Australia: Ups and Downs of Sydney

Hello Fellow Fish,

So much has happened in the last few weeks since we last posted, so lets just dive right in.

We flew Emirates Air from Christchurch to Sydney, and what a flight it was. Emirates is officially my new favorite airline to fly with. Everything from their service to their personal entertainment center was spot on and made flying coach seem like we were first class members. 


We landed in Sydney and were overcome with joy. We had finally made it to the promise land that we had only heard of. We couldn't clear customs fast enough. Once we left we were greeted by our very good friends Hayley and Tanja who we met in Hawaii so long ago. They were gracious enough to pick us up from the airport, pile us in their car, and drive us an hour back to Hayley's house. 

We spent most of the night catching up and talking. Hayley's parents are amazing and were kind enough to let us take over their living room to sleep in for a few days while we got settled. Over the next few days, Hayley and Tanja took turns looking out for us, as they both had jobs, and showed us around the area and the city. The northern beaches, where they live, are beautiful and full of super nice houses that celebrities live in apparently. Sydney the city is absolutely amazing. More to come on that in a bit. The girls, being that they were established and had social lives, took us out with their friends which was great. Since we didn't have many friends at the time we loved just interacting with other people in general. 

The Gang


After the first few days, the honeymoon period was over, and we needed to figure out what we were doing. We couldn't sleep in the living room forever. We spent one day going around the city trying to find work exchange at a hostel. But literally every hostel we went to was booked. We spent the remainder of that same day handing out CV's to places trying to find a job. It was time for us to move out from Hayley's house that day. So we thanked her parents, and cleaned up our mess of a space, and headed out.

Opera House 


In line with picking up connections around the world as we go, we met Ariel's cousin Randi- all of us for the first time. As our luck would have it, she was the perfect person to get us on our feet here in Australia. She is Ariel's Dad's first cousin, who has been living here for about 15 years. She owns an art gallery and is  a street smart socialite and New Yorker at heart. It's really refreshing to hear her voice and to see her attitude, giving one syllable words like "beer" two- "You want a bee-yah?". She has a beautiful, beautiful house with an abandoned gallery underneath in a very artsy and eclectic part of town- Newtown. We lived here as a home base for two weeks, coming and going, with a copy of our own keys. She is a hard worker who never stops, with a busy life and a business to run. A lot of times, we only saw each other late at night, or in the morning, but kept in close touch with written notes in the kitchen at morning. We became her three sons and we took good care of each other, going for dinner, drinks, and getting shown around. It is so nice to be able to get the history and point of view of Ariel's family for him. Sad as it was when we moved out, we still are in very good touch with Randi. Jeff bartended an event at the gallery, and we just got lunch with her the other day. In all honesty- if it weren't for her, we would have been in some serious trouble . And now because of her here, we just have a richer experience and a stronger base. Our lives are ever better for her. Ariel was even considering coming home and working more and then coming back out- which leads to the next point:

Sydney Opera House and Bridge

Sydney Skyline

When you apply for an Australian work holiday visa, you need to be outside of Australia when you lodge the application, AND when it's accepted. In Queenstown, Matt applied for his visa- accepted in under a day. In Christchurch, Jeff applied- accepted in one business day. To par, Ariel applied for his with three days to go before coming to Australia thinking his would be accepted as well. Different than Matt and Jeff, he put "Student" as his occupation. He was also meant to get a blood test or physical examination for Tuberculosis because of spending 6 months in India, but a quick "back" button and deletion saved that trouble ha! They asked for proof of study, and he sent a Rutgers confirmation. the Australian consulate didn't get to it in time, and there was no response. He just came to Australia anyway, hoping that it would get finalized there. After a back and forth email exchange, with nothing happening, and several trips to the embassy- they finally said that he had to leave the country for the visa to be accepted. Leave the country just for them to say "accepted". Lucky enough he still had our original ticket out of Auckland to sydney for December 9th. He got another ticket out of Sydney on the 8th, spent 16 hours in the Auckland airport, and came back to Sydney the next day. Once in the Auckland airport, his visa was accepted within an hour. One email was all it took. What a royal pain in the ass. On the positive, he got to experience the majesty and amazingness that is flying Emirates and also got a different New Zealand passport stamp without the Rugby World Cup insignia. Upon reentering Sydney, there was a small hiccup, in line with Jeff's: the visa needs to have the EXACT same name as your passport, including middle names. Once that was cleared up, we are good to work, and here for good now. 

Sydney Harbor Bridge

We spent a good portion of the next week in this internet cafe that had free internet. Scouring everything we could to find jobs and places to live. I had been in touch with a lady about an apartment while we were in New Zealand and tried reaching out to her but was getting very vague answers. One day, we designated to walking to every single open house in the city that fit our needs. We started at 9am and literally walked around the entire city until 6pm looking at different apartments. The last one we looked at, was the the lady who would never give me a straight answer. She went on to explain that she was in contact with someone else who had committed to taking the apartment, but when he didn't come through she opened it back up. So we go in to take a look, and I immediately know this is the place. It is fully furnished and comes with everything we would ever need (ie: dishes, refrigerator, oven, microwave, couch, beds, shelves, etc.). It sounds silly, but this also happened to be the cheapest one we looked at. The other ones were 200-300 dollars more and had nothing that came with them. So as it stands, we are saving a TON of money because we don't have to buy things to put in the apartment. We told her we would think it over, consider our options, but we knew this was the one. 

Living Room of new apartment (tour video included below)
I (Matt) was the first one to find a job. First, I auditioned to be the lead singer for a Sydney based band that tours Australia and was planning a US tour, but their music wasn't really my style. The audition went really well and we got fed afterwards, but did not worry too much about getting a call back. Then, I landed a sweet gig as a pizza chef in a really big and busy restaurant in Darling Harbor, a premiere restaurant area. Its always busy and it has a huge staff, plus lots of food to eat and bring home. I was working a good amount for the first couple weeks, but when the holidays rolled around they were cutting shifts, so I was basically out of work again and spent a lot of time at home in front of my laptop looking for other jobs. Ideally I want to get a 9-5 day job and a casual night job. I am very hopeful that this is possible. I have had 2 interviews already and another one lined up for this week. Furthermore, I will be coaching American Football in Sydney for the Sydney University Lions. So if all this pans out, I will be a very happy camper.

Jeff is in the same boat that I am right now. He was second to find a job in an art gallery framing paintings and helping around the shop. However, like me, his hours were cut and we both are looking for better jobs at the moment. 


Christmas in Sydney was like spending a day in a different dimension. With our first true day off in a while, we made it a point to go to the beach. Believe me, we know how weird that sounds. The interesting thing is coming from the New York/New Jersey area. People here talk about Sydney in a way that makes it seem huge and spread out in their eyes. For us, when we physically explore the area we understand how small it really is. New York City is HUGE compared to this. As the crow flies, we live under 5 miles from the beach- one of the most famous beaches in Sydney, Bondi Beach. It's no three blocks, like in Waikiki, but it's still close. The thing is, it doesn't feel that close at all, however once we actually made the trip it's a stone's throw away. Once we all have bikes, we will cruise hard to the beach and make it there in under a half hour. 

Bondi Beach: Christmas Day 2011
We got to the beach, took off our shoes and had a nice look around. It was a big, sandy semicircle, with bustling streets, high cliffs in the distance, the soft thump of trance music in a nearby dance hall, and surfers and beach bums. The other strange thing is that relatively speaking it wasn't as busy as it could have been because it was Christmas. A lot of tourists were there in addition to people wanting to get out of the house before dinner and such. The other striking thing coming from New Jersey was that places actually close down once in a while. In the tristate area, there is ALWAYS a convenience store, a good place to eat, even if it's seedy, and a liquor store. We really just wanted to have a beer on the beach, but EVERYWHERE was closed. We settled for some Thai food and a beer from a pizza shop. Yeah, a pizza shop. 

Once on the beach, we found a place to settle down and the boys went right to the water. We couldn't wait to get back into salt water- the last time was Hawaii! We were stunned, to say the least by the water. It. was. freezing. Freezing. Remember, the ocean in Hawaii was like a bathtub, 75 fahrenheit at least. Apparently, according to Australians the water doesn't get warm until a few months from now. We bobbed up and down, and the water was strong. Lifeguards patrolled on jetskis keeping the swimmers and surfers all separate. The beach looked like a Where's Waldo? picture. There must have been 2500 people at least on the beach, and about 800 santa hats. On the beach. On Christmas. 

After meeting some new friends, we had had enough and went back to Surry Hills. We passed the rest of the night hanging out in the kitchen loving the soaked in sun on our skin and talking about what Christmas would be like at home. 

Town Hall Building

Christmas Tree in City
Since all of the grocery stores were close, we couldn't make Christmas dinner, so we settled on the next day. We made eggplant parmigiana, roasted and sauteed vegetables, fresh salad, fruit salad, and butternut squash soup. We had to keep the menu seasonal. After tea, we taught Natalie how to play hearts, one of the most fun four player games ever. That has become a favorite late night activity for house game nights and we fear the Queen of diamonds more than deportation lately. 

Christmas Dinner
New Year

New Year's Eve in Sydney is one of the biggest in the world. Anticipation for the biggest fireworks display in the southern hemisphere was all around. We thought we were smart and left the apartment around 9am to get to the Botanical Gardens around 10am when the gates opened. We were wrong. As we walked up there was a snaking line that wrapped around and through this huge open field then funneled into a walk way that lead to the entrance of the gardens. As soon as we were herded to our place in line, almost immediately after, we turn around and notice how long the line already is behind us.  We waited 4 hours in line and luckily we were some of the 20,000 allowed in. Spent all day just hanging out and playing cards, while slowly roasting in the sun.

Catching some rays, and yes, I did get severely sunburnt


Passing the time

Drunk A-holes sitting next to us

We were sitting in front of some drunken idiots who were ruining everyone's day around them, but we managed to ignore them and have a good time. The fireworks show was estimated to cost a few million dollars, and it was worth every dime. Since the Botanical Gardens are on a peninsula, there were three identical displays; one to the right, one directly in front, and one off to the left, firing from the bridge over the Opera House. It was a sight I will never forget. Worth the 15 hour wait. 


Sydney is an amazing place and it is already starting to feel like home. Sydney has so much to offer in terms of food (amazing food from all over the world my favorites the Japanese and Thai food), western amenities and comforts, as well as a diverse population that is always refreshing to be around. We are getting more and more acquainted with the city every day. We are getting more involved, making a new network of friends, and watching time fly by so fast. Just the other day, someone had asked me how long I have been in Sydney for. My first reaction was to say, "a week or so," but I had to correct myself because we have already been here over a month. Its sad that its going so fast, but at the same time its awesome because we are having such a good time and working hard to earn for more of our travels. 

I hope everyone reading this has enjoyed their Holiday, Christmas, and New Year's festivities. It was a very heavy burden on all of us not being able to be around family this time of year. But we pulled through and made the best of what we could. Everyone back home were all certainly in our thoughts. Below, please find the bungy jumping video, as promised, from Queenstown. As well as the biking video. We have very high hope for this coming year and are very excited to be on this incredible journey together. We hope that you will continue following us on our adventure, and maybe even share this blog with someone else, who is not already doing so. Feel free to post comments, questions, or any concerns you may have. Thanks for tuna-ing in. Happy New Year!

Until Next Time, 

The Tunas

Queenstown Videos:

Before the jump

The Plunge

Before the ride

View from the top


  1. Great post! The apartment looks awesome and New Year's must have been a amazing. Enjoy the Antipodes and keep the videos coming,

  2. it looks incredible over there. make the most of it. i wish i was still in south africa and you could put that on your list :( miss you! xx Kelly

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