Bar Beach

The sun was shining and I asked a Newcastle local, a council worker, if I was on the right track ‘ The coastal walk’- something I’d read about in a tourist information pamphlet.

His remark ‘ Never heard of that before love’!

I laughed and thanked him anyway – could not have asked for a better response.

I was walking the coastline – but according to locals, there was no official name for the journey.

I was walking in the direction of the Ocean Baths that came in at Beach Number 10 of the 12 Beaches of Christmas 2017- Merewether. The walk took me 2 hours and sites that greeted me along the way were breathtaking.

Memorial Walk - Newcastle, Looking South Towards Bar Beach

Memorial Walk – Newcastle, Looking South Towards Bar Beach

I did stumble across ‘ Memorial Walk’ – a 450 metre sign posted path, a tribute to the fallen men and women from the First World War. This part my stroll had spectacular views of the coastline – none prettier than Bar Beach.

One of my favourite Newcastle swimming spots, Bar Beach that conjures up special memories of being ‘ in town ‘ ( Newcastle) and hankering for a swim.

Never fear, Bar Beach is oh so near. In a matter of minutes you can go from hipster shopping on Darby street to ocean dip at Bar Beach.

Life is beautiful for Novocastrians.

Life is beautiful for those who visit her.

Bar Beach, Newcastle

Bar Beach, Newcastle

And perhaps my council work friend, who had never heard of Newcastle’s ‘ Coastal Walk’ eyes would have lit up if I had referred to the walk as the ‘ Bathers Way’ – the ‘offical’ name for the 6 km track linking Newcastle’s famous coastline stretch from Nobby’s Beach to Merewether Ocean Baths.

Some how I think he would still have remarked ‘ Never heard of that before love!’


Merewether Ocean Baths

The Australian Summer.

Early morning swims, coffee catch ups. Friends & family gatherings. BBQs, mojitos. Sunburn, sun cream and sand.

The familiar nighttime anthem – Cicadas serenading the moon.

Writing about aquatic adventures.

Does it get any better?

My adventure North of Sydney to Newcastle, revealed an abundance of salt water delights.

Take Merewether Ocean Baths.

Merewether Ocean Baths - view stretches for miles!!

Merewether Ocean Baths – view stretches for miles!!

Constructed in 1935, the Baths are the largest in NSW ( measuring 100m x 90m) And if that was not enough to lure you in, Mr Daniel Johns, former front man of the Australian band Silverchair, is a Merewether native (Be still my beating heart)

A place such as Merewether has but one religion, the ocean. You live and breath it.

Don’t feel that way inclined about the deep blue? Consider moving inland.

I’ve read the John’s struggled with this during his teen’s and early 20’s – he did not identify surf culture and that made things hard going. With the passing of time, and the international success that followed due to his other worldly musical ability, Merewether became a place of refuge. A place where he could simply be.

Yes, you can do that in Merewether.

Once you’re worked out who you are you can do that anywhere.

Given the choice, I’d choose to me by the ocean any day.

Merewether Ocean Baths - view stretches for miles!!

Merewether Ocean Baths – view stretches for miles!!

Bilgola Beach

The 11th Beach of Christmas is Bilgola Beach, Northern Beaches, Sydney.

I was lucky enough to be invited to spend Easter with a friend who was house sitting in this part of world. An exclusive coastal hamlet, bus travel was the transport option of choice on this occasion. Having sold the Honda 18 months prior, I am a seasoned professional at the NSW public transports system.

Arriving in Avalon, I was collected by car and driven to my weekend chalet.

Not before siting a favourite Rumi quote on the side of a local butcher shop. Yes, the Long Weekend was off to a marvellous start.


It was to involve many beach swims, champagne sipping at the Newport Arms Hotel, easter egg eating, rest and relaxation.

The stand out beach swim took place at Bilgola Beach, 33 kms north-east of Sydney.

Bilgola Beach, Northern Beaches, Sydney

Bilgola Beach, Northern Beaches, Sydney

When you travel by bus, 33kms from central Sydney – you may as well have travelled to another country – so distinctly different is the Northern Beaches vibe.

Fewer high-rise building, less traffic, less inner city aggression. Instead an abundance of natural beauty, trees, birds, native flowers and vast open space. Unspoilt views of the ocean. An overall sense of peace and calmness that alludes the inner city.

The 2 hour bus trip did indeed induce a sense of time travel, the wheels on the bus went round and round and it took as eternity to arrive at my destination. But the  promise of paradise upon alighting the bus – made me resilient and strong.

As Rumi states : Set your life on Fire. Seek those who fan your flames’ – for me, Bilgola sustained me from April through to December this year. And I can’t wait to go back.

The Bogey Hole

The 12 Beaches of Christmas 2017 – let’s start this!!

In October I took myself to Newcastle, 2.5 hours North of Sydney. I caught the train, the return trip costing $9.00.

I’m happiest when by the sea, and Newcastle reminds me of were I grew up as a child.With the passing of time and the luxury of hindsight you realise how lucky you have been, if as a child, the ocean formed part of your backyard.

Newcastle, you feel like coming home.  There is a sense of the familiar as you stroll the streets, the smell of sea salt in the air. Peaceful walks along seemingly endless strips of golden sand, waves lapping feet.

Family holidays as a child from the South Coast, were always water based, and involved driving further South! Moving to Sydney some 14 years ago, means that holidays remain water based….but I’ve started going further North.

The 12 Beach of Christmas is the iconic ‘Bogey Hole’ swimming hole, Newcastle.

The Bogey Hole, Newcastle

The Bogey Hole, Newcastle

I discovered this gem on day three of the holiday. Day three the wind howled, the sky was moody, the sea was angry.

But the beauty of the Bogey Hole, though dark and moody, yes ever present.

An ocean pool hand carved into the rock platform by convicts, commissioned in 1819 for the sole use of Commissioner James Morrisett.

Wow and Wow.

On day three I had stumbled upon this place by chance. I had been searching for it the day before, when the sun shone down in full force, sweat was dripping from my brow. I had walked the entirety of Newcastles coast line. In vain.

And in the drizzle and rain of the next day – there she was, in all her glory.

A true Christmas Miracle – in October no less!!

The Bogey Hole, Newcastle

The Bogey Hole, Newcastle

Prince Alfred Park Pool, Surry Hills

Hot in the city….

There are no other words! And whilst I had grand plans of trekking to far flung destinations for the final instalment of the 2016 Twelve Beaches of Christmas, due to a heat wave in Sydney, all motivation was zapped from my being.

So the 1st Beach of Christmas is a pool, and the closet watering hole to my home in Waterloo.

The Prince Alfred Park Pool, Surry Hills. Entry fee to this pool is pricey, $6.40 for an adult single visit. But when the heat is on and Sydney’s beaches reach capacity….it’s either the local pool or a cold shower at home.

Hot in the city….

And if I thought temperatures were hot outside, pool side it was hotter still ( see photo evidence)





And that my friends wraps up the 2016 campaign for another year.
My hope is that it inspires you to dip yourself into largest bodies of water often – creek, river, ocean, pool, bath. When the heat is on it truly is one of the nicest things you can do for yourself.

City Beach Wollongong

The 3rd Beach of Christmas is a little meditation on waves.

After an early morning gym session in August last year, I stood atop Flagstaff Hill, looking South towards the Steal Works, mesmerised by the view.

The City Beach surfers were out in force, launching themselves of rock platforms into the big blue sea.The air was crisp, the sunshine plentiful, and large bodies of water propelled the men on fibre glass boards towards the shoreline with effortless ease.

This short clip captures but a brief moment in time, for I stood for many minutes, captivated by the City of Wollongong, the Steal Works in the far distance and big blue of the ocean.

A mediation on waves – a moment in time.


The Bombie Bar – CoalCliff

Not so much a beach review, but a bar review – Coalcliff Beach’s world famous bar: The Bombie Bar. The 4th ‘beach’ of Christmas?

A beach bar with the BEST ocean view in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD.

An outdoor bar, atop the Coalcliff surf life saving club, nestled between cliff and coastline.


I first ventured to this magical place in April 2016. I saw my friend band, Brother B, literally rock the socks of the Sunday afternoon Bombie Bar patrons. And yes, while Brother B’s music was sweet, it was THAT view, the sea air and the salt that peppered the breeze that I will never forget.

Alas the Bombie Bar has since fallen on troubled times. Noise complaints has seen the South Coast live music venue future in limbo – presently no 2017 Bombie Bar gigs are in the pipeline.

Bombie Bar Closure

And that my friends is a shame. A real shame.

What is better that a salt water swim, sunshine, a beer and live music as the sun goes down on a Sunday afternoon?


Hopefully my the time the 2017 Twelve Beaches of Christmas Campaign rolls around the Bombie Bar is back, and I might get to review that strip of coast to a soundtrack of hip hop, folk or blues.


Consiton Beach

The Fifth Beach of Christmas came as a surprise – as I strolled along the yet to be reviewed City Beach, Wollongong ( hold onto your hats, that going to be a great write-up) little did I know that City Beach was to merge with Coniston Beach.

How do I know this – the holiest of signs, the council sign, informed me.


There was no fence keeping the City Beach goers separate from the Coniston swimming brigade, no Donald Trump style wall to divide the masses, not even a line drawn in the sand.

The City Beach patrons and the Coniston Beach babes simply got on with one another – it was a sight to behold. Two distinct groups co-existing, smiling, laughing and enjoying natures beauty.

Highly recommend a swim at this divine stretch of coastline, a small strip of sand and surf that sets a bench mark for harmonious living.


Hicks Point Jetty

The 6th Beach of Christmas has wow factor.

One because I had international guests Jo & Yo along for the ride.

Two because for the past 38 years I had no idea that this strip of coastline actually had a name other than Austi Boat Ramp Beach.

Turns out its offical name is Hicks Point Jetty, and a timber jetty once dominated this strip of coast, and the likes of coal was transported from tram to ship.

Wow & Wow!


And Jo and Yo ( names witheld as per subjects wish)….catching up with these two souls is so easy and so much fun. Dining at the newly re-opened Headlands Hotel, our conversation dipped and darted from retirement pre-40, the pursuit of a PHD in Kim Kardashian ,the joy of travel, the disdain for the phrase ‘settle down’, Soho bedsits and everything in between.

A well-rounded conversation over chicken schnitzel and beer. It was perfect.

After lunch, we strolled along the shoreline, blissfully unaware that we stood upon, trampled over the remains of Hicks Point.

Thanks Jo and Yo, I will remember yesterday for years to come. It was 38 years in the making for the Austinmer native to finally learn a little piece of local history. So glad you two where there with me.


Jo & Yo 2011/2012

The Beach : Christmas Day

I imagine that for those privileged to grow up waterside, Christmas day and the beach go hand in hand.

I fall into the category of the privileged and I have so often taking it for granted – but NOT today.

As a child and teenager, with relatives in Sydney and the Blue Mountains, Christmas was a day of driving long distances, in the car, fighting with my brother in the back seat and requesting the listen to Mix 106.5 Smooth FM on the journey home.

I have fond memories too – swimming in my cousins pool in Blaxland after eating the most sumptuous lunch with ALL the trimmings and the evening meal in Epping, munching on potato chips my gorgeous Grandparents had opened at 9am in anticipation of our 6pm arrival – that salty staleness will NEVER leave me!

But as an adult, new Christmas traditions are forming – a morning swim and what I hope to participate in for year to come, the annual Fire Brigade water bomb fight along Lawrence Hargrave Drive.

Strange but true, the 25th of December is often overcast, cold and drizzly in Australia – but this year was different – it was sunny and it was to be celebrated.

A morning swim, sweetly serernaded by the ‘Sea Sharp’ choir- Hark the Herald Angels indeed!!

Then I took a car ride along Lawrence Hargrave, taking the sites of water bombs mid-air, aimed at the firetruck driving at snail pace, music blaring from the vehicle ‘ Summer of 69’, Santa dancing roof top and road side people with their ammunition – water bombs, water guns and garden hoses.

I suspect that every beach side town has its own traditions. And for that reason it is ‘The Beach’ that is the 7th Beach of Christmas this year. Any readers out their care to share their beaches Christmas traditions? Love to hear about them?

Merry Christmas to all.

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