Tag Archives: sydney

Lessons from moving away, and coming home

In January 2011 I moved to Sydney, and wrote a post about my first impressions of living in Australia. I’ve now been back in Auckland for three months and have learnt a few things from moving away, and coming home again.



We don’t need much stuff
Packing to move away was one thing, but packing to return to New Zealand was a whole different story. I got rid of SO. MUCH. STUFF. We really don’t need much, and for those of us who are likely to move again in the future, the idea of accumulating lots of things is a not an attractive one.

You adapt to your environment 
When I first arrived in Sydney, ordering a ‘trim cap’ in a Kiwi accent just didn’t cut it. So, I soon found myself asking for a ‘skinny cap’ to be understood. This conscious change gradually spilt over to most words that contained ‘i’ or ‘e’ sounds. Having lived in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, I also found myself starting yoga, spending my weekends in gym gear, making green smoothies and eating kale chips.

You’re not afraid of spiders anymore
After close encounters with orb and huntsman spiders, a daddy long legs has about the same scare power as an ant.

You gain a new level of independence
Time alone and distance from people who shaped your thoughts historically leads to a new level of independent thinking. You meet people whose backgrounds are significantly different to yours, and gain insights from environments you’d never been exposed to.

You are who you spend time with
As the quote goes, ‘you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with’. Thanks to my flatmates Claire, Jo and Nicole, I became a little more driven, manicured, fashionable and motivated in the kitchen. And I mean manicured in the literal sense – weekend brunching and walks to the nail salon are some of life’s simple pleasures!

You become an expert in communication
Most of your good friends and loved ones aren’t in the same time zone and you may only see them a few times a year, if that. But with a bit of juggling, keeping in touch when apart is easy with Skype, Whatsapp, Facebook and Snapchat. But you have to plan for it.

You get better at asking for things
Kiwis are generally agreeable and like to go with the flow. Australians are generally better at piping up about their expectations and things they want. Well – they’re better at piping up in general! But this forward confidence is admirable and is a useful characteristic to have.

Special friends become your family
When times are tough or there’s reason to celebrate, your flatmates, workmates and closest friends become your family. They’re there for support, for festivities and for adventures. Personal relationships are what life’s about.

Your priorities change over time
My time in Sydney was phenomenal. I wouldn’t change a thing. It contained some of the most challenging moments, but also some of the most enjoyable. It was a great time but about a year ago I realised that my priorities were changing and my environment needed to change as well. And that was a lesson in itself – to be aware of your evolving needs and changing the things that aren’t working for you anymore.

Tagged , , , , ,

Instagram hashtag tips for Sydney, Australia photos

Some of the most popular Sydney, Australia related tags to use for your photos are:

#SurryHills, #Darlinghurst, #Glebe, etc
#SydneyOperaHouse, #SydneyHarbourBridge, etc
#summer (or appropriate season)
#sun, #moon, #sunrise, #sunset #sky, #night, etc
#nature, #wildlife, #animal, #mountain, #waterfall, etc

Tags that are super popular and can still be applied to Sydney/Australia scenery photos include:

#photooftheday, #picoftheday and #bestoftheday (if it’s a super good photo!)

You can also follow these Sydney accounts and use their hashtags:

@CityofSydney – #CityofSydney
@SeeAustralia – #SeeAustralia
@Australiagram – #Australiagram
@BestofAustralia – #BestofAustralia
@Instralia – #Instralia
@iPhoneographyOz – #iOz

Tagged , , , ,

My Ultimate Best Websites List

This is a collection of pretty much all my favourite websites. The ones I get my news from. The ones I retweet from. The ones I get stories/recipes/advice/knowledge that I share with friends. I hope you enjoy the selection!

Internet Tech, Business and Entrepreneurship
Fast Company – http://www.fastcompany.com/
Inc. – http://www.inc.com/
The Next Web – http://thenextweb.com/
Mashable – http://mashable.com/
Cnet – http://news.cnet.com/
Smartbrief – http://www.smartbrief.com/index.jsp
ReadWriteWeb – http://www.readwriteweb.com/
TechCrunch – http://techcrunch.com/
Digital Trends – http://www.digitaltrends.com/
Gizmodo – http://www.gizmodo.com.au/
Harvard Business Review – http://hbr.org/
Forbes – http://www.forbes.com/
Entrepreneur – http://www.entrepreneur.com/
Wired – http://www.wired.com/
Strategy+Business (Booz & Company) – http://www.strategy-business.com/

Teach Yourself Tech & Design
Codeacademy – http://www.codecademy.com/
Lynda.com – http://www.lynda.com/

News & Business
The Economist – http://www.economist.com/
The Guardian – http://www.guardian.co.uk/
BBC – http://www.bbc.co.uk/
AlJazeera – http://www.aljazeera.com/
The New Yorker – http://www.newyorker.com/
Time – http://www.time.com/time/magazine/
The Wall Street Journal – http://asia.wsj.com/home-page
Bloomberg Businessweek – http://www.businessweek.com/
BRW – http://www.brw.com.au/
Forrester – http://blogs.forrester.com/
New York Times – http://www.nytimes.com/

Marketing & Advertising
B&T – http://www.bandt.com.au/home
Mumbrella – http://mumbrella.com.au/
Marketing Profs – http://www.mpdailyfix.com/
Business Insider – http://www.businessinsider.com/advertising
Campaign Brief – http://www.campaignbrief.com/
Experian – http://www.experian.com.au/blogs/marketing-forward/
Marketo – http://blog.marketo.com/
Salesforce – http://blogs.salesforce.com/
Radian6 – http://www.radian6.com/blog/
IAB. Australia – http://www.iabaustralia.com.au/

Home, Lifestyle & Culture
More Intelligent Life – http://moreintelligentlife.com/
The Gloss – http://thegloss.com/
Daily Life – http://www.dailylife.com.au/
Huffington Post – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
Apartment Therapy – http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/

Ideas & Creativity / Business Inspiration
Springwise – http://www.springwise.com/
Trendwatching.com – http://trendwatching.com/
Idealog – http://www.idealog.co.nz/
TED – http://blog.ted.com/

The Oatmeal – http://theoatmeal.com/
The Onion – http://www.theonion.com/

Information Learning & Sharing
Slideshare – http://www.slideshare.net/
Quora – http://quora.com/

Wolfram Alpha – http://www.wolframalpha.com/

Productivity, Lifestyle, Career & Personal Development
Lifehack – http://www.lifehack.org/
The Daily Muse – http://www.thedailymuse.com/
Chris Guillebeau’s Blog –  http://chrisguillebeau.com/
Marc and Angel Hack Life http://www.marcandangel.com/
Leaving Work Behind – http://www.leavingworkbehind.com/
Seth Godin’s Blog – http://sethgodin.typepad.com/

Hype Machine – http://hypem.com/
Tastekid – http://www.tastekid.com/
Grooveshark – http://grooveshark.com/
Soundcloud – http://soundcloud.com/
22Tracks – http://22tracks.com/#ams/doritos/15425
Musicovery – http://musicovery.com/
Noisetrade – http://noisetrade.com/

Punchfork – http://punchfork.com/
The Patterned Plate – http://thepatternedplate.wordpress.com/
Rasberri Cupcakes – http://www.raspberricupcakes.com/
In Pursuit of More – http://inpursuitofmore.com/
Turntable Kitchen – http://www.turntablekitchen.com/
Stonesoup – http://thestonesoup.com/blog/
Nigella – http://www.nigella.com/
Maggie Beer – http://www.maggiebeer.com.au/recipes

Broadsheet – http://www.broadsheet.com.au/sydney/
Daily Addict – http://www.dailyaddict.com.au/?location=sydney
Sydney TimeOut – http://www.au.timeout.com/sydney/

Photography & Editing
Pixlr – http://pixlr.com/ and http://pixlr.com/express/
Photo – http://photojojo.com/
Stuck in Customs – http://www.stuckincustoms.com/

I’ll add more as they come up.

What are your best go-to sites?

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Photos: The Blue Mountains

Last weekend we went with friends to the Blue Mountains. It was cold, but it was beautiful. We took a walk, we got the fire roaring, and had a delicious lamb dinner. We’ll be back for many more walks soon!

Click on the photo below to view the gallery.

Tagged ,

The Sydney Rail Network: Where do station names come from?

A fascination with words and history means that I often ask, “What’s in a name?” City names, food names, wine names, people names….and most recently, the names of some stops (and accordingly, suburbs) on the Sydney rail network. Here’s what I found, courtesy of Wikipedia:


Image from http://www.cityrail.info/stations/pdf/CityRail_network_map.pdf

Named after people

Station – Kings Cross
Why? Originally was named Queens Cross but there was confusion with another area so it was renamed Kings Cross after King Edward VII.

Station – Martin Place 
Why? Named after James Martin, three time Premier of NSW and Chief Justice of Supreme Court of NSW.

Station – Wollstonecraft
Why? Named after Edward Wollstonecraft, the first settler to receive a land grant of 500 acres in the area, in 1821. 

Station – Redfern
Why? Named after William Redfern, who was granted 100 acres of land in the area in 1817.

Station – Pymble
Why? Named after Robert Pymble, an influential early settler whose 1823 land grant comprised approximately 600 acres, around half the land of the region.

Station – Dundas
Why? Named after the Dundas family of Scotland.

Station – Minto
Why? Named to honour the Earl of Minto, Gilbert Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound.

Station – Chatswood
Why? Named after Charlotte Hartnett, (wife of then Mayor of Willoughby, Richard Hartnett) and the original “wooded” nature of the area. The name comes from her nickname “Chattie” and was shortened from Chattie’s Wood to Chatswood. 

Station – Milsons Point
Why? Milsons Point was named after James Milson, a free settler who settled in the district in 1824.

Station – Mortdale
Why? Named after wool merchant Thomas Sutcliffe Mort (1816-1878) who was famous for pioneering the refrigeration of shipping meat and the construction of Mort’s Dock in Balmain.  

Stations – Thornleigh and Hornsby
Why? Thornleigh is named after Constable John Thorn, who, together with Constable Horne, captured bushrangers in 1830 and were later granted land as a reward. Horne’s land became Hornsby, and Thorn’s land, Thornleigh.

Station – Asquith
Why? Asquith was named in 1915 after the then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Herbert Henry Asquith, Earl of Oxford and Asquith.

Station – Beecroft
Why? Sir Henry Copeland, Minister of Lands, named the area after the maiden name of his two wives, Hannah and Mary Beecroft, (sisters he married in succession). 

Named after plants/flowers

Station – Banksia
Why? Named for an Australian wildflower

Station – Gymea
Why? Named for the Gymea Lily, a tall perennial that is prevalent in the area.

Station – Telopea
Why? The name comes from ‘Telopea speciosissima’, the New South Wales waratah, a plant that was abundant in the area before it was colonised. It became the floral emblem of NSW.  

Named after indigenous Australian words

Station – Bondi Junction 
Why? ‘Bondi’ is an Aboriginal word meaning ‘water over breaking rocks’. 

Station – Wahroonga
Why? Wahroonga is an Aboriginal word meaning ‘our home’. 

Station – Kogarah
Why? Kogarah is from an Aboriginal word meaning ‘rushes’ or ‘place of reeds’.

Station – Yenora
Why? Yennora is an Aboriginal word meaning ‘walking’ or ‘to stroll’.

Station – Jannali
Why? Jannali is an Aboriginal word meaning ‘the Place Of The Moon’, originating from the people of the Northern Territory. The name is also used as a female name. 

Station – Parramatta
Why? The Darug people who lived in the area for a long time regarded the area as rich in food from the river and forests. They called the area Baramada or Burramatta (‘Parramatta’) which means ‘head of waters’ or ‘the place where the eels lie down’.

Station – Cronulla
Why? Cronulla is derived from ‘kurranulla’, meaning ‘place of the pink seashells’.

Station – Allawah
Why? Allawah is an Aboriginal name meaning ‘make your abode here’ or ‘remain here’.

Station – Yagoona
Why? Yagoona is an Aboriginal word meaning ‘now’ or ‘today’.

Station – Birrong
Why? Birrong is an Aboriginal word meaning ‘star’. 

Station – Berowra
Why? Berowra is an Aboriginal word that means ‘place of many winds’. 

Station – Mount Kuring-gai
Why? Ku-ring-Gai is an Aboriginal word that means ‘hunting ground of the men’. The area was once the home and hunting ground of the Ku-ring-gai Aborigines.

Named after other locations

Station – Sydenham
Why? Named after Sydenham, London 

Station – Rydalmere
Why? ‘Rydal’ comes from Rydal, Cumbria (England) and ‘mere’ means a lake. 

Station – Burwood
Why? Named after Captain Thomas Rowley received a land grant of 260 acres in 1799, and called his property Burwood Farm after Burwood Park, England. 

Other suburbs and stations named after places in London or England: Epping, Croydon, Arncliffe, Dulwich Hill, Stanmore, Penshurst.

Named after buildings

Station – Tempe
Why? Named after Tempe House, a mansion built in 1836 (which was named after the ‘Vale of Tempe’, a beautiful valley in ancient Greek legend).

Station – Erskineville
Why? Erskineville is named after ‘Erskine Villa’, the home of Wesleyan minister, Reverend George Erskine, built in 1830. 

Named after their geographical location

Station – Edgecliff
Why? It sits on the edge of a cliff.

Station – Punchbowl
Why? Punchbowl is named for a circular valley, called ‘the punch bowl’, which is actually located in the nearby suburb of Belfield. 

Named after English words

Station – Glebe
Why? The suburb was developed on a glebe (‘a piece of land serving as part of a clergyman’s benefice and providing income’), originally owned by the Anglican Church.  

Station – Hurstville
Why? The name ‘Hurstville’ is derived from the English ‘hurst’ meaning ‘a wooded eminence’, and ‘ville’, meaning ‘town’. 

Interesting stuff!


Ways to make your money go further in Sydney

Let’s face it: Sydney ain’t cheap. In fact, the amount that some people pay in rent per week here would allow them to live in two abodes in many other places. Wouldn’t that be nice? “Just staying at my other place tonight, see you guys tomorrow!”


Since I moved over here my savings account hasn’t grown as fast as I’d like, but that’s no surprise as moving to a new country and starting from scratch requires some investment. Luckily the Ikea store and Victoria’s Basement has been good to me, and over the course of the last few months I’ve discovered new ways to make the dollar go a teeny bit further. 

  • Pub food: You can’t go past a good pub meal deal. Check out your local pub for their special deals – many have $5 or $10 meal days, 2-for-1 nights, half-price burger days, etc. Look up pubs by suburb on Timeout Sydney.
  • Figure out which public transport ticket option is best for you, and save money by purchasing a monthly instead of a weekly if you know you’ll need it. Click here for trains and here for buses.
  • Get the Sydney Morning Herald on the weekend and read the Spectrum magazine insert to see what great free events are coming up.
  • Be aware of special offers. Daily deal sites offer things that, in most cases, don’t need. Reminds me of my very first post on here, ‘No shopping for 7 months’. My habits have seriously changed in the last 2 years and I’m now very much more focussed on what I need rather than what I want.
  • Buy your books from Fishpond rather than in the shops, or better still, get a Kindle. (I’m still working on that….)
  • Walk more. You’ll save money on transport, be healthier and because it’ll take you longer to get anywhere, you’ll have less time to be out spending 😉
  • Work out if it’s better for you to buy household goods, or rent them. If you are only here for a shorter while, renting can be good – for example, you can rent a fridge for $7 a week!
  • Milk your private health insurance perks. With many private health insurance plans you can get special offers on a range of household necessities. 
  • Use your own bank’s ATMs: I once used another bank’s ATM and was charged $4. That adds up!
  • Save your receipts for tax return time: Get your tax back on donations, work-related expenses, etc. 
  • Go to dinner AND a movie at Govinda’s in Darlinghurst. Yummy, vegetarian buffet all-you-can-eat food and a new release movie for $30.
  • Check out Lasttix for last-minute, cheap ticket deals to gigs and theatre shows.

Feel free to add your own tips in the comments below 🙂


How to move to Australia: The guide for Kiwis

One of my good Uni friends is moving here in a few weeks! Very exciting!

When I moved over I read up on what I needed to get sorted before the move, but there was no one single resource that told me everything so I’ve put a little something together for my friends, and for strangers.



1) Tax file number (TFN)
One of the most important things you’ll need! Want to get paid? Yes, you do. The easiest way to get this number is online but you can only do it once you’re in Australia. I tried doing it from NZ before I moved, and it’s very smart and knows that you’re not in the country. So, to save yourself from any delays in getting your first pay, get your TFN when/if you’re visiting Australia before the actual move. 

2) Decide what bank/s you want to join
There’s a lot of choice! ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank (NAB),  St George Bank, Westpac, HSBC….
I went with NAB and I’ll tell you why: I like their logo and advertising. Yep, that’s pretty much it. Plus, they have a handy iPhone app, my credit card is pink, and they’re friendly on Twitter. It was easy to join, I did it online from NZ and then just went into a branch with supporting documents when I arrived.

3) Sort stuff out in NZ
Before you leave NZ, contact the IRD and tell them your intentions. I don’t understand the ins and outs exactly but depending on what assets/debt you have in NZ, it may be best for them to know where you are.
I would hold onto your NZ credit card for a while after your move because you can’t aways (if at all) get a credit card as soon as you move here. They need to make sure you have an income rolling in for a few months before they offer you an overdraft, but you’ll be able to get a debit card immediately.


4) Find a place to live
Easier said than done! If you’re looking for a room in an established place, it’s a lot easier. But finding a place of your own can be a challenge (in Sydney, anyway). There is so much competition, especially in the summer. You need to provide a lot of references and have copies of your passport, driver’s license (if you have an NZ Full License you can get this easily at the RTA in NSW – one year is $50), proof of income, etc. The best sites for finding places are domain.com.aurealestate.com.au or gumtree.com.au. (Of course, you can start looking and applying before you move, but the likelihood is you’ll have someone to stay with for at least a few weeks when you arrive, and you’ll probably want to inspect the places you apply for).

5) Health insurance
Australians have Medicare which is the government healthcare system. You can get the form online and take it with you to a Medicare branch when you arrive. Tax payers in Australia fund Medicare with 1.5% of their pay. Medicare is great and covers many things, but you pay another 1% on top if you earn over a certain amount and don’t have private health insurance. Private health insurance in Australia is really good. For someone like me, with a bung back and short-sighted eyes, it’s very useful. My osteopath swipes my private health insurance card and the covered amount is deducted immediately – I don’t have to make a claim. I get my eyes checked for free, two dental cleans a year and a bunch of other great deals – just got prescription sunglasses for $57. Choosing a provider is hard because there are so many, but the iSelect site will help you. My shortlist was between HCF, NIB and MBF. You’ll know if it’s worth it or what’s best for you, but it’s quite flexible – you can choose between hospital only, extras only, or a combo. 

6) Superannuation
Superannuation in Australia is compulsory and 9% of your salary goes into it. Choosing a provider is tricky, again because there are so many! Read this or just flip a coin. I’m sorry I can’t help you more on this topic – I found it a particularly mind-numbing experience. 

7) Mobile phone
Vodafone, Telstra, Optus, 3….. which one? Go here for a very handy way to see what kind of plan you should go on. I went with Telstra because word on the street is that they’ve got the best coverage. I haven’t been disappointed.

8) Staying in touch
Moving countries, even when it’s just across the ditch or only for a short time, can be emotionally taxing. You’ve left your family and some of your closest friends in NZ, and you will miss them. But you’ll have many new experiences to look forward to, and you’ve got tools/apps like Skype, Heytell, Whatsapp that you can use for free/cheap to stay in touch with people. And if you need to fly over for a weekend, it’s only a few hours away and there are always deals on – check out Webjet or Expedia.

For those moving to Australia – and Sydney in particular – look out for my top money-saving tips in the next few weeks 🙂


Tagged ,

Kobe Jones: 13-course degustation

A few weeks ago the chance to feast on a 13-course degustation at a renowned Sydney restaurant presented itself one evening. How could I resist? Kobe Jones is ‘modern Japanese with a Californian twist’ and the menu did not disappoint. We started with a glass of sparkling wine while Vera read out the delectable menu.


Course 1: Number One Special – crab salad and avocado wrapped in Hiramasa kingfish and baked with secret sauce


Course 2: Sizzled Scallop Sashimi Carpaccio – sizzled with heated virgin olive oil, then drained and drizzled with wasabi pepper sauce


Course 3 & 4: Anago Scallops – tempura Hokkaido scallops stuffed with crab salad and asparagus, drizzled with a bittersweet soy sauce glaze with Seafood Poke – Hawaiian style sashimi cubes marinated in our poke sauce

Course 5: Wagyu Tenderloin Tataki – seared and chilled, served rare with garlic, ginger and ponzu sauce 


Course 6: Sashimi Salad – garden greens topped with fresh sashimi, crab salad and drizzled with ponzu dressing


Course 7: Alaskan Crab – grilled to highlight the sweetness and served in the shell with fresh lime


Course 8: Chicken Kara Age – marinated chicken coated in seasoned potato flour shallow fried, served with teriyaki sauce and chilli mayonaise


Course 9: Hawaiian Roll – prawn, cucumber, burdock root and pineapple chilli jam, topped with tuna and avocado and drizzled with poke sauce and a bittersweet soy glaze


Course 10: Vegetable Tempura – seasonal vegetables served with dipping sauce 


Course 11: Volcano Roll – oven baked scallops layered on a crab salad and avocado roll with our special cream sauce and a sesame seed and shallot sprinkle


Course 12: Wagyu Hot Rock – self-cook your wagyu just the way you like it, served with seasoning and two dipping sauces


Course 13: Ama Ozen: Kobe Jone’s famous selection of dessert samplers with our trademark chocolate chopsticks

My favourites were Courses 1 and 11, and the chocolate fondant with green tea ice-cream on the dessert platter. I’ll be returning to this place!

Tagged ,

Living in Australia: First impressions

Last week I moved to Sydney, Australia. I still don’t have my tax code, my accounts aren’t functional and I’ve barely started working, but I’m already viewing the city with the eyes of an inhabitant rather than a visitor.

Here’s what I’ve noticed so far:

  • Bats really do flap about at night (don’t know how I didn’t notice this earlier)
  • TV ads are really bad
  • Health insurance is pretty good
  • Cockroaches are BIG and EVERYWHERE
  • The little green man at pedestrian lights takes a long time to appear
  • If you pick the right places, eating out can be cheaper than dining in
  • Telstra staff are very friendly
  • There is a lot of sport on TV

I’ve also taken a few snaps of things that have caught my attention, like pretty sunsets:


Boomerang shops that provide free boomerang-throwing classes:


Liquor shops with punny names:


Morning shows that address very important topics:


Stickers on the back of road signs that ask how you are:


And of course, something that pleases me greatly – the civilised order of lining up for the bus:


Friends have asked me, “Are you moving there forever?” No, I very much doubt it. There are other places I’d like the chance to live in one day and I imagine that in the future I’ll want to return to New Zealand. When you’ve been away as much as I have you know that aside from the rain, the low dollar and the questionable New Years fireworks from the Sky Tower, NZ is a pretty choice place to live in. But for now, I’m excited about giving the Sydney thing a go and I hope you’ll join me as I blog about travel, food, wine, music and a bunch of other stuff from Australia! x

Tagged , ,
%d bloggers like this: