Thursday 6th November 2014. Day 59
The day began early with, finally, the end of the search for pancakes, which we enjoyed for breakfast, overlooking the estuary. There then followed an unscheduled visit to the local medical centre, where thankfully a doctor was able to see Joyce immediately, and a short stop at a chemist. We then drove south to look at the coastline of Bateman’s Bay, visiting the beaches at Batehaven, Sunshine and Denham.
IEHADHRP (if Eric had actually done his research properly) he would have realised that this leg of the trip should really been given a few extra days to do it justice.
Turning north we visited the mouth of Lake Tambourie, where the lakes drains through the bar to the sea. We crossed the mouth of Burill Lake and traversed Ulladulla, Basin View and Sanctuary Point before reaching Hyam’s beach on Jervis Bay, with its white sands.
We stopped at Huskisson for a fish and chips lunch then headed for the Great Pacific Drive at Nowra. The drive was intermittently sign posted so we had a few diversions and there is now a long built up section through Wollongong. Highlights of the drive were the blow hole at Kiama and the sea cliff bridge. We also enjoyed the drive through the Royal National Park and the crossing of the Audley weir, before rejoining the main road into Sydney, crossing the inlet at the west end of Botany Bay.
We reached our B&B accommodation at 7.30 pm, right on the waterfront of Double Bay, with few problems but later than expected, and made the acquaintance of Primrose, our hostess. The next task was to return the car to Sydney airport. It had seemed a good idea at the time of booking the car, but the reality proved more of a problem. The first attempt foundered when Eric reaching a petrol station before the one indicated by the gps, and found he had left his wallet behind. Having returned to collect the wallet Eric tried again only to find that the petrol station on the gps was not there. On busy roads, with nowhere to stop, he selected a direction at random and soon found himself in the CBD of Sydney. Stopped at a long red traffic light he was able to reprogramme the gps for the airport and ended up going round in circles as key turns were missed. Finally he entered a tunnel which took him towards the airport, which he soon reached, albeit with an almost empty tank. Ignoring the airport turnoff he headed for a nearby settlement and found a cheap petrol station. Having honoured the full tank within 15 kilometres required by Hertz he headed to the airport and returned the car successfully, although the anticipated refund for receiving a car with less than a full tank failed to materialise, as the account had been prepaid.
From the airport the train proved a rapid means of transport via Central to Edgecliff, from where Eric was able to walk back to the accommodation, arriving at 10.30 pm. Joyce had enjoyed the sights but had found it a stressful day, having to make frequent searches for toilets, due to her bladder infection. This had responded to the medication and she was feeling better after relaxing with Primrose in the evening.
Friday 7th November 2014. Day 60. Simply Sydney
The exigencies of the previous evening had taken their toll so this was a very slow morning as we tried to get going. After a leisurely breakfast on the balcony, overlooking Double Bay and its flotilla of moored, small craft, we decided to have lunch and then head into Sydney on the ferry. Conveniently the ferry jetty is only 200 metres from the apartment.
Trying to make sense of the timetable and schedule display caused problems, but with the aid of some other would be passengers we established that one was on its way, although we would have to catch it on its way to Watson’s Bay and then stay on for the return journey to Circular Quay. The next problem was buying a ticket. We really needed an Opal card, the local Oyster, and knew that newsagents and convenience stores could provide one. Given that we had 25 minutes before the ferry arrived Eric strode off into the local shops to buy the cards. 20 minutes later he returned frustrated, having failed to find a suitable outlet. On investigating the notice boards he found, on the back of the furthest one, in small print, a local address, but by then it was too late, we had to board the ferry ticketless. This was an experience neither of us was used to and we were very concerned at our illegal behaviour. This was compounded when the ticket inspector rolled up, along with two people carrying out a ticket survey, as the Opal card is a relatively new system. However all was well, we were not criminals, we could just buy the ticket on arrival. This complication resolved we enjoyed riding the ferry via a number of stops until it finally brought us into view of the iconic opera house and harbour bridge.
Arriving at Circular Quay we sought out the first possible convenience store to buy the travel card, only to be told there was a surcharge for using a credit card. Undaunted we found an ATM and obtaining the necessary cash, returned to complete the purchase. Fully equipped to face Sydney public transport we headed out to explore the Rocks area of the city, to the west of Circular Quay. Needing a toilet the Contemporary Art Gallery beckoned and once inside we decided to face another dose of modern art, especially as entry was free. Heading for the top floor, to the sculpture terrace, we found only a café but with excellent views of the bridge, bay and opera house. Dwarfing the latter was a P&O cruise ship, moored at the nearby passenger terminal and we watched as she slowly set sail for her next port, a magnificent sight, especially as the busy life of the harbour was still in evidence with ferries, water taxis, cruise boats and pleasure craft all moving around her.
Having found nothing on the 4th floor, the 3rd floor also came up blank as they were installing a new exhibition. Undaunted we headed down to the 2nd floor where there was some art to test our aesthetic appreciation. On the 1st floor an exhibition of contemporary aboriginal art proved the most interesting part of the visit, the nearby cluttered gallery of recent works was less so.
From the gallery we walked north past Cadman’s cottage, the Coxswain’s house, dating from the early naval development of the harbour and then past warehouses redeveloped into restaurants. We passed under the harbour bridge, impressed by the scale of the engineering. Throughout the day we kept passing wedding parties being photographed in interesting places, and guests heading for receptions; the bridge area was no exception.
Eric, as the navigator, thought that we could just go round the headland and complete an easy circuit, so we headed for the next set of wharves in Walsh Bay, which had been sympathetically redeveloped for a number of uses, including marina based accommodation. Having admired this area we headed back for the quay, only to be faced by a cliff which ran off into the distance, this area of Millers Point was where the sandstone had been quarried to build Sydney. Nonplussed Eric finally realised, geography in action, that the map, lacking topographical information, was distinctly unhelpful. We passed ender a bridge and climbed a set of stone steps into the Miller Point community, with much local ferment about the proposed sale of the freehold of their leased properties. There were many buildings from the early days of the city, including the oldest pub ‘The Hero of Waterloo’ and the old Garrison church, near Observatory Park and another level up. We admired the observatory from afar before heading back towards the Rocks, passing again under the Bridge on which there was a party dressed in boiler suit with hard hats and clipped to a wire, about to enjoy the bridge climb.
Finding Argyll Street again, the one we should have walked along, over the bridge we had previously walked under, we found a street market selling an interesting range of foods. A pulled pork roll and a meatball wrap later were enjoyed sitting on seats outside the Contemporary Art Gallery. We headed back for the ferry, pausing only for a drink at a convenient café and a short stroll towards the opera house. The day had been sunny, 25 C, with a warm breeze, however, it turned chillier once the sun had set.
The ride back, in the dark, was fun. The views of the opera house and bridge continued to enthral. Once back at base we had coffee on the balcony, chatting to Primrose and her friend and enjoying stroking her ginger Burmese cat, Humphrey, before falling into bed.
Saturday 8th November 2014 Day 61 Bondi boondoggle
We again took it easy this morning and set out after 10.00am for Bondi beach, with the option to head into the city for the afternoon. The weather was excellent, just a little windy, and we decided to use our Opal cards for the trip, rather than buy a hop on hop off ticket.
We therefore walked up the hill to the station in Edgecliff. The train was fairly full and at Bondi Junction we joined a long queue for the bus to the beach. The first bus shortened the queue a little but we were then able to board another, from a different stop. This was crowded, Joyce was relieved to be offered a seat by a young woman, while Eric stood all the way. Alighting at the southern end of the beach we recharged our Opal cards, having got a better idea of fares, and headed for the crescent of golden sand, already covered with people.
Primrose had told us about the Sculpture by the sea exhibition and we decided to view this first, joining a continuous queue of people along the narrow coastal path towards Tamarama beach. A wide variety of sculpture in many media, at least 109, were arrayed along the coastline at strategic points and we much enjoyed the juxtaposition of the varieties of manmade form and texture and the natural sculpture of the weathered and eroded sandstone, set against the azure blue of sea and deep blue of the cloudless sky.
The press of people made progress slow and we realised that visiting Bondi on the Saturday of the last weekend of the installation was perhaps not our best decision. However the crowd was cooperative and good natured and we kept moving, while being able to admire the quality, or otherwise, of the exhibits. We kept to the coast path and descended to Tamarama beach where there were more installations, including a giant frying pan buried in the sand, a textile rhinoceros, a peacock in metal and giant ball bearings on legs- entitled the wanderers. We bought a hot dog, from the BBQ at the surf lifesaving club and relaxed on grass behind the beach.
After lunch we walked to the next headland and then headed back to Bondi, via Mark’s park where there were even more sculptures, the most notable being a breaching whale carved from driftwood. On reaching Bondi we paddled along the waters edge before heading homeward. After buying an ice cream we joined a long queue for the bus, a bend bus arrived after a 15 minute wait. We were both able to get seats and reached the station, where a train awaited. At Edgecliff we visited the supermarket for some supplies then staggered back for a meal, excellent quiches. Eric was suffering from back pains, from carrying the backpack all day. so was prostrate for much of the evening watching old Bond movies on TV, meanwhile Joyce enjoyed a relaxing soak in Primrose’s spacious 1930’s bath.