Remember, even though it’s February and Boston is trying to dig out of endless snowstorms, we’re in the Southern Hemisphere. So it’s the height of summer here…but we’re not rubbing it in! First stop in Sydney: the beaches.
We took a ferry to Manly Beach.
“Seven miles from Sydney and 1,000 miles from care” is the slogan etched on the entryway to the northern beach town of Manly. It sounds a bit New Age, but has actually been in place since 1940, when a steamship company served the resort area.
The name, Manly, comes from the observation by Captain Arthur Phillip (who founded Sydney as a penal colony in 1788) that the Aboriginal inhabitants of the cove were confident and “manly.” Little did he realize that centuries later the beach would be crowded with manly men on surfboards.
Michael did some Manly bodysurfing. Swimmers were told to “swim between the flags” in a small area of the beach to avoid riptides.
The lifeguard also warned swimmers about bluebottles, not the cobalt blue glass bottles that Nancy collects, but small “jellyfish.” They’re not actually jellyfish, but siphonophores. Bluebottle sounds so innocuous, but you might know them by the more threatening name, Portuguese Man o’ war. They’re only about an inch in diameter, but according to the repeated warnings from the lifeguard, “They will hurt…bad! You just have to wait an hour or so until the pain is gone.” Up to 10,000 stings are reported each year on eastern Australian beaches. Ouch!
We visited Bronte Beach, one we hadn’t seen on earlier trips to Sydney, and Nancy’s new favorite. This is three beaches in one. Surfers and boogie-boarders can enjoy the open ocean. Swimmers can use the “pool.” It is salt water in an enclosed pool with sea water flowing in.
Seniors and babies can use the protected rock baths.
The area has great views. Bronte is along a 6-kilometer clifftop coastal walk from Coogee Beach heading north. We did about 2.5 kilometers, plenty in the intense heat.
We followed the trail along the ocean to Bondi Beach, one of the most famous surfing spots in the world.
Interesting bit of Bondi history: “Black Sunday” was a sad day in February 1938, with five people killed and over 250 rescued when waves pulled people from the beach into the ocean.
Watsons Bay is another popular spot, not only for people, but for pelicans.
It’s a nice walk to the Hornby lighthouse on South Head, passing Lady Bay Beach, a nude beach along the way. Yes, there were a couple nudists (no photos). They were being heckled by people on a harbor tour boat moving past.
After the heat of the hike, we stopped to cool off at Doyles, a family-run institution in Watsons Bay since 1885.
All these beaches are accessible by bus or ferry from the heart of Sydney. In fact, once we took 8 trips on our Opal transportation cards, fares to the beach were free! Can’t beat that.
The water was in the high 60s/low 70s, so we didn’t spend very much time swimming. We will have plenty more opportunities as we move north (toward the equator).