Apparently there’s a common phenomenon where a backpacker arrives to Australia, gets set up in Sydney with a job and a place to stay… and then spends their entire year there without leaving the city to explore anywhere else in the country. There are various reasons for and against staying the entire year in Sydney, but it was never my plan. When I arrived in Brisbane in January, I met Jake. So when I left for Sydney I’d left a part of me behind. At first, I wasn’t enamoured with the idea of living in Brisbane. Compared with Sydney or Melbourne it’s small, sleepy and lacking in things to do and see. But after flying up to revisit Jake in May, I resolved upon my return that I was prepared to move there. It would split up my year quite nicely – half the time spent in Sydney with the other half in Brisbane. However, part of setting myself up in New South Wales had included making some commitments that I was unable to just abandon. So my move would have to wait.
Fortunately, these commitments all wrapped themselves up pretty much simultaneously. The 10 week beginners German course I had started at the University of Sydney was coming to a close around about the same time Holly was due to return to England. I had agreed to a two month minimum stay at my flat which also expired the same time. My visa only permits me to work for one employer for 6 months, and this deadline was looming for me working at the Colombian, just like it was for two of my work colleagues/friends. Things were coming to an end quite conveniently. Things were inevitably changing with so many of my friends leaving, so I felt no “fomo” (fear of missing out) at the proposition of leaving where all the action was.
So once I’d returned from my trip up to Far North Queensland, I had around three weeks to tie up loose ends and enjoy my favourite things/places in Sydney one last time. Ironically, my hours at work then increased markedly, which meant I was stuck behind the bar a lot of the time. But this actually turned out for the best. It gave me plenty of opportunities to hang out with the friends and work colleagues who had made my time in Sydney so special. It also meant I saved up a lot more cash to act as a buffer for my time of inevitable unemployment in Brisbane while I searched for a new job.
In those three weeks I revisited some of the most scenic areas of Sydney – Watson’s Bay, Bondi Beach, the Observatory… I checked out the beautiful Art Gallery of New South Wales one more time, had a farewell meal with my flatmates and bon voyage drinks with Holly and her brother and sister (who had flown to Australia to travel the East Coast with her before she left). We wrapped up German and I attended many a drinking session with my work colleagues. It was an uneventful yet momentous time.
Any sadness I felt at leaving Sydney behind was masked by my growing excitement for the move. The two main draws of Brisbane were of course living with Jake, and how warm it was despite being winter. The day came where I was packing up my room for the flight to Queensland. I was pretty amazed that all my stuff could still fit (just!) into two bags, although I was pretty heartbroken to leave my Scrabble board behind. I bid a final goodbye to my flatmates and struggled to the airport on the Sydney metro for the last time. I could hardly believe that it was over. I scarcely had time to dwell on it though. An hour and half flight later, I was greeted by Jake and his mum Karen at the airport, and all I could think about was the next adventure to come.