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December 12, 2012

Vagabonding Field Reports: 6 Months in Sydney – Part 1

Sydney - Harbor Bridge

(Sydney – Harbor Bridge)

Cost/day: $75-250 (depending on lodging and meals)

Hello and g-day from down under! How are you going? That last bit, “how are you going” always trips me up – I never know whether to answer to “how are you doing” or “where are you going”. I’ve been living in Sydney since September, and here are a few of the things that I have learned…

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen lately?

Two things are extremely odd – the proliferation of utes (i.e. the product of car and truck cross-breeding)

Sydney - Ford Ute

(Ford Ute)

and Christmas decorations out on the beach.

Christmas Decorations on the Beach

(Christmas Decorations on the Beach)

I just can’t seem to get into the holiday spirit when it is 70-90 degrees outside.

Now – once I get into the outback, I’m sure I’ll have plenty of pictures of odd animals. Just remember – everything in Australia is trying to kill you ;)

Everything is Trying to Kill You

(Everything is Trying to Kill You)

Describe a typical day:

My days vary, from spending all day in an office, heads-down — to spending the day on the beach — to mountain-biking at West Head. The days I enjoy the most, though, have been the ones where I’ve been able to meet up with friends to simply share a meal and joke around. I can say that there is something here for everyone – from urbanites to outdoor adventurers.

What do you like about where you are? Dislike?

So far, I’ve spent time in Manly (about 17km north-north-east of Sydney CBD), Darlinghurst, Surry Hills and now back to Darlinghurst. Of them all, I would say that Manly felt the most “Australian”, because I was outside of the city and near the beach; Surry Hills felt the most up-scale and was incredibly convenient; but Darlinghurst is easily the most convenient. From here, I can jump on my bike and make it just about anywhere in 15-30 minutes – from Sydney CBD, to Darling Harbor, Surry Hills and Bondi Beach. I’ve also been able to add a bit of regularity to my life by signing up with local Jiu Jitsu classes and using the Fishburners co-working space.

Describe a challenge you faced:

The biggest real-world challenge is keeping in touch with my friends and colleagues in North America. We live in an incredibly connected world — however, time and distance still create a chasm. Of course, it is nothing like it was 10 years ago, but staying on contact just requires attention to overcome.

Aside from that – it took me about 2 weeks before I could drive (on the wrong side of the road) without constant attention. It isn’t hard on motorways, but a couple of times a simple right-hand turn became “interesting” when entered the right-hand lane. At least everyone seems to be forgiving!

Speaking of driving — do you know how hard it is to obey the speed limits, especially really, really, low ones with constant speed-cameras? Don’t let the metric system fool you – 60 km/h is only 37.28 mph. Now, this isn’t hard when you’re driving a Yaris — but jump into something with a little horsepower, like a Holden, and you feel like you’re tapping the accelerator pedal with a feather to avoid getting a ticket.



Another challenge really hasn’t been faced yet, but I can feel it coming up — Christmas. I’m excited to spend it on the beach, but do miss my core friends and family. We’ll see how it turns out.

What new lesson did you learn?

The most interesting thing about living in APAC so far has been getting to know the various cultures. Some places are very western-accommodating (Australia and Singapore), while others feel more… exotic? Foreign? Either way, that makes them incredibly interesting. This one could fill a post all on its own – so I’ll write more about it later.

The best real-world tip I can give you for Sydney: if you play to stay here for a while, sign up for GoGet ( – a car-share service. Bikes or public transit are fine for within the city, but there is soooo much to do and see in the surrounding area. With the high cost of rental cars, petrol (gas) and incredibly high parking (up to $90 AUD per day), it will save you a ton.

One more tip – has been great for finding places to stay. I’ve used it to try out different suburbs and neighborhoods, staying about 3-6 weeks in each.

Where next?

Since I came out in APAC for work, my travel has been limited. Thankfully my life balance is being restored. This weekend I’m headed down to Tasmania with a friend. (Note: MUST find a Tasmanian Devil.) and I have future trips planned to Queenstown, New Zealand (described as a must-go for adventurers and thrill-seekers), Perth and Darwin.

Until then, while you are bundled up on Christmas – know that I will be on the beach somewhere, in board-shorts, celebrating it with a beer. Happy Holidays!

Chris Plough writes and podcasts at, where he shares stories and advice from his adventures and from the incredible people that he’s met along the way. You can also follow him on twitter: @chrisplough.


Posted by | Comments (4) 
Category: General, Images from the road, Oceania, Vagabonding Field Reports

4 Responses to “Vagabonding Field Reports: 6 Months in Sydney – Part 1”

  1. Rod Says:

    Loved the article Chris. Wishing you Happy Holidays. Take care old friend.

  2. kelly Says:

    sounds like you are having a great time! Merry Christmas!

  3. Ray Says:

    Not sure if I missed it, but what did you recommend for finding a place to stay?

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