Dee Beach, Bendalong

Outsourcing submission for the 2019 Beaches of Christmas series…..this entry come via my folks, holidaying on the NSW South Coast seaside town of Bendalong. A favourite holiday destination of theirs, for years an annual week long vacation signifies the start of summer.

Hot of the press, these photos were received early this morning, my parents had the entire beach to themselves. As a Sydney sider, this seems utterly unimaginable! But on the South Coast of NSW it can be your summer reality.

Having had the privilege of an Autumn family holiday to Bendalong this year, but seeing the ocean in its summer time glory, a site to behold.

Expansive blue sky, pillow soft clouds, cocooned by native gum, majestic ocean water: my Dad took a dip, my Mum paddled in up to her knees.

The verdict ‘ Specatcular’

The 10th Beach of Christmas : Dee Beach, Bendalong 



Geoff James Ocean Pool ( Clovelly Ocean Pool)

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The 11th Beach of Christmas 2019 – the Geoff James Ocean Pool, Clovelly.

Visited on a day when Randwick Council had scheduled pool cleaning so alas no water is pictured in the 25 metre, 4 lane salt water pool.

Upon researching the eleventh entry, I discovered that the pool was named after past president and life time member of the Clovelly Surf Club. Mr James had been instrumental in the proposal and development of the pool in the 1960’s.

Having always preferred to take a dip in Clovelly Beach, to bob amongst the waves and splash about in Sydney’s biggest open air bath tub, I am yet to submerge myself in the enclosure that is the Geoff James Ocean Pool.

That day will come.

Appreciative of the history of the pool, which the National Trust placed on the heritage register in 1994, it seems fitting that that day should come sooner rather than later.

But before then, a thank you.

To Mr James for commissioning the Eastern Suburbs delight that bares his name.


Edwards Beach

The 12 Beaches of Christmas 2019 is here. Time to get your swimmers on and apply a generous lathering of suncream. With a good book in hand and a keen sense of adventure, to the water one must go!!

And to the ocean I did head, finding myself at the delightful Edwards Beach, Mosman, situated to the north of Balmoral Beach, separated by Rocky Point Island.

Never was their a more picturesque beach to herald in the Christmas reviews and the arrival of summer in our city!

I was not aware that Edwards Beach existed. I have frequented Balmoral Beach on numerous occasions unaware that if you strolled along the tree lined promenade, heading North, another beach would roll out the red carpet.

Complete with historic bathers pavilion, calm blue waters and squeaky white sand, Edwards Beach is a site to behold. Often overlooked for the jewel that is Balmoral ( I admit I assumed Edwards was said beach!) discovering yet another Sydney beachside gem was indeed a Sunday morning treat.

So next time you say ‘ Let’s go to Balmoral Beach’, walk on the wild side, the north side, and park your beach towel on the golden sand of Edwards Beach.

You will not be disappointed. I’ve heard that locals remark is as good, if not better that their beloved Balmoral!







North Maroubra

I always learn something new about Sydney when I venture out for a day trip with my friend Kirk.


Kirk and Kate – North Maroubra ( North Maldives)

Today I learnt that Maroubra Beach can be divided into three parts.  And whilst I’ve swam at Maroubra before prior to today I have not taken a dip at the Southern or Northern end of the beach. So today I discovered North Maroubra or North Maldives as I christened it.




No over water bungalow, hammock or seaplane required to immerse oneself in the bluest of blue waters and drift away from the perils of city living.

Perils indeed when you can leave behind the 9-5 office blues and be beachside in under 20 minutes.

Such is life for the Sydneysider and today Kirk and I basked in summer sunshine with North Maroubra’s finest, the Bra Boys, inked ( tattooed) with ‘ Lest we Forget’ ‘ My Brothers Keeper’ and everything in between. I may have discussed inking a postcode across my chest – 2515 ( Childhood Suburb) or the aspirational 2096 ( Northern Beaches) Never say never in 2019.

So the 12 Beaches of Christmas 2018-2019 comes to a close.

And I look to 2019-2020 with anticipation – for these beach reviews bring me such joy. And whilst the ocean, the sun, sand and salt are pure delight it is the familiar faces that join me for these beachside adventures that bring the greatest pleasure.







Jones Beach

Looking back on 2018 some of the greatest moments were spent near the ocean.

None more so than when I had just secured full-time employment  ( after a 10 month period of unemployment) and was enjoying the last days of freedom on the South Coast of NSW.

I wrote earlier in this series about exploring a section of the Kiama Coastal Walk when I wrote about Bombo Headland ‘ The Boneyard’

Before you are treated to the Bombo ‘Boneyard’ you will traverse over ‘ Jones Beach’.

On the day I completed the first section of the coastal walk, my parents joined me.

We walked those 8 kms accompanied by the occasional seagull – it was rare to sight another human on the walking trail.

We had Jones Beach all to ourselves. It was just magic.

Situated between Minnamurra Headland and the basalt columns of Cathedral Rocks, Jones Beach ( also known as Boyd Beach) is a popular surf and swim spot.

It was Winter when we visited Jones Beach and with swimming not an option, a photo shoot proved the perfect substitute.

My camera was spoilt for choice – which angle would I shoot from – North, South, East or West – perfect images at every turn.


Manly Beach

Surprisingly the iconic strip of coast that is Manly Beach had yet featured in the 12 Beaches of Christmas. I mean Manly Beach, come on!!

What might appear even more surprising is that I had never swum there. Having frequented almost every other beach nearby – Shelly, Queenscliff, Freshwater, Curl Curl , Little Manly , I’d somehow forgotten to dunk myself in the bigger bluer version.

So on the 1st day of 2019, determined to right this wrong a swim at Manly beach was at the top of the to-do list. But somehow a morning coffee turned into a swim at Freshwater Beach, a fish and chip lunch and park siesta – and the Manly swim was sidelined. But I was not deterred – intent on being flexible to new possibilities / opportunities in the New Year I was committed to going with the flow.

Manly eventually presented itself mid afternoon. With my beautiful Brisbane buddies, who walked hand in hand down the promenade, the afternoon was ours for the taking, the water cool and calming, the perfect antidote to the previous nights New Years Eve escapades.

And from their it just got better and better. Post swim we lazed in the shade on manicured lawns. We agreed that we fancied Chinese for dinner and walked to Eastern Hill, Manly were we ‘ discovered’ ( thanks google) Golden Chef Asian Cuisine. A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!!

With the sun going down, our bellies full we took to the promenade post dinner and walked home.

It may have taken 40 years for the opportunity of a Manly Beach swim to arise but it was worth the wait – the ocean dip was the icing on the cake of a day that soared above and beyond expectations.

Great friends, amazing food and welcoming service, sun, sand and surf.

Summer 2019 done right!!




Freshwater Rockpool

It is impossible to wake up in the North Beaches suburb of Freshwater and be unhappy.

As the early morning bird songs woke me, a smile crept across my face that has not left. And the mantra ‘ It is impossible to be unhappy with Freshwater’ revealed itself to me.

I ventured down to the water at 9am keen to beat the crowds but it appeared everyone had the same idea. I opted to swim in the delightful Freshwater Rockpool – the first dip of many I hope to have there.

May the picture do the talking – I’m speechless.

Today is the last day of 2018. I’ve spent the morning doing all my favourite things – coffee, yoga and swimming. I went grocery shopping and brought a collection of my favourite fruits – raspberries, mangoes, blueberries, limes and nectarines. And some of my favourite people will soon join me at this seaside retreat for some New Year Festivities.

Champagne on ice, beach swims on tap and summer tunes on high rotation.

It is impossible to be unhappy in Freshwater.



Gentlemen’s Baths Wollongong

It seems appropriate that upon catching up with two of the finest gentlemen I know, men who have regularly featured in the 12 Beaches of Christmas series, that I would review Wollongong’s finest – the Gentlemen’s Baths.

Not wanting to provide readers with a history lesson I shall insert a photo that provides an easily digestible overview of this 130 year old swimming hole .

Strolling along the Blue Mile promenade that links North Beach to Belmore Basin a memory of a swim in the Gentlemen’s Baths surfaced. My University days, many moons ago – late evening, mid-week, fully clothed?! Not very lady like but then again Splashes Night Club circa 1997 wasn’t either!!

With refined tastes now, a stroll at dusk soaking in the last rays of sunshine, I was to stand transfixed by a large body of water nestled in between rocks. Swimmers, male and female ( women have been able to bathe at the Gentlemen’s Baths since the 1920’s) frolicked in calm waters on floating devices, pool noodles and lilos.

Countless photos were taken and then I met two of the finest gentlemen I know for dinner at the Northbeach Pavillion – metre long pizza, wine and laughter.


Queenscliff Beach

Queenscliff Beach is effectively the northern fringe of Sydney’s famous Manly Beach. Enough said.

Queenscliff Beach looking towards Manly

Queenscliff Beach looking towards Manly the official tourism site for Destination NSW states that Queenscliff Beach is ‘possessed of an offshore “bommie” which can handle waves up to seven metres’ Kowabunga!!

To a surfer this would excite and entice. To a professional sun baker it barely registers.

What is a bommie?

A few clicks on the keyboard and I discover a ‘ bommie’ is slang for Bombora, an Aboriginal name which describes an area where large sea waves break over a submerged rock shelf, reef, or sand bank that is located off the shoreline and surf break.

Who knew this 12 Beaches of Christmas campaign could be so educational.

And on the day I soaked up the sites of Queenscliff Beach the ‘bommie’ was certainly not going off….but bag pipes were!! And I’m a sucker for this instrument.

Who doesn’t love sand on their feet, the salt through their hair and the sounds woodwind instruments filling the air?





Venice Beach, California

The 12 Beaches of Christmas 2018 campaign goes international!! Woo Hoo!!

Earlier this year I did travel to the West Coast of the USA. I left Sydney the morning of the 7th of February and arrived in Los Angeles on the morning of the 7th of February. Jet lag is a bitch.

But beaches or pools, be they located on the West Coast of Australia, the South of Spain or a backyard in Bondi are always worth travel time.

So to Venice Beach, California. As a 22-year-old backpacker I first encountered this place best described as weird, wonderful, mystical, magical, confronting, confusing. The kind of the place a 22-year-old backpacker would fall head over heals in love with. So much so that she felt the need to declare this love in ink form at the base of her 22-year-old spine – click here for further details

As a mature and motivated ( and sober) 39 year traveler to Venice Beach I did return. And with certainty I stand by my original description of this stretch of coastline, the place remains weird, wonderful, mystical, magical, confronting and confusing.

Yet hangover free I could venture far and wide, explore the Venice Beach canals ( what a delight) appreciate the street art ( note picture taken of humping bunny graffiti in homage to 2001 inking session), sample the local cuisine and marvel at the craftsmanship involved in deconstructed coffee ( yep its a thing)


Venice Beach – it was too long between visits.

Jet lag is a bitch but you my friend Venice made it worth it.


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