First Week in Sydney – What We’ve Noticed


Our first outing after arriving from London is to the government office in Bondi Junction to apply for an Australian driver’s license. This will enable us to pick up our car lease and open a bank account, and get a local mobile phone. Everyone that works in the office is smiling and happy. This is not an exaggeration. I’ve never seen anything like it…it must be the sunshine.


Car sorted

We stop in at a Woolworth’s in the CBD (Central Business District) to pick up our Opal cards (Oyster in London). The lady at the till welcomes us to Australia and says she is of Aboriginal descent and smiles genuinely. She is a very kind and warm person who lights up our day.

While driving through town trying to figure out which neighbourhood to call home we pass numerous “hotel” establishments before we realise for certain that these are pubs.


Hotel, aka Pub

We stop for lunch and order the kids burgers and chips and the waiter asks would we like “sauce” with that. The answer is yes, the kids would like some ketchup. “Tomato sauce” is both ketchup and marinara.


Tomato Sauce, aka Ketchup

Houses are viewed by potential renters once, maybe two, times per week in 15 minute windows.  Meaning the house is open for 15 minutes for any potential renters to view the place and rush in their application. We must schedule an appointment expressing our interest before showing up. One home has what looks to be a poinsettia tree adjacent to it. I do a double take. Yes, it’s a Christmas plant gone wild. Apparently, a weed in Sydney. I had no idea they grew so big!

The roads are wide like American roads but left handed driving like in the UK. Thank god, I spent three months learning how to do it properly in London. I look at the speedometer and I am cruising on a side street going almost 60mph, oh wait, the speed is in km here, wow! Seems more practical, UK.


Massive Poinsettia

In the UK, you drive on the left and pass on the right; but stand on escalators on the right to allow people to pass on the left.  Australia took a more consistent approach, meaning that the left side is the slow lane for both streets and escalators.  They’ve also got some funky old wooden escalators in some of their train stations.

Searching for playgrounds and waterparks to let the kids blow off some steam I find one that has a pool and suggests we bring our “swimmers”.

Whenever we are greeted it always begins with: “How you going?” By car, we are going by car.  Not really sure what the appropriate response is: “I’m going well?”

Some words are the same as in England: chips, primary school, and jumpers. Some vocabulary is American: pants, real estate agents, and high school. Then there are some that are uniquely Australian like: runners – put on your feet when going for a jog, swimmers – a bathing suit, and tradies – tradesmen who come to your house and do work that you can’t do yourself. It is an interesting mix of terminology from these three parts of the world.

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