Our flight to Sydney is short and pleasant. They’re a bit over-staffed at the security screening in Queenstown, so we fly through the checks even though I’m the lucky winner in the random extra check. An overly friendly woman announces with a big smile that she’s going to check me for explosive devices. I find it very hard not to start laughing loudly, so I quickly present her with my bag before she can say anything else. She performs a cursory swab of my belt and the outside of my bag, sticks the material in a machine that beeps its satisfaction, and I’m on my way to passport control. There we find that we were supposed to fill in the ‘permanent residence in New Zealand’ line with where we spent last night. Brodie is standing there with a totally blank look on his face that’s turning to panic. Just as he’s starting to mouth the word Picton (which would make absolutely no sense being the other side of the island), I pipe up and inform them that we were in the Lakefront YHA in Queenstown which both officers duly scribble on our forms, then send us on our way. “I don’t even know where I am anymore”, Brodie mumbles.
For a change, we’re being met at the airport. An ex work colleague of Brodie’s, and his lovely girlfriend, are kindly putting us up for the next few days as we visit Sydney and figure out the logistics of making our way up the east coast of Australia. This is the first location in our trip that we’ve actually been to before. It’s been 8 years since I was last in Sydney, and even longer since Brodie visited as a child. For the most part little has changed – some areas are more developed than they were, but the feel of Sydney hasn’t changed much. A big, busy, bustling city overlooking harbours with turquoise waters and grand bridges reaching out into the suburbs. It’s hard to imagine these streets being as deserted as some of the places in New Zealand we’ve been in recently.
We’re staying in an apartment in Newtown, right beside the university and about 5km from the city centre. A good base for exploring the sights of Sydney. As we’ve been warned that the apartment building was fumigated hours before we arrived, we’re not too surprised when we see the odd cockroach over the next few days. Most of the little buggers are suffering the mortal effects of the fumigator visit and the numbers dwindle rapidly. Almost immediately after arriving, we’re taking advantage of the wifi, and when Brodie produces his 350 gig hard drive the file swapping starts in earnest. Our hostess cooks up a storm producing Nepalese curry and dahl (and only occasionally setting pans on fire). With some home cooking this might just be our healthiest week on the trip.