Tag Archive | leisure

Oot and aboot

Wanna go see whale rock?

What’s that?

A rock that looks like a whale. 

OK. 

While the rain held, we went off in search of whale rock. The online guide listed the usual safety precautions – water, clothing, maps. Even bush on the edges of suburbia can be dangerous. 

We walked into the bush, down a wide, cement roadway, big enough for firefighting trucks. At the bottom of a slope we could see directional signs. None listed the sought-for whale rock. “I wonder which way we need to go?” I asked Mr S. As I spoke, I turned and there was whale rock. 


For size comparison, here is s shot with a disguised Mr S (though I admit there’s not a lot of hiding one can do in a hippy tie-dyed shirt).


Definitely worth the 5 minute walk from the road! Yes, that quick. Why all the safety advice? Ridiculous! WHS gone mad. Anyway that wasn’t enough of a walk, so we ventured in further. Because of all the rain we had (thanks Cyclone Debbie) the creek was over the path. At the first flooded crossing we debated: should we turn back or just walk through? “Ah fuck it. Let’s just walk through it.” So we did. Several times on the way into the bush. And on the way back. 

At least the water was running which meant we wouldn’t get leeches. Unlike our walk the day before!

A couple of weeks earlier we had gone in search of our secret waterfall in another part of the same national park. But we were thwarted by the rain which turned a track into a pond. 

With still water and boggy ground all around, we were in leech territory. In that brief walk I scored two leeches but they mistakenly suckered onto my shoes. Mr S, who’d ventured further and made it to the waterfall, did his bit for wildlife rescue and fed a few leeches. 

A week later, and the day before Whale Rock, we went off to the waterfall again. Stocked with necessary supplies – a stash of salt to battle the leeches – my friend and I lady-stepped over the water-logged paths while Mr S schtomped through. And ended up to his knees in logs and twigs and leaves which had been washed into a pile that Mr S thought was a solid pathway. 

It doesn’t look clearer than the above shot but trust me, the path was now passable.


Mr S made a hasty recovery. We all made it to the waterfall. Our party of three in tact. 

Hard to believe that these are all within 15 minute drive from our home. (This is the designated comfort zone prescribed by my friend and endorsed by Mr S.)

At the outer reach of the 15 minute zone, is Fagan Park, developed on an old orchard site. We visited here one day in the last two months. While most people clustered around the children’s playground and the interesting “gardens of the world”, Mr S and I picnicked at the old homestead which was open for its only Sunday of the month. Maybe Mr S and I are unusual but we love old places. The homestead a host of farm sheds used for fruit packing and equipment all full of objects from the early settlement, many lovingly restored. The water pumps work. The gardens are peaceful. The actual home has been furnished from the period. 

One of the volunteers was a 90 year old whose extended family owned the farm before donating it to the council for a public park. She recalled not being allowed in the main house as a child, being forced to stay in the separate kitchen with her brother. What a connection! To talk with someone who still volunteered and worked in the garden that she played in as a child. 

Picnicking under the she oaks

Mr S impressed with the working water pump

Room of one of the single farm labourers from early last century. Vastly different from the main home.

Tractor shed

Walking into the homestead site


There weren’t many days with skies as blue as this, so we were doubly lucky to chance upon the monthly open day of the homestead. 

Still, there’s a beauty in the rain as the drops on this she oak show. This was taken in my usual lap around “the block” that passes through the edge of the national park. 



There’s a peacefulness in walking on a known path. You don’t have to concentrate and your mind can wander. You can’t think about other things. Conversely, there’s a mindfulness in walking in the new and unknown. You have to concentrate on the path, you are continually looking at the new sights, your mind is processing all the new information. This means you cannot be thinking of all the humdrum of life, you can’t be planning and strategising and going over things and conversations. This is especially true when the path is a rough bush track. 

Both types of walks are good for the mind and soul. As well as the body. And fun as well!

An eclectic music week

Do things. Fun things. 

Say yes to new things. 

Don’t just use weekends to catch up on sleep. 

My new mottos meant one week was a really busy week in March. Busy and eclectic. 

Ages ago I bought tickets for my sons, Mr S and me to see Spiderbait. It was the 20th anniversary of one of their albums. Actually not my favourite album but I hoped they’d play some of my favs in the encore as they were going to play the album as the set. Of course, they played around – it wasn’t just a “studio” sound. For a three piece band they bang out a big sound. 

Spiderbait has been a family fav and now my boys are adults, they still love Spiderbait. A top family fav is when the female sings, and they didn’t disappoint with Calypso. Click on the link and enjoy. If you watched the movie, 10 Things I Hate About You, you may recognise the song. Of course if you’re an Aussie and listen to JJJ, you’d know the band well. 

Spiderbait, live at the Enmore Theatre.


Interesting tidbits of the family going out to a concert together: we went to an Indian restaurant before (working parents shout of course). Oldest boy, who now lives in the inner west and not “the burbs”, wouldn’t let me order Butter Chicken. “You can have that in the suburbs. In the city you have to try something different and not just take time to read the menu and pretend to be considering something different.” Uh!!! Trendy, bloody, inner city dwellers. Hipsters!!!

Second lesson was for my boys. A lesson in sexism that women routinely face. We were standing up the back of the venue, near the entrance from the foyer (where people, mostly men, kept going to buy overpriced, imported beer [hipster influence again]). It was a standing only concert. Men kept pushing past me. Oldest son wanted me to move as I was being pushed – not aggressively but continually. He thought it was because I was in a natural pathway. I pointed out that the pathway would be wherever I was as I was surrounded by tall men, my own and other concert-goers. Who would the walkers squeeze/push/make move? The tall men or the relatively slighter and shorter woman? 

Anyway, a review of Spiderbait doesn’t make my week eclectic. So off to something different. 

Earlier in the week I went to my first opera. Tosca by Opera Australia. In the Opera House. I got tickets from a foundation that aims to encourage people to go to the opera. They subsidise tickets for $20, instead of the  full price of $230. 

I was wary. I have never gone before. Wouldn’t risk $230 on something I might not like. $20 is worth the risk. Well, I loved it. I would go again. I will go again. Next year.  So the foundation worked. It’s got a new convert. 

Of course, the experience was entirely different. As was the audience. Older, for starters. Not that the Spiderbait audience were spring chickens. Many being around 40 to 50. Less leather and chains and tats at the Opera. 

Sparking wine on the forecourt, watching cruise ships sail past. 

Cruise season has begun. Not my scene. Too much like a floating RSL club.

Fancy a glass? Why yes, thank you.



Interval, looking at the lights and the raw industrial majesty of the Opera House design. 

Look up!


Despite two late nights in the week, and one being a week night, I wasn’t exhausted. These things energised me. Doing fun, and new, and novel things build you up, give you a purpose beyond work. A purpose for work. How else will you pay for tickets?

The best and worst of a Sydney weekend

Best: On Saturday, I went to the theatre. Saw A Flea in Her Ear. A funny romp put on by the Sydney Theatre Company, at the Drama Theatre in the Opera House. I travelled in by train. Great play. Great location. So easy to get there by public transport – no worries about traffic or parking. 

Worst: The opera bar, beneath the Opera House foreshore is crowded, noisy and overpriced. The food was ordinary.  

The Worst of The Worst: the toilets are disgusting. Aussie won’t pay for public toilets and although the toilets are in the bar area, they are really public toilets. But really when the bar charges $25 for a cocktail and $10 for their cheap house bubbles, they should provide a higher standard of toilet cleaning. You need loos when drinking. Honestly they were the worst toilets I have used in Australia in a long time. Overflowing sanitary bins, vomitous smell of urine. I have decided I will not buy drinks from there again. 

Best: On Sunday I went to the beach. It was beautiful. With the fresh salt air and pounding ocean, you feel alive. 


Much goings on to watch with a surf competition. 


I love the free beach pool. Reminiscent of a more egalitarian time. 


It’s exhilarating to watch the tide coming in and the waves hitting the rocks and the ocean side of the pool. The water rushing in keeps the pool clean. 



So much to see. People fishing. Surfing. Having fun. 


And not crowded at all. As you can see in the view of the beach below. (Curl Curl for those who are interested.)


Worst: Yes, there’s a “worse” thing about the beach. No, it’s not the sand, though I do hate how it gets into bodily crevices that even though they don’t like sand, they hold onto it. 

Its blue bottles. There were lots of them. And warning signs up. 


I didn’t swim. Not because of the blue bottles. The waves were too rough. Also it wasn’t hot enough for me. The water was a tad chilly and I only venture into the water when it is almost too hot for me to go into the sun. Of course, Mr S went for a dip. And no, he wasn’t stung. 

I’ve actually never been stung by blue bottles. Probably an indication of my cautious nature. If I see them on the beach, I’m out of the water. 

Not good: I am sunburnt on the back of my neck. You’d think I’d have learnt my lesson by now! But no. The wide neck dress exposed skin that hasn’t seen the sun for a long while. And I wore a cap, not a wife brimmed hat. And I didn’t put on any sunscreen. Should have worn a top with a collar. Or put on the sun screen!!!

Still, the ledger has come out heavily on the positive side. This has been a good weekend. 

How was yours?

Not working

I’m currently on sick leave. One week in of two weeks. While I am recovering from a minor op, I am taking the chance to get things done around the house. 

I will have a new bathroom next month so I’ve been making some calls and paying invoices and chasing up orders. I’ve done some spring cleaning, sorting and decluttering. finished spring cleaning one son’s bedroom. I have booked a fellow to come on Monday to tidy the front garden. 

I have booked my next Botox appointment. (They are booked up for weeks!!! Apparently coming towards Christmas they get very busy.)

I am going to make pumpkin soup for dinner – before the pumpkins go off!!!

I’ve had some friends come and visit and another one is coming, with cake!!!, tomorrow. 

I have to say, this time off work is making me greedy for more time off work. I know I’m recovering from surgery but there’s so much to be done around the house and yard, and I haven’t even started planning our trip to France next year! I haven’t been walking – I can’t walk too much yet. And I haven’t been out and about, visiting places around my fair city. 


While I’ve been off, I have received exciting news. 

Mr S and I have both been accepted into the Deferred Salary Scheme. That means we get 80% of our pay for the next four years and get the fifth year off. Yay!!!!! More than a whole year of no work. 

So while my work may be part of my identity, I am looking forward to redefining myself. 

Roll on the next four years!!!

 Return to Refuge Rock

I just had to take Mr S to yesterday’s find. I wanted to look for evidence of mortar shelling and its shrapnel in the rock and find the natural arch.

The path in is wide as it is used to service the electricity towers and by the Rural Fire Service. (For overseas readers, although I live in the suburbs, the Rural Fire Service, a largely volunteer service, deals with bush fires. The Fire Brigade deals with other fires.)


As soon as we got to the rock, we found evidence of artillery. A website said General MacArthur trained troops here. I went to the public library to look in local history books but couldn’t find any records. Something for further research. 


After you see one, you see the signs everywhere. 

So to our next target: the natural arch.  

The rock is huge so we wandered around the top of the edges, peering down the sides of the rock. At some edges it is a 15 metre drop. For those who’ve not been in Australian bush, it’s not easy walking among the vegetation, so it’s not a case of scrambling down and walking around the edge of the rock. There’s crevices, slopes, dense growth blocking your way, holes. All manner of sticks and rocks set to trip and scratch you. And snakes and spiders could be hiding anywhere.

A big crevice. Can’t jump over it.

A big crevice. Can’t jump over it.

Banksias

Banskias abound

Fungi


Back burning on the other side of the ridge. But still no natural arch. 


We followed some tracks which seemed to lead somewhere. Up hill and down dale, past more crevices, and attempts by young geologists/vandals to lever a balanced rock. (Come on if Year 9 Science taught you anything, it’s you need a bigger fulcrum and a stronger lever.)

We reached a very high cliff, preceded by deep crevices in the rocks, leaving large rectangular blocks of stone, looking all the world as the tops of trains waiting in a shunting yard.

Mr S, as the intrepid scout, found a way down. Walking down the slope of a crevice, careful as the leaf litter was deep and slippery. Really it was just a gentle ramp. 

Through the dense shrub to…

The arch. At the base of a 15 metre drop. 

Mr S found what he believed was a short cut back. Let me tell you. I failed on my first attempt. Photos don’t give you depth. And height. The crevice was long, high and narrow. What if we got to the top and were on the wrong side of another crevice?

I let him go first and check it out. Mr S is very slim. Even he had to turn sideways. 

I followed and then, making a U turn, walked up the crevice I walked down. Schimple. 

We were in the bush for about an hour and twenty minutes. Just right. A great adventure for a Sunday afternoon. 

I will return with my walking buddy. But we will take delicate lady steps and head straight for the natural arch.

  

Bush in the suburbs 

One of the things I like about my part of Sydney is the bushland that surrounds us.  

Walking off a suburban street and into bushland, you feel miles from suburban living, from the press of people, from the torment of traffic. 

Today my walking buddy called to ask to explore a new track. Refuge Rock. Only a short drive from my home, tucked away in a neighbouring suburb I never have any inclination to visit. Why would you go to look at housing in new estates? 

There are no signs to this hidden gem though the track is wide and clear, being used by rural firies and to service the electricity towers. 

Initial arrival is underwhelming. Is this it? as you reach the start of a sandstone outcrop. 

But the rock doesn’t stop. One massive slab with different colours and patterns and weathering and cracks and fissures. 

Smokey horizon from Rural Fire Service backburning

Tesselation in foreground, person on top showing how high the rock goes

Erosion under the rock

Long afternoon shadows

Run-off from moss forms a little erosion stream


On return, I did my usual Google of the place. Seems there are mortar impact craters from WWII artillery training. And there’s a natural arch to find. 

I’m going back tomorrow to find these. 

Hedge of banksia in flower in foreground.

Australia – the land of deadly animals

Snakes, spiders, sharks, crocs. We have them all. And to outsiders we maintain, naay relish in, an air of nonchalance in our acceptance of these things. In fact we revel in our apparent disregard of them. 

Danger?  I laugh in the face of danger. 

Except not really. 

 On a recent bushwalk with a friend in our suburb, we faced a new creature. Our screams, well my screams, were ear-piercing. 

The  fear and terror of its massive claws cannot be underestimated. It barred our way across a creek. 

Behold what stopped my friend and me in our tracks. 

  
The three billy goats gruff did not face a meaner guardian of the crossing. 

Perhaps our fear was compounded by the novelty of seeing a yabbie in our suburban creek? First one I’ve  seen in greater Sydney. 

Now to calm your beating heart, here’s some flowers we saw along the track. 

  
And to make you smile at the unusual beauty of the bush, here’s some shots of Scribbly gums. They always make me smile. Such a fun tree. All that childish scribble.