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Sydney city centre


A quiet flight got me into Sydney quite early in the morning. After queuing for the queue to the queue, I discovered that my British passport was so much scrap paper in Australian eyes without a visa on it. Since these arrangements are reciprocal, it's not surprising that Aussies need a visa to go to the outside dunny, let alone visit another country. After sharing a brief panic with the Keeper of the Gate, I produced my Kiwi passport and he let me in. Phew!

The Ocker who drove us into the city had obviously led an interesting life, once touring with Midnight Oil, and gave a running commentary of the city. I think he wanted to go back to the outback once he had saved up a little. I parked myself in a hotel right on Oxford street, which was pink long before London's Old Compton Street.

Hyde Park and Centrepoint


Hyde park was smaller, the roads wider and the buildings taller than I remember. It is quite different from a European city with its eight storey buildings and narrow mediaeval streets. The view of the harbour bridge and the opera house is lovely from the waterfront, and the Centrepoint tower offers a good view of the harbour.

I rang up John my ex, who had become a celibate vegetarian after my departure :-) and we had a lovely stroll around the park. He is into visual sculptures, so there was a bit for him to see in the Domain. It got a bit cool in the evening. With the wide variety of cosmopolitan cuisine available in central Sydney, we plumped for one of my favourite simple dishes - Humus with Pitta bread. His first question when I rang him was if I had any luggage, but I had been less presumptuous this trip and had already booked my hotel. I was grateful for the offer though.

On a previous trip to Melbourne years ago, I paid a visit to my old flatmate Max. Without batting an eyelid at my return after a few years abscence he asked if I wanted to stay in my room. I did, and it was exactly as I left it, like it had been kept as a shrine to me! Spooky :-) I seem to have less of an memorable impact on my London friends - perhaps I'm becoming too staid. :-(

Essex man


The hairstyles of the guys were definitely different in Sydney than in London - lots of spikey medium length hair, rather than the French crops and number 4 shaves that I was used to. There were also far fewer kids or teenagers in the city than you'd find in London in the summer - I guess they were probably all at the beach or out in suburban shopping malls.

I had forgotten how many Asians there are in Sydney (Note to British readers - Asian here means south-east asia and east asia rather than the Indian sub-continent); the ones I met had Australian accents, unlike the gorgeous Thai guy I had gone out with when I lived here eleven years ago. I didn't have time to visit my old haunts though, or indeed anywhere outside the central city.

I met the stunning 18yo Ed moping in Hyde Park. His haircut looked strangely familiar... you guessed it, he comes from Colchester in Essex of all places. With his friends off surfing he was bored with Sydney, which I can't really understand. I thought the weather at least would make his year out a bit more pleasant than at home.

Wearing one of the suits I got in Thailand I seemed to pick up a bit of flak (and a compliment from a bag lady). I didn't expect this verbal, which was more than I had when living in Australia wearing "Young, Gay and Single" in BIG letters on my shirt! The cool breeze made it quite comfortable to wear, though others were in t-shirts and shorts.


There were a few interesting stalls where I bought some trinkets for Christmas presents. I liked the holographic sunglasses - they had various images on the front of them which appeared in 3d. I hope they meet the safety standards they claim to support.

I had a brief conversation with an Afghan stallkeeper, who was impressed that I recognised Lapis Lazuli, but then lost interest when I told him of my ignorance regarding true garnets and amethyst as opposed to fashion jewellry. I really should go on some courses or something! This ignorance cost me dearly in Fiji.

Oxford Street

How had it changed?

Some bars had changed around a little, but it felt very much the same at when I had lived here, as if the place had plateaued. From my brief visit I felt that it had not improved around Oxford Street anything like as much as London's West End, or Wellington had in the same period. Drinking outside is banned, so the cafe / bar culture which the climate and the verandahs are so suited to has not really developed. This is a shame.

Persuading John to take me around Kings Cross, it all seemed incredibly tame. Perhaps it was just the time of day, since I read in the papers a few weeks later of trouble happening there, and of course I didn't go inside.

The magazine vendor on Taylor Square was still there (as he has been for decades), and told me that the whole area would soon be transformed, with a tunnel going from the airport right under the city. Perhaps this would provide the change I had been hoping for.

It was great to see John again, and to remind myself what a fun city Sydney was and I guess still is. But perhaps I was hoping for something more. I might give the place another go in the future, but there are other places I need to live in first.

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