The Last of Oz: Ghosts, goodbyes and green hair

Australia, Sydney: Visa’s almost up. It’s time to freak out and cry a little and drink a lot.

The weather has been horrible the last while, but our second to last weekend in Sydney grants us sunshine and a bearable heat. Sharon and I roll out of bed at 6 in the morning and get into an Uber that takes us for breakfast at Maccas on Bondi beach, where we catch a glimpse of the sunrise. With a ham and cheese pocket in our hands, we walk to Darrren and Rhi’s to watch the rugby match between Ireland and Wales. While I am obviously on team Ireland, they force me to drink my morning tea out of a Welsh mug, which Sharon is (jokingly?) upset about. I know nothing about rugby and am not interested in it either, so I sit there and speak my usual simlish with Harri.

After getting back to Randwick, we grab lunch and drinks at Bat Country. After a mediocre burger, we end up having one too many Young Henry’s ciders and a good chat. Sunday I repeat the success by going on a session at The Royal Hotel with Tanya, where we enjoy live music and I end up babysitting the singer’s kid.

They say you’re only a true Irish if you wake up with a hangover on St. Patrick’s Day. I guess that makes me an honorary Irish, because I go for drinks with Ellie, Aitor and Minnie at The Noble Hops the day before for goodbyes and free beers. Ellie and I got very drunk last time we went, and for some reason the bartenders recognize us (or have they just been warned by Aitor?). We drink, stare at a dog that is adorably napping on the floor or sitting in peoples laps, and yell at each other in funny voices and try to get a free taste of all the beers multiple times.

As fun as the night is, waking up at 5 am the next morning and almost throwing up on the bus and then working for 8 hours is not ideal. For my 30-minute lunch break, I run out in the pouring rain, borrowing Jay’s massive raincoat, but getting my trainers soaked, to get Maccas for Ellie and I. I end up getting back with only 5 minutes to eat my lunch, and stuffing yourself with two cheeseburgers in 5 minutes while you’re sickly hungover isn’t ideal either. After making myself two milkshakes in work and getting a great nap at home, I’m all better and ready for St. Patty’s day though.

We have pizza and put on something green and head to Coach and Horses, which isn’t as packed as anywhere in Bondi would be at this time. Thank God. We’re trying to avoid last year’s inability to find a decent bar and get Guinness on tap. Luckily, Coach has both a table AND Guinness on tap, which is a horrible beer, especially if you’ve just stuffed yourself with pizza, but it goes down and then we get down. By that, I mean we go upstairs, find a hat in the corner of the bar, and meet Matthew, Tom and Patty, who has gum and a coaster stuck on his pale, lime green pants.

We all hype each other up to go sing a song, as it also happens to be karaoke Friday, and whenever we are around for that, I spend all night trying to convince the girls to sing with me. We are thoroughly entertained throughout the night, with heavy rapper Blake doing Tupac and The Black Eyed Peas and trying to get me to make out with him, the old Indian lady who’s there every Friday doing a headache-inducing rendition of Dancing Queen, her boyfriend who’s great at Elvis songs, the occasional Sweet Caroline or The Horses, the blonde girl who only sings country, the shy girl who surprises us with her awesome Adele cover, Patty who sings Louis Armstrong and System of A Down and headbangs, and then there’s me. For the first time, I’m confident enough to go up on my own and sing terribly, but all my friends – new and old – get up and dance and sing with me halfway through All Star, A Thousand Miles and Africa. As Tanya has work the next morning, she actually leaves before me, which is a rare accomplishment for me: outlasting a 23-year old Irish. Sharon and I stay until 1.30 and then we walk home in the pouring rain with my cardigan pulled over our heads and faces, since we drunkenly realize the fabric is so thin, that we can look through it – which also means it provides no cover from the rain whatsoever.

The next day, Sharon and I deal with our hangover by heading into Bondi to look around the shops, and it ends up being the best day, because of free cotton candy in Westfield. For our actual farewell party at Coogee Bay Hotel, I end up in a sour mood thanks to three days of alcohol and tiredness and an uninvited cunt joining our table, and I leave early and say goodbye to everyone and call Aga to complain about life and then I buy a frozen lasagne at Coles while wearing my pyjamas, and I fall asleep on the couch while it’s in the microwave and I wake up at 5 in the morning and find that someone is sleeping in my bed, so I have to get back on the couch. That doesn’t really improve my mood.

Doing the Christine face

I spend my Sunday being in a bit of a mood as well, but watching Moana cheers me up, and come Monday, I am spending all day training a new girl to take over my job, as it’s my last day. I get loads of hugs and nice words and a card and a Sauvignon Blanc from new Zealand, and then I go home and dye my hair green, because that’s all I’ve wanted to do for a while now.

It’s time to pack our lives into backpacks and boxes again, and the house is just full of trash bags of clothes that we are getting rid of, while we are trying to force the remainder of our two years of clothes in vacuum bags. I am trying to send a big box of stuff home, which is proving to be quite difficult when boxes are hard to come by and you don’t own a scale or measuring tape. The weather is also being very unsupportive, as it’s incredibly hot and humid one minute and the next it’s pouring down. I have several cold showers in between pushing and shoving things to fit them into the box, and then we have cold ciders on the floor while moaning about being hot and having to move and throw away all our things.

Before I left our farewell/divorce party, I did exclaim that I wanted to go see Quarantine Station and do a ghost tour. Q Station was used for 140 years to house newly arrived immigrants that had been on ships with cases of diseases like scarlet fever, Spanish influenza, small pox etc. Luckily, Henry is always up for some fun, so we have dinner at The Burger Project and then drive up to Q Station in Manly, where we wait 45 minutes for the tour to start, only to have to wait another 20, because other people are late and that’s okay even though the website said it wasn’t. It’s Henry and I, a group of older couples, and then three teenagers who are either taking it too seriously or not seriously at all. Deb, our amazing tour guide, gives us a bit of history, before locking us in two dark and empty rooms for 30 seconds each to try and get in touch with our senses, I guess. The teens end up talking and laughing in both rooms, even spoiling the scare in the last room for the rest of us, just because they’ve done it before. Those two rooms are known as the fumigation rooms, where quarantined people were “gassed” to protect them from the flu. We are given EMF meters, which is supposed to be able to measure any paranormal activity and also your phone, and then we head to the shower block, where people were showered in carbolic acid in an attempt to disinfect them. We go to the hospital and sit on replicas of the beds and I get a reading on the EMF meter because I receive a text. We go to the old cemeteries, the Asiatic area and the grave digger’s home, in which an aggressive ghost by the name of Samuel allegedly lives. The teens who have been on about how they feel something touch them throughout this tour (I call bullshit), are now in one of the rooms, using one phone as a torch and one phone to film the EMF meter going off the charts as they whisper “Samuel? Are you there?” Absolute idiots, knowing that their phones sets off the EMF meter, and yet still believing they’re interacting with a ghost. I go back in the room right after they leave and detect nothing at all. Before we finish the tour, we get to the morgue, which is just a small room with a window, which I lean against until I realize it’s not really a window, and there’s a lab behind me. While we are standing in the dark with a dummy on the table in front of us, I start to freak out about the dark lab behind me and try to get the meter off Henry, which distracts me enough from Deb’s story, that when she does one of her scares, I actually scream out loud, to everyone’s amusement.

The following day we send off a box full of my stuff back home, then meet up with ol’ Pink Palace pal Hollie for brunch at Isabella’s. We then head to The Royal for the ultimate PP tradition: mimosas! Since they apparently don’t sell mimosas, we get a bottle of sparkling wine and two glasses of orange juice and make them ourselves. The bartender, who at first seems kind of rude, makes it up to us by giving us a complimentary glass of cut strawberries. We drink, talk about life, go on Bumble and find Tinder guy’s profile and get a bit upset by that, drink espresso martinis and then we’re kind of buzzed and it’s time to go home.

Later, we have Darren, Rhi and Harri over to say our goodbyes, and Henry joins too. The weather’s crap and everyone’s sick, but they still make the trip over to ours for an emotional goodbye and cider and to try and steal Fluffy from me, because Harri loves him almost as much as I do.

On Sharon and my last day, we’re cleaning out our room, putting all our clothes in bags, and dissembling our beds, so we’re left with just the mattresses for the night. I head to Bondi for some last-minute souvenir shopping for the family, and Hollie and I have lunch at Bucketlist on the beach. I have a delicious fish burger and Hollie has squid and a fish taco. We walk around the beach and check out the art and Icebergs and then it starts to rain, so we get a bus and head our separate ways.

Tanya and her friend Jasmine that’s staying at ours invite me to Luna Park to check off another thing on my bucket list and to make my last night special. We take the ferry from Circular Quay to Milson’s Point and get on the ferris wheel, the rollercoaster, the big dipper and all the other rides, whose names I don’t remember. At night, the place looks magical with all the lights and the view of the harbour bridge. We have some dinner and get on a few more rides and spend the last ten minute before closing running around Coney Island and doing as many things as possible, and then the gates shut and we’re heading for the train home. I have a cider and a talk with the girls before going to bed, exhausted. I’m getting up early to pack and leave for the airport.

Sharon has no choice but to get up too, so we fill up a shopping cart with all our clothes and drop it off outside Vinnies. Then I re-pack, because how awesome is it to watch a vacuum bag full of clothes shrink to nothing!? Then it’s time for an emotional goodbye to Tanya and Sharon, and off to the airport I go. It’s been real, Australia.