The Sydney Return

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What's not to love about this city?

There are very few feelings that compare to the way you feel when you return to the place you consider home. Sure, the thrill of discovering a new adventure is pretty much the greatest feeling in the world – but I’d say coming home is a close second.

While I grew up in the New England of NSW and will forever consider that my true home, Sydney has quickly taken its place as the city my mind drifts too when I think about home. Maybe it’s the fact I had my first real job in Australia here; maybe it’s the presence of so many friends; or maybe it’s just the fact that I feel like I belong here. As much as I love my family and the place I grew up – I was never really ‘at home’ in a more rural setting.

Sleepy Ben Lomond is where I did most of my growing up. Population? Fifty

So, last Saturday I tagged along with my sister and her husband as they trekked from Glen Innes up to Newcastle for her baby shower. I’ll be an uncle before the week is out!

Beautiful Ben Lomond. It wasn't snowing when I left, but it was damn cold. Photo by Tony Bush.

Starting at the modest hour of 11am we made quick progress and stopped off in Guyra for a little pre road-trip sustenance. Guyra is a town that has really turned itself around since I first moved to the area in 1995. It’s gone from being just another dour country town along the New England Highway to being one with a slew of fantastic little cafes and boutiques.

Our stopping off point this time was the Guyra Hot Bread Shop. Unassuming as it might seem, this particular bakery boasts some of the best gourmet meat pies and sausage rolls I’ve ever had. Definitely worth ducking off the highway if you’re a little tired of drive through McDonalds and KFC. Guyra is renowned for its potatoes and lamb as well, so don’t hesitate to sample a bit of the local flavor.

Slightly off topic – but another good option in Guyra is Trio’s Pizza and Pasta. These pizzas are literally sagging under the weight of the toppings, and they’re not cheap substitutes either. You’ll find delicious chunks of lamb, whole olives, and plenty of cheese. You’re getting far more bang for your buck than you would at Eagle Boys or Dominos.

Our eating done it was time to hit the road, and that meant the two hour trip from Glen Innes to Australia’s country musical capital, Tamworth. I slept through this particular leg of the journey rather than subject myself to more discussion of nappies and breast feeding, and the sole point of interest in Tamworth was a stop off at a public restroom. Foursquare informed me it was my first check in at a Gay Bar. Even the reddest of necks has a sense of humor, it seems.

The next leg would see us in Muswellbrook, with a slight detour to Aberdeen so we could see an infamous murder house that my brother-in-law was inordinately excited about.

Muswellbrook saw us stopping off for an hour long visit with my brother-in-law’s parents, and some hot tea and cake was a welcome reprieve from the cramped back seat. Without a great deal to contribute to the discussion of babies and house hunting though, I contented myself with alternatively surfing the net on my phone and contemplating my navel.

Nobby's Beach in Newcastle

We breezed into Newcastle at 6pm and I was saddened at the news that City Rail would not be running trains between Newcastle and Sydney due to track work. A Sid Foggs coach offered a much more comfortable (and as luck would have it, faster) means of transportation. I dozed fitfully on the ride down and was lucky enough to be awake as we crossed the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Gazing out the window I took in the majesty of the Opera House lit up for what I assume was the Vivid Festival. I won’t lie. I got just a little bit misty eyed as I took in the city I love. 2011 has been a very tough year for me, but I felt like things were on the improve as I stepped off the bus at Central Station and my good mate Dave came across to meet me and help me with my luggage.

The Opera House at twilight

As evidence of just how sorely I needed some social activity, I opted to tag along to the very trendy Cafe Lounge on Goulborn Street despite being just a little weary from my eleven hour trek across the state. It was good to see some familiar faces (and plenty of new ones) over an ice cold beer and some remarkably good pizza.

Maybe Korea spoiled me, but I just don’t feel alive if I’m not socializing. While I loved being home with my family, I was beginning to go just a little stir crazy without things to do on the weekends and during the day. It just felt natural to be striking up conversation with new people.

I finished off my first night in Sydney with a damn fine wheat beer at the Macquarie Hotel before we called it a night.

A week on and my life has improved in leaps and bounds. I start a new job tomorrow; I’ve been busy almost every day socializing; I’ve found a new therapist; and I’ve even found time to go on two or three dates. I’ll talk more about my dating experiences (and eHarmony’s role in them) and one or two of my social outings in a later entry.

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