Sunset Walk At Patonga, NSW.

Lately, I’ve been getting itchy feet. Real itchy feet. Not surprising after being in lock down for at least 2 months, and not being allowed to leave the house except for grocery shopping and my eternal arch-nemisis….exercise. I wasn’t too sure whether meandering along with my camera, especially pausing to take in the view or stick my camera up a tree, counted as “exercise”. Or, whether this seemingly innocent escape for a woman with mobility issues, might be considered “illegal”. After all, a girl simply going out on a driving lesson with her mum in Victoria, was pulled over and initially fined $1652 until sense and intense media pressure prevailed. I didn’t want to land myself in that kind of trouble.


The Jetty at Patonga looking towards Broken Bay and Palm Beach. 


Restrictions are really starting to lift here in Australia now, especially considering the exceptionally low transmission rates we have here. However, although our kids went back to school this week, I’m still practicing social distancing and largely staying home. Besides, it’s almost Winter here. I’m as snug as a bug in a rug getting on with my WWI research and writing projects, which I view as my job. At least, that’s the direction I’m working towards. I also have a fairly extensive, global network of blogging friends and we get on really well.

Rowena Patonga 2020

Here I am going for my walk. No selfie capabilities on my SLR. Besides, I quite fancy being a lurking shadow in all sorts of distorted dimensions. 

“He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk

and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying.”

– Friedrich Nietzsche

I don’t really NEED to go out, but that can also become a problem. Unfortunately, my arch-nemesis exercise, along with sunlight and the great outdoors where I can stretch my wings and almost inhale the ocean, are almost critical for my mental health and happiness.


So, feeling rather virtuous, I headed over to Patonga Beach on Thursday afternoon. It’s  about a 15 minute drive away, taking us past last week’s Water Tower Walk Water Tower Walk, Pearl Beach, and we keep driving through Brisbane Waters National Park with nothing but bush on either side and the road stretching through seeming nothingness ahead. This area is so untouched and seemingly remote, that it’s hard to believe we’re only a stone throw from Sydney.

Lorikeet in a flame tree

Here’s one of our stunning Rainbow Lorikeets feasting in an Illawarra Flame Tree at Patonga. The tree was full of them chatting away.

The last stretch of the drive passes through some sharp twisting bends as you descend the hill into Patonga. After driving through the bush, the tranquil sea-side village of Petonga, which means “oyster” in Aboriginal, feels like something out of the set of an old movie. Patonga is nestled on Brisk Bay, which is on your left where there’s a rustic jetty heading out towards the Hawkesbury River on the extreme right and Palm Beach, across the other side of Pittwater on your left. There’s also a children’s playground here on the waterfront, which no longer captures my attention now that our kids are in high school. However, before our local park was given a massive upgrade, I used to take the kids to a park located next to the camp grounds at Patonga, which was almost on the beach.

However, today I was fairly rather reflective because my sister-in-law is starting treatment for breast cancer, and my thoughts are very much with her. Not only because she’s family and because what she’s going through is rotten, but I went through chemo a few years back for my auto-immune disease and it’s a frigging rollercoaster, even just from a logistical point of view. This time, it’s my turn on the sidelines, and I want to do a good job of that. Indeed, I want to do a better job of what I’m doing so far, because the card I wrote and it was an extensive message straight from the heart) is still sitting in the loungeroom and I’ve been thinking of a gift but haven’t got there yet. You know, there’s that going round in circles and wanting to get that gift that’s going to hit exactly the right spot, and heaven forbid in your desire for perfection that you actually end up doing NOTHING!! My goodness. Haven’t we all been guilty of that.




Frolicking in the wonders of nature, able to walk through the clouds.

Anyway, I picked up a few shells along the beach to include in my letter to my sister-in-law. I hope she appreciates them for what they represent, and that she doesn’t take me for a cheapskate.

Sea gulls Patonga

Sea gulls might be common but I still love them. They’re such characters and theis flock was just standing in the shallows on the beach looking like they were really enjoying themselves and I had to join in their festivities. Besides, they made me feel like less of a lone ranger and part of a wider belonging. 

So, going on this walk was really good for dealing with all of that, as well as all the fall out from the coronavirus and the kids suddenly being forced back to school full time  this week by the NSW Education Minister. As my walk continued and the sun started to set behind a row of incredibly majestic Norfolk Pines, my footsteps seemed to lighten as all these stresses wafted out to sea and far away.

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher

storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”

― Rabindranath Tagore, Stray Birds


Sunset Behind the Norfolk Pines, Patonga. 

Of course, by this stage, I’m castigating myself for staying indoors and not getting outside amongst all this more often. What I appreciated, perhaps, beyond all else,was soaking in that vast expanse of space, and being able to stretch out as far as the eye can see. Even the most minimalist of homes, still has four walls, and I can assure you that our place has a hell of a lot more. You could say that the interior is made of books and tea cups with a pile of musical instruments thrown in.

Meanwhile, the sun has set on another day, but we did make it next door for a chat with our elderly neighbours who are family to us. They live behind us across a back lane way and one thing I’ve loved about lock down, is that is been perfectly acceptable to get around in your pyjamas. I bought a fancy pair of Peter Alexander PJ pants with are hot pink with white circles and are pretty shmick. I had no qualms about wandering out the back gate over to their place in my PJs with my ugg boots on. It was so incredibly relaxing. You could even say liberating. It’s been the same on zoom. At first, I used to get dressed, but now we’re all in PJs, dressing gowns and the other night I even watched an interview with Cate Blanchet and Stephen Colbert via zoom and both of them were in their PJs. It made for such a relaxed and intimate interview.


What a magnificent sunset and I just love the feathery white clouds floating over the lingering blue sky. 

“Ô, Sunlight! The most precious gold to be found on Earth.”

― Roman Payne

As tempting as it is to immerse myself in nature and escape the heaviness and responsibilities of life, there’s always that rubber band drawing me back home in both good and bad ways. At times, I really resent having to rush home from my sunset photography jaunts to get dinner cooked for the family. However, I really cherish our family and all that being part of a family entails. Sure, there are responsibilities. However, there’s love, connection, intimacy, belonging along with frustration, irritation, expense, and that sense all round that someone’s clipping your wings. As much as we need togetherness, we also need time apart, space to do our own thing and the capacity to create and be a part of stories which we might choose to share with the family and have something to talk about. Moreover, this sense of family is also what you make it. You can build your own family. You do not need to be alone and these families are just as legitimate as your more conventional families. Blood is thicker than water, but the bonds of experience and caring for each other and especially being in the same boat are also strong.

I’m not quite sure how I reached that point after setting out on a walk around Patonga. However, with everything going on in the world at the moment, for many of us, it’s a time of deep questioning and thinking about just about every aspect of life and it will be interesting to see what life will be like on the other side. I for one am not planning on going back to how it was before and am working towards creating my own new world. How about you?

I hope you and yours are well and staying safe.

Best wishes,


16 thoughts on “Sunset Walk At Patonga, NSW.

  1. Rowena Post author

    Thanks so much, Monika. Much appreciated,especially from you after your palliative care work with Sam. I am trying to muster my strength, sensitivity and empathy to go through this journey with her and the family and at the very least stay tuned. At this stage, her treatment will be for 12 months and so we need to be there for the long haul. Make sue we don’t get side tracked before she reaches the end. I think her prognosis at the end of this is going to be good but I’m concerned about what she’s going to be going through along the way and also for her husband. So, your prayers are most appreciated.
    How are things going in Denver? I heard the riots had reached there. I’ve missed the news for the last couple of days but read a good post about it last night, which filled me in. It chills me to the core. My daughter is following it very closely on Tik Tok and watches individual videos and talks. She’s very fired up and wanted to go to a protest march here but I said no because of Covid. Might have to think of something else.
    How is Norman going?
    Sending you our love and prayers.

  2. TanGental

    It feels a bit like the whole edifice of government policy is fracturing just now. That may not be a bad thing if it means people have to use common sense rather then be totally nannied but we won’t know for a while . Meanwhile there are a lot of critics sharpening their claws as some of the scientific and policy decisions begin to look a bit shabby

  3. Tails Around the Ranch

    Chemo can be brutal. Having friends and family will help in the healing process.

    Things in Denver are chaotic and troubling. I watched the live coverage last night. 99% were young white people. They harm the black community by their behavior not help it. Denver’s PD has had a troubled past with abuse directed at people of color. With the pandemic there’s a lot of pent up anger and frustration that makes it a real tinder keg. With all the police tending to keeping control, real emergencies around town are not being tending to. This is a safety nightmare.

  4. Tails Around the Ranch

    P.S. Norman is doing better with each passing day. Thank you for asking about him. Now if I can only keep him calmed down so he doesn’t pop a stitch. That’s the ongoing goal of the day. 😉

  5. Rowena Post author

    Hope you don’t mind me asking what happened to Norman? Good luck with keeping him in one piece. Does he have a cone on? These dogs often don’t know what’s good for them.

  6. Rowena Post author

    Covid’s really stressed people out here and we haven’t had the infection rates you’ve had over there and elsewhere. My daughter told me there was a fight at their school involving about 400 students I’m not sure how intense the fight was but they get a few of them up there and the kids watch as well. A teacher my husband was talking to who works out West at a place called Dubbo said they’ve had more fights last week. People are very stressed and out of kilter.
    I have a very limited idea of what’s going on over in America. However, this case reminded me of the shooting of an Australian woman in Minneapolis, Justine Damond. Her case is well worth checking out:
    It all looks very scary on TV and so I hope you’re okay.
    Best wishes,

  7. Rowena Post author

    There’s definitely a real tension between the health lock down side of the debate and economics and I guess you can throw mental health into the mix as well. People as a rule are being pretty sensible here. I think we’ve been scared into isolation. We have the tracking ap here but it’s more useful to the governement in terms of preventing outbreaks and transmition than preventing the individual from catching it. It doesn’t warn you as this infected person approaches to move away. Escape. That would be ideal.
    Meanwhile, isolation has relaxed dress codes on zoom over here and we’re now appearing in our PJs. We;ll, some of us are. I even ducked out and talked to our elderly neighbours in My PJs yesterday and paid them a visit. He’s the 90 year old English guy I mentioned who did dodgy repairs after the war. Yesterday, he told me that he went to the same school as Spilke Milligan and they used to pee over the fence into the park next door hoping to hit people having picnics. He was 13 at the time. A German pilot tried shooting at him and his mates during the war when they were returning back from lunch. Never a dull moment when I go over there for a chat.

  8. Tails Around the Ranch

    Yup, sadly one of many lately. People are and rightfully so, tired of police brutality. Being cooped up hasn’t helped. Americans are used to getting their way. They’re a lot like petulant spoiled toddlers pitching fits. This is deadly and destructive.

  9. Rowena Post author

    I’ve had a bit of a revolution today waking up at 7.00am instead of midday and decided to have my tea and biscuit out on a rug in the grass and I took my book out, which is very much about pursuing peace & serenity. Well, Rosie clearly hadn’t read the brief and dropped the rope chew toy on my back and and was fully alert waiting for me to throw it. Waiting…waiting, but she’s a hard dog to ignore and I’ve made a note to self to leave the house for serenity in future. Geoff had no sympathy. He said I was in their domain and basically got what I deserved.


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