Tag Archive | weekends

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!

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?

A Sunday drive 

We took an American relo to Katoomba. It’s been many a year since I visited the Three Sisters and walked up and down Katoomba’s main drag. 
My God! The crowds! Masses and masses of tourists!!!  Go away already. 

No. I’m not a tourist. I’m a… Well I’m not a local but almost. I’ve been coming here since forever. I lived for a while at the base of the mountains in Dag City. I have had friends who lived in the mountains, and still have. As a teenager, we’d make the trek up on a Saturday night for something to do. I’ve done many short walks around the Blue Mountains. 

But I have not been up to Katoomba for so long. A couple of weekends ago I visited a friend in Leura, which is one stop down the mountain towards Sydney. We called in a couple of antique shops but didn’t go into Leura. 

Still, even the crowds cannot take away from the majesty of the Blue Mountains. 

Panoramic view


And I can see why they come. It’s awe inspiring. 

Three Sisters and a cousin

Honeymoon Bridge into cave under Three Sisters


The street art was eye catching. 


I love this one. A 1940s truck driving into the present. Reminds me of the student who asked what it was like living when everything was black and white – if the footage and photos are in black and white, real life must have been. 


Unfortunately the food was meh. I should have gone the soup. The ricotta vegetable slice was tiny and the accompanying slice of bread blah and the salad just a little pile of leaves. Yes, I should have had the soup. When it’s 7°C and there’s still snow on a roof and on a yard, go the soup. 


I think we may have to spend a week up here, exploring and walking and snooping around the shops. 

I even think I may have to work on Mr S. I think I could retire around Leura or Wentworth Falls. It’s the bushfires that scare him.  

Long weekend. 

Happy birthday, Queen. Thanks for the day off. 

Mr S has enjoyed watching the pomp and ceremonies in London on his computer. 

I’ve been otherwise engaged. 

On Saturday I continued my STC subscription and saw Arthur Miller’s All My Sons. Brilliant production. So glad I got to see Robyn Nevin – she was ill and theperformance  cancelled when I went to see her in Suddenly Last Summer. 


John Howard’s (not our ex-Prime Minister) performance was powerful. 


Great costumes. Not sure about the American accents, though. 

The day was a sparkler. Look at the diamonds glistening on the harbour. 


Yesterday I mooched around, wrote a witty post but lost it, read the paper, watched Poirot. 

Today I am off the the Hunter valley. No it is not holidays yet. I have a conference there. Supplies for tonight are packed. Bubbles and nibbles. Strange I know, to take wine to the Hunter but we won’t have time to shop nor visit wineries. 

Sunday in the Blue Mountains

Just back from a most gorgeous day. 

A friend picked me up in her convertible and we escaped the haze from the back burning that is taking place across Sydney. 

The air was crisp and sweet and clear. 


We stopped by a couple of antique shops on the way up to a friend’s weekender. 

A house among the trees. And birds. 


On the back verandah for drinks and nibbles, watched by kookaburras who wait any dropped morsels. 


Inside for a fabulous feast of pumpkin soup, mushroom strudel and salad. And then dessert! Oh, dessert. Choices. If only I had room for more than two. I’ll start with Persian orange almond cake. The sticky date with double serve of butterscotch sauce. 


A quick sing through of happy birthday to me, off to watch the hosts feeding the birds, while admiring the bush, especially the mountain devil, flowering at different stages. 


All too soon we had to join the other Sunday drivers on the road back down to Sydney. 


Back to the haze from back burning which you can see, sitting like a brown smudge low on the horizon. 

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.  

  
 

The Rocks

A mecca for tourists and locals, The Rocks is a great place to go for a beer or many. 

Before we settled in for the afternoon over a beer, Mr S and I did a walk around. Normally we tromp along the same street to one of our favourite pubs. 

This time we took a different path, not the Main Street filled with taxis and tourists. So join us as we look at The residential Rocks. That which won’t be the same much longer. And to new development. That which is owned by the wealthy for money making. 

This building below is iconic. Perhaps not what you’d expect in our old town section. Every time I take the train into the city I notice it. I don’t think I like it – it tends to polarise people. The fact that it is public housing in a prime location doesn’t help. But under our current government, it probably won’t be for long. 

Anyway, this weekend was the first time I actually walked passed it at street level. 

   
 
Actually I don’t like it. I don’t like the cement, unfinished, dirty, inelegant blockishness of it. What do you think?

I much prefer the pub up the road. The Australian. That serves Bavarian style beer. Mmm?!?

   

I like the verandahs over the footpath. I felt so exposed in London without verandahs. Though they do stop you seeing beyond ground level of buildings. 

Under the bridge and seeing the bridge climbers disappearing into one of the pilons. I have no desire to climb the bridge at all. 

    

Now we’ve hit the section over which there has been much controversy lately. Large areas of long-term public housing residents are being evicted so the government can sell the prime real estate on the city and on the harbour to their mates. Oops, sorry. To the highest bidder. To build more housing, don’t you know. Wonder what they’ll do when there’s nothing left to sell off. 

Say good bye to the houses for the common folk. 

   
    
    
    

How about this street? Look up to the Observatory.  

   
And down to the bridge. 

 
This end terrace house along the way is gorgeous. Think it’s another one to be sold off. 

  
There’s something about staircases and archways that makes me want to see what’s there. Nothing much as it turns out. Housing commission flats. The staircase is made of metal and is very step. Would have proven nasty for a few after a thirsty evening. 

  
And here’s our destination. The newly reopened Palisade Hotel. The tallest building in Sydney when it opened, allegedly. 

   
Never used to be this crowded at this end of the Rocks. Most people didn’t go past The Lord Nelson. 

The Palisade is dwarfed by the now-decommissioned Harbour Master’s Control Tower. No longer needed now we’re not a working harbour but a harbour of leisure craft. 

 

Below is the Palisade from the back. What is all that glass!?! I’ve been up the top on the roof for parties. Once I did suffer vertigo as not only is the building steep and the wall low, the pub is perched on a cliff top. I fear that extra glass level will engulf the old homes as they are gentrified, being small housing for the poor, the wealthy will want extra levels in their trendy homes by the harbour. 

  

Behind the Pallidade is the recently opened new development. Barangaroo. Once a working harbour, now being developed into casinos, restaurants and apartments. 

I do like the floor numbers along the building. It’s going to be massive. 

   
To appease the masses, give them a park. Only opened a week or so ago. And the masses certainly were there. Nice views across the harbour. But he park is smaller than I thought it would be. And too ordered, cleaned, tame. What they want to do with the rest of The Rocks. Turn it into a theme park, not reality. 

   
  
But I’ve found my place. 

This little cottage, opposite the park, in the shade of the Harbour Master’s Tower, will do me nicely. Probably a nice view of the bridge from the back porch. 

  
And it’s on a quiet little cul de sac. With another little cottage next to it. Around the corner from the Palisade. 

  
And then some more terraces. 

   

  


 The view of this facade, hiding an exhaust chimney, from my seat in the pub kept calling my eye. 

 
I’ve always liked this corner shop. Not that I’ve ever bought anything there. I just like the deep verandahs upstairs and the residential area upstairs. Zoom in on the hole in the verandah in the upstairs corner to see what I mean. That and the dark red bricks. I could just imagine living there in the middle of last century. 

  
We left the Palisade as the sun was setting. On the way to the train station we stopped at another pub. Cause that’s what you do in the Rocks.