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.

Perfection.

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

Sydney.com 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.

 

Children’s Wading Pool

Having returned to the South Coast for the festive season I have ample beaches and ocean pools at my disposal.

Yet the walk to the beach is turning into somewhat of a mission. With countless locals returning home from far flung places – Sydney, Singapore, Saigon the usual 5 minute stroll to the water can now be calculated at around 42 minutes and counting – catching up is time consuming work ‘How have you been?’ ‘ Where did the year go?’ ‘ So good to see you again’

With so much chatter lucky the 8th Beach of Christmas resides on my parent’s front verandah – a beautiful Bunning’s Hardware Store purchase – a Wading Pool ( $19.95)

Wading Pool

Wading Pool

‘ I love coming to your place Nanny’ remarked Ms R as she splashed around in the green plastic bath tub-sized water carrier on Thursday with her little sister Ms A.

Loved it so much that after a midday nap the pair spent the afternoon frolicking in the water some more – hours and hours of fun.

Ms R and Ms A - Wading Pool Fun

Ms R and Ms A – Wading Pool Fun

Anyone with kids knows that an excursion to the beach is a mission – packing the car with all the necessary ingredients for a seaside dip can exhaust and deplete.

Enter the Bunnings’ Hardware Store Wading Pool – a green plastic bath-tub sized water carrier, $19.95 worth of endless fun and no sand, salt or seaweed to contend with.

P.S Sun, Salt and Seaweed being everything I adore about the beach!! But I’d willingly sacrifice all this and more to see the delight on Ms R and Ms A in their green bath tub.

 

 

Fairy Bower Pool

Having just returned from an early morning dip in the ocean pool at Austinmer it seems only fair that I pen a blog post about the delights of summer swimming.

In November a fabulous friend did visit from interstate. The four days that followed could best be described as intense – fun-filled, memory making, adventure packed, sunshine, unicorn and rainbow rich days. A concert, a heat wave , a lightning storm, countless catch ups, coffee, cocktails and birthday cake, train, bus, uber rides, fire alarms, tattoos, laughter.

And the Fairy Bower Pool Manly.

Fairy Bower Pool, looking north towards Manly

Fairy Bower Pool, looking north towards Manly

A ferry ride on a sunny Sunday morning after a cafe breakfast. A short stroll only the Manly promenade and there you find her – the Fairy Bower Pool, a triangular ocean bath complete with the ‘ Sea Nymph’ sculptures that sit along the rock edge.

This little ocean sanctuary was the perfect antidote to our action packed Sydney adventure. It provided the perfect setting to take stock of all had come before and all that would follow.

Fairy Bower Pool Manly – you are magic.

Just like the friendship I share with my interstate bestie xx

The Sea Nymph sculptures, Fairy Bower Pool Manly

The Sea Nymph sculptures, Fairy Bower Pool Manly

 

 

 

Chowder Bay

An early morning ferry ride to the Taronga Zoo wharf.

Alighting and then walking north along a footpath with views of Sydney harbour, hidden beneath a canopy of Eucalypt trees, keeping pace with the bestest of friends – a perfect Sunday stroll on a crisp winter’s morning.

The stuff dreams are made of.

THAT view

THAT view

The 6.5 km walk ends and Balmoral Beach ( reviewed in 2014) and at every turn truly breath-taking scenery.

None more so that Chowder Bay.

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Services describes this oasis best ‘ It’s ( Chowder Bay )  a popular spot for swimming and picnicking. With plenty of facilities and large grassy areas for the kids and spectacular harbour views, it’s a fun and relaxing day out for the family without leaving town.

From the picturesque palm-dotted beach, you’ll gaze across the scenic waterways to South Head. Enjoy a refreshing dip in the calm waters and unpack the picnic hamper on one of the shady tables. The nearby historic military buildings and Clifton Gardens Wharf now house lively cafés and restaurant’

Chowder Bay

Chowder Bay

I was there in August. Though the sun was shining bright the water temperature left much to be desired.

Summer is here, it is time to head back to Chowder Bay with my bestie!!

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Bombo Headland ‘ The Boneyard’

Bombo Headland ' Boneyard'

Bombo Headland ‘ Boneyard’

I won’t pretend to know this stretch of coastline well. Having spent the first 25 years of my life a South Coaster I rarely ventured out of the Northern Suburbs.

But as an adult the desire to explore the greater Illawarra has been a driving force behind the 12 Beaches of Christmas campaign. It has forced me out of my comfort zone and the likes of Austinmer Beach and Macauley Beach, Thirroul to far-flung places!

Bombo Headland or The Boneyard is one such place.

Having traversed Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs Coastal walk countless times it is with shame I admit to NEVER having walked the Kiama Coast Walk. That was until this year.

This 22 km track of pristine coastline is breathtaking. It is broken down in to three sections and on a crisp winters day my parents and I walked section one ( 8.4kms ) from Minnamurra to the Kiama blow-hole. The walk took 3 hours, we ate a picnic lunch at Bombo beach and caught the train home.

One of the beaches that caught my attention that day was Bombo Headland or ‘ The Boneyard’ – a plentiful place where the Dharawai and other Aboriginal groups gathered to catch and collect marine life. With the onset of colonisation it would later became a loading dock for the blue mental industry.

A committed group of Landcare volunteers have since returned this area to its former glory and the regeneration of many native plants and wildlife continues to this day. And to them I say thank you.

I recall reading a plaque about a local surfer, who had surfed at ‘ The Boneyard ‘ for most of his life and as I took in the glorious view that day I could see why one would return everyday to this inlet paradise.

Bombo Headland

                       Bombo Headland

Another 16 kms of the Kiama Coast Walk awaits – expect that to feature in the 12 Beaches of Christmas 2020!

 

 

 

 

Peacock Point, East Balmain

Peacock Point, East Balmain

Peacock Point, East Balmain

It is THAT time of year again!!

12 Beaches of Christmas 2018. Exciting times await, adventures to be had that will include sun, sand, surf, salt water. Friends, family, suncream, summer fruits – mangoes and peaches, long light filled days, endless laughter.

The discovery of new stretches of coastline, inlets of water, rock pools and streams.

Peacock Point, East Balmain falls into this category.

Taking a Sunday stroll with a friend we literally stumbled across this harbour side gem. The locals of one of Sydney’s premier picnic spots looked up suspiciously from beach towels as we gazed in amazement at ‘our’ discovery.

Whilst it remain questionable as to whether you could indeed swim in this part of Sydney harbour, one lady in a red bikini implied that it was possible.

Simply stunning. So refreshing to find yet another reason to fall in love with Summer in Sydney.

Peacock Point, East Balmain embodies the spirit of the 12 Beaches of Christmas campaign – revisit the familiar or venture far to discover something new – whatever you do – dive in deep to the ocean blue.

Peacock Point Reserve, East Balmain

Peacock Point Reserve, East Balmain

 

 

 

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