Following a three day stopover in Hong Kong. The rest of the Bunac group and I arrived in Sydney around 12 noon and were met by a Work n Holiday representative who ushered us on to the bus to the YHA Sydney Central hostel. We were all a little tired but mostly excited to finally be in Australia. After we checked in we found our rooms, which were excellent, and got ourselves settled.

We decided to go for a walk around and found Darling Harbour where we went and had our first drink together in Australia and basked in the heat. Happy enough to relax for a few days we had soon slipped into holiday mode. That evening we visited Scubar, partially because it was beside the hostel and we’re really lazy but also because it was meant to be good on a Monday night. They didn’t lie, we all had a great night although we were there quite early. We managed to get a seat and a few drinks before the bar became chaotic and packed. We also experienced ‘crab racing’ for the first time, where a bowl of crabs are released on a stage and you can pay for a crab, if it wins you get a prize. A little unorthodox compared to a night out in Belfast but this is Australia after all, they always were a little crazy.

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The next day we had to be in the lobby for 9am for our Work n Holiday induction. We were lead down the road to George street where we spent most of the day having presentations. Not the ideal start to holiday mode but it was informative and necessary. A man spoke about camper vans and how easy they are for travelling around the country and answered any questions we might have. We then had a presentation about sun safety and Surf Camp, in the end 15 of us signed up for Surf Camp for the following Monday where we would learn to surf for five days, stay on camp and receive all our meals. It also meant we would have accommodation and time to think about our next steps when we arrived back in Sydney after surfing at the rural seven mile beach which was two hours away. Patrick from Work n Holiday then went through our options for employment. A long day but an informative one, handed our SIM cards and given appointments for the bank we were pretty much set free in Sydney.

We once again went out that night and experienced what Sydney had to offer. The people are all really friendly but you would be hard pressed to find an Australian amongst them. Like any major city, Sydney is occupied by people travelling and foreigners who have settled in the city centre.

Wednesday was my bank appointment so I set off in search of the branch setting up my account. When I got there I quickly realised that my account hadn’t been set up for me and I would have to wait for my card. Not ideal considering I would be at surf camp the following week when my card would arrive. Even worse was I soon discovered that I couldn’t transfer money from my home account as they had given me the wrong information. Moral of the story is; banks are liars, so do your research.

That afternoon a few of us walked towards the harbour to do some sight seeing. We seen the notorious Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House which is a must if you have arrived in sunny Australia and want to rub it in the faces of your nearest and dearest when it’s snowing back home.

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After some drinks by the harbour we strolled back through Hyde Park and seen the Botanical Gardens where we lay in the sun for a while and came to terms with the fact that we were actually here.

The next day we visited Manly beach, catching the Ferry at Circular Quay you can see great views of the harbour and the Opera House on the way. Manly beach was beautiful and a lot quieter than the tourist hub of Bondi. With plenty of waves it would perfect for surfers. There are also plenty of shops and cafes to keep everyone happy. That night we went to the club Ivy, which was hyped up as a huge night to go out. With a roof top bar and pool and different floors of music the club was packed. As someone who prefers live music and room to breathe it wasn’t really my scene, a great night for hardcore partiers though.

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After a solid week of early mornings and late nights I spent Friday in bed and got some well earned rest. The rest of the group set off for Bondi and soaked up the rays. Bed was probably the best place for me, Irish skin and all.

I finally made a visit to Bondi on the Saturday in a blistering 29 degree heat. Wearing a shirt and hiding under a towel, factor 50 sun cream applied and I was ready to fry. A very busy beach you need to be prepared to climb over countless bodies in order to reach the water. Please note ladies should wear a well fitting bikini to avoid flashing the whole beach when you are hit by an extra large wave. I’m speaking from experience. If you want to enjoy the scenery take the coastal walk to Coogee. With some breathtaking views and a more remote experience it is definitely worth the lengthy walk.

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Sunday was our last day in Sydney before Surf Camp and before we separated from those who didn’t fancy surfing. A few of us visited the top of Sydney Tower which is a must if you want perfect views of the city.

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Our last evening together was spent at the rooftop pool in the YHA hostel. With a BBQ, a few beers/goon, and a great view you couldn’t have asked for much better. We all reflected that it was strange we had all only spent ten days together, it felt a lot longer.

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All in all I think we made the most of our first week in Australia and we have all been lucky enough to have found some great friends. One pitfall of Sydney is the price so if your planning a long stay be prepared to make a dent in your savings especially if you enjoy a good night out. But overall I’ve throughly enjoyed my time here. Apparently the grass is actually greener on the other side. Now, on to surf camp..

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