04.07.2010 - 04.07.2010 15 °C
Sunday 4th June - A Walk Around North Sydney
I am woken this morning early, by birdsong. Now, I have always dismissed those travellers and poets who rave about the beauty of the birdsong in the English countryside as it all just sounded like twittering to me. But now I can see why they prefer it to that of other nations - oh what I would give at 6am for gentle, melodic tweeting. The birds in Australia seem to have evolved their calls to scare off crocodiles as I am woken violently by one right outside the window that sounds like a siren, then like it is being strangled and another that chatters like a monkey. Loudly. In the tree there are also Kookaburras, and yes, they do laugh - they laugh like lunatics. People actually pay to have them shot out of trees they make such a racket.
Fortunately there is immediate good news inside the house as another barbecue fry up greets me this morning and I can't emphasise enough the yumminess of Australian bacon. We then take a bus from Mosman Bay up to North Sydney for an 8km walk back that starts with the North Sydney Oval - before the New Sydney Cricket Ground it was the centre of the city's cricket hub. The place feels like it is stuck in a time warp - still just a grassy knoll one the north side and the stands are straight out of the Federation architecture of the 1920's, as is the tower. It is painted green and coral and is actually very pretty.
We continue on, watching the Australian world go by. The is an abundance of golf courses and skate parks, in one case right next each other, and people out dog-walking. It is a beautiful day and we are shielded by the hills from any significant wind so it is warm too. As we walk there is a groups of friends on a balcony having Sunday barbecue, boat trailers parked up for the winter and quiet streets, seeming almost uninhabited at times. There are houses with pools looking right over the water of the harbour and 360 degree views - expensive, but then a lot of things in Sydney are. If you want smart office clothes it'll cost you a fortune but thongs and beachwear are dime-a-dozen, even in the winter. Sydney is one of the world's most expensive cities at the moment purply on the back of the exchange rate and even if that is good it's still the most expensive place to live in Australia - definitely the London of this vast country.
We nod hello to joggers, runners, walkers, in-line skaters and people running after kids on scooters as we pass too. Sydneysiders are obsessed with health and beauty and they walk or run everywhere as a lot of them don't have cars. They even go ass far as swearing by something called "re-birth cream", the active ingredient of which is emu placenta and that, coincidentally, is close to the top of the list of things I would not put on my face. I don't think healthcare over in Australia is expensive (there is no public health system) but I also don't think it is terribly advanced - I remember Tom, the bus driver, teaching himself to walk on a beach with some walking sticks made from fallen palm branches.
Either way they like their outdoors despite the dangers - when playing golf in the summer my father tells us all golfers must stamp their feet when walking to ward off snakes. It has been known for golfers to get bitten, he says - all the golf clubs carry anti-venom. The water of the harbour is as clear as if it weren't there and you can see down the rocks to where there are oysters and mussels. There are houses floating on jetties in the harbour, actable only by a gangplank or a boat. We reach Spit Junction with it's wide open grass and pitted rocks - some people are bouldering underneath one. The roundabout route has taken us only a few hours and we get a well-deserved beer before walking back to Musgrave Street.