We drove down the coast from Port Stephens for an hour and a half and arrived at Peta and Jessie’s (henceforth known as Comfy PJ’s) place at The Entrance North. The plan was to park the van there and then we would go to Sydney caravanless (or maybe sans caravans sounds better). So if you’re connected you can start your Sydney mooching at the Central Coast. We are heading back there for more mooching after we have mooched out Sydney.
The serious Sydney mooching began at a five bedroom, four bathroom hovel in Cremorne. Let’s call this place Mooch Central. The kids had been tuning themselves up for this stop since we left as it means they get a room each. We have already heard directions such as ’Nobody can come into my room.’ Too bad for the nice couple who are currently under the impression that they actually live there and we are just passing through. Still that’s what quality mooching is all about.
The next day I did my first solo mooching at Hackett manor which is run by an old friend that I went to uni with (we were Lismorons together). I managed to get away with a delicious lunch and free beer (which always tastes better when it’s free) and a long over due catch up.
Back at mooch central we took over the kitchen and when I have my book of maps out and my laptop and my phone and they are all charging and my notebook (yes real paper) and the two newspapers open at the crosswords I am sure I will solve before the end of next week …… Anyway people shouldn’t invite you round if they want to use their table should they?
I did manage to drag the kids across the road and down a little path and, WHAM you go from densely populated, squeezey streets to a charming little path down to a park that is next to one of those many little coves that make up the harbour. How does Sydney do it? This little park even had a waterfall running down a tree lined, sandstone gully.
This is not my first time in Sydney. If you had’ve asked me what Sydney was like after my first two trips here in the mid eighties I would’ve told you it was a smelly, overcrowded, fight for survival. Full of people who kick you out of their flat just because there’s no room for you (and I mean you can hardly find a place to swing a guinea pig let alone a cat). Ah yes I have a couple of stories of misadventure from my twenties; a mixture of comedy, pathos and cross-eyed ambition. But after my last couple of visits I have realised that there are some unique landscapes and hidden gems here. The sandstone that supports the place is everywhere and the gum trees seem to be a special kind of twisted, spreading, cliched ausflora. And seeing old buildings gives one (or two or three even) a real sense of character and history, even the fact that this was the spot where first contact with Australian indigenous culture happened means that there is a better record of what is was like here in precolonial times. It is an remarkable city to visit, though I’m not sure I could live here full time, unless someone was paying me scads of wads of money, but I could live here (contact me for my account details if you want me to stay).
The next day we had organised some quality northern beaches mooching by lining up a free bee at Sam and Dougal’s house. They have a furry concierge there named Gus who does a stand up four legged job of greeting guests. And since we are missing our furry family member it is always good to come across someone who loves a good scratch behind the ears. We went for our first Sydney beach swim at Palm Beach, (Palmie to us now) and had gourmet feast back at the Avalon lofty retreat. They get 10 out of 10 on the mooch-meter.
No sooner had we arrived back at Mooch Central and hung the towels and togs on the line then we were doing our best to get in as much Sydney sight seeing as we could, by going to Bradleys Head below Taronga Zoo. Another up-close look at the Harbour. It just looks too clean– I don’t believe it—there must be some smoke and mirrors somewhere.
Today was the day one of Louella’s dreams came true – sort of. She is a big fan of Bondi Rescue and today was our swim at Bondi day (that’s anther box ticked). The first time I ever heard about Bondi was from Andy Taylor who had moved from Sydney to Brisbane when I was in grade 9. He told stories of swimming there and having to avoid the Bondi Cigars that were present due to the fact that is was the location of a huge sewage outlet. I can say for certain that there was no sign of brown floaters there today. In fact it was a perfect beach day and the waves were fun sized rather than crushers. And although there was no sign of a film crew or a dozen life savers rescuing tourists, both the kids loved it. I want to end this by saying that I am confident that Andy Taylor would be reasonably unhappy about being mentioned in a blog. In fact I am sure that Andy Taylor has specifically told me in the past NOT to mention him in the various writings I have done. So Andrew Taylor, if you are reading this, and I will be sending you a message especially asking you to do so, I apologise for mentioning your name—that being Andrew P Taylor (He knows I am dying to know what that P stands for, but as yet has not given it up; Percy?).
We are planning to do a stack more mooching here. I just wanted to get this first part down before it all ran together and I was confused about where and when we did things. Tomorrow we are going to Katoomba for an overnight visit so we can tick that box without taking the van up there.