Sydney, NSW: I Expected More From A Place Called “The Church”

The Flying Fox is a very homey hostel. It is a family business so it’s run like one, and Ross and Wendy made it a point to try to get to know everyone. I went to “check out” and Ross said “Well, that’s it mate, there’s nothing to do. You’re checked out, have a good one.” Except I realized as I walked away that when I checked in, I had only payed for 3 rooms. On Sunday morning I extended my stay by one night which I didn’t pay for at the time. Hm. Well, here we have an interesting situation.

So I was faced with the ultimate decision: tell Ross of his mistake and pay him the $23 for my last night, or stay quiet and save that money. I sat in the TV room and contemplated. On the one hand, I’m a backpacker, could I be expected to do anything else than steal away before he discovers the error? And wouldn’t that $23 be put to good use, like food or more accomodation, rather than simply a night out at the pub? On the other, Ross was a good guy and he and Wendy had been nothing but helpful and friendly. They were a small outfit, competing with the larger hostels, they deserved everything they had worked for. What did I do? Well you’ll have to read on to find out.

I caught the 10:30 train back into the city and then tried to find a bus company to get me to Melbourne. All seats were booked until the next morning, so I booked a ticket on the 7:30 AM bus and worked to find a place to stay that night. I tried my favorites, Wake Up!, the Railway YHA, and Sidney Central YHA. Even after calling three more hostels, I was out of luck. The receptionist at Wake Up! had given me a coupon for a place called Footprints, up Pitt St., so I walked up and gave it a shot. They had a 6-share available for $25 and a 28-share for $23. Of course, I went with the latter, in a room called “The Church.”

The room was large and almost completely occupied. The bed I chose was next to a large barrel that was collecting drips from the air-con unit above me. There was also a piece of the ceiling missing nearby (but, fortunately, I got the bottom bunk), and you could here the plumbing work whenever someone a floor above flushed the toilet.

As I sat on the bed and contemplated what to do that day, all of a sudden, I saw something that was just so disappointing. A long, thick roach running towards me. It went between my legs and made a break for the wall. Three years in Texas had desensitized me enough that I didn’t jump into the barrel and start screaming. One of my dormmates saw me moving around looking for the critter and smiled and rolled his eyes when I told him. Then I saw it, it was on the wall right behind his head. I twirled my finger at him and gave him a sorrowful look. He turned around and almost flew off the top bunk, as his attempt to swat it resulted in it landing on his bed. A while later, I saw it again on the floor and I gave it a good stomp … and it survived! It wasn’t so fortunate when I tried again.

Although, I suppose I should be relieved that it had taken me almost 3 weeks to see my first hostel chockronoach.

I visited the Art Gallery of New South Wales near the Gardens, which contained wonderful Australian contemporary art exhibits and a pretty extensive collection of period European art too. I was particulary impressed by pieces from Janet Rawsom, Royston Harpur, Godfrey Jones and Robert Jacks. Then I spent some time reading in the Gardens before heading back to the hostel.

The next morning I got in the metal container that would carry me for 12 hours to Melbourne. Fortunately, they showed a few movies, Flight of the Phoenix, Ice Age and Shrek, which certainly made the time fly.

Stay tuned for antics in Melbourne with Charlie and my spontaneous decision to completely change my plans for Australia.

Oh my, I nearly forgot: as I sat in the TV room at the Flying Fox, I already knew what I’d do, I just wanted to entertain the devil for a bit. As I muttered because it’s the right thing to do to myself, I caught Ross and told him of his mistake. He swiped my credit card and tried to comfort me, “it’s good karma”, then told me of a some recent food stealing that had gone on. Karma. I suppose I could use some of that on this trip. And maybe the free place to stay in Melbourne and meeting Steffen, who agreed to drive me all around southern Australia, was Karma’s way of saying thanks. More on that later.



  1. Hi

    Enjoyed your adventure– glad cockroach was not part of your meal!! I remember the days in Nellikuppam ( sugar factory) where I used to work on the Sugarcane crusher– there were millions of roaches– I would crush is always a pleasure to do it!!

  2. karma could be bullshit, but if it exists, i know i’d rather have it than not. only a matter of time before you have some roach pets – lenny is a fine name for a cockroach.

  3. Ah! What a moral dilemma, all for $23. Good karma is certainly better than bad karma, but what you need is neutral karma. Now ponder over that!

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