Sunday, April 6, 2014

Looking up and looking down

Ironically, I write this as I sit in my hotel in Melbourne. I am on a 2 week business trip with lots of stops. The Australian customs official told me "Let's see. You are an American, living in China who is coming here from Korea."

I am tired and vegging out in my room today. i could be wandering the streets of Melbourne, actually the River Walk but I am enjoying the vegging. I will be casting on for something new a little later. But today, we are going to the beach!

As I said last time, Sydney-siders like going to Manly for the day. It is packed on nice weekends. Once, when I was in Sydney on business, one of my colleagues suggested that I go to Manly as it was a nice day. I thought about it and looked at the ferry lines around 9 am. They weren't too bad. By 11 am, they were stretched around the block. I decided against it. On this trip, we went on a lovely weekday and we went early. We were in the ferry around 9 am and back by 3 pm or so.

Manly is a peninsula at the mouth of Sydney Harbor. The ferry docks on the inside and you walk across the to the beach front on the Tasman Sea. That is where you will the beautiful beaches and the surf. There are beaches on the harbor side also as you will see, but the Tasman Sea is where the beaches and vistas are unending.

See! That beach goes on forever. We didn't get into the water as we weren't equipped for it. I did buy a bathing suit in Manly for later in the trip. There are a lot of shops on the road going from one side to the other.

The peninsula also contains the Sydney Harbor National Park which is the headland. It has height and you climb up to overlook the entrance to the Harbor. We didn't do that as we didn't have time. It is a 3-4 hour roundtrip and we needed to be back on the ferry heading to Sydney before that. We did hike a shorter water-side trail to a smaller beach and that is where we are going today.

This is looking out in the direction in which we are going.

As we hike, we pass rocky outcrops. One of these has been made into a small swimming pool at the foot of a number of small bed and breakfast/apartmernts. The trail goes along the shore parallel to the road. On the left is what you see. On the right is a hillside with houses - restaurants and lodging.

This is our destination. You can see where we came from. There are a few curves that you can't make out but this is a 2-3 mile walk round trip with gorgeous vistas at every step. We stopped a few times to sit in the shade and drink in the view.

There are more young children at this beach as the surf is not as high. We made friends with a little girl who was there with her grandparents. She had just acquired a baby brother and her grandparents were taking her out to give her and her mother a break.

That was the looking up part of the post. Now we are going to look down for a bit. On the outbound way, I noticed this little guy on one of the rocks by the trail.

A little different view to give you a perspective on size.

On the way back, I saw lots more of these little sculptures.

See the fish?

And these weedy dragons swimming on the rock?

A little mammal sits in the shade.

Two divers surface. They are wearing old-time dive helmets.

And a little penguin with her chick. Adorable aren't they? I thought they were such a good idea. There is a plaque with each one telling you what it is and who the sculptor was.

We also saw a group of kids learning to surf. At the little beach, they did some exercises and were taught how to handle their boards. We watched them march off in line with their surfboards. Then, as we got back to the larger beaches, we saw they were actually having their class. First the instructors showed them how to paddle out, and then stand up on the board on the sand. Then they brought them up in groups of 5-6 to try the moves a few times, also on the sand.

When I took this photo, they were being towed out by the instructors and then were practising standing up and riding the wave in. You can see one child being towed out and others being helped in the water. They did this in the same groups of 5-6 while the others waited on the beach. Proud parents were standing a little further away and clicking also.

After our walk back, we sat and enjoyed the beach vistas on the ocean side before shopping for the bathing suit and walking around the little town. It is very touristy.

Then we went to the beach on the other side. There is a walking trail here also that wends its way among the houses of Manly, looking into the harbor. But we were content to sit on the beach in the shade and just people-watch. On this weekday, on the quieter side, there were older couples settlling in for the afternoon with coolers and books; children running around in and out of the water; a few older swimmers doing laps in a netted area; and a very elderly lady with a cane who was being helped by a younger man. These last two were members of a family of mostly middle-aged folks.

Obviously there are lots of boats in the harbor. This is where the dock is and the ferry terminal is just out of sight on the left.

When the ferry came in, we got on and headed back out. You've seen those photos already. Manly is a lovely way to experience both the harbor and the beach. Another lovely ferry ride is to go to the Taronga Park Zoo. I've done that many, many years ago and it is also a lovely way to experience the water and the restful peace of the wooded zoo.

The next post will have very few words and lots of photos because we are going to Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) for sunrise and sunset and hiking. The temperatures are going to be around 40 C and the sun will beat down on us. I developed quite the tan on this trip.


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