Skin Deep in Sydney

So Sydney. Where do the poor people stay? One week spent there and bar two tramps, not a single down-and-out, scraping-by, breadline skirter in sight. Everyone’s a millionaire and everyone’s beautiful. It gets a bit tedious after a while. The metropolis sits on a series of bays and beaches so achingly stunning it’s enough to make you jump off their bridge. Which is achingly stunning as well.

Sydney looks like the perfect city. She’s perfectly imbued with her natural setting, all leafy enclaves and rooftop bars with perfect views of the harbour. The parks are seemingly maintained by Japanese bonsai experts, such are their perfection. The boat ride to Manly Bay was a perfect cruise past island-like tributes to the OC (and this is people’s daily commute!). The walk to Coogee Bay from Bondi allowed perfect panoramas of perfect surf and ex-Home and Away stars popping up from their pristine boards like Hawaiian gymnasts. All swimmingly perfect. But then what?

I wanted to scrape the surface and locate some seedy underbelly, but all I could locate was an abundance of people from Essex on Bondi. The buses were a bit confusing I guess, but I’d get confused by the Edinburgh tram system and that’s just one line. It, seemingly, is a city without issues. At least on the surface. Because Australia has issues, I’ve seen these first hand back in Alice, issues of race and poverty that were pretty shocking and very obvious. But not in Sydney. Somehow, this city on the coast sits pretty while the core of the country festers with it’s own demons, aeons away from the bright lights. The big smoke screen if you will. Don’t get me wrong, I had a fantastic time in Sydney, the people were great, the food and drink went down just lovely and the views were endlessly splendid, but it all felt a bit like a guilty pleasure. Like ordering in Domino’s when you’ve cocked up the cooking and wasted a ton of food.

Oh, and we saw a snake!

A long, twisting, hissing green one that crossed our path belligerently on a walk near Manly Bay. It reared its head and did that swaying number Steve Irwin revelled in. I hastily looked up the species on google. Was it a King Brown? A python of some sort? No. It was the Common Tree Snake, the only non-venomous snake in the Sydney area. Like someone clutching straws at Top Trumps I did manage to discover our serpent was the longest of the Sydney snake family, coming in at a whopping 90cm. Even snakes can be deceiving then. Think there’s a metaphor there somewhere.

A final lesson I took from our New South Wales adventure was to not fall asleep on someone’s expensive white sofa while holding a glass of red wine. I stirred at 5am and shifted slightly, only to hear the distant yet distinct chime of glass on carpet, a warm wetness under my hand in the dark. “Please be water,” I prayed internally. Lights on, the horrid truth was revealed, ruby smeared across the cushions like a child’s butterfly painting. A mixture of good carpet cleaner and elbow grease meant that by the time our host was awake my apology was not met with the expected raw anger but a muted acknowledgement. My efforts were not in vain! Bang and the stain was gone. We were off to New Zealand.


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