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Friday, April 13, 2007

Ozzie ozzie ozzie! (Day 1)

No wheelies please
Originally uploaded by
Sunshine follows me.
It's a bright Australian morning. The air is so heavy with humidity that it feels like being wrapped in a thick blanket. My crisp white shirt turns grey almost immediately after we step out onto the streets of Sydney.

We are headed towards Circular Quay, home of the Sydney Opera House - probably the number one tourist spot in Sydney. The harbourfront is teeming with groups of Japanese schoolkids, smiling and posing for pictures, decked out in cute striped sailor suits. MDH and I squint at each other in the sunlight like little moles - our eyes are too used to the dark, overcast english skies.

Being the respectful tourists that we are, we did not bring any skateboards, scooters or in-line skates with us during our visit.

Sydney harbour
Originally uploaded by
Sunshine follows me.

MDH and I decide to take a ride on the ferry to the beach, which is a mere 40 minutes away. We've done our research online and have decided not to visit the Majestic Holy Olympic Surfing Shrine that is Bondi Beach, opting instead of the quieter, smaller bay at Manly.

The walk from the ferry terminal to the beach is through a charming row of shops and busy cafes. MDH and I stop briefly to pick up a few souvenirs - the boomerang-shaped magnets with bright Aboriginal designs of various Ozzie wildlife.

Manly Beach is beautiful and does not disappoint. The golden sands are soft and warm and one can wander barefoot into the white surf that beckons, so cool and inviting. The waves are tall enough for surfing and frolicking. Rows of tall trees grow on the promenade, providing some comfortable shade on the sand.

The area for swimmers at the beach is marked with two chequered flags - venture outside this area, and one risks a rebuke from The Loudhailers. The Loudhailers sit, tanned and muscled, on tall wooden chairs, their surfboards leaning against the trees behind them.

There are some teenagers doing backflips off the edge of the promenade onto the sands despite protests from The Loudhailers. One with a mop of blonde curls of them falls awkwardly, twisting his ankle. The Loudhailers tell him that it is his Own Damn Fault and he should not have been Playing The Fool. But they kindly carry him to the first aid station, the other teenagers following behind them, singing and cheering.

After a quick swim, I walk up and down the beach to dry off. MDH is still splashing about like a wild thing in the water. There is a sign up warning people of the presence of bluebottles on the beach, but nobody seems to care. I accidentally step on one and get a sharp sting at the base of my foot - it feels much like a papercut.

The bluebottles that have been marooned on the shore glisten like glass, their long stinging tentacle trailing behind them like a questionmark. Curious children crouch a safe distance away and prod the hapless jellyfish with sticks.

At 6pm, The Loudhailers inform us that any further sea-frolicking will take place At Your Own Damn Risk. MDH reluctantly leaves the water, sulking like a schoolboy, but he soon perks up at the promise of gelatos at the ferry terminal. But Only If He Behaves.


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