When I was a child I learnt that Australia and New Zealand were part of a continent called Oceania. Of course, today many people call this Australasia. Oceania consists of 15 countries, the largest being Australia. It is a distant place to visit from London - it takes at least 23 hours to reach Sydney and it takes a couple of days to adjust to the time zone difference. When the northern hemisphere is in GMT, the southern is in DST (daylight savings time) in some parts of Australia and New Zealand. I consider Australia to be my second home, and plan to go back this year for Christmas.
My next destinations in Australia are Broome (Western Australia), Tasmania and always Sydney. Across Oceania, I also want to visit the Cook Islands, French Polynesia, Samoa and Tuvalu. When I was researching 24 destinations to engrave on the casebacks of our Culem watches, I discovered Tuvalu and had to put it on the watch. It is one of the smallest countries in the world; I have to go there one day! Other Oceania destinations on all of our casebacks are Brisbane, Sydney, Tuvalu, Auckland, and Bora Bora.
For Sydney and Auckland, every Culem watch caseback shows the correct time in both summer and winter. For example, when it is autumn/winter time in London (GMT), Sydney and Auckland are in spring/summer time (DST). During GMT, Sydney is 11 hours ahead of London, and Auckland is 13 hours ahead. However, when it is spring/ summer time in London (BST), Sydney and Auckland are in autumn/winter time (no DST). During GMT, Sydney is 9 hours ahead of London and Auckland is 11 hours ahead. All of our GMT watches show real world time in both GMT and BST in 24 destinations, which is a new and exciting development in luxury travel watches.
I now want to share with you an extract from my book that documents my travels across the world; this time, from my visits to Oceania...
I arrived in Sydney, Australia, on the day that Princess Diana died in 1997. Whilst collecting my luggage, a random immigration officer asked me if I was British. Of course I said yes, and he asked me if I had heard the terrible news. I told him that no, I had not heard the news, and when he told me what had happened I thought to myself that it couldn’t be true. I realised that he was being honest, a friendly man who wanted to take the time to share this news with me. This particular moment always stayed with me - I’ve found Australians to be friendly, good humoured, open and willing to share things with other people.
I had a wonderful time in Australia and fell in love with Sydney so much so that I spent 14 months there initially, returning a year and half later for a further seven-year stay. During my time there I travelled a lot across Australia and New Zealand, completed a Masters degree at the University of New Wales, and started a business (M&Y Global Services). They call Australia the lucky country, and for me it was lucky. Thank you Australia - I will always be grateful!
Sydney has it all - the iconic Sydney harbour with the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. To the north and south heads of Sydney harbour lie the many beautiful Pacific ocean beaches, including the famous Bondi Beach. During my time in Sydney I lived in Bondi Beach, like many expats. To me, it is the one of the most perfect beaches in all the world.
If you have not been to Australia, I hope that you visit one day. Apart from Sydney, there is so much to see in the state of New South Wales alone, and in addition there is the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland and Ayer’s Rock in the Northern Territory. There is still so much that I want to see in Australia, but it is a huge country and the largest island in the world. If you go, take your time and try to see as much as you can.
Outside of Australia I recommend New Zealand and the Pacific Island countries. I have only been to New Zealand and Fiji; Fiji is a super friendly place with many beautiful island paradises. Everybody says “Bula!” (“Hello” in Fijian) and the people are always happy. During my holiday in Fiji I became addicted to watching the sunsets every day. Over 19 years since my last trip to Fiji, and thousands of sunsets later, there is the one sunset that will stay with me forever.
One of my favourite places in the world is Queenstown in New Zealand’s South Island, simply because of its breathtaking beauty set against Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables Mountains that look like an enormous giant lying on his back. Then, there are the adventure sports like bungee jumping, jet boating through the shotover river, and helicopter rides in the Remarkables. In New Zealand, I met up with distant relatives and went cave tubing with them, drove around the South Island with its incredible scenery, watched sperm whales and swam with about four hundred Dusky Dolphins. It was just awesome!
Australia was and is so many things to me, but most of all it was a happy, beautiful and wonderful place to live, study, work and travel. I never really wanted to go there; I just saw it as a place to work while I was backpacking and to continue my travels afterward. But how things changed when I got there - I fell in love with the country immediately, and I will definitely return to live and travel there again some time in the future.
When I look at Australia on my Culem watch, great memories resurface and it makes me want to go back. My biggest learning from visiting Australia was ‘never say never’ - the places you think you don’t want to go could end up becoming your favourite places in the world. I have learnt this twice in my life. And finally, no matter how busy life gets, your Culem watch is a constant reminder of the places you have travelled. To follow my journey with Culem, sign-up to our monthly email and follow us on Instagram @culemwatches.
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Thank you for reading. M.