Growing up, Sydney was the City of Sin.
It was the home of the nation's self-enthroned elite, road tolls, republicans, drugs and their abusers, hedonism, ethnic ganglands and Mardi Gras... all those things that apparently existed only in Australia's First City and the rest of Australia had somehow been lucky enough to use Sydney as our communal sewer allowing all our ills to wash into that cesspit of wrong.
I first went to Sydney when I was 19; my mates and I 'borrowed' my mum's Landcruiser (under the proviso we were to go to Brisbane) and followed the thousand kilometres of white lines south to the city we were lead to believe was where all delinquents ended up ...just prior to dying in a gutter from a heroin overdose.
Ok, so yes on the first night we did sleep in the car and watch rats feed on the trash about us and needed to get directions from a couple of very 'out of it' street hookers...however, soon enough Sydney began to reveal its hidden magnificence.
Behind the sandstone and the pasted-on billboards that seem to do their very best at blocking the view of the man on the street to anything but whatever band they are spruiking, was all those things that were not supposed to be there...history, beauty, decency, generosity, camaraderie, postcard architecture, ponds and parklands, beaches and the people who risk all to ensure you have a fun day, and of course THE HARBOUR...which rather than being a handy storm drain, feeds the city its beauty and serenity.
I lived in Sydney during its greatest year back in 2000, and boy did the city shine and put on a show that even Mrs Bucket...that's pronounced Boo'Kay...would have been envious of. Everything that was good and Australian was on show, every citizen beamed with pride and hospitality. It wiped any doubt in the most Melbournian of Australians that Sydney was indeed not the Shitty Sister and for me proved that my upbringing may have been tainted with a very skewed point of view.
Things changed...and eight years later I dreaded the city that had captivated me all those years ago and sent me on a quest to find out the truths of the world, those truths that had been shaded from my outback Queensland boyhood. It may have been the pace of the place, the eagerness of its people to make a buck or show it off once they had it...or maybe that the last time I was here my heart broke, but nonetheless I have skillfully avoided the city as much as a lad can.
Working on a new project, yes another to assist in the bankrolling of my beloved farm and chasing of that delightful dream I have of living my happy-ever-after out there, I ended up here...and two weeks later I am back, and this time of my own volition.
I have finally given in to that annoying thing called love, and it is annoying and I have avoided it like the plague. Hey last time I went down that path I lost my shoes, togs and overnight bag...
I do my best at swimming against the current, but one thing in life is for sure...it's better to swim with the flow rather then against it... even if that flow is into the cesspit with the pretty harbour.