Friday, December 23, 2005

Another day, another beach!

We were trying to pack in as many beaches as possible to impress mum and dad and we knew The Basin would be a good one to do that. We had been here once before – the hard way! It’s situated in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, on the east coast and we drove there the first time, which then involved a walk down a very steep track. That’s not so bad, but obviously walking back up at the end of the day isn’t quite as enjoyable! So this time we decided we’d take the ferry from Palm Beach across Pittwater – much more civilised and relaxing! We had the essential picnic and beach gear ready for another hard day! The ferry ride was enjoyable in itself. There were quite a few people taking all their Christmas supplies over as they were camping at the Basin over the holidays.
We had our lunch on a picnic table while a bunch of lads decided to have a game of cricket, well it resembled cricket a little! These guys didn’t seem to take it too seriously though – they couldn’t catch the ball very well with a beer in one hand and I don’t think the beer guts helped them move quickly either!!

There are resident wallabies and monitor lizards wandering around and this monitor took off up a tree, being a little put out by the laddish behaviour emanating from the cricket game.

The lagoon here is incredibly calm and clear and very shallow around the beach. There are small fishes that swim around your legs. We saw some sea eagles and another bird of prey that I don’t know the name of, as well as pelicans that share the water with you. Swimming here is just so relaxing. When you’ve had enough of that, there’s always laying in the sun on the beach or playing in the sand building dams as Dean and dad decided to do (Dean had to rebuild his after a couple of 8 year old hooligans trampled all over it!).
On the way home, we called at Bradleys Head again to catch the sunset. It wasn’t as dramatic as the last one, but still beautiful. We arrived in plenty of time after calling at a bottle shop for some wine. So, me and mum cracked it open and settled on the water front with our cameras while the ‘boys’ did a spot of dusk fishing.
Such a relaxing way to end the day – you can’t beat it! Cheers!!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Christmas - what's that?!!

[Dean writing] I had the sudden shock realisation that it was the 22nd December with only 2 shopping days left to Christmas! As we had been off on ‘walkabouts’ and not paying any attention at all to the fact that it was the Christmas season, we now had to do some shopping!!
A brief tactical get-together resulted in Lisa and Linda going off shopping in the city, while Chris and I went to buy the fish for Christmas lunch on the beach. That says something about no matter how sophisticated we become, it always comes back to hunter gatherer scenarios!!
The fish market is only a 10 minute walk from our house. So we soon arrived and stocked up on the local catches of the day and also had time to wonder around the stalls. It was good reference looking at all the massive varieties of exotic fish that we will never catch!! I will never tire of the weirdness of ‘Moreton Bay Bugs’ and that they look like they should be on the set of Alien!!
After our successful hunter gatherer trip we took the tram into Darling Harbour ready to meet the girls! Realising they will be a little while longer, we took a detour to the Outback Centre to watch one of the daily didjeridoo performances. The 30 minute show was actually pretty breath-taking and the guy playing the ‘didj’ was amazing! Well worth a detour for a free show.
We returned back to Glebe for some lunch where I made a quick getaway to do some shopping myself! Not my favourite past-time but managed OK. I returned home to a feast of buns and tarts of all descriptions that Linda had been baking in the afternoon, the one and only time that Linda was allowed in the kitchen (apart from the previous mini-baking session)!! They were soon devoured though and a job lot were also taken round to Ben and Em’s for them. We had to behave ourselves and not dip into them while we babysat for Leo that night. Ben and Em were let out on a well-deserved cinema pass. I think Linda was disappointed in the end, as Leo spent most of the night asleep upstairs. She only had one chance at a cuddle when he briefly woke up.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Flint and Steel Beach

Flint and Steel is a very special place to us! So it was nice to share it with mum and dad (and hope they think it’s special too!). The beach is in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, so we set off north again. The first stop was lunch at West Head. The views here just blow you away!

You look out west onto Pittwater towards Barrenjoey Head and north across Broken Bay, which is at the mouth of the Hawkesbury River. We set up our picnic under a shady tree when a big monitor lizard strolled along the path. Luckily he went after someone else’s lunch!

Then on to Flint and Steel Beach and the 20 minute steep descent through the ‘bush’.

Arriving at the bottom, we found another group who promptly packed up and left. We must have crowded their space! Too right – this is our beach!! So we had the whole beach to ourselves… a desert island!

The afternoon was spent in total relaxation; swimming, drinking, fishing, taking photographs and exploring the amazing rocks. Hope the pictures do it justice.

I managed to slip on the rocks and cut my knee pretty badly. I hobbled back to base camp with blood pouring down my leg and received loads of sympathy!!

Dad and Dean spent a lot of time fishing from the rocks, and quite a successful trip it was too.
[Dean just wants to add that the fishing took the usual pattern of himself catching 2 little fish at the start – beginner’s luck – followed by no fish whatsoever and dad catching 7 or 8 in quick succession!].

The day ended all too quickly and it was time to head back to the city. It was another day that we just didn’t want to end and Flint and Steel still retains it’s magic for us!

To top it off wonderfully, we saw an amazing sunset from Bradley’s Head. We made a quick dash to the waterfront and dad managed to take this fantastic photo before we got kicked out of the park!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Hunter winos

Wow, what a brilliant idea! We drove up to a cabin in the Hunter Valley that me, Dean and Phil had stayed in last year. We noted that they offered tours of the region, which we intended to participate in, sometime in the future. That time had arrived and we highly recommend it to anyone, it was excellent value.
There were only the four of us and we really did receive personal treatment. We were taken to two wineries, a champagne house, a chocolate shop and a cheesery (this is what they called it)! At each wine boutique we had our own personal ‘wine guide’ who produced about 10 wines for us to try, starting with light whites through the ros├ęs and reds to finish with the ‘stickies’ (the Australian term for sweet after dinner wines and ports). The champagne house was the same sort of thing and we tried pink and red bubbles for the first time. It was an excellent afternoon and proved to be a bit too much for me – I crashed out on the sofa almost as soon as we got back. Mind you, everyone was in bed by 9.30 that night!!
Here is the cabin we stayed in - very peaceful:
Mum awoke the morning after to a glorious day and was just about to go out on the veranda when she saw this local wallaby with a joey in her pouch. She quickly grabbed the camera, still blurry-eyed and manage to capture this great photo.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Culture & glug

We thought we’d be a bit cultural and visit an exhibition. We went to the Australian Museum where they show the annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition. There are some spectacular images and some taken by teenagers – really amazing!
We thought we’d treat mum and dad to one of our favourite yum cha places – Bodhi's, which is next to the Cook & Phillip Park. I think that was a hit! Dad was starting to get withdrawal symptoms from fishing, so Dean took him to Bradley’s Head on the north side of the harbour, looking across to the Botanic Gardens and the Opera House and Bridge!! He was able to redeem himself here and actually catch some fish (they both did, apparently!). Meanwhile mum made some delicious Sicilian Christmas mince pies while I updated my CV for a job application. We were going over to to Fredrik and Marie’s that evening, who had very kindly invited us for some Scandinavian delights and glug (mulled wine) – super yummy!! We ended up very much in the spirit of Christmas, even though it was around 30 degrees outside!
Glad Julen!! (Happy Christmas in Swedish for those not in the know!!)