My Cocky FriendWe’re returning to Sydney January 8th 2010.

I haven’t written about leaving Japan yet because, frankly, I’m quite sad about it but some boxes have arrived (for what purpose we aren’t quite sure) and the packing company is coming Tuesday to estimate how much space we’ll need on a container so I guess it’s about time. I can’t quite bring myself to write the ‘what I’ll miss’ post so I’ll wait a little more on that one and, for today, just outline what our friends and family will probably want to know.

We’ve known since I was in New Zealand that it was doubtful that we would get even the 24 of the 18-24 months that was flagged when we left and 18 months was confirmed fairly soon after. After that, where we would go next was the big question. There was a small chance of Bangkok which would have been an adventure, for sure, but would have been HORRENDOUSLY hot and humid, so we weren’t too upset when it was taken out of the equation. The Australian arm of “Anonymous Car Manufacturing Concern (ACMC)”  want Superman back for the implementation of the software that he has been over here developing but the big question was: would we be going home (to Melbourne) or to Sydney?

Answer: Sydney.

That was about when I began fighting off a mild depression. I think I’ve said before that we didn’t do Sydney well during the 18 months we were there before coming to Nagoya. Knowing that, I try not to make sweeping judgments about the city as a whole and we are determined to try harder and do better this time but there is one thing which there is no denying will make it difficult – location.

Unlike in Melbourne, where ACMC is in Port Melbourne and we lived in Melbourne itself (right on the Grand Prix track for those who know Albert Park Lake), in Sydney, ACMC is in what is known as The Shire. It’s literally as far South from the centre of the city as its possible to be and still be in Sydney (though most Sydney-ites look at you funny when you say you live there and don’t really consider it part of Sydney.) Because of its distance from the city, there are actually some really good galleries (which often have small runs of the same exhibitions in the city – that’s how regional it is) and people are used to making their own entertainment so there are lots of recreation clubs and creative courses etc… but finding things to do is not exactly as obvious as it would be if we were closer to the city.

Why not live closer to the city? It’s just not viable. Sydney’s public transport is bad enough if you live close in and it’s literally non-existent to ACMC. Driving in Sydney is also hellish, understandable with such appalling public transport, and getting across town for virtually anything is just not worth considering, let alone work every day. Superman doesn’t want to have to travel for more than 30 minutes on those roads which means living within what, in Melbourne, would be more like 15 minutes drive. Since we will only have one car, we also need to be somewhere near his work so that I can drop him off and pick him up easily on days that I need to shop (for which I need to drive a fair way to be able to get “exotic” things like ginger still young enough to have juice left in it or name-grain brown bread, like rye or whole.)

So, what will we do?

One thing that the Shire does have is water; it is surrounded by beautiful bays and inlets and has a coast on the ocean – real ocean. So the aim is to live close to and/or with a great view of the ocean or at least one of the waterways. Not being sporting (or, frankly, even sunlight) types, the most we are likely to do with the water is look at it or walk beside it (though Superman is dabbling with the idea of learning to surf) but just being able to do those two things will make life, and sitting at home writing, much nicer than if we are even a block away from it. There is also a lovely open-air mall in Cronulla which has a secondhand bookshop (GOD I hope it’s still there because it was the only one for miles,) some street cafes, a cinema and a decent green grocer and butcher, so we will also be hoping to live within walking distance of that.

A local photography club meets in some rooms above the mall and I’m hoping that they will be as welcoming to visitors as their website says they are. That might be as much of the clubs and courses I will be able to handle, though – the beauty of living close to the city is that you can choose when to dip your toe into a play, a concert, an exhibition or even a short course without any ongoing commitment. For those of us who lean toward the hermitic and find get-togethers once every two months perfectly adequate to feel in touch with humanity, once a fortnight can be a little tough to manage.

When will we find this magical apartment (because we don’t DO gardens)?  Some time after January 8th, after which we will have a month in a serviced apartment while we house-hunt. Brigid will be in quarantine for at least 30 days, so we don’t have to worry too much about her, thank goodness. It would be nice to have it all organized before we leave, so that we aren’t going into such an unknown, but at least having a month rather than only a week (as we thought we would have in early December) will give us a little more ability to pick and choose – not that renting is really like that.

For the time being, I am in that limbo time when I have a desire to organize everything so that it’s not weighing on my mind but can’t actually do much because we’re not packing anything ourselves except what will be packed into our travelling luggage which, of course, is what we need to live with every day.

Of course, the other thing The Shire has that I do tend to miss here is bird life (of the non-enormous-raven-type) and I like to think that my friend the cocky, pictured above, might just find me again 🙂