Beaches, Bluebottles, Boobs, and Bros

Today we set out to do what we originally planned to do during our 1 week stay in Sydney: Relax. After sleeping in and packing up some lunch we took off on foot to Circular Quay to catch the ferry for Manly Beach, a beach on the northern side of Sydney’s harbor on the eastern coast. We arrived in time to top up our Opal Cards and catch the noon ferry over to Manly. When it was time we quickly boarded the back of the boat to get a spectacular view on our departure, but soon learned that what we thought was the back was actually the front. Apparently these boats can be propelled from either direction.

Doug on our ferry.
Doug on our ferry.

The views were no less stunning as we made our way east through the harbor, past Fort Denison and a number of very nice looking homes with floor-to-ceiling windows and pools built into the water. Not too shabby. The 30 minute ride was over quickly and we disembarked ready to make our way through the town of Manly to the beach. If you have been to any southern California seaside town, you’ve seen Manly.

Fort Denison with approaching visitors. What exactly do you do there?
Fort Denison with approaching visitors. What exactly do you do there?
A Sydney ferry
A Sydney ferry
Manly on the approach
Manly on the approach

We arrived at the beach, set up camp, and downed some sandwiches before attempting to tackle the water. The lifeguards had set up pairs of flags along the beach which you were allowed to swim between. Outside of those flags, which tended to only be 200 feet apart, you were subjected to a strong rip current. So strong that they had a lifeguard manning a jetski circling the flagged area in case any of the swimmers were whisked away. Doug eagerly swam in the strong surf while Lynn kept to the shore. She is somehow becoming more and more of a wuss with the cold water. It could also have to do with the fear of her losing her bottoms to the vast ocean.

Manly Beach
Manly Beach
Looks like California
Looks like California

We spent 4 more hours walking the beach, collecting seashells, playing in the sand, reading our books, napping, and swimming. It was a delightfully relaxing time. Despite seeing 10 or so Portuguese man o’ wars washed up on shore, neither of us was stung which was nice. We also witnessed a man land his paraglider quite smoothly after looking like he was going to crash into a nearby tree. Yay for not witnessing death!

Portuguese man o' war
Portuguese man o’ war

At 5 p.m. the lifeguards closed the beach because the currents were picking up so we packed up our things to go find some dinner. We didn’t stick around to see if people actually complied. We walked back through town before finding the 4 Pines Brewing Company which had a Monday deal going. With any meal purchase you got a free pint, huzzah! We ordered poutine and a mega burger to share along with a pale ale and hefeweizen and pulled up some stools overlooking the street below to do some good people watching. The people below us turned out to be less than spectacular, but the two young guys next to us kept us entertained. Their conversations ranged from them one-upping each other on who could drink more pale ales in a sitting to how to be the guy that has the confidence to have one night stands. Were we enlighted? Not in the slightest, but we were amused.

MEGA burger. We had difficulty splitting it.
MEGA burger. We had difficulty splitting it.
Poutine. I'm not Canadian, but I do love you.
Poutine. I’m not Canadian, but I do love you.

We finished our meals, hopped back on the ferry, and enjoyed our 30 minute walk back to our Airbnb, but not before stopping to pick up some ice cream for dessert. We just can’t get enough.

Daily Walking Mileage: 9.4

Fun Facts:

  • It is more difficult than it needs to be to top up our Opal Cards. Since American cards don’t have chip-and-pin, we can’t use the machines because we don’t have pins and still need to sign for everything so we need to find a convenience store willing to do it for us. Why aren’t Americans getting this much safer technology? Because we are too stupid to remember the 4 digit pin. Good job, America.
  • Manly was given its name by Capt. Arthur Phillip who thought the indigenous people living there were confident and manly. Now all the locals look like beach bums, topless sunbathers, and surfers who say “bra.”
  • Portuguese man o’ wars, also called bluebottles, appear on Sydney beaches with warmer water and can cause a sharp sting if touched, even after their death.
  • Australians celebrate Christmas and we wondered what they thought of all the songs about snow and warm fireplaces. It turns out that they have their own songs and sometimes even adaptations of our holiday favorites. Here is an example.

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