Yesterday (25 April) was Anzac Day in Australia. Ceremonies are held across the country at dawn and throughout the day.
There are parades too, of veterans and serving military personnel, and family. And bands, of course. The “massed pipe bands” march past is always a crowd pleaser.
What did we ever do without camera phones?
Something that strikes me about these bands is their make-up. Old and young, male and female, military and civilian, they all come together as one. I think you can really see that in these next two photos.
The particular band that I know (through a friend) is the Sydney Thistle Highland Pipe Band. They played at a separate ceremony in Martin Place at 12:30pm.
Friends and family often join them after the official proceedings, as the band visits a few pubs for some well deserved refreshment. They play at the pubs, too, which always draws a crowd!
Bagpipes in a pub window.
The band is 100 years old this year.
I have other Anzac Day posts here.
This walk in the area around La Perouse (a southern suburb of Sydney) starts in the Botany Bay National Park. (If you’ve ever flown in or out of Sydney, you’ll know Botany Bay — it’s the large body of water that the runways jut into.) The walk is only about 5km long, and not difficult. I think you could call it a stroll, in fact. It begins in typical forest in the national park.
According to the signpost, I’m headed in the right direction for Henry Head and Cape Banks. That’s reassuring. 🙂
At Henry Head there is an old artillery battery. “Constructed between 1892 and 1895 with two BL 6-inch Mk V disappearing guns, the fort operated until 1910, when it became obsolete. The battery along with two 6-in gun emplacements and observation posts was re-utilised during World War II to defend the approaches to Botany Bay. During WWII, it was armed with two 18-pounder Mk IV field guns and two QF 3-pounder Hotchkiss guns. The underground bunker and tunnel complex consisted of vaulted ammunition storage rooms with double walls and ceilings. The doubling up of walls and ceilings was a preventative measure meant to stop the walls from collapsing in the event of a direct hit.” (source)
Covered with graffiti now (of course) they still reveal how strategic their position was, covering the entrance to Botany Bay.
There were hundreds of birds, huge flocks of them darting swiftly in the sky and keeping up a constant chorus of tweets and chirps. In the first photo, the black-and-white bird at bottom right is a New Holland Honeyeater. The other bird, a sort of brown with striking yellow, I’d never seen before, which surprised me given their sheer numbers here.
An online search revealed that the mystery bird might be a Yellow-faced Honeyeater. Here’s another one, with a definite yellow face.
Lunch with a view!
Henry Head was as far as I’d intended to go, as I wanted to visit the La Perouse Museum and I knew it closed at 4pm. But sitting here having my lunch, I thought how enticing that path snaking out towards the far cape was … so off I went.
I know we’re not “doing” benches any more, but I had to snap this one. It’s made of the same heavy metal mesh as the walkway! (And is not especially comfortable.)
If you’ve read my previous walks, you’ll know I’m not a fan of stairs. However, I hate sand even more. Especially going uphill in sand.
And now for something completely different! You round a corner and suddenly there’s a golf course.
This is hole 6 (par 3) of the New South Wales Golf Course, officially opened in 1928. According to its website, “Golf Digest currently ranks the NSW Golf Club as the No. 9 golf course outside the United States and the No.1 golf course outside the United States and the UK.” Click this photo to see a larger version of hole 6 with the tees marked — the men’s, the ladies’, and what I’ve dubbed the maniacs’ tee.
This is the same hole, looking at the flag (circled) from the maniacs’ tee. They must lose an awful lot of balls in the sea here!
Sound advice on this sign, especially given that the golfer is in mid-swing.
This footbridge (you can just make it out in the first photo of the sixth hole, and more clearly in the larger photo) leads to Cape Banks, presumably named after (Sir) Joseph Banks, the botanist/naturalist on Captain James Cook’s voyage of 1768-1771. They landed at Botany Bay on 29 April 1770; Cook writes that he named it so due to “The great quantity of plants Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander found in this place”. (source)
No more time for dawdling, that 4pm museum closing time was looming, so I hot-footed back along the trail. I paused at Congwong beach to take a photo looking back at where I’d been. The circled white dot on the headland is the white tower visible in the gun emplacements photos farther up this page.
I know what you’re thinking. What is this “La Perouse” I keep referring to?? Why would anywhere in Australia have a French name? The area is named after Jean-François de Galaup, comte [count] de Lapérouse, who commanded a convoy of two French ships that sailed into Botany Bay in January 1788, only days after the English First Fleet had arrived to establish the penal colony that became Sydney. After leaving Botany Bay six weeks later, La Perouse and his ships were never seen again. (What happened to the French ships? In 1826 evidence was found indicating they foundered on reefs in the Solomon Islands. Some survivors were killed by local inhabitants; some built a ship from the wreckage and sailed away, but their fate is unknown.) (source)
This monument was erected in the area where the French camped. It’s the focal point for gatherings by French expats on Bastille Day.
And here’s the museum! It features displays and artefacts about the area and the early visits from the French and English visits, heavily weighted towards the La Perouse expedition naturally. The museum is housed in the historic Cable Station building, completed in 1882. When telegraph operations transferred elsewhere in 1913, the building was subsequently used for telegraph company staff accommodation quarters, a nurses’ home, soldier accommodation, and a Salvation Army Refuge.
This improbable looking construction is the Macquarie Watchtower, also known as the Barrack Tower, built around 1821. Originally a military station, it later became a customs post and housed a schoolroom. It subsequently fell into disrepair, was mostly destroyed by fire in 1957 and restored from 1961.
No luscious ice cream to finish off this walk, I’m afraid. Maybe next time!
For more walks from all around the world, head to Jo’s Monday Walks.
I don’t know when Opera on the Harbour began, but the first one I saw was La Traviata in 2012. I’ve waited for my favourite opera, La Bohème, to be performed, and this is the year! I have been extraordinarily lucky with the weather when I’ve gone, and this night was simply perfect.
Here’s the site as seen from the Botanic Gardens. Rather stark, isn’t it? It’s also where the open air cinema is held, although that infrastructure comes down and new goes up.
Pity about the plastic glasses, but I can understand why they’re necessary.
There are a few food and drink outlets on site.
A skeletal view of the stage.
From this angle, with nothing of Sydney visible, you could almost believe this is indeed a snowy street in Paris.
The stage, Act 1. I often think what a marvellous job stage/set design would be.
Rudolfo and Mimi met 10 minutes ago, but in true opera fashion they declare their undying love.
Act 2 features a toy seller named Parpignol, who makes an impressive entry below a number of balloons. In this shot, against the dark city, you can’t see the crane from which he is suspended.
It’s Sydney, it’s a spectacle, it’s the harbour — there’s gonna be fireworks. I can hear them from my apartment at Bondi Beach at 8:25 each evening.
The opera was written in 1895, but this staging is set in the 1960s. I never am comfortable with these attempts to modernise opera. It sort of works — I get the rebellious student thing, the free and easy lifestyle — but the references to viscounts and muffs just don’t ring true in 1960.
Act 4, and everything is coming to a close. Mimi is very ill, the group of friends is very poor, and Colline makes the ultimate sacrifice — he sells his beloved overcoat to buy medicine. One of my favourite passages.
Few heroines survive to the end of an opera, and Mimi is no exception.
An arty shot of spotlights and lamp to finish off.
You can also see my photos from previous Opera on the Harbour productions of Aida and Madame Butterfly.
Known simply as “The Spit to Manly”, this is one of Sydney’s best known and most popular walks. About 10km long, it weaves along the edge of the harbour, through national park and residential areas. There are stunning views and beaches in plenty, with quite a variety of terrain. “3.6km of this walk is flat with no steps and another 3km has short steep hills. The remaining (2.6km) has gentle hills with occasional steps.” (source)
The Spit Bridge, where this walk starts, opens at set times throughout the day to let boats pass. You can just make out a sailboat passing through (more visible on the full image). I’d like to say that I timed my walk to take this photo for you, but in truth it was luck. 😉
After the bridge, you soon reach the bottom of this small inlet. It’s clear that the tide is well out, which is a good thing as you’ll learn later.
Dappled shade on the path and a bridge over a stream.
Here be dragons — Eastern Water Dragons, to be precise.
It would be extremely unusual to do this walk and not encounter a number of these reptiles sunning themselves on the path. Generally, though, you only notice them in the heart-lurching moment when a streak of movement at your feet is followed by a crashing and a rustling in the undergrowth as it dashes for safety.
In addition to dragons, there are lots of flowers to be seen along the paths.
This is Clontarf Beach and Reserve. On the weekend it’s standing room only, full of large groups with blankets and picnics. I did the walk on this occasion on the Thursday before Good Friday (29 March), so beaches and the walk itself were quite empty.
What sort of crazy person attacks trees? All the trees in the reserve have these wooden girdles to protect them.
Time for some beach walking! If you have a towel, or the time to relax while the sun dries your feet, this is a great stretch for splashing along in the water.
Remember I said earlier that it’s a good thing the tide is out? Look at the dark strip along the bottom of the stone walls in front of these houses — that’s where the water reaches. That’s more than a mere paddle.
No, I haven’t snuck in a photo from a walk in England! We’ve had quite a bit of rain recently, so there were a few wet patches.
There are many plaques describing various plants along the way.
Typical steps carved into the rocks.
Your own private beach.
The entry to the national park section of the walk. Some years ago, a friend from England came to visit and we did this walk — or tried to! We got as far as this point. The national park segment was closed due to high fire danger. We considered risking it, but didn’t fancy being fined by a lurking park ranger!
Up, and up …
It would be hard to get lost!
Still up. Many of the light-coloured stone stairs you’ll see in these photos were recently (in the past 8 years?) installed. The parks service undertook substantial work to reduce erosion and damage due to the thousands of walkers. You’ll notice too that we’re no longer in forest. It’s much more open up on the ridgeline.
And this is what all the climbing was for! The walk has taken us from sea level to 88m (288ft). That’s South Head across the harbour, then the next land is Chile on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.
Woo hoo, it’s the beginning of the boardwalk! (This is also recent.) The boardwalk means one thing: the lunch stop is not far.
Ta da, the lunch stop! It’s just a rock outcrop a few metres off the path. It was much more hidden when I first started coming here (around 2000), but fire or some other event has thinned out the trees. After all that climbing, the shade and the sea breeze are very welcome.
Lunch! Sandwich, plum, water. The Aussie term “Tasty Cheese” (on the sandwich label) always cracks me up. It’s similar to a medium cheddar and, yes, is tasty, but what a name! And what a view! Did you notice the gorgeous colour of the water in the cove below? Opposite is North Head, and just to its left is the former Quarantine Station where immigrants were forced to spend some time upon arrival so that medical staff could check their condition. Today, predictably, it’s an expensive hotel called Q Station.
Back on the path, and past the halfway mark now.
Now here is something I had never seen on this walk. A wallaby! I rounded a corner and there it was, practically in the middle of the path. It stared at me, I stared at it, and I said, “Whoa! A kangaroo!” Perhaps insulted at being mistaken for a kangaroo, the wallaby hopped into the bush. It didn’t go far though, and soon settled down to nibbling at shrubs.
I always think of this spot as the beginning of the end. There are still kilometres to go, but soon we’ll be out of the bush and onto the streets, and this is the last great view. It’s all (almost) downhill or level from here. This panorama is two photos merged in Photoshop. (Click for a much larger shot.) To right of centre you can see the broad path to follow. Opposite is North Head and the old quarantine site, then around to the left is Manly and the ferry wharf, my destination.
This sign has been here at least as long as I’ve been doing this walk (since 2000). When, I wonder, will the area officially be regenerated?
Reef Beach, a lovely spot for a swim. And I have never seen it deserted! Unfortunately, because doing this walk was a spur-of-the-moment decision, I wasn’t at home to pack swimsuit and towel. So I had to gaze at the water longingly and walk past.
The approach to 40 Baskets Beach is another impassable area at high tide. The name “40 Baskets” derives from a time in 1885 when fisherman caught — you’ve guessed it — 40 baskets of fish in the area.
You don’t see these flowers in the national park! This is bouganvillea and tibuchina in a garden.
This commemorative plaque is hidden in a rock, in the shade, at the foot of stairs (more bloody stairs!), and is easily overlooked.
A very pleasant section now of strolling along a meandering paved path, with towering and expensive homes to the left, and the harbour to the right. One of the homes is for sale — how much would you pay for that view?
Another nice place to swim, which today is both unusually calm and unusually deserted. No swimsuit, though, so on we go …
There is, apparently, a thriving colony of Little Penguins in this area. I’ve never seen one, but then again I’d never seen a wallaby on the walk until today.
The end is nigh! The large yellow-and-green ship is the Manly-Circular Quay ferry. I’m getting a much smaller boat though, to take me across the harbour to Watson’s Bay, from where I’ll get a bus to Bondi Beach and home.
Made it, with only 10 minutes to spare. I’d planned to enjoy a well-deserved icy cold beverage at this bar while waiting for the ferry (that’s what the small crowd of people at the end of the wharf is doing) but all this photography took longer than I’d planned.
At Watson’s Bay, there was just enough time before the bus arrived for a quick lime and coconut ice cream. Very refreshing!
For more walks from all around the world, head to Jo’s Monday Walks.
I never get tired of this view, especially at sunset.
I took this photo on 28 March while attending Opera on the Harbour (La Bohème), which I’ll post about in a few days.
It’s really autumn here in Sydney (the clocks went back last night) but it’s still summer weather, with blues skies and temperatures in the high 20s Celsius. And I did take this photo in summer (November) and meant to post it, but at the last minute I spotted the reflection of the ceiling fan in the glass. I kept thinking I’d take another shot, but never did, and I can’t very well wait until the cocktail needs renaming “Winter of 2018”.
To make the cocktail:
- put 1.5 oz gin (or vodka if you prefer, but the taste will be very different), 1 to 2 tsps of triple sec, a big squeeze of lime and a scant tsp of homemade pomegranate syrup* in a cocktail shaker
- add ice and shake vigorously
- pour into a chilled glass
- gently drizzle one-quarter to one-half of a teaspoon of rose syrup over the top (if you’re the type of person who has a drinks atomiser, this would be an ideal use — you want that lovely rose fragrance)
- if you have access to organic non-pesticide-sprayed roses, float a petal or two on the surface
*I say “homemade pomegranate syrup” because if you make it yourself you have control over the sugar. Commercial syrups (such as grenadine, which ostensibly is pomegranate syrup) have masses of sugar. My syrup has about one-quarter the amount recommended in the recipe, giving a light syrup bursting with pomegranate flavour. It is possible to make your own rose syrup, but that’s just way too much effort for me!
I also created a “Summer of 2016” cocktail. Not sure what happened in 2017!