the feelgood organization



Accept more miracles by giving more love.

Initiation to OZ

I was about 27 and had to get to Australia for the first time before the end of July or the residency permit would expire. Before the plane ride from Los Angeles to Sydney, my mom made my favorite meal for supper; her small meatball lasagna. Both of my parents and my sister Lia came to drop me off at the airport. I waited until the last moment to check in; about 10 minutes before take off. The flight was full so they bumped me up to first class. Dumb luck! While climbing the stairs to my seat in the first class section I spotted a new bottle of Johnny Walker Scotch Whiskey.

After I sat down the stewardess asked if I would like something to eat or drink. Being full of my mom's most excellent lasagna, I declined food and asked for glass of that Johnny Walker on ice. Flight to Sydney had one stop at Hawaii. Instead of eating any of the abundant and beautiful looking food offered to me in first class between LA and Hawaii, I drank Johnny Walker. There was 45 minute layover in Hawaii. By the time we got there I was very drunk. I stumbled off the plane to look around and got lost in the airport. I finally found the terminal a few minutes after the plane was scheduled to leave and hopped on just in the nick of time. They left the gate open a little extra waiting for me to return. I was lucky to have made it.

I did not drink anything from Hawaii to Sydney but the damage was done. By the time we pulled into Sydney, my head was pounding and the morning was just beginning. I did not know anyone in Sydney and had not arranged any place to stay once I got there. I got off the plane and collected my bags. While walking from the baggage area to outside, I passed a bulletin board with pictures of Backpacker hostels. There were dozens of postings there with a button next to each one to initiate a phone call. I spotted a backpacker in Coogee that advertized walking distance to the beach, $9/day, and free pickup from the airport. My sorry head couldn't have seen anything better. I pressed the button and picked up the phone. A fast talking Irishman answered, said he was sorry but in the middle of some painting and wouldn't be able to pick me up for an hour. Of course, being so thankful, I said no problem.

After checking into Coogee Beach Backpackers, I walked down to the beach and stopped at a bank along the way. There I got a sample of every bill and coin at $20 and below to familiarize myself with the currency. I went to bed early that afternoon and slept well into the next morning. By the time I did finaly get up I was feeling good.

For the next many days I explored around Sydney's southern beaches like Bondi and Bronet. Then I moved up to a Backpackers in Manly Beach and stayed there for a few of days exploring. Circular Quay and downtown Sydney is a nice ferry ride from Manly. Went on bus north to places like and DeeWhy and Palm Beach.

After checking out Sydney's beaches I took train to Wahroonga and hitch hiked north on highway 1 to Brisbane. One guy picked me up in a ute and drove me all the way to Brisbane. He had recently gotten over a bad experience with heroine that lasted about a year. In Brisbane I stayed in a backpackers near downtown and quickly discovered that the beach is far away so moved down to Surfers Paradise for a few days.

At backpackers in Surfers paradise, I met a couple guys from England. They were from a heavily accented part of England. I actually thought they were from Germany because I could not really understand what they were saying. We went out for beer and continued talking. With more beer comes less need to understand and that seamed fine with us. At the end of the evening, one of them wrote his address down on back of coaster and I noticed it was in England. I don't remember the region they were from but, later, other Englishmen told me that even they have trouble understanding the blokes from that region.

While in Surfers Paradise one day, I heard from my parents that my old boss in America called to know when I was coming back. I had not actually quit my job but instead took a "leave of absense". Much had happen between leaving that job and now. Returning to my old job did not seam like a good idea so I called my old boss, Freeman Harris, and let him know. The whole thought did, however, get me thinking that it would be a good idea to find some work.

So, I headed back up to Brisbane to stay at the same backpackers near downtown and started researching how to find a professional level software development job in a country and society new to me. Along with key things in my backpack, I was also traveling cheaply with dress suit in garment bag. After learning difference between a CV and a resume, I got an interview with a company that sold computer software to mining companies. That didn't work out so I hitched back to Sydney.

Back in Sydney I a rented room in a house a few blocks from beach in Dee Why. I stayed there for a couple of weeks continuing my search for work. Headhunter Terry Kimbal of Andersen's Consulting knew of opportunity in Canberra. If I got myself to Canberra for interview, he would fly me back to Sydney. I hopped on bus to Canberra and after the interview, Terry and I drank beer before flight back to Sydney. I told him that I had to go back to the states to see my brother get married and that I could start in two weeks. He wasn't sure if I would ever start but gave me 12 month contract for 1840 hours working at Australian Department of Veterans Affairs.

After flying back to Los Angeles to see Warren and Tina's wedding, I returned to Sydney. This time I bought with me my mountain bike and computer. While I was gone, my Dee Why flatmate stole my 6 piece eagle claw fishing pole. Then he moved out of the house before I got back. That kind of bumed me out. Anyway, I moved out also as soon as I returned and took the bus to Canberra with all my stuff; backpack, garment bag, computer, and mountain bike. A lot of junk. First I checked into backpackers in O'Connor area near downtown Canberra. The job was in Woden.

On one nights bike ride from the job in Woden to the Backpackers north of downtown Canberra, I was flying down a hill into a ravine. The bike path was in a dark pine forest north west of the lake and I wanted maximum speed to ease climb up the other side. Without lights, I could barely see the path. While flying through the turn at the bottom, the only thought in my mind was "stay left, stay left". Having grown up in North America, it was against my instincts but I kept thinking the correct thing to do was stay left. Suddenly, another cyclist without lights coming in the other direction came flying down. We were each flying about 50 kmh. My heart, and I'm sure his, stopped beating the fleeting instant we saw each other on the 2 meter wide path. Then we passed and resumed individual climbs up the other side.

For the next couple of weeks I rode my bike through the park around the lake to work until I found a room in a house in Curtin with Russell Schafer and Geoff.

I had made it to Auss and settled into sustainable situation where I could explore.