Sunday, 28 December 2008


As tourists, Jenny and I can afford to rent a swish apartment at Milson's Point, right next to the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge. We can step outside and drink in the astonishing views across the river estuary, known as Port Jackson.

We're well aware that many Sydneysiders (including Baino and Gaye*) aren't so privileged and couldn't possibly run to a home anywhere on the waterfront with its eye-watering property prices. Instead of stunning river views, they have to settle for the suburbs and only come into central Sydney now and again.

At Milson's Point, even the tiny local theatre charges A$56 for a ticket (that's around 26 pounds). And the food shops aren't cheap either. You need a serious income to get by in this affluent enclave.

To the rest of the world, the bridge and the opera house symbolise Sydney and suggest the locals spend their time sailing their yachts along the river and swigging perfect wines from one of the nearby vineyards. Plus of course popping into the opera house for the odd bit of Mozart or Puccini.

The reality is very different. The locals are actually more likely to be crammed into commuter trains in sultry temperatures, wondering how to pay the mortgage or get little Brett into a decent school.

We're very conscious of our pampered tourist existence as we follow scenic paths around the leafy headlands, exclaim over amazing paintings in the art galleries, and then enjoy a leisurely Thai meal just below one of the most famous landmarks in the world.

Not only that, but we spent Christmas Day in our shirtsleeves as our home city of Belfast shivered in the usual wintry temperatures. Cushy or what?

No words can do justice to the overwhelming beauty of Sydney and its remarkable lagoon-like setting. I'm just glad I've been able to enjoy it twice over - and if my ageing body holds up, hopefully a third time.

* Finally met up with Baino and Gaye. Quite odd really, suddenly meeting the real-life creators of all those thousands of words. A bit like a real person stepping out of a dream - or stepping out of the pages of a book. Surely I'm hallucinating?


  1. Ha! Actually I spend quite a lot of time in the city being a tourist in my own town but you're not wrong about the prices. Glad you're having a ball, just wait until the NYE fireworks, they'll blow you away! You met with Gaye? Now I'm jealous, she lives around the corner and we haven't got our act together yet! Enjoy the rest of your week! It was lovely to meet you both . . next time you come to mine!

  2. Sounds like yer having a ball - Have a great New Year!

  3. Wow, what a great place to spend NYE. Enjoy!

  4. Sounds fab Nick, don't feel guilt but enjoy!

  5. Oh ya, come back soon! You could come and enjoy the wonderful winter instead of the overcast, boring, rainy summers in northern Europe! I would bet you'd like the winter here with sunny skies better than summer home. Convinced yet?
    Great to meet both of ya.
    Sorry I haven't replied to the text message yet, I ran out of credit and haven't recharged yet.
    I really really really really enjoyed the 6 hours we spent together, it went so quick with all the chatting and walking around.

  6. It all sounds delightful.

  7. Thanks for all your comments. Just to make you even more jealous, Jenny and I are already out on the waterfront just by the bridge ready for tonight's fireworks (you have to get here really early)! And I've even been interviewed by one of the TV channels!

    However, tomorrow all good things come to an end and we return to freezing, wintry Belfast. Back to everyday reality....

  8. Eeek, we're back in Belfast and it's absolutely freezing! But at least I didn't get food poisoning again on the way back....

  9. Welcome home.
    Click my post title to read...

  10. Oh reality must suck big time, Nick.
    But I'm so glad you enjoyed yourselves and the pleasures Oz had to offer including our good friend Gaye!!
    Did you take a 'Tube of your TV interview? You should maybe share it?
    And happies for the NY

  11. Ooo you were interviewed? What channel? Do you get a recording for yourself? Share share!
    Nick it was so nice to meet you and Jenny. I am glad the trip back was safe and uneventful (no food poisoning is good news!)
    I am sorry you are back to freezing weather, you guys should come back soon. :)
    Wishing you both a wonderful 2009 and of course more globe trotting in the new year.

  12. Jealous!

    Savour the ability to close your eyes and be back there with vivid recall! I cannot bloody wait to go on holidays... this is our year, I can feel it in my bones.

  13. I wasn't alert enough to ask which channel it was - I think either 7 or 9. No, I don't have a recording because it was just one of those off-the-cuff vox pop "So where do you come from?" type interviews.

    Hope you manage a really fabulous holiday this year, Kate. You deserve it.