Friday, 11 July 2008

Island hopping

As the wind blows so I go. And the wind has blown me East onto yet another island in the Pacific Ocean. After five short months as a Sydneysider, I now find myself living in Queenstown, ‘the adrenaline capital of the world’. Having lived in the ‘music capital of the world’ I’m used to such hyperbole, and like Austin, Queenstown certainly lives up to its billing. But first a few more words about my time in Sydney.

I haven’t really blogged much since I moved to the Southern Hemisphere, for a long time I thought not much was happening, but in retrospect I guess a lot of things did. Tristan and I finally combined to form AMO and DJ’d to living breathing people for the first time. It was awesome. For a while I was working for this action sports magazine called Neutraliser, but that was just a weird situation all-round as it was based in this guys house and he was, eccentric to say the least. I got to know Sydney vaguely well, made some amazing friends, and then got a job with the Sydney Film Festival – and that at the very least deserves its own paragraph.

The Sydney Film Festival was one of the hardest, and most rewarding, projects I’ve ever been involved with. At the eleventh hour my old school friend Carmel rang me and asked if I would be willing to step into the Website Coordinator role. It was three weeks from the festival’s start and there was a lot of stuff that needed to be done with the site. Add to this that in my two weeks the website was the victim of two or three malicious hacks. It was a frantic time and the hours I worked were pretty crazy. My housemates Tristan and Amanda must have thought they were living with a ghost I was home so little. Of course once the festival started things got even crazier. Hosting 13 red carpets in 12 days is no mean feat and I am totally in awe of all the people who were working around me; incredible, talented and dedicated individuals, without whom this 19 day cinematic event simply would not be possible.

Supporting me through this whole period was my little partner-in-crime, Alex. A week or so before Carmel called me up, Alex had already asked me if I would be interested in hosting the official SFF podcasts with her. The Web Coordinator job made this a little trickier, but I so wanted that fresh experience. Alex was the Moving Image Coordinator for the festival as well as podcast producer/director/camerawoman/editor – or Podcast Queen as she is affectionately known in some circles. We worked together and supported each other pretty much day and night for the entire duration of the festival and were rarely apart, so much so it was kinda weird for me not being around her once it was all over. Between up we made 9 podcasts in 19 days – no small feat. Every time I felt down and like I wasn’t doing very well, Alex picked me up off the ground and reassured me I was. I still think she was lying a little bit (I know I can do better!), but her mastery in the editing suite always made me look loads better.

I didn’t get to see many films, but I guess my experience of the festival was different and special in other ways. The people I worked with, the random running in-jokes, the voice, the drama, the meetings (on and off-line), the subscribers and the parties – which there were frankly not enough of. Then again, there’s always next year.

And that was Sydney for me, outside of the festival I became a regular at Kino and became friends with The Festivalists and their possie. I was cared for and looked after by two of my closest friends in Tristan and Amanda whom I’m deeply indebted to. And I’ll miss Stanmore, my home for five too-short months. There will be a comeback in October, but in the meantime…

I find myself in on the South Island of New Zealand, living in Queenstown with my old friend Sam (Lake Tahoe blogs) and working as a lifty on The Remarkable Mountains. How the heck did that happen who may well ask?

So before the Sydney Film Festival Sam gave me a shout and asked if I would be interested in moving out to NZ for a season to get good at snowboarding, work as a lifty, and fill the spare room he had (“we’ve got a spare room and I reckon you’re just the man to fill it”). I wasn’t sure at first, I was just starting to settle into Sydney life, was making friends and all that good stuff, but when all was said and done I was going to get to the end of my SFF contract and be unemployed again and looking for somewhere to live. Not a good combination. So timing-wise it was just right I guess. It also meant that if I got back to Australia in October I could go do my three months agricultural work to extend my Working Holiday VISA in time to still cycle around Tasmania in January (more on that at a much later date). So plane ticket was booked, NZ VISA applied for – all I needed was for Sam to hook me up with a job.

Goodbyes were said at a carnage-fuelled ‘see you later’ party (how many of these will I have in my life – they seem more regular than birthdays) in which Joel came down from Newcastle to see me off, got me hideously pissed on way to meet Tristan, Amanda, Phil and Mark. The next day I flew to Christchurch where I promptly realised I didn’t have nearly enough clothes for the NZ winter, c’est la vie. At Christchurch airport I hung out from 11.30pm thought to 7.30am waiting for the bus to Queenstown, when it finally came I realised I was back on the backpacker circuit for the eight hour ride south through some of the most spectacular countryside you could hope for, before finally transplanting me in my new abode.

Now there’s not much in Queenstown town, it’s pretty much entirely populated by bars, youth hostels, sports shops and Internet cafes – oh and the obligatory Mcdonald’s (and now a McCafe). But it sits right on top of the beautiful Lake Wakatipu and is surrounded by mountains, which are currently all covered in snow. Since being here I have met up with my old friend from DVD Review days James Beech who asked me to join him for a boat ride aboard the Earnslaw – an old steamboat that have been sailing on Wakatipu for 92 years. It was great to see Beechy so randomly a few thousand miles from home.

Obviously the highlight was getting up The Remarkables for my first day snowboarding since South Lake Tahoe back in April of 2007. It really didn’t take me long to pick it up again, although my switch riding ability is now practically non-existent. Before the end of the day I was riding through the park more confidently than ever before (not having a cracked rib might help I suspect). Not that I was hitting anything other than the butterbox, but to be honest I’m so much more comfortable with the speed and the jumps now that the rails will follow soon.

During that first day riding (the day after a huge dump in Queenstown) Sam told me that his boss Rutters wanted me to meet him at his office at 3pm for an interview. The interview pretty much consisted of “you come highly recommended and that pretty much counts for everything here. So do you mind shovelling snow and can you start tomorrow.” Giving both my answers in the positive that was that. So now I shovel snow, direct traffic and pick people up off the floor for a living. Occasionally I get to ride during the day, which is nice, but as I have pretty much the best office view imaginable I’m a happy camper.

I’ll post more about the day-to-day goings on at work as I get more into it. I think this post is easily long enough for now. I'll upload some pictures tomorrow night...

1 comment:

Carmel in Oz said...

Miss you heaps! Sounds like you're having a blast, so jealous of your time on the slopes. Things are strangely quiet in the office now you guys have all gone, but I'm enjoying the calm and the lack of insanity ;O) And now there's KINO KABARET! Hurrah.

Come back soon for more 80s-tastic nostalgia nights. Hmmmm...