia, but England has my heart (for now). Plus my iphone just crapped out and deleted EVERYTHING and I have to wait 5 weeks to get back any of my music, so there is no question! I am coming home!! :)

Until next time... xoxo