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Saturday, 30 June 2007

Living and working in Oz - Page 3

Written by Megan Manni
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By most people’s standards, I had made it. I had a good job - glamorous even to some - great benefits and off-the-chart raises every year. By no means was I rich, but I paid all my bills and made it work. I had my own apartment in New York City, my life all planned out according to subway line, volunteer work, and a vibrant social life. I was living in the largest and arguably the most exciting city in the world, but something was still missing.

It started in Bondi Beach and ended in Coogee – where I had the undeniable feeling of coming home. The 5k walk-through had taken me on a scenic path through some of the most beautiful beaches in Australia, inches from the water’s edge. The cave-like rocks, stunning views, sea spray, wind and sunshine all welcomed me. The Walk is also a popular jog or exercise route for locals, and even crosses the picturesque Waverly Cemetery on its way through quiet hamlets like Tamarama, Bronte, Clovelly, Gordon’s Bay and ultimately Coogee Beach. I felt like Goldilocks – while all other beaches were lovely, none felt quite right until I reached the community of Coogee.australia

I rounded the arc at the top of a hill overlooking the beach, and smiled. Coogee had a sweeping bay with a large expanse of sand, a unique shallow rock pool and two large park areas adjacent to the sand. Streets both parallel and perpendicular to the beach were lined with restaurants and “hotels” or pubs. The hilltop itself was romantic, providing views down the coastline to more hills on the opposite end of the beach that would rival the French Riviera. Where I was standing there had been two memorials erected in honor of those Coogee locals lost in the terrorist bombings of Bali in 2002. At 6 p.m. on a sunny Thursday evening the beach was still dotted with people, and I knew this suburb had a foundation. Not only that, it was a mini-hub for buses to and from Sydney’s CBD, or central business district. While I boarded the bus to leave, I saw a huge sign for a hostel across the street, and my plan was advanced. But first, there was a little more of downtown Sydney I had to see.

australiaI’ll never forget the first time I saw the Sydney Opera House. It is every bit as gorgeous as it is in pictures, and after my long-awaited arrival the sight of the white-tiled exterior was even more breathtaking in person. A proud grin crept across my face as I savored my accomplishment.

Ever since I was little riding in the backseat of my parents’ car on trips to visit relatives, I was fascinated by suspension bridges. My eyes would follow the arches from the ground up and over from one side to the other, and I used to imagine what it’d be like to walk up and down and whether the two waist-high cables that followed the rib of the bridge were supposed to be handrails. When I found out I could climb Sydney’s famous bridge, I couldn’t wait to suit up. So before I even left America, I had booked my spot on the Harbour Bridgeclimb.

On my second day in Australia, I reported at my appointed time to the Bridgeclimb. After some training, explanations and introductions to others in the climb group, we were off. We all wore the given grey, lightweight body suits that were designed to keep us cool while keeping our body heat in for the ascent to a height twice that of the Opera House. We were attached via karabiner to those cables I’d always wondered about, and were told stories by our guide about the history and building of the bridge and those who fell from it and lived to tell. Not the best thing to hear on the climb, one would think, but we felt entirely safe in our straps and gear. The only worrisome part was when the wind picked up, but by then we were halfway through and on our way down.

(Page 3 of 6)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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