Category Archives: Australia

Bored, Lonely Days In Torquay

There has been a lot of down time here in Torquay and Aussie.  I have had the chance to travel a lot with work, but it is not the same as traveling like I have been for the past year and a half. The people I work with are great, exactly what I would expect working for a surf company.  The people are very similar to those I worked with back in the states.

The big difference here, I think, is the small town I am in seems very tight knit.  Also, where I work, and sit in the company building that is not very conducive to meeting or interacting with many people. Now I know that it takes about 6-8 months, sometimes a year, to really incorporate into a place, make friends, and feel like part of the fabric. The problem is I’m not sure I am patient enough for that right now in my life.

Another contributing factor is after my experience in Peru, I am having hard mental battles trying to keep positive and think that I can still effect the outcome of my life through just my actions alone.  I am realizing that so much of what happens to us is determined by other people, and circumstances beyond our control.  I feel out of control, and it has been hard to deal with.

I’m sure I will look back on this (or at least I hope to) and see that it was only a down time after many months of excitement. I hope I can come through this and start to enjoy the amazing place that I am in. As of right now, I am giving it a total of 6 months, and if something magical doesn’t happen, I will probably move on to the next thing.  What that is, I have no idea.

Weekends In Melbourne

Melborne is a rad city.  I really find myself enjoying it.  It reminds me a lot of New York City but without the filth or despair.  I am surprised by Aussie as it has a familiarity for me.  The culture, people, and feel of the place is really similar to the states and all the good and bad that comes with that similarity.

A good way to describe and relate Aussie and its two main cities is this:  If Sydney, with its great weather, harbor and hills geography, and glitz could be compared to LA, Melbourne would be its opposite. It would represent New York City in the states.  Melbourne is the cultural hub and has a great little grit and underground vibe to it.

Out In Melborune

Out In Melborune

Torquay is a quite town in the winter, so for a few weekends I drove the 100K, 1.5 hours to Melbourne for some entertainment.  My friends Ed and Steph who I met in New Zealand are living right in the city and offered me a couch anytime I came up.  Ed works in a restaurant so he is busy on the weekends and at nights.  This means that most times in the city I have wandered alone.   I even had a few nights out on the town by myself.  One or two nights alone out is not too bad, but after that it starts to feel a little sad.

Section 8

Section 8

Section 8 is a cool concept bar.  The space is a asphalt lot down a tight street.  The owner put 2 shipping containers in the space and made one into a bar and one into storage and toilets.  The tables and sitting area are exposed and the whole lot becomes a beer garden.  Each time I have been to Section 8 the music selection has been some of the best I have listened to anywhere I have ever been….no joke.

Some Little Watering Hole

Some Little Watering Hole

I’m by myself here in Hell Upstairs.  Cool little bar on a really great cafe filled street in the heart of Melbourne.

Croft Institute

Croft Institute

From Wednesday through Sunday there is a permanent and very large farmer market in Melbourne.  It is one of my favorite places in the city so far.  The main enclosed building has delicatessens, and some great bakeries.  Another section of the building are occupied by butcher and seafood stalls.  Out behind the building under an open air roof are all the veggies.  Across the road are rows and rows of selling booths filled with everything from cheap Chinese goods to footwear, clothing, souvenirs and everything in between.

Victoria Market

Victoria Market Deli's

Victoria Veggie Farm Market

Victoria Veggie Farm Market

Victoria Veggie Farm Market

Victoria Veggie Farm Market

Victoria Veggie Farm Market

Victoria Veggie Farm Market

Getting to and from Melbourne from Torquay is pretty convenient.  I can drive, or catch a train from the South Geelong train station which is about 20 minutes from my house in Jan Juc.  The train drops me off right in the city proper at the Southern Cross Train Station.  One way takes about 50 minutes.

Southern Cross Train Station

Southern Cross Train Station

Southern Cross Train Station

Southern Cross Train Station

Thanks for reading!

Sydney and Gold Coast Market Trip

A month into the job I went to Jakarta for 2 weeks on my first factory development trip.  I have never been to Jakarta so it was a first time experience.  I was excited to see our factories and the capabilities they had.  I like to relate a factory trip to the clips from Mr. Rogers when they used to show how things get made, except I get to see it in real time, and smell.

Unfortunately the 2 weeks for the development trip were by far the most difficult I have ever experienced.  I ended up doing hours upon hours of administrative work that is a waste of time and money when on at factory trip.  We should have been focusing on improving processes, learning how the factory set things up and made sandals, not filling out paper work.  This was a learning lesson for me as I am surprised that long established companies would do work this way.

A month after the Jakarta trip the footwear team (consisting of me and the girls footwear designer) along with the wetsuit designers went on a domestic (Aussie) market trip.  We where to go to Sydney and the northern beaches, then hop up to the gold coast and visit Byron Bay.  I can say that I have never had a more packed travel schedule than this job is ending up having.

Manly

Manly, Sydney, Australia

After a full day of kicking around the city of Sydney we drove over to Manly.  This is one of the main beach for city dwellers and is a famous surf spot.  The beach is simply beautiful.

Manly

Manly

One night in Sydney after dinner one of my co-worker’s friends took us out to a cool little hidden bar.  It was Monday, and the place was mellow but busy.  The wall background was perfect for black and white photos. If your ever in Sydney, check out the Grasshopper Bar if you can find it down the alleyway, its rad.

Night Out In Sydney With The Work Crew

Night Out In Sydney With The Work Crew

After a tour of Sydney and Manly we flew up to the gold coast.  This is the Aussie vacation destination.  The entire coastline is developed with resorts and there are several world class surf spots.  Snapper Rocks and Duranbah beach are 2 of the most famous waves on he planet, and some of the most surfed. The crowds can get heavy.

Duranbah

Duranbah

Duranbah

Duranbah

Lucky for me, the footwear Product Manager is a obsessed surfer.  He met us up here for 3 days, and each morning we would head over to D-bah for a dawn surf.

I got one of my best barrels ever which I can describe as the ocean giving me a hug….its imprinted into my brain forever.

Snapper Rocks, Superbank

Snapper Rocks, Superbank

Superbank

Superbank

Snapper Rocks and Superbank where pretty flat the entire time. This is the second time I have been here and I have never gotten it with swell.  I would love to see it when is pumping.  Maybe next time.

Ridiculous Night Doing The Belt Buckle

Ridiculous Night Doing The Belt Buckle

Our last night on the Goldie we ended up dragging each other out to some of the clubs in Surfers Paradise.  Think of 18 year old’s getting smashed and terrible club music in a velvet draped room.  It was a big joke being there as all of us on the trip are well past this point in our lives, but there is something to be said for stepping back and visiting he insanity once is a great while.

Here I am doing the belt buckle, it is my little piece of Americana I can bring and a nod to Jeff Prescott my old university roommate who dazzled me with this move so many years ago.  Thanks Jeff!

Living In Torquay….The Aussie Surf Capital

House in Jan Juc

House in Jan Juc

Torquay is a smallish town of about 10,000 permanent residence.  In the summer the population can swell to 30,000 as many city dwellers from Melbourne have holiday or rental property here.  This works to my advantage because in the winter there are many new houses that are empty and in need of renters.  I linked up with another new arrival, Sam who was hired to manage the flagship store in Torquay and moved from Sydney.  He is Scottish but has lived in OZ for 5 years.  He rented this house and had a few rooms open.

Front Door

Front Door

Back Porch

Back Porch

The place is only 2 years old, and set up like a vacation house.  Its in the town next to Torquay called Jan Juc.  There is a development on top of the hill and lots have been carved up and built on.  We are at the back of the development and have a great view of the surrounding farm land.  I think this is going to be a great place for the summer!

On The Porch

On The Porch

Back Yard

Back Yard

Kitchen and Living Room

Kitchen and Living Room

Living Room

Living Room

Entrance way into main room

Entrance way into main room

Kitchen Island

Kitchen Island

We have deemed it the international house as the 3rd roommate is a young French kid who is over in Australia for 6 months to do an internship.  Its been a good set up so far, we will see if some Aussies get into the mix at some point.

Surfcoast Surf

Bells Beach

Bells Beach

I arrived in Torquay a few days before I started work.  This stretch of coast is famous because 2 of the biggest surf companies in the world started here.  Bells host the longest running surf contest in the world and this year it will celebrate its 40th anniversary.

Early Morning Bells

Early Morning Bells

I surfed one morning with good swell and got some great shots of Bells and Winki Pop which is the next point down.  The Bells and Winki areas are the first surf reserves in the world.  The land and coast line is protected at dedicated as a reserve for recreation and sealife.  A natural protected playground!

Bells Point

Bells Point

Bells End Section

Bells End Section

Just Down from Bells, Winki Pop

Just Down from Bells, Winki Pop

Winki

Winki

I drove about 2 hours west along the great ocean road.  There will be more on this in upcoming posts.  Here is a beautiful bay along the road.

Somewhere on the Great Ocean Road

Somewhere on the Great Ocean Road

Somewhere on the Great Ocean Road

Somewhere on the Great Ocean Road

Back to Aussie, Full Time

I arrived back to Australia emotionally drained.  I had missed my flight out Peru and ended up accidentally spending 2 days in Buenos Aires which was pretty amazing.

During this time I had taken a job offer for a surf company located in a little town south of Melbourne in the surf industry capital, Torquay, Australia.

Going into this I was very unsure if getting back into a corporate lifestyle in a small town in a country where I knew no one was the right decision.  But I figured I should give it a crack, and the company and I worked out a 3-6 month trial to see how we liked each other.

I flew into Sydney, stayed a few nights and watched the world cup finals with some Germans and Dutch friends. I closed my storage locker, packed up my gear, loaded up a hire car, and made the 12 hour drive down to Melbourne and the state of Victoria.  I was back in the surf industry, designing sandals, only this time I was down unda’!

A Week In Sydney

Sydney

Sydney

I arrived in Sydney around 6 at night.  I collected all my large bags and caught a shuttle to the hostel that was recommended to me by a friend in NZ.  The hostel is located in Kings Cross, an area just to the east of the CBD.  To get to the heart of the city it is only a 20 min walk.

Kings Cross is considered the red light district is Sydney, however it seems that each street changes, and only the main street through the area has a seedy side, while the side streets are packed with cafes and tree lined city residential housing.

Once I got to the hostel I grabbed a bite to eat then, crashed out.

The next day I tried to contact friends of friends and tried to find a storage unit.  About mid day I walked to the Botanical Gardens that are famous in Sydney.  Its is an amazing urban park, and the crown jewel at the end of the walk is the Sydney Opera House.

Walking through the park is incredible.  There are cockatoos just hanging out and will walk right up to you.  Thousands of large cat sized bats hang from the trees.  They look like winged squirrels.  There where hand sized spiders and a variety of other birds.  The vegetation is also unique to Australia, and the whole park seemed foreign to me.

Bats in the Sydney Botanical Gardens

Bats in the Sydney Botanical Gardens

More Bats

Birds will just walk right up to you.

Birds will just walk right up to you.

Cockatoo

Cockatoo

View of Sydney from Botanical Gardens

View of Sydney from Botanical Gardens

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

Opera House

Opera House

Opera House

Opera House

Opera House

Opera House

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Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

From the opera house, Sydney Harbor and the bridge are viable and across to Manly.

Standing at the opera house looking across the harbor towards Manly

Standing at the opera house looking across the harbor towards Manly

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Looking back at the city from the opera house

Looking back at the city from the opera house

I continued to walk all day around the city, exploring the CBD area, and some of the nice urban parks surrounding the city.  I also worked my way down to china town and the paddy markets, which are excellent for fresh veggie shopping but are also filled with endless stalls filled with cheap mass produce china crap.

I walked through Hyde Park which is a beautiful urban park that runs along a long axis.

Hyde Park

Hyde Park

Hyde Park

Hyde Park

Hyde Park Chess

Hyde Park Chess

After a long day of walking I went back to the hostel and relaxed for a while.  I planned to meet up with my friend Jesse whom I met when I first arrived in New Zealand, and she has since moved to live in Sydney.  It was great to meet up with a friend in a foreign city.  She introduced me to some of her friends and we had a night out.

At the moment Sydney is on par with NYC prices.  The strong Aussie dollar and the weak USD make for a frighteningly expensive time for Americans in Australia.  After a week, I easily spent more than I will in a month in Thailand.  I keep thinking that it just isn’t worth being in a western country, your money just doesn’t go far enough, especially when compared to visiting the 3rd world.

A week was long enough in Sydney and I was ready to get out of the city.  Next stop Thailand! I cannot wait to eat and eat and eat!