Still Waiting for the First Meter Read (sigh)

(rant) Yesterday was not the best day in Oz, waiting all day for Ausgrid to read the meter. They have to do a “first read” to begin the electricity billing process. What a convoluted and almost certainly corrupt system of cronyism of utilities. In 2014 the Australian government released utility companies to form a system of retailers and corresponding distributors that offer gas and power to customers. Since March 20th, we have been trying to set up gas & power in our name. Yesterday we had an appointment with Energy Australia (retailer) between 8am - 6pm. I waited ALL DAY for someone to show – no one ever did.

Called several times, Energy Australia, then AusGrid, neither knows what the other is doing, so poorly orchestrated. One tells me I need to be here, the other says no, the technician has access to the building- ugh - which is it? Then AusGrid said they set up their appointments through the retailers in the AM and PM (7-12 or 12-5.) Hmmm… So I called En. Aus. back, they knew nothing about the time options. I called again at 5PM ready to explode and AuGr tells me, no one was ever coming out today, my unit was scheduled for Friday, 8/4! Grrr!! I called EnAus to confirm this and it was indeed 7/4 as I had remembered it and I even had a confirmation # to prove it! They had no idea why AuGr had our apt for 8/4. No joke.

Simultaneously, I waited for TPG to set up our internet wi-fi/phone/dsl and was told someone was coming out between 12-5. A Telstra technician showed at 11AM to do preliminary work before TPG hooks up the line from the main in the cellar. Whatever… just glad someone was doing something! This is a pretty old building, charming “Arts & Crafts style” but the cellar was a site to see, crumbling and filthy. I worry a bit about the foundation of this building, yikes! A mass of wires and pipes, amazing that it all functions properly.

Well, not long after the Telstra tech was here and gone, we received a call from TPG later in the day and now we need yet another appt with another technician who can set up the internal cabling from the MDF room to our apartment, another $60! Did the previous tenant really not have internet access?! So, we still wait, since 20/3, for internet in our apt. (/end rant)

Last night I thought I would check with a neighbor, in apt #2, to ask if this was the typical protocol for utilities set up. Young, good-looking guy answered the door. Very casual, “no worries”, they (the utility co.’s) just ring everyone’s doorbells until someone let’s them in! It’s hit or miss basically. He, Alistair, also told me that his apt was broken into today and the police would be there any moment! I was sickened and shocked as he was taking it so well. Apparently they had bent the bars on the bathroom window and slipped in and out w/o anyone noticing, stealing Alistair’s laptop. I was home all day, frequently going outside, out front looking for the utility folks and never saw any suspicious activity. Forensics and police were back again today too. I still can’t believe they were able to bend the metal bars. Not feeling very safe here now even though we are in such a great neighborhood.

Oh well, next post should hopefully be a little more upbeat! Until next time…

Today’s Aussie phrase: “Act the Goat” = playing the fool

Enjoy a few pix of my building and beautiful neighborhood!

This is my apartment, #6, conveniently located directly across from the lift = elevator. The little door on the left opens to a spot where the milkman once left bottles of milk for the original residents.

The lift, check out all that beautiful original woodwork inside.

The Sharp building 55 Lavender St., where Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban own a penthouse suite. Although rumor has it they sold it not that long ago.


Our building with all the mature palm and fig trees in front.


A typical find around the area!


A letter we all received regarding the break-in in our building, although it was Lavender St, not Walker.


One of the volunteers that tends to Wendy’s Secret garden, across from our building.


One of many rainbow lorikeets that take up residence high up in the palm trees in Clark park, also across from our building.


A regular and his scottie in Clark park.


More beautiful lorikeets


Telstra guy examining the wiring in the cellar…



Tourists

Yesterday we walked for miles around the city, starting from the touristy but quaint, The Rocks and Circular Quay. This is where the cruise ships on steroids dock and passengers enter old Sydney, where there are endless old alleyways and beautiful historic buildings. Lots of high-end designer shopping and niche stores.

We finally arrived at the Sydney Opera House and it’s size alone is so imposing and the architecture, stunning, no wonder it is the iconic landmark that it is. In the surrounding area, you are also consumed by the harbor and bridge views with a variety of boats and yachts sailing by. From there we entered the Royal Botanic Gardens, 30 hectares of endless beauty.

Next up was Hyde Park where we ate Chinese on George St. to end an exhausting but adventurous day. 

Along the way, if you’re lucky, when it’s trash night, you can find some really cool and usable stuff on the sidewalk. Sidewalk finds are fast becoming one of my favorite hobbies around here! It’s amazing what people will throw away. I found several wicker baskets as well as some kitchen items that were in perfect condition.

Random - A friend here is called a “mate,” probably one of the most well-known affections of Australians and you hear it all the time!

Jim posing as The Convict at The Rocks

Aborigines greet tourists at the cruise ship and ferry dock in Circular Quay


Circular Quay


Me in front of the Opera house


Royal Botanic Gardens

The iconic fig trees around Sydney and Australia in general and spectacular beyond words….

For scale, look how tiny Jim looks next to this tree


Hyde Park, St. Mary’s Church in the background, Indian wedding party in the foreground


Glimpse of an eel in the botanic garden pond



A Rainy Easter Weekend

Well we celebrated our first Easter Down Under and the heathens that we are, we never made it to church. But we did manage to rent another van and this time it started and kept running without incident! Found several car rental places and dealerships up in Artarmon so this will be our go-to suburb when a car is needed.

Unfortunately it rained all weekend, straight through Friday & Sat., combined with holiday store closings, made Sydney more of a ghost town than the thriving metropolis it usually is. It is considered a public holiday straight through from Fri into and including Monday. While in Artarmon though, we found Fantastic furniture and Bunnings were open on Sat. so we bought shelving, lighting and a trash bin. I even remembered to look for Henry to surprise him with an American dollar bill but he was not working that day. From there, we went to Chelsea and James apartment. They are a super nice couple we met on the Sydney Americans Facebook group. Great timing that they were headed back to Texas and needed to unload everything from an iron and ironing board to a kitchen table and chairs and pretty much everything in between. We got so much accomplished, it was great!

The rain finally stopped a bit on Easter so that was a nice break but at least it kept us indoors to put our cheapo furniture together before heading out for more exploring.

Yesterday, later in the day, after sorting through mail and putting together furniture, we went for a hike (called bush-walking here!) through Ball’s Head Reserve. The council converted an old BP oil refining and coal mining facility into bush-walking trails, replanting native plantings with Million dollar views of the harbor in the distance. We saw monstrous-sized spiders everywhere, holy crap! lol Had no idea how close a walk it was from our apartment. We just walked up Lavender and onto Union St. The suburb changes from Lavender Bay to Waverton, a very nice neighborhood! We may consider it if/when we move next year. But I have to say that it is a challenge to find a balance between street & train noise and an easy walk to the train station. During our walk in Waverton, we came across an adorable cafe, The Grumpy Cafe, formerly The Grumpy Baker.

A little history and description here: http://www.bestsydneywalks.com/balls-head-reserve/

Check out these beautiful views of the city skyline and harbor from Ball’s Head.


We met a friend along the way (water dragon, like the spiders, they are everywhere too)


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