Tag Archives: NSW

Weekend Coffee Share – 26th May, 2020

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

I’m not going to lie to you. The weather today is absolutely appalling. That’s not just because I’m some wussy Australian who can’t handle  the rain…or the cold.

Well, maybe I am.

However, it’s beyond my control. My DNA’s been reprogrammed by the heat and rain is such a rare thing here at times, that I almost don’t know what it is when I see it.

Moreover, I’m not alone in this either. Lady, our Border Collie x Kelpie wanted to go outside tonight but as soon as she stuck her nose out and saw the rain, she changed her mind.

Well, we had some big news here. Last Monday schools here in NSW were literally ordered back full time by the Minister for Education , just like a frigging dictator. There’s been little thought or accommodation for people in high risk categories. We’ve simply been told that zoom won’t continue. Unless you provide medical documentation, your child will be marked absent and consult your school principal. As you can see, it really annoyed me, and put me in a really dreadful position of having to choose between my kids’ education and potentially my own survival. However, the incidence of the virus here in Australia is seemingly so low, that I do think and hope that the risk is minimal.

So, we’ve had to get the household adjusted and prepared for back to school. It’s all been made much easier by having Geoff working from home. He’s showing no sign of needing to go back to working in the office, which is great.

Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to get our for some exercise. I can’t quite recall whether it’s only been the one walk. However, last week I went on a wonderful walk   to the Mt Ettalong Lookout which is about 10 minutes drive from home and on the way from Umina Beach to Patonga. From the road, it’s pretty unassuming. So much so, that it’s simply known as “the water tower walk” locally. However, it has breathtaking coastal views over natural rock lookouts and you almost feel like an intrepid explorer looking over the headland out to sea. I also loved the trees and wildflowers, which really came alive to me. I call myself a tree gazer. I find so many shapes and forms in their exquisite boughs and branches and I was there right on magic hour right before sunset when the magic was at its best. You can read more about it HERE.

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What with the whole Covid 19 situation, I’ve found myself in a fairly reflective mood at times. In fact, I’ve caught myself going through my misery list a few times. You know that list of losses and everything that’s gone wrong and been totally unfair. Well, I pulled myself up on it and decided to reflect on the first six months of 2020, through the framework of Acknowledgement & Gratitude. Acknowledgement recognizes those disappointments and setbacks without dwelling on them. You’re just visiting, and in the case of the Monopoly board you’re not going away to jail and staying there. I was quite surprised that my gratitudes outnumbered and also outweighed my acknowledgements by more than two to one. Indeed, that proved to be a very useful exercise and I encourage you to check it out here: Acknowledgement & Gratitude- 2020 Revisited.

I also got back into flash fiction this week, contributing to Friday Fictioneers. My flash this week as: Inside-Outside.

So, how are things going over in your neck of the woods? I hope they’re going well and you’re all keeping safe.

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Eclectic Ali

Best wishes,

Rowena

U – Umina Beach, Australia…A-Z Challenge.

Welcome back to Places I’ve Been, my theme for this year’s Blogging From A to Z April Challenge. Today, we’re off to Umina Beach, which isn’t very far away for me at all. It’s actually only 700 metres down the road.

Indeed, Umina Beach is home. Geoff and I moved up here almost 20 years ago to buy our first home. Despite what we thought would be a quick renovate and flip, we’re still here. In fact, we haven’t finished those renovations, and what we did manage to get done back at the beginning, needs to be re-done. After all, fixing up a fixer-upper is a lot like painting the Sydney Harbour Bridge. By the time you finally reach the finish, you need to  start painting at the beginning again.

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Zac at the beach a few weeks ago.

Geoff and I didn’t plan to leave Sydney, or even buy a place in Umina Beach. We’d started looking around real estate in Sydney, but came up to Umina Beach to visit our niece and this place was for sale two streets away. This massive decision was all very spontaneous, although you could also say it was meant to be. However, as we’ve found out, this decision was a lot more far-reaching than deciding where to camp for the night. Although Sydney’s only an hour down the road and Geoff commutes there for work, it’s not the same as actually living there.  It’s taken me quite a long time to call Umina Beach home, and I still consider myself a Sydney person. This region is considered part of Greater Sydney. However, when I was alone at home with the new baby and Geoff was commuting to Sydney and away most of the day, I really felt that distance. However, through getting involved in Church, playgroups and community action groups, that started to change. By the time the kids started school and I was also working part-time for a local IT company, I felt a lot more settled. Through living there, we’ve managed our mortgage on one income, without being enslaved to the mighty mortgage which is the norm in Sydney. It’s naturally a lot more relaxing around here with the beach at one end of the street and flat, inland water suitable for sailing and kayaking down another. Can’t complain about that!

 

Lady at Ocean Beach

Lady at Ocean Beach, NSW.

So, after that rather lengthy introduction, you must be wondering if we’re ever going to make it to the beach. My apologies. I can take all of this a bit for granted what with living here all the time. However, before we hit the beach, I need to make a quick distinction between the name of the place and the names of the beaches around here. The place is called Umina Beach, but the beach itself is divided into Ocean Beach, which is just down from our place, and Umina Beach to the West. However, it’s all one expanse of golden sand and a fabulous place to go for a walk. There’s even a designated dog beach.

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Our son racing at Nippers, a junior form of life saving. 

In so many ways, the beach is our cultural hub and a true blue melting pot where lifesavers, swimmers, walkers, dogs, kids and seagulls all congregate, exercise and relax. We’ve taken the kids down to the beach from the time they were born, and held them into the frolicking waves, until they were old enough to hold their hands and eventually join Nippers, along with many of the other local kids on a Sunday morning. Now, our daughter goes down to the beach with her friends and Geoff and our son prefer sailing. I have done some swimming, but am better known as walker and dog walker, although there can also be a bit of talk with that as well.

The set of photos above were taken in November 2007 celebrating Geoff’s Birthday.

Our beach has had some rough times over the years. Rough storms have removed tonnes of sand, ripped out rows of native trees and extensive remediation works have been undertaken to halt the damage. The road around the beach front was even closed off for awhile there, as there were concerns it too could fall in the drink. I don’t think this situation has really stabilised but it might’ve improved.

Geoff & Rowena

Just off Umina Beach, there’s the Umina Precinct Park, which as a dream come true for the local action group I belonged to when the kids were small. Back then, even getting a local park with a fence seemed like an impossible pipe dream. However, council came onboard and the project snowballed into a regional park and tourist attraction. This was well beyond our wildest dreams, and I should remember this when a situation seems hopeless. Never give up!

Flamin Ron the World’s Hottest Chilli Pie on TV

However,  every town has to have its personality. It’s claim to fame. For Umina Beach, this comes in the form of pastry chef, Ron Bruns from the Bremen Patisserie and his infamous pie… the Flamin Ron, the world’s hottest chilli pie. While I know Ron quite well and love his almond croissants and bee sting cake, I’ve never even considered dipping my little finger into one of these pies, let alone tried to eat one. In case you’re wondering whether this pie is as ruthlessly hot as it claims, you actually need to sign a legal waiver beforehand. So, that’s warning enough for me. However, despite local horror stories, there are still mighty warriors willing to take on the Flamin Ron challenge blow the consequences. This includes Richard, who tells a wonderful  tale

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Woy Woy Air Strip extending down to Umina Beach with Lion Island right in front of the runway. 

While I was putting together this post, I did some historical research, hoping to find some historical detail of interest. After all, if you’ve been following me throughout this series, you’ll know how much I love jumping into my time machine, travelling back in time beyond the present day. It’s somewhat well-known around here that there used to be an air strip through town. I couldn’t have told you exactly where it was. However, that’s what Google’s for and the old newspapers.

This brings us to the Woy Woy Airstrip, which was built during WWII along with an aerodrome. The runway extended from Woy Woy down in a straight line along what’s now Trafalgar Avenue into Umina Beach, ending about a street away from our place. During WWII, the air strip was even used by US bombers. You can read more about it here  at All Things Woy. 

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Imagine this crashing into your roof. Luckily, no one was home when a Tiger Moth crashed into a Umina home in 1950. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

However, our street wasn’t always a street away from trouble. On the 4th November, 1950 long a few life times before we moved in, a Tiger Moth plane crash landed into a house at the end of the street. Of course, 70 years down the track, having a Tiger Moth crash land in your street sounds particularly exciting (especially after being in lock down for at least 6 weeks!!), although I should also point out that the pilot was injured. The plane crashed into the roof, and as the pilot wandered out in a dazed state, he fell 15ft  off the roof. Fortunately, residents Mr and Mrs Henson were away visiting their daughter in Sydney at the time. The plane crashed right on dinner time, and it’s almost certain they would have been killed. So, there’s something more I learned on my travels during the Blogging From A to Z Challenge.

Couple Ocean Beach best

Sunset at the beach

Well, it’s now time to leave Umina Beach behind and get a bit of shut eye before our adventures start up again in the morning. Indeed, I might need to stay home for awhile after all this travel is over. What I would give to sleep in my own bed again, instead of tramping along the road from hotel to hotel.

Oh, that’s right. I haven’t been anywhere at all. It’s just me, myself and I stuck inside these same four walls along with Geoff, two teenagers and three dogs.

Humph! We’re definitely in need of a holiday!!

How are you holding up in isolation? Where would you like to go? My list is just getting longer and longer. However, due to my health, my movements are particularly restricted. So, right now even being able to walk into a local shop to buy some chocolate has become an impossible dream. That said, I’m certainly not going without. Hoarding chocolate hasn’t become a crime.

Take care & stay safe!

Best wishes,

Rowena

Red Door, Patonga…Thursday Doors.

Welcome to Thursday Doors.

You know you’re sadly door-obsessed when you go to a place of stunning natural beauty, and your heart skips a beat when you come across a red door. I’m sure many of you relate to my experience and perhaps Thursday Doors has become the equivalent of AA  for the door-obsessed. A safe place for us to share our passion for doors and all the stories they tell. Moreover, doors also have a metaphorical appeal…an open door, closed door and what these mean to the journey.

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”     

Alexander Graham Bell

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Patonga

This week our love of doors takes us to Patonga, on the NSW Central Coast 91 kilometres North of Sydney and a short drive from our port of call last week,  Pearl Beach. By the way, Patonga is Aboriginal for “oyster”.

Patonga has a delightful sleepy feel to it. As you drive down the hill into the village, the beach is on your left and a jetty heads out into the bay. You’ll spot a few fishing boats and there was a father and son fishing from the end of the wharf without catching anything. You see scenes like this around the world, and only the backdrop changes.

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This red flower, which I took to be an Australian native, turned out to be a weed hailing from Madagascar…Mother of Millions. I wonder if it’s seen the movie. 

“Red is uplifting.”- Jerry Lewis

After going for a bit of a walk along the waterfront, we drove around town and that’s how I came across this red door in a side street just back from the Hawkesbury River. I have to admit that there was an instant tick inside my head…”That’s Thursday Doors done and dusted.”

Before I head off, I’ll leave you with this quote from Oscar Wilde. Although it pertains to red roses,I’m sure the sentiments could be extended to red doors.

“A red rose is not selfish because it wants to be a red rose. It would be horribly selfish if it wanted all the other flowers in the garden to be both red and roses.”

Oscar Wilde

This has been another contribution to Thursday Doors hosted by Norm 2.0 Please pop over and join us.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Pearl Beach, NSW…Walking Through The Lens.

Shame! Shame! Shame! Why is it so difficult for me to get out of the house and get over to Pearl Beach and go for a simple walk? Pearl Beach is only a 15 minute drive away, and is absolutely beautiful. It’s hardly going to the dentist. Although we have our beach just down the road, it’s important to get out of your own backyard and see the world, even if it is only the world next door and not somewhere further afield.

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Pearl Beach, NSW.

However, the reality is that when you live in a place, you’re not on holidays, even if you live near a beach. Life still gets you by the short and curlies and as much as life is to be lived, it also has to be endured. Stuff has to be done. Annoying, irritating stuff such as cleaning, appointments, brushing your teeth, which are hardly earth shattering unless they’re neglected. I’ve also been researching and writing my book which has caught me up in some kind of net where I’ve been swimming along feeling like I’ve broken through, when my foot gets stuck. However, through my efforts to escape, I only make things worse. I’m wrapped up like a cocoon and I’m going nowhere. A spider trapped in its own web.

Empty Chair Pearl Beach

Fond and painful memories of our Pearl beach friends who moved to Poland. It is a strange feeling being the ones left behind still living in the same house while they’ve moved on.

So, I deserve a 22 carat gold star for just making it to Pearl Beach today. However, after going for a walk as well and getting some EXERCISE, I deserve the sun.

yacht

So, there we are… me and my girl walking along Pearl Beach. I looked out to sea and there was a white dot of a yacht sailing along the horizon. I’ve been giving a bit of thought to what lies on the other side of all that ocean. Who am I waving at? This was a tough question for me, because I have no sense of direction and am hopeless at reading maps. However, this was a question I’m pursuing  like a grand global adventure all from the comfort of my armchair and laptop. Anyway, if you could throw a stone from Pearl Beach across that vast expanse of ocean, I think it would bypass New Zealand and Easter Island, heading straight for Chile somewhere around Valparaiso. That freaked me out. That’s a long way over the rainbow.

Anyway, back to walking along the beach. The weather was absolutely glorious, sunny and about 22°C. This was the best of our Winter. Talk about being lucky ducks.

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Moreover, the beach was the most incredible canvas underfoot. Although the wiggling strandlines are meaningless, I sense something profound in their squiggles which is beyond music or words and something like the whisperings of heaven. These squiggles formed wave-like patterns at Pearl Beach, which I’ve never seen before. They were absolutely enchanting. Moreover, tiny crab holes punctured through the sand. Foot and paw prints were appearing, disappearing or merging in a footprint jungle. So much to photograph.

Beach Canvas

Beach Canvas

I used to go to playgroup at Pearl Beach with my kids before they started school and  we’d often end up at the beach afterwards, particularly when they were older and had outgrown their morning nap. We’d order a serve of chips and chat until responsibilities sank in and it was time to go home. In hindsight, their childhood seems like one endless Summer by the beach. However, this idyllic interpretation is definitely the rose-coloured version. Life has had a nasty habit of stepping in and stamping on our dreams. However, we have big feet and are just as good at stomping back.

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Plagelines, Pearl Beach. 

Now that I’ve got back out there extending my explorations of our beautiful local beaches, I’m thinking of doing a walking tour of our coast and walking along a new beach each week. Considering I’ll have my camera in hand, it’s hardly going to raise my heart rate in a big way, but it will help. Exercise is exercise. Hopefully, if I draw up a plan, I might actually stick with it and I’m thinking of recruiting a few friends. Turn it into a social event. Clearly, I’m not really passionate about raising my heart-rate. Indeed, I can just see myself indulging at a cafe afterwards but at least I’m honest.

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Anyway, I hope you enjoyed our walk along Pearl Beach.

Is there somewhere special where you like to go walking? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

Beach Invaders…Ocean Beach, Australia.

The beach was literally littered with seaweed on my walk today. This was so exceptional, that I had to give this photo a post all of its own.

I’ve seen underwater forests of kelp down off the Victorian coast around the famous surf spot, Bell’s Beach. The carp you see on the beach down there is huge and rather luscious lying there in the sun casting magnificent shadows on the sand. These were still beautiful but their eye-catching appeal was seeing hundreds of seaweed clumps scattered on a usually bare beach.

Back soon for the rest of the walk.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Main Beach, Byron Bay…Sunday 8th January, 2019 (continued).

“At the beach, life is different. Time doesn’t move hour to hour but mood to moment. We live by the currents, plan by the tides and follow the sun.”     

Sandy Gingras

After spending so long dawdling around the markets and waxing lyrically about my first trip to Byron Bay in 1995 or thereabouts, I thought I’d better start a separate post to write about my trip to the beach. To be precise, my trip to Main Beach. Byron Bay has been blessed with many beaches.

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The view from my parking spot under the tree.

Well, to be honest, I didn’t quite make it onto the sand and as for getting in the water, you must be delirious or dreaming. I bought myself some sushi and parked myself on a seat underneath what I think was a huge Norfolk Pine Tree. I was in the shade with a view looking out to Julien Rocks and I was listening to a group of young German tourists and noticing how young, skinny and tanned everybody looked and how I didn’t fit the demographic. Indeed, I’d become OLD!

Anyway, I managed to levitate out of my seat and go for a bit of a walk along the path beside the beach heading to the left in the photo above, which I think takes me due North. However, with my lousy sense of direction, I could’ve been heading South so I try not to be too specific or simply use hand signals and point.

misty hills byron bay

Although you can’t see the shadow of Mt Warning in this shot, I still love is mysterious layers of mist. Anything could be hiding there.

I’ve always loved this Northerly aspect with it’s view towards Mt Warning and the stunning volcanic mountains. It’s so relaxing and reminds me of the Lord of the Rings for some reason. I’ve taken some magnificent photos of these hills at sunset over the years. However, I wanted to share with you what I saw and experienced on this particular day more than showing off my photographic skills.

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The Post-Hippy Era in Byron Bay

While I was photographing these misty covered hills, I spotted a young man walking out along the rocks with what looked like a cape tied around his neck. Could he indeed be a contemporary incarnation of Superman? I was intrigued and my curiosity was rewarded. He walked out to the edge of the rocks and pulls out his phone and started posing (and I mean posing) out there risking life and limb to get some selfies. Apparently, your more likely to die from a selfie than a shark attack and if you’d like to read more about the dangers of selfies, you can read this grueling story from RollingStone Magazine.

 

Meanwhile, I am now back home. The kids get back from Jamboree on Tuesday morning and while a certain mouse was away, the cat has pounced in her bedroom. Actually, I’ve done more than pounce and have been undertaking serious excavations and archaeological digs in there. Don’t worry. I’m not doing it all for her. She had a good crack at it before she left, but I’ve since got in under the bed and I think that just about sums things up. I’m sure I don’t need to spell out the subterranean world under a teenager’s bed. I’m just happy to report that I made it out alive and there were no dead bodies of any variety under there. Phew. Thank heaven for small mercies!

Well, that finishes up last Sunday and I think we’re off to the Macadamia Castle for coffee tomorrow and a quick drive around Ballina.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

Surviving the Australian Sun…

Perhaps, you’ve heard that Australia is currently experiencing a dire heatwave. Indeed, it’s been coloured-in bright red on the weather maps, and threatening temperatures of over 40 degrees and everything but hell fire and brimstone.  Well, that’s if you believe the weather reports. However, where we live the reality has been much closer to 30 degrees, and dare I say, an English Summer.

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Arriving at Ocean Beach.

While there are those sun-seeking Australians who head straight for the beach when the temperatures soar, these days I prefer more of a hibernation approach and only hit the beach around sunset. Moreover, although I considered getting into my swimmers and going for a swim, I opted for a “photographic walk” instead. In case you’ve never been on one of these, a photographic walk is taken peering through the lens and is a rather stop-start experience. Nothing that’s going to raise your heart-rate. Rather the aim of this exercise is to stimulate your creative juices. It works wonders for me and I always see in a much more focused and intense way exploring the world through my camera lens, than my own eyes. Moreover, I don’t like getting wet. I know that might sound rather hypocritical after teasing my dog for not getting his paws wet. However, at least I’ll dip my toe in and once I’m wet, I love it.

Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach looking out towards Lion Island and Palm Beach headland.

Besides, I also wanted to explore the beach and all it’s nuances through the lens. Our local beach has copped a beating over the last five years. Or, is it more of a case that that our coastline is a rugged wilderness at the mercy of storms, tides and shifting sands and any semblance of smooth calm is nothing more than a postcard illusion? After all, the ocean isn’t a swimming pool, is it!  It can’t be contained.

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Fishing

That’s part of the ocean’s rugged beauty. That every day, even every minute, it’s different…an ephemeral force of nature. The people on the beach are also ever-changing. Ocean Beach with its Surf Lifesaving Club, is usually a swimming beach with fishing usually based around the point at Ettalong. However, the fishers were out in force when I was there yesterday.

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Love at Ocean Beach

Indeed, they weren’t the only ones. I’m sure it won’t come as any great surprise that we get overrun during Summer by this supposedly great force known as “tourism”, but could be better termed “an invasion”. This also justifies a hibernation approach, and the benefits of sunbaking inside at home with a good book and the air-conditioning on. Indeed, you could call it enlightened self-preservation.

Rowena Shadow with wave

The closest I can get to a selfie with my SLR…self portrait at Ocean Beach.

Yet, I still had this unmet urge to carpe diem seize the day and actually make it to the beach on such a beautiful day. How boring to simply stay at home and let it float by without having lived it. Been a part of it.

As soon as I hit the beach, my mojo returned and as my toes sunk into the sand, my eyes were darting left and right scouring the sand and waves for something different, striking or eye-catching. Some days, that something hits me right in the face such as finding a group of Tibetan monks going surfing. We’ve also found the wreckage of a small boat and rows of trees yanked out of the dunes by the roots by a callous storm. There’s always something, even the fleeting watermarks in the sand.

Lines in the sand

Have you ever traced the watermarks in the sand and wondered where they came from? Where they’re going? Or, what they’re trying to say? Instead, I’ve watched my castles fall down and cursed the ocean for washing my efforts away.

However, my first impression was that there was nothing special and the beach was looking pretty ordinary, especially as the waves were flat. However, I found my eye drawn into the watermarks along the sand, which seem to tell a story of goodness knows what or where. Something beyond my human understanding.

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Perhaps, the seagulls were also discussing the mysterious secrets contained in a grain of sand.

Once you attune your eyes to appreciate grains of sand, your awareness of your surroundings becomes much more sensitive and acute. Even the common sea gull appeared extraordinary. Had character. Or, perhaps it was the extraordinary golden light which wove its magic? Certainly, this magic had certainly captivated the clouds. They were absolutely magnificent. It was a perfect sky.

Sunburnt Sunset Ocean Beach

Even the clouds were on fire.

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How have you been spending the Christmas break? I’d love to hear from you. 2018 is about to pass through the hour glass and I guess I’d better start thinking about some resolutions for the New Year before 2019 also washes out into the ocean.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Fish & Chips at Terrigal Beach, Australia.

Yesterday, I stopped off at Terrigal Beach on my way home from an appointment. Terrigal is only about a 30 minute drive away and an hour North of Sydney. Yet, it’s been over a year since I was there last.While we live right near a beach ourselves, Terrigal has its own attractions and I can’t believe we don’t get there more often. Indeed, yesterday was something of a wake up call. An urgent reminder to carpe diem – seize the day.

No doubt, you also know how it is. That it doesn’t matter how close you are to paradise, it somehow passes you by. Not necessarily through any active thought on your part, but more likely through busyness and procrastination, although there’s also plenty of scope for  full-scale avoidance.

Indeed, at the moment, even sticking my head out the back door only an arm’s length away, has slumped into Mission Impossible. Not that I’m depressed, anxious or phobic in anyway. For some reason, I just don’t quite seem able to make it. That is, despite holding Carpe Diem – Seize the day as my personal mantra.

Unfortunately, the reality is often anything but. Indeed, it’s more along the lines of… “Let go of the day. Let it flow away like spilled milk without even raising an eyebrow. There’s an endless supply of sand flowing through the hour glass. Better luck tomorrow. Or, maybe even next week. Or, even the week after that. Don’t rush.”

Sea Squabble

So, I am proud of myself for not only indulging in Fish & Chips from the self-professed “best fish & chips in NSW” (well, there must’ve been some award), but also taking myself for a walk. Getting EXERCISE!!! Indeed, along with all my other doings, I actually managed to clock up a respectable 3,629 steps or 2.4km. Way better than Monday’s 132 steps (must’ve left the phone at home) Or, today’s unimpressive 70 (Yes, I know it’s almost 1.30pm, but I’m still trying to get the motor started).

 

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Looking across to the Fisherman’s Co-op where we used to buy leather jackets when I was a kid.

Anyway, let’s just ignore the bigger picture for a tad, and just focus on yesterday. For anyone who even vaguely knows me, you won’t be surprised that I had my camera with me.  That, also explains why I walked the extra mile. You see, when I’m looking through the lens, I have no idea how far I’ve walked, where I am or even if I’m currently in grave danger. All I see is the shot. Indeed, even if it isn’t a biggy, I’m still seeing and thinking in 6 x 4 and the rest of the world does not exist.

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Terrigal Beach, looking North.

Terrigal was first settled by Europeans in 1826. John Gray, who was the first European settler to the area, called his property Tarrygal, after the indigenous Aboriginal place name, signifying ‘place of little birds’.

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Terrigal Beach in the 1970s looking South towards the Skillion.

As a child, our family used to rent a place in Terrigal or nearby Wamberal during the Christmas Summer holidays, when it was a much humbler version of the tourist resort you see today. Indeed, in so many ways, I wish they’d left it alone but there are always those determined to convert a place with such natural beauty into a monument to man.

As I said, I’m pleased that I managed to take this time out to bask in our local environment and although I’m feeling rather inert today, I am feeling the need to get the motor fired up again. The sun is shining. The dogs would be begging for a walk if they weren’t so busy sunning themselves while I’m tapping away indoors like a moron. What’s wrong with me? Why aren’t I out there? Especially, when I am so adept at avoiding the To-Do List which, at least in theory, is what’s keeping me here? Indeed, I am so close to being outside, that I could almost fall out of my chair into the sunshine.

Zac in the sun

Zack’s no idiot. He’s not inside on a sunny day. He’s out on his Pooh Bear blanket sunny side up.

Well, to be fair, I have actually been making calls and waiting for replies while I’ve been tapping away here. As most of you will agree, getting even the most simplest thing done, takes multiple steps each with its inevitable snags. Indeed, I’m perfectly justified  for feeling psychologically and physically stonkered (to use one of my Dad’s pet words).

Anyway, before the day completely goes up in smoke, it’s time I disappeared outside and found the sun.

Have you done something similar lately and made the most of where you live?

Best wishes,

Rowena

Palm Beach Perspectives, Sydney, Australia.

Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.

-Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor (161-180 CE)

Known as Summer Bay to lovers of the TV Drama series Home & Away and “Palmy” to those in the know, generation after generation have made the long drive up to Palm Beach often returning with sand-encrusted butts, sunburn and shocking tempers in a stinking hot car full of flies. Of course, that’s turning the clock back to the inimitable 70s when going to Palm Beach for us, meant piling into the family’s beloved HG Holden which had painfully hot upholstery and no air-conditioning. Ouch!

Palm Beach is located 41 kilometres North of Sydney’s CBD. However, I can assure you that if you’re catching the legendary L90 bus, welcome to eternity. Indeed, the journey takes around 2 hours. If you were traveling in Europe, you could well have traversed a few countries in that time. Moreover, bus is the only form of public transport. At least historically speaking, trains have been resisted.

On the other hand, if you are coming from the Central Coast, Palm Beach is only a stone’s throw away. You can catch the Palm Beach Ferry from either Ettalong or Wagstaff, which is an absolutely stunning 30 minute trip. When that gorgeous Australian sun is illuminating the ocean like a magical diamond carpet and the wind isn’t too strong, you’re in absolute paradise. On the other hand, when there’s heavy rain, strong winds, the ferry is heaving up and down through what feels like treacherous surf and you’re about to throw up; you feel like you deserve a bravery award once you reach the other side. Yes, at times like that, you even wonder if you’re about to become a modern version of the Swiss Family Robinson or remake Gilligan’s Island. Melodrama aside, the crew are very adept and the ferry is cancelled during particularly rough weather.

Palm Beach is an absolute kaleidoscope of perspectives, like any place, once you scratch beneath the surface. Obviously, creating that sort of mosaic, isn’t possible here so I’ll stick to the bigger picture, providing more of a broad-sweeping overview which a few “local” insights.

Geographically-speaking, Palm Beach has two quite opposite perspectives: the surf beach and Pittwater. The beach equals waves and swimming while Pittwater is “flat” and better suited for sailing, kayaking and other water sports.

Palm Beach- surf side

Palm Beach- surf side

Starting off with the surf beach, the first thing you’ll probably notice is that the sand is deep gold in colour. The next thing, is the surf. At the Southern end, the waves are relatively gentle and you have “kiddies’ corner”  where families with young kids hang out. There’s also an ocean pool where you can swim laps. The beach then stretches around towards the Northern end with it’s famous surfing breaks and culminates with the Palm Beach Lighthouse, which lies perched on top of the headland like a crown. If you are fit and energetic, you can walk up to the Lighthouse. I haven’t been up there for years and I’ve heard the path has improved but it used to be more of a climb than a walk.

The majority of swimmers are clustered “in between the flags”. The red and yellow flags mark where it’s safest to swim and is patrolled by the Surf Lifesavers. So, if you find yourself getting into difficulty, you can easily be spotted and rescued. I can assure you that as a teenager, my friends and I did consider needing a bit of CPR but never actually implemented these plans. We were all “talk”. That is, except when it came to talking to the lifesavers. These Adonises were in a league all of their own.

In a scene reminiscent of hundreds and thousands sprinkled on top of bread and butter (fairy bread),the crowds pour into Palmy from Christmas through to the Australia Day weekend at the end of January, which signals the return to school and the end of the precious Summer holidays. Then, the masses jostle for a precious rectangle of sand to park their towel on the hot,hot sand under the scorchingly hot Australian sun.

Although people living overseas have asked me about the hole in the ozone over Australia, it doesn’t look like all the sunbakers roasting themselves into early-onset melanoma have heard anything about it. When we were young, we used to to cover ourselves in baby oil or get sprayed on the beach by coconut oil, which was the height of sophistication back in the 70s and 80s. There was no such thing as a “fake tan” back then. Just sunburn, peeling skin, freckles and the odd genetic mutant who could actually pull off a tan.

Many years ago now, I used to hang out on the beach where designer sunnies were de rigeur and it certainly wasn’t the sort of place you’d turn up with hairy legs and arm pits which could fuel a forest fire. You didn’t just practice “the strut” at Palmy either. You had to have that down pat beforehand so Palm Beach could be your catwalk. Even better, if you also had the fingernails to eliminate your competition!

Geoff arriving home from a sail.

Geoff arriving home from a sail.

While the beachfront is renowned for flashing incredible wealth in a subtle, understated way and very much being “a scene”, the Pittwater side of Palm Beach is like it’s alter ego and incredibly down to earth  Understandably, there generally isn’t that fashion element you get over at the surf beach. Getting covered in sand and mud, we save our good clothes for back home or dining out and only wear our glad rags out there. It’s water shoes, wet suits, swimmers, grungy t-shirts and thick smears of sunscreen and broad-brimmed hats.

Although my tour of Palm Beach is rapidly drawing to a close, there are still two places I’d like you to visit.

Here I am enjoying a deep-fried prawn from the Fisherman's Basket.

Here I am enjoying a deep-fried prawn from the Fisherman’s Basket.

Firstly, there’s the infamous Palm Beach fish and chips shop, which has gone by various names over the years. It’s located on the Pittwater side, just across from the ferry wharf. People come from all around Sydney and the Central Coast to feast on these fish and chips, which surely must be among Sydney’s best?!! You can either eat-in or take them across the road and eat them in the park while checking out the sailing.

Secondly, there’s Alf’s Bait Shop in “Summer Bay”. Personally, there’s such an incredible cringe factor and like Neighbours, Home & Away is best exported but the show has been a fabulous ambassador and no doubt sold Australia to thousands of tourists. Palm Beach really does look incredible. That said, they usually present a glamorized, postcard perspective. After all, it does rain in Palm Beach and it isn’t always sun and blue skies!

However, while so far I’ve given you what pretty much reads as the glamour tour of Palm Beach, I can’t help feeling that Palm Beach is a little over-rated, especially given the cost of real estate. Even though it is part of Sydney, Palm Beach is actually very isolated and lacks most of what I would class “essential services”. There are no proper supermarkets and you have a ten minute drive into Avalon, which can extend to 20 in traffic. It is impossible to find a parking spot, which has meant that we’ve gone down for fish and chips and have driven off. I don’t want to knock down paradise and put up a parking lot. However, you do need to eat and get out of the house. That is also made difficult by the very narrow, twisting roads which lack adequate footpaths/ Indeed, in spots being a pedestrian is almost asking to get run over. As I was walking back from the bus stop the other day, I really felt like I needed to breathe in to distance myself from passing traffic.

Consequently, you can feel a little trapped and claustrophobic on the “insular peninsula”…especially when we have stunning beaches back home which are close to the shops, train and bus at such a fraction of the cost of real estate here.

Actually, thinking about Palm Beach’s location, it’s almost like someone was playing pin-the-tail on the donkey and stuck the pin almost off the side of the map. Even though it’s located in Sydney and not in the outback, it does feel strangely isolated both from services and people. So many of the houses are empty.

I am a bit down on Palm Beach at the moment because my Dad has sold the house here and we’re moving on, which is a serious wrench.

So rather than writing home about all the things I love about the place, I am also trying to remind myself of all the other equally beautiful places elsewhere and think about the flip side of the travel experience. For the last few years, we’ve immersed ourselves here but perhaps now it’s time to explore further afield and explore with a broader brush. When it comes to the Pittwater side of Palm Beach,it feels like we’ve explored each and every single hair on its head…especially when I’ve photographed it in such incredibly, minute detail and it feels like I know each single hair on its head, even though we’re still finding new critters.

So, soon I will be seeing our time in Palm Beach from another perspective…the past. I don’t need to leave it behind completely. After all, it’s only a short 30 minute ferry ride away but we planted roots here even if they’re uprooted and not severed completely, it still hurts and I feel a bit lost and disorientated. That said, once school goes back next week and we’re back to the grind at home, it will be a different story.

We’ll be home.

This has been P for Palm Beach Perspectives for the Blogging from A-Z April Challenge. How are you going with the challenge? Thank goodness, it is Sunday tomorrow and we have a break!

xx Rowena