A Day at the Seaside

We spent a lot of time at the seaside while I was in Sydney since Caiti is currently living only a couple of kilometres away from Coogee. Apart from a few years when I was a student in Oxford and Stirling and then working as an editor in Kent, until we moved to the middle of nowhere in France I’d always lived quite close to the sea. I do miss it and so I was delighted to be reunited with seagulls and crashing waves and sand in every nook and cranny. The day I arrived, after a quick power nap for both of us (Caiti had been up at 4 to get to the airport to meet me off my flight that arrived at 6.40am), we hit the beach at Coogee. It’s a wide, sandy beach with craggy headlands at either end, really lovely. seaside Also at either end is an ocean pool. Caiti had been telling us about some of these which she’d swum in with friends. These public seawater pools, positioned on a rocky patch of coast so that waves can wash into them, are a very Australian thing, and NSW is particularly famous for them. You get the fun of swimming in the sea with the waves without the danger of being dragged out to sea by currents. At high tide they can resemble ‘washing machines’ as the waves crash into them and churn them up a lot, but the rest of the time they’re a more sheltered and safer way of having a dip in the sea. The sea in question off the Sydney coast is the Tasman Sea. I incorrectly referred to it as the Pacific in a couple of Facebook posts, tut tut. Here’s Gile’s Baths. seaside There’s a lovely coastal walk between Coogee and the famous Bondi beach, and we set off on it. We only meant to do some of it but we ended up doing the whole lot as it was a beautiful sunny day and the scenery was so superb. We passed ancient Aboriginal carvings in the rocks. seaside I met my first bin chicken, the name given to ibises here as they tend to hang around bins and other spots were litter accumulates. They’ve realised these are a good food source. seaside We passed several bay and beaches including Bronte and Clovelly, and enjoyed the fantastic sandstone scenery. seaside seaside The path is currently being reconstructed in one part after a storm washed some of it away so we took a detour through the famous Waverley Cemetery. Caiti and I were intrigued to see so many people of Irish descent buried there, including someone from Tracton, Co. Cork, just down the road from where we used to live in Innishannon. Dare I say it but Bondi was a bit of a disappointment. It has a vast sandy beach it’s true, but the waves and scenery were less dramatic than what we’d passed on the way. We’d seen more surfers further down the coast. It has a nice selection of shops though and we bought sunhats and suncream as it had turned very hot and I didn’t want to start my Australian holiday with sunstroke. We also felt we’d deserved ice-creams so I tried a Golden Gaytime, a toffee and vanilla ice-cream with a chocolate coating dipped in honeycomb biscuit crumbs. It was delicious, and I’m not the only one to think so as it has been going strong since 1959! seaside We visited the infamous Gap, sadly a renowned spot for suicides as it offers a long drop onto some very hard sandstone slabs below. seaside Then took a ferry to Circular Quay where I got my first glimpse of Sydney Opera House. seaside We were feeling a little weary by now so we quickly walked around the outside of the amazing building before getting the bus back home. Thanks to Caiti’s meticulous planning I’d managed to pack an awful lot into my first twelve hours in Australia!