A Travellerspoint blog

Sydneysiders to Dolphin Spyers!

all seasons in one day 21 °C
View WORLD ADVENTURE on siandrach's travel map.

31st May – Waking to a very wet and miserable winter’s day in Woolloomooloo Sydney, we decided to spend the morning emailing our CVs to various job openings advertised on the hostel board.


Sadly most only wanted long term staff but we kept our fingers crossed! By lunch time we had (amazingly!) received a call back for both of us to come in for an interview – TODAY! With no office attire in our crumpled, well used backpacks, we headed out to Sydney’s shopping district on the hunt for cheap office outfits. Soon Rach had bought herself a classic black dress but with the 4pm interview deadline approaching, Si was struggling to find something in our budget. With no choice, Si resorted to the brown linen trousers he had tailored in Vietnam, using a belt to hide the white tassels and donning his only shirt, it would have to do. Taking the underground, we arrived to the Ricoh Business Centre at 4pm and were met by James our prospective boss. After a very brief (5 minute) chat, we were both offered the job and told to start tomorrow! At $20 an hour plus ‘commission’, the Telemarketing job seemed perfect for our short time in Sydney.

1st – 4th – Arriving to our first day after our half an hour commute, having filled in some forms we were ready for training. Unsure exactly of what the
‘Telemarketing’ position entailed, we spent the afternoon listening to some of our colleague’s calls. With a large database and an allocated postcode, the purpose of the call was to sell a Ricoh photocopier. Our job however, was just to set up a meeting with a Ricoh specialist. Easy? No. With most calls ending in a hang up or ‘not qualifying’ in terms of cost effectiveness, we realised the bonus targets were going to be almost as impossible as trying to get 5 different office outfits out of our very limited supply of clothes!

The week felt long with our 9-5pm hours but at least we knew money was coming in again and we could enjoy the evenings walking around Sydney’s sights.


Sadly, with our new found jobs our perception of the hostel changed and now needing sleep at night instead of wanting to party like the rest of the hostel, our tolerance to late night noise outside our room wore thin as the week went on. Breaking point came when we were kept up until 4am, so that weekend we checked out found a much nicer hostel just 2 doors down (still in the cheap Kings Cross area of course!). Although $25 more a week, it was well worth it for the quiet atmosphere, clean kitchen and large double bed (as opposed to the bunk beds in the previous hostel!).

With the weekend upon us and the sun finally shining, we went to explore Sydney – at last!


Walking to some of our favourite spots such as the Opera House, Circular Quay and the Rocks Market, we relaxed with a picnic under the Harbour Bridge whilst enjoying the sun.


We made our way over to Darling Harbour where big screens were being erected for the World Cup tournament.


Wandering round, we bumped into Richard and George from the farm who had just arrived and were on the hunt for jobs. Catching up over a few riverside beers, we arranged to meet later that evening at their friend’s house for a few more.


Watching the sunset over the City, we made our way back to the hostel for the free pasta dinner before grabbing some cheap ‘stubbies’ and wine and making our way to meet Rich and George. Spending the evening in, chatting and getting to know their friends, we stumbled home through the city at 2am, a little merry!


Sunday we took the ferry across the Harbour to Manly beach, taking in the City views from afar.


Luckily for us there was a food and wine festival taking place (completely by chance!) so we wandered the expensive stalls taking in the vibrant atmosphere. Sadly with our pay cheques still in lieu, we had to resist the stalls and took out our picnic, eating it on the beach amongst the hundreds of market goers tucking into their gourmet offerings and vino!


With the afternoon cut short by the heavy downpour, we boarded the ferry back to the City and headed back to the comfort of our hostel.

7th – 11th – With our skills on the telephone improving daily, we started to put numbers on the board and get meetings booked. Sadly like most of the office, we did not meet the commission targets but were happy to get some money in the bank!


On the Friday, we handed in our notice to a slightly shocked James, who hoped we would be sticking around longer. Although we could have done with the money, we had an onward flight booked, so had no choice; 2 weeks of pay was better than nothing.

Having met an English couple in the hostel earlier in the week (after fighting over the 1 set of cutlery in the ill equipped kitchen – and it was plastic!), we arranged to go out for a few Friday drinks and catch the opening Ceremony of the World Cup, on the large floating screens in Darling Harbour. After a few bars, we headed to the Harbour and were met by a huge crowd, already filling the designated area.


Marshalled to the overflow area where a second screen was showing the opening match, we stood and watched the action in the cool night air, eventually heading home around 1am.

Saturday 12th – Waking up a little jaded but excited, as we had booked ourselves onto a table at Sydney’s Revolving Restaurant at the top of the Skytower for lunch.

We had decided to celebrate the end of our two weeks ‘hard labour’ as Telemarketers! With a 12pm reservation, we made the most of our 1.5 hours time slot and indulged in everything from Kangaroo steak and oysters to curries and tangine, making sure we left just enough space for the 6 different types of dessert on offer!


Oh yeah, the panoramic 360° views over Sydney were also stunning and we snapped away happily in between mouthfuls.


Needless-to-say at 2.15pm when our time was up, we rolled out of the building and went for a very long walk, making our way to the massive indoor Paddys Market for a browse. After another wander around Darling Harbours’ water front, we headed up through Chinatown and back through the city.


Agreeing to meet Ross and Claire from the hostel at 3am in order to watch England’s first World Cup game against the USA on the big screen in Darling Harbour, we got an early night and set our alarm.


Sunday 13th – After watching England’s dismal attempt to play football, we wished we hadn’t bothered getting up for the 4am kick off in the freezing cold and wearily dragged ourselves back to bed for another few hours kip. Leaving our bags at the hostel after we had checked out, we decided to make the most of our last day in Sydney and caught the free Ferry to Mutton Bird Island where we strolled around the bizarre Art museum before eating our picnic overlooking Sydney’s buzzing harbour.


Back in the City, we wandered through the streets of The Rocks and watched as street performers entertained the crowds.


Meandering through the market stalls and taking in the relaxed Sunday atmosphere, we realised how much we had enjoyed our time in the Sydney and Si confirmed that it was still his number one City to live, he just had to find a reason to convince Rach now!


Finding a trendy bar with cheap prices under the Harbour Bridge, we sat down for dinner on the open air balcony then headed back to the hostel to grab our bags ready for our 10pm bus to Coffs Harbour.

Seats taken on the overnight ‘sleeper’ bus, the mission now; to get some sleep!

Monday 14th - Arriving into a cold and wet Coffs Harbour at 5.15am, with no pickup until 10am, we had no choice but to walk to the hostel with our heavy bags. Not realising quite how far the hostel was from the bus terminal, after an hour of trundling in the rain, we took shelter in a bus stop and having had next to no sleep on the bus, drifted off to the sound of the rain. An hour later, we woke up and continued our way until we came across a local who directed us to a nice cafe for breakfast (and a dry off) until the hostel opened at 10am.


Bellies full and with the hostel just across the road, we checked into Hoey Moey Backpackers and a huge en suite room. After a couple of hours catch up sleep, we headed out in the drizzling rain to explore Coffs Harbour beach, only 2 minutes from our door.


Walking up to the Marina, we spotted a pod of dolphins weaving their way through the surfers in the waves.


Watching for a while, when the rain started again we took refuge in the fish & chip shop nearby.


Taking a stroll over to Muttonbird Island, knowing it was the best spot to see whales and dolphins, we luckily spotted a whale in the distance! Sadly it was too far away to capture much on camera but nevertheless, it made our day. Unlike the weather which again turning sour sent us home for a night in infront of the tv.

Tuesday 15th – Up early and checked out by 10am leaving our bags with reception, with a 5pm bus to Byron Bay, we had one day left to cram in as much as Coffs Harbour as possible! First up, we walked an hour out of town up to the Big Banana.


This massive model of a banana is the city’s icon and spurred on many more bizarre ‘large fruit’ reproductions. After a few snaps we wandered back into town – this time downhill thankfully – and wandered around the massive shopping plaza on the outskirts of town. Stocking up with essentials, we headed down to the Jetty and were lucky enough to spot a couple of turtles and dolphins swimming around the huge boats. With stomachs growling, we went in search of some cheap food and cruised the high street, deciding upon a small bar/restaurant with art and surf memorabilia donning the interior walls. Spotting the cheap specials, we tucked into a Japanese teriyaki dish and a chicken curry to warm us up. Back up to the harbour after lunch, we spotted a pod of 10 dolphins and followed them along the jetty and back up to Muttonbird Island where they swam alongside us.


At the Northern Lookout, we watched as they jumped and played in the sea before spotting a giant humpback whale in the distance. Bashing his tail up and down it was a sight to behold.

With the temperature warming up we decided it was time for an ice cream as we headed back to Hoey Moey Backpackers to grab our stuff, luckily we were offered a lift to the bus stop instead of the 2 hour hike like yesterday! 5pm and we were settled into our 4.5hour bus ride to Byron Bay on the infamous Greyhound. After the film on the bus finished, we both had a quick nap and arrived into Byron Bay’s outskirts at 9.30pm.

After a little scout around a few backpackers, we checked into the Backpackers Inn – at $64 a night it was the cheapest we could find! We took a little wander around the town before heading back to the hostel.

Wednesday 16th – With the sun shining we decided to get up and explore the town but after 15 minutes we were so warm we decided to head back, change into our swimmers and hit the beach! We spent the next few hours sunbathing and watching the dolphins swim alongside the surfers. Starting to feel a little chilly with the breeze on us, we took a stroll to the far end of the beach where most of the surfers were catching the break.


Here, there was also a great lookout point with panoramic views across the bay.
Loving the feel of Byron we could see why people raved about it so much and we were glad we weren’t disappointed, despite the Hippie feel.


With the sun setting, we headed back along the beach, watched a few fire spinners and with a $5 BBQ at the hostel, we headed home for the food but more importantly the all you can drink Sangria for an extra $5!

Meeting a few of the other backpackers, we sat in the courtyard area, slurping back Sangria until it was time for the fire show, run by a local family. With all members getting involved including the 5 year old son, we were amazed by their skills. After the fire display, Si and a couple of the lads slopped off to watch the World Cup football in the TV room while Rach stayed around the fire to chat.

Thursday 17th – Deciding we really liked Byron Bay, we checked in for another night and then headed up to the local farmers market for a scout round and a little breakfast; bacon rolls! We then tackled the strenuous trek to Byron Cape Lighthouse.


The 2 hour trek was worth the sweat when we were rewarded with amazing views over the sea and even managed to see lots of migrating whales swimming across the Cape Point.


We were even lucky enough to spot one breaching clean out of the water, but sadly we were too far to get a close picture; this will have to do!


Back down at the beach, with the sun again beating down on us, we were contemplating a swim in the sea and on our way back to change we came across a kayaking company offering cheap trips to paddle alongside the dolphins. With the trip leaving in an hour, we hurried home, got changed and got picked up by the truck taking us to the awaiting kayaks and group. Kitted up with wetsuits and paddles, we were given some instructions on sea etiquette in regards to dolphins and turtles we might see. After making it out through the breaking waves without capsizing (unlike some in the group!), we spent the next 3 hours cruising around the Bay, stopping near a route the turtles swam through underwater. We sat motionless waiting until a little head popped up. We were then greeted by a pod of dolphins who swam alongside our kayaks and played in the waters just metres away from us for the next half an hour.

After riding the waves back into shore, we warmed up with a hot chocolate and the local Aussie special – Tim Tam biscuits. Shown how to do the infamous ‘Tim Tam Slam’ (which we then replicated ourselves for weeks to come!) we finished up the snacks then headed back to the truck to be dropped back at the hostel.

For dinner, we grabbed a couple of takeaway pizzas and sat on the beach to watch the sunset and stars.


After some emails back at the hostel (and more Tim Tam Slams of our own!), we headed to bed around midnight.

Friday 18th – Up early, we packed up our things and just about managed to zip close our bags, but carrying them is another matter! Leaving the luggage with reception, we headed out to find breakfast but only coming across Subway in our price range, grabbed a footlong and had a last wander around town. We headed back to the hostel and caught a lift to the bus stop for our 11am departure to Brisbane.

After a fairly quick 3 hour journey, we arrived to Brisbane transport centre and headed to the train station to wait for Rach’s friend Gary who had generously offered us a room in his new house for our last 2 nights in OZ. With Gary arriving, we drove an hour out of Brisbane to his house in Springfield Lakes; a new development where houses were still being developed and where Gary and Merle had only been living for 3 months. Shown around their lovely house, we settled in to our room, then all headed out to dinner at a local Indian restaurant and sat outside under the patio heaters. All deciding to get an early night, we set our alarms for 4.25am in readiness for the England vs Algeria game in the World Cup. Almond croissants warmed and eaten for a (very!) early breakfast, we then headed back to bed for a few hours kip once the depressing game was over and the 0-0 score was final.

Saturday 19th – After a little lie in, we all headed to the local shopping centre via a pick-me-up hot chocolate/coffee. Shopping for lunch, we then headed home and made up a ploughmans before heading to the local tennis courts for a few friendly games in the warm sunshine. With a relaxing evening in, we grabbed a take away Dominoes then sat and watched England beat the Aussies in the rugby before heading to bed, ready for our early start tomorrow!

Sunday 20th – With the alarm off at 6.30am, we got ready and packed up, then Gary and Merle kindly drove us the hour journey to the airport for our onward flight to Auckland. With a bit of time to spare, we sat and ate Merle’s delicious homemade blueberry muffins before saying our thanks and goodbyes, ready to check in our bags which hovered just above the 20 kg limit.

On the Quantas plane at 9.40am, we sat and watched some inflight movies, before arriving into New Zealand at 3pm ready for our next campervanning adventure!!

Posted by siandrach 10:00 Archived in Australia Tagged round_the_world

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Awesome - from what you've described I'd love to go to Australia. Amazing paddling with the dolphins - what about the sharks? and what the hell is a Tim Tam Slam?

by Dan M


by Daniel M

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