We haven’t written an update for over 2 months. I’m not sure if this is because we’ve been really busy or because we feel more at home and less like tourists that are reporting on travel events. Since leaving the outback we have been all over the place. Adelaide, Sydney, Up-state NSW and back to Sydney. To try and recap the whole 2 months is going to be a mission, so I’ll try to be brief whilst not missing out any of the dramas.
Adelaide saw us finally getting back into civilisation and watching Liverpool FC play. We booked these tickets in January at 2am whilst still in the UK. We didn’t know how the date would play into our travel plans or where we would be in relation to Adelaide when the date finally swung round, but with Adam and Will being big supporters, it was an event that we couldn’t pass up. It turns out that we were all able to make our way to the city quite seamlessly. Adam and I had to leave the station after 80 days of farm work (8 days short of of the required 88) and Nat and Will flew down from boiling hot Darwin. We rented a house on Airbnb so we had our own space to be up late, sleep late and be in PJ’s until 3pm before realising we’d spent all day talking about our travels so far and what sights we had all seen. The weather was also a shock for us, the house we were in was actually colder than it was outside so everyday we were over dressed by 3 layers and managed to be wearing a hat, gloves, scarf and big coats (though people were jealous when the sun went down and we were the only ones prepared).
Marching across the bridge towards Adelaide Oval, following the hoards of YNWA die hard fans with flags, banners and singing songs at full blast, we were ready for a big event. Little did we know that our seats were neighbouring a block of Manchester United fans that had flown all the way to Australia just to taunt Liverpool players and fans. I may be naive in my thoughts on ‘dedicated’ soccer supporters, but I feel flying half way around the world, paying for tickets to a large scale stadium event, and fronting the costs of accommodation, food and transport, just to show your support for a team that is not even playing is a little overboard. Maybe the connotations I have of a Man United supporter are now outdated, they must have money to burn. Despite their severe lack of common sense, they did provide some entertainment by sparking retaliation in the surrounding Liverpool fans, with one guy taking it upon himself to lead everyone in song. As we were in the second row we hopped over the seats in front to be that little bit closer to the players as they walked round clapping the fans for travelling to see them. Nat and I got a big high five from Joe Allen as he went round, we were excited and immediately became 6 years old and decided never to wash our hands again because a famous person touched it. Apparently though, Joe Allen is not cool and Will was quick to tell us so – obviously just jealous that he didn’t get one too. We hung around longer to watch the post-game training session, which we could tell wasn’t something the players were interested in participating in. Positioning ourselves by the players tunnel we were in prime position for more high fives and maybe a signature (suddenly I was a die hard fan). Joe Allen was the first to go back to the changing rooms and surprise surprise who was first to offer his sharpie to him? Will! “Joe, Joe, …Joe!” With no-one receiving any high fives or signatures this time, he was obviously confirming Will’s initial sentiments. Having previously sharpened my elbows in preparation for this type of crowd, along with my best “please can you sign my scarf” voice and face, I managed to get Adam’s scarf in Škrtel’s hands – but I had no pen. Thankfully a neighbouring fan (who’s head was buried in my armpits) had a sharpie and he signed a few pieces before disappearing back into his scary frown.
To finish off our Adelaide trip with the nature enthusiasts we embarked on a trek around the Morialta Conservation Park in search of some wild koalas. We found a huge waterfall and a lot of birds (we were with the Bird Nerds after all)! Amazingly, we spotted a Koala not far from the path. He must have come down from his perch just as we were strolling by as when we came back on our return journey he was back high in the treetops! Koala’s sit in the strangest positions. They do sleep around 20 hours per day so I suppose they can be excused for not looking their best. Once we spotted one Koala we knew what to look for and they were popping out all over the place! In total we saw 12 little bears, all looking like grey rocks on a branch whilst they’re curled up in a ball.
After Adelaide we flew straight back to Sydney. We’d not seen a coastline for 3 months and we were in desperate need of a stroll along the seafront and an early morning coffee at a local cafe. Our first stop saw our latest money saving idea. I had arranged with woman that whilst she is away for the long weekend, we would house sit for her and mind her 3 cats. In return we get to stay for free in accommodation in the safe suburb of Burwood (Inner West Sydney).
We used this time (and very fast broadband) to apply for another farm work placement to complete our final 8 days and get our required work complete before we find any roots in Sydney. We committed to a young and very friendly family in Wellington, NSW. 4.5 hours from Sydney and as fate would have it, they were in the city within a week of our application and could pick us up! We had a week to relax and to gather ourselves for another 3 weeks on a station. Using our failsafe room in Manly, our great new contact, and friend Ed, let us stay at his place with no warning and we were able to relax by the beach once again.
Here we were able to make plans for our return to Sydney once we return from Wellington. We got back onto the house sitters website and adjusted our blurb to demonstrate our new skills and experience in house sitting. We found a great ad wanting sitters for the whole month of September – ideal, we thought. A month of free accommodation and 2 dogs to feed and walk. We arranged to meet with the lady’s husband and made our way to Lane Cove, an area we hadn’t been to yet so we were unfamiliar with the bus route. Accidentally we were on the bus 20 minutes more than needed so needed to back track. Eventually we got there and were welcomed by 2 vicious dogs, a tonne of carp fish, a parrot, and 3 cats. The gentleman was very nice, born in Oxford with 2 adopted girls from China. His wife was at work and children at school so it was his job to show us around and acquaint us with the dogs – though nearly an hour in and they were not yet allowed in the house after growling and snarling teeth at us. Nonetheless, he decides it would be best to take the dogs for a walk and show us the nearest park in which he takes them for a run around. To be fair to the dogs, no training had been done with them and all behaviours were rewarded with a treat. Walking along a park footpath with a total stranger and his dogs was an unexpected interview process. We walked for half an hour, dodging the dogs as they collectively carried a log between their jaws and took out anything in their way. The man was a clumsy but intelligent guy who you instantly empathise with as you can tell he’s got a wife who takes charge. He suggested we meet his wife, so we jumped in the car with him (another activity you don’t do with a stranger) and rode 10 minutes down the road to her office. En route, she called because he was 2 minutes late. Taking the call on loudspeaker, because he was driving, he let her know that he was bringing us with him. Very awkwardly we were sat in the car listening to her distaste at having to meet us, and her frustration that he thought that it would be a good idea – why he didn’t feign a lack of signal and end the call quickly we have no idea. So we continued to ride along and sit quietly in the tense atmosphere. She got in the car without saying a word and he pulled away to drive us to the bus station. Eventually, she turned back to say ‘Hello’ and grunted a few questions our way on what our plans are and where we were planning on staying….confusing when we were there to discuss the prospect of a housesit for her house. Somehow through the brash response and less than enthusiastic welcome they were happy for us to house sit – needless to say we decided against the idea and emailed to thank the guy for his hospitality but his wife was rude. He was not very happy.
On our way back to Manly from Lane Cove at rush hour we grounded to a halt as a young woman stepped out in front of our bus in floods of tears and crumpled to her knees in the middle of the road. Luckily, our driver saw her straight away and got out to help her and call the emergency services. No-one knew why she was upset, or what her intentions were when she stepped out, but at least the outcome wasn’t fatal.
We contacted another lady from the HouseSitters website who was going away to America for 3 weeks in September, she has 3 Jack Russell’s and 1 foster Staffy. She was based in Little Bay so we jumped on another bus and went on yet another expedition to a suburb we had yet to visit. This lady was very normal and much more our cup of tea! Sharon was friendly and welcoming and the dogs didn’t want to chop our hand off! We agreed we’d be a great match and arranged to arrive as soon as we finished our time at the Station.
Unsure of what the next Cattle Station experience would bring, we packed our 20kg bags and got ready to meet our new host family in Wellington, NSW.