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Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Anyone wanting to stay in Sydney for a reasonable nightly rate and within cooee of the CBD can't go past the Cambridge Hotel in Riley Street, Surry Hills. The carpark is pretty squeezy but just around the corner on Oxford Street is the best Swiss bakery-cum-cafe in the known universe. It opens around 6am and closes near 9pm, so regardless of when the munchies arrive, you're covered (pretty much).

I didn't stay there every night, but only the final four. For the first night I went to the airport and took a room in a motor inn south of the international terminal. The fish basket was OK but I didn't sleep well. Second night - after interviewing the Sunswift people at the University of New South Wales - I stayed at a hotel near the domestic terminal. The salmon was good but too pricey. So I headed into town.

Sydney is best when you don't need to drive far. Admittedly, I had to drive to see a friend a couple of times, so I was on the streets for an hour or so each day. But by staying near Oxford Street I had easy access to good restaurants, such as The Balkan, and I was able to leave the car behind some of the time.

I also found a great little Thai restaurant called Let's Eat near Marrickville train station, on Illawarra Road. The food is fresh and doesn't contain the tons of different things you normally find in (generally) too-greasy Thai fare. Well worth the time and money.

But I didn't come to Sydney to eat and drink coffee. On the first Sunday, I spent pretty close to the entire day with a bunch of enthusiastic young scientists who have built a solar car. We talked and I used my voice recorder freely. I took snaps of them doing things to the car's electrical gizmos and its shiny, black carbon-fibre body. We ate lunch and breakfast, which I bought for them (six meat pies). I lay on the cold tarmac of Centennial Park so that I could get the best-possible snap of the vehicle cruising around the track among the weekend cyclists and mothers with prams.

It was fun.

A few days later I met with an entrepreneur named Matt Jones. This was Wednesday around 3pm. We walk about East Sydney, Darlinghurst and Paddington visiting four small businesses. I took snaps and plied my voice recorder.

The problem now is the number of recordings I have to transcribe. This onerous task is a personal bane. I recently bought a new computer and I lost the driver CD that allows you to upload and play recordings, so today I called the company in Melbourne and ordered a replacement disk. It arrives tomorrow.

Anyway, for the past 12 days I've been busy so I'm taking a day off. No writing until the driver software gets here.

In addition to seeing friends in Sydney and doing interviews, I spent a couple of days with my cousin and her family in the Manning River valley, in New South Wales. Fun times, lots of good conversation. Maybe I talked about my new career a bit too much, but that's a byproduct of my innate enthusiasm for what I do. It's a privilege to get to talk to so many interesting people. I really enjoy the work, apart from transcribing, and lack for nothing except one of those foot-controlled pedal gizmos that let you type and play recordings at the same time.

Oh my, spending money again!

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