Rachel Down Under!


Posted in Australia, Sydney by rssmith218 on August 15, 2010

As my first full week in Sydney draws to a close, I am only looking forward to the weeks to come. It has been a week full of reading, writing, and generally getting my bearings in Sydney and Bondi.

It has also been a week spent in pursuit of a bike, and I am sad to say that it has generally been an unsuccessful search. It turns out that bikes are very expensive in Sydney and the UNSW bike club website claims that it is difficult to find a second-hand bike unless you are lucky enough to find a bike that “someone has thrown out on the street for fun.” My experiences this past week reiterate this point, and after searching unsuccessfully for a second-hand bike, I eventually gave up and decided to just buy a new bike.

Early in the week, I visited two bike shops close to home in Bondi Junction and neither of them had bikes that weren’t fixies (just some slang I picked up in LA) for under $900. Enter Ziggy, who bought a bike from Sydney’s own (and slightly sketchy) Cell Bikes for only $500! Still expensive, but hey, I have an establishment fund and I need a bike!

Ziggy has been out of town for the past four days to help Mariana with her move to Perth, and he generously lent me his bike to use while he was away. Yes! I planned to bike on Thursday to Cell Bikes after work, but it was pouring rain and cold, so I decided to go on Friday instead. My bike ride to work on Friday morning was ill-fated, as I ended up breaking Ziggy’s bike and having to walk it most of the way to uni. I hoped to fix it up enough to still take it to Cell Bikes after work, but at the end of the day, most of my lab headed for the pub, and I, in need of a drink, decided to join as well. After a great night at the pub (I really like my lab!), I walked the poor bike home.

Having broken Ziggy’s bike, I turned to the bus system on Saturday, and ended up spending most of Saturday riding different buses around Sydney, but I wasn’t able to find the shop before its closing time. I didn’t have a chance to charge my camera batteries, but I was able to snap these three shots before my camera died.

Not the bike store, but this is the Circular Quay- you can see the Harbour bridge and all the ferries that you can take to other parts of Sydney!

Also not the bike store, but Hyde Park, which is right next to the Royal Botanic Gardens, where I want to go next weekend.

Also not the bike store, but this is Sydney’s Town Hall. I wish I could have gotten a picture of the other side- it is huge, very beautiful, and, according to my tour book, it is “the city’s most elaborate building by accident,” because its builders were trying to outdo the rest of Sydney’s skyline.

I continued my search for the bike store yet again today, even waking up extra early to increase my chances of finding it. After many wrong-turns, and getting drenched in a monster storm, I finally found the store, and I am the proud new owner of a bike (it is actually identical to Ziggy’s, but smaller). I have to go back and pick it up next weekend, but I am glad that my bike search has finally come to an end. The $10 bus ride to work was starting to get to me- did I mention that Sydney is expensive?

Here is a picture of Ziggy’s bike. Imagine a smaller (and less broken) version.

Luckily, in the wake of my misadventures, I have found solace in a new comfort food, Tim Tams. These chocolate biscuits were Ziggy’s answer to my question of, “what is Australia’s national food?” and I am addicted. There are all sorts of interesting facts to be learned from the Tim Tam’s wikipedia page, including the fact that when Pepperidge Farm tried to introduce them to the U.S. this past October, they also “launched an online community site that allowed users to track the cookies’ journey from Australia to U.S. stores”.

In addition to being delicious, they are also the center of an Australian tradition known as the Tim Tam Slam, which involves biting off the two ends of a Tim Tam and then using the remaining cookie as a straw to drink a hot beverage. I just tried it with tea, and it is pretty good. I’m already on my 3rd packages of Tim Tams and I have only been here just over a week! Yikes!


Aside from these misadventures, I am excited for my work in lab, and for the opportunity to explore the city without searching for a bike store. I haven’t nailed down my project for lab yet, but I’m getting started by reading this book, which, as the title suggests, is a general review of species invasions, and I have slowly been writing chapter summaries and making lists of papers to read. I’m almost done, and tomorrow I have a meeting with Graeme to start brainstorming my project. Hopefully soon I will have a better idea of what I’m actually going to be doing, and I will give more information about my research shortly!

Ziggy also gave me a book written by his beloved USyd advisor that he claims is the “Bible of Ecology.” I’ve only just started it, but it seems really useful, so I’m off to read up on some ecology experimental design!

3 Responses

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  1. Thomas said, on August 15, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    Congratulations on the bike! Can you take some pictures of your marine lab, or would that be too invasive?

  2. Lenore said, on August 15, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    I thought Vegemite was the Australian national food!
    Thomas – that is a shameful comment!

  3. Gaurav said, on August 16, 2010 at 4:19 am

    Heh, I’ve had some interesting bike experiences in the past week too. It takes 20 minutes to walk to class in the morning and I just can’t wake up early enough to do it, so I just bought decided to buy a new bike for $90 at Walmart. I was so excited (since I hadn’t had a bike since my last one was stolen in 7th grade) that I just rode out onto the street after bringing it home, completely neglecting the fact that cars existed. Almost died like five times in ten minutes. It’s great though since I can now get to class in 8 minutes (including time to lock it up, put my helmet in my locker, etc).

    Google says A$500 is US$450. That’s insane for a bike. Do people just not bike in Australia?

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