At about 8:15 am on Wednesday morning I became one of 150 £10 Poms going to Australia for….well £10 obviously!
It all started on Monday afternoon when I arrived, bag and borrowed tent in hand, to the STA Travel office near Victoria Station in London. Two full days ahead of schedule and I was still 23rd in the queue! I was pretty nervous and couldn’t decide whether or not to even stay. I had spoken to someone in the office earlier that day and they said they thought each of the designated £10 Pom offices would be able to process about 20 tickets on average. I was cutting it very close!
But I started talking to the guys in front of me, Toby, Suzanne, Craig, Kim, JD and Titu who were all really nice and they persuaded me to stay. I knew that camping on the streets of London was going to be an experience in itself so I dropped my bags and started to get to know my new neighbors!
Everyone had interesting stories to tell. There were some people in the queue like me, who had been traveling recently and just can’t seem to stop now! A few people, like Toby and Suzanne are going over to meet their Australian boy/girlfriends and I think a lot of people just couldn’t resist such an amazing deal!
We got as comfortable as we could on the concrete streets, shared a few beers and several card games before settling down in our tents for our first night. It wasn’t exactly a peaceful night, with trucks driving so close it felt like they were about to crash into the tent, and police/ambulance sirens screaming past, but I just had to keep reminding myself why I was here!
The next day we were all a bit groggy, but we set up some camp chairs and got ready for an entire day of sitting on the street. The morning dragged, especially when the rain came, but luckily it didn’t last and the afternoon went a little faster! For dinner some of us decided to go to the pub for a hot fish ‘n chips meal. We actually felt quite strange sitting inside on chairs with a table, we didn’t know how to act! Just one day and we were already used to our pavement lifestyle.
Finally, after a second sleepless night, it was time for the big show! We had already been interviewed, photographed, and filmed by several different newspapers including TheLondonPaper, DailyMail plus AP and Getty Images and a few others, but on Wednesday morning the press were really out in full force.
STA made us bacon sarnies in the morning, and as an STA staff member was squirting ketchup onto Suzanne’s roll for her, they were surrounded by three photographers! Who knew bacon rolls were so fascinating!
We packed up our tents and bags, queued up and anxiously waited our turn to finally enter the office, trying to act normally around the giant kangaroo, koala, and all the press. I was actually a little sad to end my time camping out. I met so many great people; the only thing we all had in common was our desire to go to Australia, but it was enough to bond us together.
At one point, everyone in my new group of friends was inside except me and I started to panic a bit! But I was shortly called in and told that I would be receiving a £10 ticket to Australia! Only four more people behind me received tickets at the Victoria office so I count myself as very lucky!
I still can’t really believe it has happened. I really just bought a flight to Australia for £10! Despite slight back pain, I had a fantastic time camping out on the street with my new friends, everyone in the queue was so great, I think we all had a good time, even those who weren’t able to get the £10 tickets in the end. From my group in the queue I’ll be the last one to get out to Oz, leaving London on November 24th and arriving in Sydney on the 26th! We already have plans to meet up once we’re all out there, and I can’t wait!