A Pomme’s Perspective of: TOWNSVILLE

Usually when I mention Townsville to an Aussie all they say is ‘Bogan central’. Being a Brit, I had no idea what that meant so I ignored it. I had pre-organised a month housesitting a parakeet and a bearded dragon for a lovely Canadian couple who were off to introduce their baby to their family back home.

I’d managed to organise this via Trusted Housesitters where for a small fee you can create a profile and contact people who need sitters. This is a great way to get free accommodation somewhere whilst living in a normal house setting and having the wonderful company of all sorts of animals.

Townsville itself is relatively quiet. The town is formed around the base of a hill, and has Magnetic Island just a ferry ride away. Whilst I’ve been here I’ve been to Reef HQ and Billabong Sanctuary, two great places that help teach people about all the different kinds of animals found in the area.

Reef HQ is more of an education centre than an aquarium. It’s been created to teach people all about the Great Barrier Reef; from what lives there, to how it’s being damaged by us.

It’s main tank is a man-made reef with natural sunlight, and it contains a large variety of fish and sea creatures. They also have a turtle sanctuary which you can go around on a tour at certain times of the day.

The Billabong Sanctuary is also very educational but not like Reef HQ. Where Reef has lots of things to read, Billabong has constant talks and shows on each animal.

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I spent all my time there hopping from one talk to the next whilst checking out other animals in between. I learnt all about native birds to the area, wombats, koalas, dingoes, crocs, and turtles.

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You can also buy packets of food for the kangaroos and birds that live on the billabong and hand feed them.

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Housesitting in Townsville was a great month for me. I got to chill out with some beautiful animals, see the local wildlife, and bask in the sun whenever I wanted. It may be a quiet town with a few boy racers, but I wouldn’t let that put you off stopping there on your way up/down the coast.

A Pomme’s Perspective of: SYDNEY (but mostly Manly)

Just like Brisbane, when I first reached Sydney it was raining. It’s like Australia was telling me something (probably that it was winter?!). My first experience was to get the subway to Central station to meet my friend. After getting my bag I headed to the ticket booth and asked for an Opal card.

‘We don’t sell those here you have to get them from a shop.’

‘But you’re a public transport ticket vender and the opal card is for public transport. You have a top up machine just there!’

‘Yeah, but we don’t sell them, you have to buy a one way ticket.’

Why? Why do you not sell what is essentially an oyster card (look it up non-Londoners) at a place where you would definitely need an opal card? I guess, to rake the money in, ‘cause I then had to pay an extortionate price to sit for 20 minutes on a train. We have something similar in the UK, it’s called the WHOLE TRAIN NETWORK, but seriously it’s called the Express, and it sucks – I feel your pain.

After my first rainy night in the suburb of Redfern, I awoke to a sunny day and could finally see the beautiful houses of Sydney. These terraced houses are beautiful, and unlike anything I’d seen before. I walked through these areas that are classed as both the ‘ghetto’ and ‘creative’ parts of Sydney, and got myself on a fast ferry to Manly.

In just 20 minutes, you can be taken away from the hustle and bustle to a little surfer town with some awesome beaches. As soon as I saw Manly, I knew that it was the place for me to stay while I worked there. Apparently that’s what all the Brits say, and the reason that a lot of the people you come across there are from ol’ Blighty. I don’t mind though, it’s a great place with a good vibe, and some gorgeous views.

Since I arrived in Sydney during midwinter and their coldest one in decades, I needed to buy some warmer clothes. I spent an entire day walking around the shopping district which contains a huge Westfield as well as many other malls right by it. Pitt Street, which runs through the centre, had rows of evergreen trees to celebrate ‘Christmas in July’ – an event I was gradually getting used to – and there were Christmas decorations all through the malls.

The majority of shop names here mean nothing to me. I know Zara and Forever 21 but most of the others are absolutely new to me. My sister had told me about Sportsgirl, which was apparently a cheap shop back in ’91 when she came over here, but I don’t think it’s too cheap now.

Not knowing what sort of shop you’re entering can make the day more fun. I went into shops I probably wouldn’t have bothered with in the UK, and found some great purchases for low prices. By the end of a long day of shopping I’d spent too much, but was finally warm.


During my few nights in Redfern I was shown the highlights of Crown Street. This is clearly the place to be for good food, drinks, and sweet treats! I was introduced to both Messina and Kürtösh – two awesome places with dessert on their minds.

Messina is an ice cream parlour that’s become very famous for it’s different creations that are added to their specials board every week – just looking at their Instagram makes you want to hot foot it to their nearest branch immediately. I went there on a Saturday night and it was like a nightclub; there was a queue to get in and banging music inside. It was manic, but the staff knew what they were doing and moved the queue along quite quickly.

Kürtösh is a beautiful (and slightly dangerous) idea of ‘you get what you pay for’. You pay for the weight of the slice of cake you buy. Going in there having no clue what 100g looks like in cake form, I bravely chose my size of baked cheesecake brownie, and paid a mere $5.10. I was happy with the size I’d chosen and the price I’d paid. After my first bite, I was extremely happy; the brownie was absolutely delicious.

Manly so far…

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The more touristy views of Sydney will come when my boyfriend gets here, but for now I’m based in Manly, and loving it. There are so many beaches to choose from, not to mention picturesque walks. People come from all over the world to ride the waves of Manly, and relax on nearby Shelly beach.

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You can begin a walk from Shelly beach up through the trees, and get a view for miles from all angles. There’s a great walk which took me all along the coast line up to North Head, which is where you can look back at Sydney and watch the boats travelling through. This walk took me through swamps, army barracks, and a serene pool which had formed over the years on top of the cliff from collected rainwater. It was stunning and thoroughly enjoyable.

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Another sight to see here is Manly Sea Life Sanctuary. Being a sanctuary it’s known for protecting Manly’s own colony of little penguins that live underneath the wharf, and they have some which they’ve taken in after they’ve been found injured nearby. They also have tropical tanks, a touch pool, and a massive tank with sharks, turtles and huge stingrays. They have talks throughout the day, and shark dives where people can go in the tank with the sharks! It’s pretty fun seeing a stingray sneak up on a diver and swim over his head.

I’ve only spent three weeks in Manly so far but will be spending the next two months there where I plan to adventure further afield to Spit point and Taronga Zoo, along with many other places around Sydney.

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I’ll definitely be making my way back to Kürtösh a few times!

A Pomme’s Perspective of: BRISBANE

When I first reached Australia, I landed in a very wet Brisbane. I understood that it was winter, but I’d been told that Australia was blue skies and sunshine most of the year ‘round. I very quickly learnt that this was not the case. As I unpacked my bikinis and shorts, I questioned whether I’d chosen the right time of year to visit this amazing country.

After that ominous day, there were no more clouds in the sky, and I could finally see the huge blue I’d been told about. I felt like it stretched on forever. In the suburbs of Capalaba, my cousin drove me to an estate that had been made especially for the homeowners and nature to exist as one. They were made to integrate with the forest around them, and didn’t have fences around their land. This meant that every evening wallabies and kangaroos would come out of the bushes and feed from the road side. We were able to drive around the area slowly and get up close to the true Aussie animals from the comfort of the car.

As for Brisbane city centre, I got a train into Roma St Parkland and took a walk around. I told myself to slow walk, something I never did in London. I changed my pace, for a more leisurely walk and stopped to take pictures when I felt the need. As I got into the rainforest area, a wild turkey jumped out at me from the bushes! Seeing a turkey just roaming wild was a new thing for me – I thought it must’ve gotten away from somewhere!

The parkland is great for a chilled afternoon with friends or family, or just for a good walk. It has many different paths you can choose from, and there are maps at the train station and info centre in the park. It was great walking from a lake with fountains, watching people playing Frisbee, to a beautifully tended garden in honour of Colin Campbell who was a gardening presenter on Aussie TV. It’s clearly somewhere you can go any time of the year for a relaxed day out.

Later I walked through the city centre and found Archives Fine Books. It was written in my Lonely Planet guide of the East Coast that this was the place to go if you’re a book lover. It has a big board outside boasting about how it contains over 1 million books, and when you walk in you’re surrounded. Floor to ceiling, wall to wall, bookshelves are filled with books from antiques to current chart-toppers. They’re organised into all sorts of different categories. I spent over an hour flicking through such categories as autobiographies, crime fiction, and local books. In the end I settled on a Western from the ‘70s.

This place has some incredible antique books dating from as early as the 16th century lining the top shelves, and people come in all the time to drop off any books they no longer want. Everything in the store is catalogued, so the staff will be able to find what you’re looking for if they have it in the store.

As the sun came down I walked across the river and along the side of the south bank to look back at a city skyline. As soon as the photos were taken, it had already gone dark! Aussie sunsets last about a second! I quickly walked through South Bank parklands and found my way to the train station for the long journey back to Capalaba.

Oz DinosOn another trip into Brisbane I was a typical tourist. I went to see the GOMA (Gallery Of Modern Art), and Queensland Museum. Both came across as quite small to me, but I am used to the Natural History Museum of London which I’ve frequented many a time. The good news is they’re both free, so I took my time walking around and saw many stuffed Australian animals, and dinosaur bones.

Oz Dinos 2Outside these museums are the South Bank Parklands which have a beautiful false beach and kid’s pool play area. Even on a Winter’s day people are lying out sun-baking, as the Aussies call it.

Before leaving Queensland, I also got to walk around Wellington Point and did a swamp walk around the mangroves. I was impressed by the massive trees with their thick exposed roots which are home to so much wildlife like skinks and crabs.

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But for now, my time in Brisbane is over. I’ll be back with my boyfriend in December where we’ll be visiting Lone Pine Sanctuary, a place that’s been running for over 88 years!

A Pomme’s Perspective

Over the last few months I’ve seen so many new and different things to what I’ve been used to back in the UK, that I’ve decided to create a recurring feature of ‘A Pomme’s Perspective’.

Some things I’ve seen have come across as backwards, whilst others seem forward thinking, and some things just downright amuse me.

So with each destination, I’ll write up a bit about my findings and what I got up to while I was there. I’m hoping to give people a different view of a Brit in Oz.