What did we do to deserve this? The morning is cool, sunny, dry and still. Coogee beach is off to our right as we head north along the 5k trail to Bondi beach. This one won’t be as natural as the Spit to Manly and it’s already obvious that we won’t be alone. Australians are out in droves on a gorgeous winter Sunday.
Many are dressed in fancy lycra athletic leisure wear and looking like they got ‘ready’ in the mirror before they went for the run with the little dog. We look like tourists in jeans and camera bags.
Along the way we see some Sydney-sider winter beach culture. Each beach has a little station for changing, food and a parking lot. Many have little exercise stations with fancy pull up bars or playgrounds with astroturf. It’s very civilized and clean. (We’ve barely seen any homeless in Sydney – just a few. I don’t know what that means socially, sometimes that’s a good sign and sometimes it merely means they are rounded up elsewhere.)
One neat thing are seaside, salt water pools. It’s not something that we’ve seen elsewhere, at least not regularly. Almost every beach has a protected, or entirely closed concrete pool. Many are very large – Olympic size or larger. A few allow ocean waves to gently roll into the pool at certain tides. Mostly the people swimming look older, I’m not sure why that is? Maybe they have figured something out that we young don’t know – like how to stay warm in 60F ocean temps.
One can only take a few steps off the paved path before coming to a gorgeous coastline, in some places a steep drop hundreds of feet to the crashing blue-green water below. We take a long walk out to ‘Shark point’ which at lower tides exposes beautifully eroded wavy sedimentary rock.
There are some asian fok here fishing, for food apparently. They are keeping the fish they catch.
Lily has a headache. Amanda steps in a deep puddle and soaks her foot in seawater. I get up close to a sea bird. These are the small moments. I can only write about the big events in the blog, but the real journey are all those small events. Some we remember, some we don’t.
We dole out ibuprofin and wait for the sock to dry a bit. My bird flies away. We climb up some rocks to reconnect with the trail, duck a few joggers and continue north to Bronte beach – another one with playground, sheltered picnic tables and good facilities. Amanda again comments that she wants to live here – she grew up near the beach and misses it. Lily agrees whole heartedly.
I can’t say I disagree – Sydney you are making a compelling case today. We crest another hill and see another beautiful cove, beach, waves and rocky cliffside. The sun gets just hot enough that we take off our fleece jackets. We giggle a little at the people in (usually fancy) down parkas or vests with fake-fur hoods. Lily says her headache is a little better. Amanda says her sock is now wet but warm from the walking.
I’m surprised by the size of Bondi beach (pronounced Bond-I with a hard I). I knew it was one of, or the main beach but all the beaches so far have been small and kind of cute. Bondi is still in a rocky cove, so it doesn’t stretch forever like a shoreline but it’s at least half a mile long and really wide. I bet in summer it’s completely packed. Right now you could throw a frisbee and not hit someone.
This is the end of the hike. There are more Sydney-siders walking here, another salt water pool with lots of activities going on, strollers, and a few other tourists like us, but not many. Along the beach is a long string of cafe’s and stores, a few tattoo parlors that look very busy, and a gift shop or two. Emma wants to get a Manta ray on the top of her foot as a graduation present to herself.
We talk about that a bit over veggie brekkie at a cafe that’s not cheap, but nothing here is. Fortunately it’s good, we’re super hungry from the walk and we’ve not eaten really well because of the jetlag and cooking cheaply at the airbnb.
Afterward we walk a small open market with jewelry and clothes. It’s shockingly expensive.
After a short break at the apartment I navigate with google maps through the streets to the Capitol Theater where we will lose any respect we gained from the cultural elite for seeing Verdi at the Sydney Opera house, by catching a matinee of the schmaltzy, campy, unidimensional musical of ‘Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.’
Don’t think for a moment we didn’t enjoy it. The jokes were low-brow, the disco hits were non-stop and the costumes were out of this world. Amanda and I had to explain to Emma and Lily how important the original 90’s film was to the LGBT community, which they could appreciate. Both are very concerned and supportive of LGBT issues and rights.
The costumes just don’t stop. There are dancing paintbrushes, emus and green-iced cupcakes for ‘Macarthur Park’. I hope Emma and Lily watch the original movie some day – it’s more poignant and relevant. Trish was a big fan of the movie too.
Coincidentally, we are also going from Sydney to Alice Springs on our trip although we will travel by plane and with many fewer sequins and boas. Next stop for us though is Cairns, for which we depart early in the morning. Amanda falls alseep without dinner again. The girls and I get some take-out Indian food that’s pretty good and follow her to dreamland.