taking steps is easy, standing still is hard

Sydney in the spring is gorgeous; the weather is like a perfect British summer almost every day, bright but breezy and not too hot. We had two days of heavy rain (including my building job), as if to remind us of home, before the sun set in again.

Caroline, Milena and I have successfully moved from Chili Blue, which is a bit of a hole, to the Victoria Lodge, which is… not! The showers have doors which lock, the place is reasonably clean and much less decrepit, and we have our own fridge so can cook properly at the shared kitchen, although it only has an electric hob and the mad landlord, Rehutai, is extremely hot on any mess. The local supermarket, Cole’s, has good food for low prices (plastic bread is a dollar a loaf, beef mince is $5/kg, a hundred good Ceylon teabags can be had for slightly under that), and Rehutai (or Billy, as people also call him) at one point gave us a bunch of food. We’ve already settled into a bit of a daily routine, cooking dinner together and spending our evenings drinking tea and eating Tim Tams (Australian Penguin bars) in front of Orange Is The New Black. We spent the weekend relaxing and wandering around, and I saw a couple of interesting museums in the Rocks district, under the shadow of the harbour bridge, but most of the time we’ve been in the King’s Cross library or out at interviews, trying to get jobs.

Which is no more fun than back home. All the remotely civilised paperwork/office jobs, even the temp stuff, seem to hate travellers and won’t take working holiday visas, and pretty much everything else advertised is awful sales/fundraising stuff. I had an interview with one such fundraiser where the bloke interviewing me took me down to a busy pavement and told me I had ten minutes to get personal information out of as many random strangers as possible (I didn’t get the job), and an interview for a cleaning job which turned out to be some sort of dodgy agency trying to get me to pay them eighteen hundred dollars for a “housekeeping internship”. I was so surprised I didn’t even bother to be rude. Caroline managed a single day of a door-to-door job (which sounds a lot like the scam job I interviewed for in Bristol more than a year ago) before quitting. Milena’s just got a street fundraising gig, and I wish her luck with it.

However, after spending most of the last two weeks fruitlessly hunting, I’ve scored employment with an outback roadhouse in Queensland! The hours are far from unpleasant (seven and a half hour shifts, six days on, three days off), the money isn’t bad at all (averages $470 a week after accommodation but before food) and I won’t have anything to spend it on anyway. The place is in a township called “Alpha” and is called “The Alpha Gateway”, which sounds wonderfully science fiction. I looked at buses and trains out – there’s a glorious looking train service called “Spirit of the Outback” – but they were both more expensive and more complicated than a jet to Emerald, the nearest town with an airstrip (more than a hundred miles east along the Capricorn Highway, so-called because it runs very near to the line of the Tropic), from which my new employer G is happy to pick me up. I fly out on Tuesday week to the back of beyond. I’m very excited.

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