Down Under, week one.

December 20, 2016

My eyes ache and I feel my lids begin to drop as I stare at the seat in front of me and its stripes, violet and grey. I'm not sure where I am, nor what the time is but know that I am 40.000 feet above the majestic world below. My second long haul flight in two days is coming to an end and I'm glad. I've only ever flown long-haul once in my life- a moderate nine hours to the west coast of America- and now I've indulged myself in a 21 hour flight to Sydney. I'm craving a deep sleep, outstretched on a human size mattress, and whilst I'm appreciative of Olive from seat 60A sharing her Waitrose Mint Crumbles with me, I'm longing to shut my eyes once more and let the world pass me by. Literally.
Sydney Opera House

Four hours later, a couple of trains and a long wait by the luggage carousel, I find myself at my destination. The warmth greets me like an old friend and I suddenly realise how much I miss the summer. Stepping outside the station, I'm faced with a small town, the early 20th century fascias staring at me like a five year old who's missing his front teeth. There's a certain shabby charm to the town and it's antiquity and I'm yearning to explore. My friend, Nicole, who's been unable to reach me since I arrived in Sydney hugs me with relief when I come into view. With no idea if I was even on the train, she's overwhelmed with relief to see me, the sweaty, jumper-clad foreigner, finally here in Morrisset, NSW. 
Sydney Opera House on a grey day.
I'm insured on Nicole's car, so she asks if I would like to drive home. Having not driven for a year and a half, I felt like she was offering Christmas Day. I always loved driving and when I sold my car before moving to Spain, I felt like I had said goodbye to my freedom. She gestures at a huge Mitsubishi 4x4 and suddenly the nerves of my first driving lesson come back. I'll be driving what?! It's automatic, so I'm constantly searching for the gear stick and trying to drop the clutch. Furthermore, the indicators are on the wrong side, so when I go to turn into a road, my wipers come on instead. It's okay, I've got this. I've got 4 weeks to perfect driving a bumper car on speed, piece of piss. By the time we arrive home, I've only made the mistake about 4 times and drove through one stop sign. Like I said, I've got this.
By the Sydney Harbour Bridge
Four days later and my friend, Holly, from the UK arrives, also. We do the anticipated trip to the supermarket, marvelling at the produce unavailable in the UK, marvelling at how much produce is available in the UK. I haven't been back to England since September, so the sight of Maltesers, stuffing and cordial is a welcome one indeed. In the basket they all go. Although whilst similar to England in many ways, a difference I noted in the supermarket was that alcohol is sold in separate liquor stores, something more reminiscent of America. We leave the supermarket anticipating a barbecue that evening, although a damper is put on that when I open the BBQ lid to see a cockroach the size of my finger running along the wall behind. Maybe another night.
Catherine's Bay and a surfing compeition
Like most foreigners, when landing up the turf of Oz, we were eager to see some kangaroos. Only a five minute drive away, Morrisett Kangaroo park is next on our agenda.(Note that I changed tense and put "were eager to see some kangaroos"?) That's because upon arriving at the park we saw well over two hundred kangaroos , eating peacefully amongst themselves, not jumping. We pull up by the side of the road, grab our bags of bread and head towards and area where a mother is eating with her two babies. It transpires however, that feeding the kangaroos is a similar experience to feeding the seagulls or any other gannet that can smell food from a million miles away; before we know it, the buggers and their giant claws are bouncing towards us from all angles. In this situation, there was only one thing to do- we threw the bags and ran. They weren't vicious creatures in the slightest, however it was incredibly daunting to see the creatures bouncing towards you like characters in a cartoon strip. This week however, I'm eager to return and feed the beasts from my hand and not flee like the Road Runner. When it's illegal to pet a koala I'm New South Wales, I feel like petting a kangaroo is the next best thing. Come on, Mayah, you can do this.

Sydney Harbour Bridge
Between dilatory days at the beach and serene sunsets, our first week has sped to an end. So far, we've had zero road collisions nor any insect bites, so I suspect we're doing quite well. With the next few weeks holding Christmas Day and New Year's Eve, I can't wait to see what adventures Australia has in store for us.



If you look closely, you can spy the bag of bread we threw.

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