I actually lived only a couple of minutes from our Sydney office, in a district called The Rocks, right by Circular Quay. From both the office and the top of my apartment building, I looked straight toward Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
There was an interesting dichotomy to the area for me. On the one hand, you’re on the edge of what’s known as the CBD – the Central Business District. It has beautiful harbour views, but it’s obviously geared toward modern business with its high-rise towers and offices.
Despite that, the area has a lot of history. Sydney Cove nearby is the site of Australia’s first European settlement. I was on a bit of a mission to find out more about that while I was here, through the museums and on walking tours.
My biggest tip is probably the coastal walks. I did two – the first from Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach. The route takes you along the water, through a little bit of bush land, and on through other smaller beaches. You can even stop along the way for a bit of whale-watching on the cliffs. It’s serene. Peaceful. And if you live here, it’s not just a once-in-a-lifetime thing. You can just go there of a weekend.
I took that route on my own, but I also went on walks in the Royal National Park with new friends. You’re properly walking in the bush there, so, while the paths are cleared and there are boardwalks, they still recommend you go as a group.
People tend to associate Australia with every kind of dangerous species. But the reality of bush-walking isn’t like that: they give you a lot of tips to make sure you don’t have any encounters you don’t want. We stomp sometimes as we walk, because snakes avoid the vibrations. It’s odd to have to think about things like that.
When I first got here, my team were so welcoming. You really need that when you’ve moved halfway round the world. The associates made me a list of places to go and they took me round. I often went to them for recommendations.
Through them I found out about the Vivid Festival. For a couple of weeks, they light up the sights of the city every night. Harbour Bridge. The Opera House. The Botanic Gardens. They even put on light shows at Taronga Zoo for the kids.
Between the associates and the paralegals, I built up a great social life. They treated me as an integral part of the team from quite early on. It felt different here obviously, being a smaller office, but I quickly got to know everyone.
The smaller office also has advantages in terms of the work you get to do – it’s very much all hands on deck from a trainee perspective and I was involved in a greater variety of work and had more exposure to different legal experiences than I perhaps otherwise would have had in a more specialised seat in London. It definitely helped me develop my skills and gain confidence for the post-qualification world, which was just around the corner.
I was in my fourth seat , so I finished my training as soon as I got back. I had to make my applications from Sydney, but the London team made that easy. I built up an idea of what I wanted to do, and they helped along the way.
Although I headed back to London to qualify, I’d never rule out going abroad again. That’s the joy of our being a global firm; the chance to go and spend a couple of years somewhere is never off the cards.
And even if I don’t go back to Sydney, I’ve made some great contacts and will know a friendly face to ring next time I have a deal involving anything Australian.