Apartment Hunting in Sydney

December 18, 2006

Apartment “Hunting” with hunting being the operative word! Finding a flat in Sydney is like stalking a lion in the wild – you have to be stealthy and cunning and oh so very patient.

Back in South Africa, you would more than likely phone up an estate agent, reel off your requirements and they would leap up from their paperwork to escort you through the suburbs until you find the place of your dreams. It’s all so very easy.

In Sydney, it’s way more cut-throat. What you need to do is register with an online real estate database (I reckon domain.com.au is the best), do a search on the areas you are interested and isolate the apartments that “look” nice” (I put look in inverted comma’s because as I found out later, the pics can be VERY deceiving – based on the photo’s, I was ready to put my deposit down immediately, until I saw the real thing – ugh!!!).

Anyway, once you have a list of apartments for rent, you then join the throngs of other flat hunters on the Saturday Runround. Each apartment is open for view for 15 minutes – I am not joking – 15 minutes!!!! So I would end up with a list of let’s say 6 apartments in different suburbs and would have to draw up a precise spreadsheet listing my route. And then rush from one flat to the other. It felt as if I was on a solo Amazing Race.

Then once you arrive at the apartment on view, you’ll be joined by at least 20 other people all looking eachother up and down, trying to measure up their enthusiasm. And then it’s a race to grab an application form, rush to the estate agency and put down a deposit – pshew, exhausting!

Well, thank goodness, out of the 20 flats that I saw (ranging from disgusting, horrific to slightly less disasterly), I managed to find an apartment in Rose Bay in the Eastern Suburbs, which suited my needs. It’s a one bedroom place with a lovely kitchen and balcony (for all those barby/braai days). It may be a little small for me but it’s only a 6 month lease so I can move on if I want.

The big move is on Friday, so wish me luck!!!!


The Sunshine Coast – The Croc Hunter Zoo

December 6, 2006

The Eumandi Markets
Today, we hit the markets. We took a drive to Eumandi which has a famous craft market every Wednesday and Saturday mornings. There were a variety of stalls selling an assortment of stuff. I bought two necklaces and a couple of t-shirts. There were also some nice looking food stalls but we had brekkie earlier so we weren’t tempted.

The Australia Zoo
We then drove to Australian Zoo – which is the late Steven Irwin (aka Crocodile Hunter)’s zoo. The entry fee was pretty steep ($46) but I guess that what you pay for one of the top tourist destinations in Queensland. The entire zoo is focussed around Steve, including a long tribute passage (lined with enscribed khaki shirts, flowers, poems and stuffed toys) to the crazy animal lover.

The Crocoseum
We wandered towards the Crocosseum, which can seat 5000 people, and watched the main shows. First there was the snake show, followed by the bird show (with some gorgeous rainbowed Macaws) and finally the croc show – where they fed the crocodile a couple of rats.

Cuddling a Koala
We then took the safari shuttle to the koala enclosure, where we got to pay cute sleepy creatures. Then it was the kangaroo’s turn to be cuddled and finally we went to say hi to the tigers. We also got to feed the elephants and wave to the emu’s.

Lisa with a kangarooOn our way back, we stopped off at Aussie World, which is a bit of a tired funfair. We decided not to brave the rides. We rather had something to eat at the nearby Ettomogah pub.

On the top of Mount Coolum
I needed a bit of exercise so we decided to climb Mount Coolum. It started off pretty steady and then started to get steaper and soon I was mountain climbing with my hands and feet. Getting to the top was worth it for the view. We meandered around on the summit before ambling. Our legs were like jelly when we got back to the ground.

So all in all, a great day of Sunshine Coast touristy spots. We’re planning a relaxing day at the beach tomorrow. Oh, it’s great to be on holiday!

The Sunshine Coast Beaches – Day Two

December 6, 2006

The Mooloolaba BeachThis morning, we set out pretty early to explore some of the beaches. We went to visit the lighthouse at Point Cartwright in Mooloolaba. The beach here is really magnificent – white and long with calm, azure blue seas.

The delicious SizzlerWe then took a drive along the coast and stopped off a Marichydore (interesting names – they have Aboriginal orgins). Here, we went for lunch at Sizzler. This was a delicious trip down memory lane as Uncle Jules took my family there when we first visited Sydney in 1994. It made a great impression. The restaurant is centred around an extensive buffet, which costs $11 for a never-ending plate. There are soups, salads, pasta and the yummiest potato skins. I ate my fill and then finished it off with a self-made ice-cream sundae complete with smarties, marshies and oreo cookie crumbles – yum!!!!

We then walked off our lunch at the Sunshine Beach Plaza – which is a pretty big mall with all the main Ozzie chain stores.

Our last stop for the day was a game of cave putt-putt – it was a very tricky course but we had good fun. I guess I shouldn’t really admit this, but Jeff beat me…not by much though.

Sunshine Coast : My Arrival

December 6, 2006

While I’ve theoretically been on holiday in Sydney since mid-October, I’ve been very busy with organising a job/flat/social life etc etc. I also started feeling guilty that it’s not everyday that I’ll have a month work-free and should really take advantage of the the chunk of time and do some travelling.

So I booked a flight to the Sunshine Coast for a couple of days, where I would be spending some time with my Contiki mate Jeff and just chilling out in the sun.

Tam dropped me at the airport at 7:30am and within minutes I had my boarding pass. I had booked my flight through Quantas’s budget airline – Jetstar and let me tell you, I’m pretty impressed. They were extremely efficent with the booking in procedure – they had different queues for different destinations. I spied some poor woman in front of me who was unpacking her bag on the floor to lighten her load and reduce her excess baggage fee. Thank goodness at 17kg, I didn’t get any hassles.

After a sushi brekkie (this place is sushi-lover’s heaven – it’s everywhere)and some Watermelon juice from Boost (I was pretty peeved as it cost $6 and it tasted somewhat off…but my flight was about to board so I had to abandon it), I boarded the plane.

The plane left at 9:20 and landed in Sunshine Coast at 9:50am. What!! Was it only a 30 minute flight? Well, apparently Queensland decided to be a little different from the other states and opted out of daylight saving so only in summer, there’s an hour difference between Sydney and Queensland. So the flight was in actual fact 1 hour and 30 mins (just in case you didn’t work that out already 🙂

When we landed, I looked to the right and there was greenery, I looked to the left and the sea was literally metres away. I immediately felt like I was on holiday.

The Sunshine Coast airport reminded me a bit like East London or PE airports – it was tiny and you walk straight into the arrivals hall which is open to the public and you collect your luggage from here. It was a bit overcast – so much for my impressions of the SUNSHINE coast.

Jeff and Lisa on the Sunshine CoastJeff picked me up and we headed to Marcus Beach, where he lives. I dropped off my stuff and we drove to the famous Noosa. We did a walk around the beach and then for lunch at Harbour Room on the Noosa River. I spotted at least a dozen holiday homes that I would be quite happy to invest in – pity they’re over a million or so.

There is a lovely high street with some quaint shops that I wouldn’t mind exploring for a while. But we were both pretty tired so we went back to Marcus Beach and just relaxed for the rest of the day

The Aussie Ice Bar

December 2, 2006

Remember to click on the pics to see big versions of them

Since reading about the Ice Hotel in Sweden (yes the whole hotel, even the beds, are made of the cold stuff), I have always been fascinated about ice sculptures that you can live/drink/sleep in. Unfortunately, when I did have the opportunity to visit Norway it was summer and not very condusive to frozen sleeping spots.

So I did the next best thing – I went with a couple of mates (Kate, Sandra – her neighbour from Austria – and Darren, another Contiki mate who has just moved here from Perth) to the Minus 5 Bar in Circular Quay in Sydney.

We stepped into the venue and went upstairs to prepare for our “cool” experience. We paid $30 and in return got an arctic jacket with full-on fur hood, two pairs of gloves and thermal boots. They also have us a timer which would beep once we were in the ice-bar for 30 mins (the maximum amount of time you can be in here – they’re obviously scared of any hypothermia lawsuits waiting to happen).

Dressed for the Arctic
Dressed for minus 20 degrees, we waited in the corridor sweating away until we were called into the orientation chamber, where we watched a short safety video (if you break a sculpture, you buy it – just like any other shop).

Then we entered the Minus 5 Bar. It was pretty cold and white. There were scupltures throughout the room – the Sydney opera house, a naked man and koalas. The bar was all ice, the bar stools were all ice, the chandeliers were all ice. Apparently they fly a master-scuplturer from New Zealand every 6 weeks to carve out new sculptures.

We collected our included vodka cocktail in a (you guessed it) ice glass. Note: make sure you hold your “glass” in 2 hands or it could slip.
We then lounged on the reindeer (well, at least I reckon it was reindeer) hide covering the bar stools and sipped on our yummy cocktails. It was quite bizarre looking out the window at the sunny weather outside, where pretty people in tiny vests sipped at their drinks, while we were dressed for Alaska.

The temperature
Sandra was pretty hard core and took off her gloves (she’s from Austria, she’s used to frost-bite). I, on the other hand, stopped feeling my fingers after 30 minutes. So we obeyed our beeping times and left the freezer.

We threw off our winter attire, got circulation back into our limbs and went out into the warmth. What a ‘cool’ place!