Thursday 1st October

The bus to Palm Beach went from the bottom of the hill at Collaroy, so we set off in the sunshine aiming to arrive at Palm Beach at about 12.45. Our flight was due to take place at 2.00 and we had decided to lunch at the Home and Away cafe prior to take off.  All went to plan until we missed the bus stop. No excuse, Tony’s instructions had been quite clear – we were so busy looking for the lighthouse we quite forgot the golf club! Luckily it was only one stop and it was no real hardship to walk along the sand back to the seaplane jetty and the cafe

After first checking that all was ok for the flight, we joined the busy cafe throng to eat out on the verandah jutting out over the water.  It was the stuff of holiday brochures!  People had come in on boats or off the beach to dine under shady umbrellas surrounded by plants and flowers and served by waiting staff who could have just stepped off the film set themselves and had all been to charm school!


We sat enjoying the sunshine and drinking a beer with our meal.

We had been warned that take off might be just after 2.00 as Steve, the pilot, might need to refuel (I think it was the ‘plane not him that needed refuelling) . Sure enough just before 2.00 there was a whirring sound across the lagoon and the small plane flew in, initially skimming over the water and then lightly resting on its under body catamaran type floats. It looked very small…….


The seaplane operation is run by Steve and his wife (I think), a lovely couple.  He is a little craggy chap who looks in the cockpit as though he is part of the aircraft!  As the ‘plane engine ground to a halt, Mrs Steve very competently moved fuel cans into position and within a very short space of time we were being given our life jackets to tie around our waist (was this to be the only thing between me and ocean swimming I thought…… Once again it looked a little small!) and we were being ushered on board.  The interior was snug to say the least! There were four of us in wat felt like an oversized pram interior ( it might have been the quitting!).  Two behind two with the pilot in front.


Th other passengers were a chap celebrating his birthday who had asked to go ‘somewhere by ‘plane’. and his wife. They were both from Sydney and were waved off by two friends. She was obviously a bit nervous before we took off and showed the anxiety I think we all might have felt – she was just a bit more open about it. It proved totally unnecessary.

After a little bit of floating, the engine was switched on and the propeller started going round and then we were rushing over the water and with absolutely no effort we were off in the air!  It was wonderful as we swept pass the beaches we had visited at the weekend – all looking gorgeous ( which was more than could be said for us with our headphones on in order that we could hear Steve’s commentary on what we were seeing!).

image image imageimage

What an experience!

As we neared Sydney harbour,  we saw the ferries carrying passengers from the outlying areas and then the harbour bridge and opera house came into view. Then to top it all we saw the spouting of a whale – no pictures I am afraid too excited to take a photograph!

image image

We were just so lucky to do the flight on such a lovely day.

On the return journey we dropped lower and saw more clearly all the boats moored in the inlets and more beaches  came into view .  What was nice was the fact that we flew over a number of the coastal walks we had made over to Manly, at Curl Curl (where Wendy and Sarah live) and of course Collaroy.

image image

We just loved it and it was a great finale to all our wonderful experiences on the trip

Then the ‘icing on the cake’ of the excursion occurred in that when we got back to Palm Beach and were having a celebratory beer, who should come along but Sarah and Wendy!  They had walked up to the.lighthouse with their friend Debby!  We loved the opportunity of seeing them again and they very kindly took us home after Debby had taken us on another tour of the amazing homes of the rich and famous.  What a place!  Houses with lifts to get you up the rock face within your home, multi balconied affairs – huge palaces!  Australia must be an architects and engineers dream in terms of not only designing the houses to accommodate the terrain but then making it happen!

In the end, delivered home again, we said goodbye to the girls for what had to be the last time of this trip.  We have loved their company.  Then it was our final supper with Justine and Tony  Justine (who I believe has extra hours in her day than the rest of us) sallies in and produces a perfect fish pie for supper – donning her apron over her office wear and still sporting her stilettos!  Incredible! To top it all the evening was still balmy so we had supper on the balcony.

I think we were all a little subdued at the thought of saying good bye on the morrow and a little replica wooden ferry for the Christmas tree nearly brought on the tears……. But  a good night with good friends.

Wednesday 30th September

We were beginning to gather ourselves for our departure on Friday.  Keith was cooking a ‘last supper’ for Wendy and Sarah, Justine and Tony and had been gathering his ingredients over several days.  Nevertheless there were a few last minute items required so we set out to walk to the local shops, much disparaged by Justine!  In actual fact the mission proved surprisingly successful and we headed home confident that there was a meal prospect. I had always been confident there would be – I have never known Keith not put on a good meal!

We were outstanding a birthday present to leave for Mickey, so leaving ‘chef’ to do his magic, I took off to the City -alone.  Unfortunately when I got to the shop they had sold the item required so, having exhausted the ordering option I spent a frenetic hour or so looking for an alternative.  All to no avail.  I could not find anything suitable.  Disaster.   Back to the drawing board…..

However in my search I was able to get a couple of good clock photos in the QVB (queen Victoria Building) and a sighting of Queen Victoria’s statue, together with her dog (? I did not know she had one!) which Keith and I had missed on our previous visit.

image image image image

Justine had very kindly invited me to have a drink with her before catching the bus home.  This all went to plan and she took me to a revolving bar on the top of a building near the infamous bridge.  What fun as Justine and I had ‘previous’ on revolving buildings (take two roving HR people in a revolving restaurant in Hong Kong many years ago – unable to find their table on the return trip from the literally ‘revolving’ buffet……add chickens feet and lost handbags and you have the scene!).   We laughed as we reminded each other of the event and sipped our bubbles as Sydney City slowly moved around us.  Then there was the bridge – looming before us   It was a magical moment with a dear friend.

image image

We left our drinking spot for the bus and arrived home just in time to prep for our dinner party and put the ‘front of house’ in place to do justice to Keith’s cooking.  We just had the best silver and China in place and Sarah and Wendy arrived. Tony matsrialised soon after and – following the overcoming of an escapee cat problem (the two pet cats are constantly desperate to get out) – we all sat down to Keith’s splendid array of food. It was just great to have our four Sydney hosts together….. Another great evening!


Tuesday 29th September

We were up early as we wanted to get a good few hours walking in before we headed back to the City.  There being no signs of life from our hosts we took the liberty of leaving our bags in the garage in order that we could walk unencumbered.  The route out to the cliff path was stunning with colour.

image image

Within twenty minutes we were back to the Leura Cascades and out on the path called Prince Henry’s Cliff Walk.  There was no one about and it was a beautiful day.  It was perfect.

The path continued very much as it had done the previous day, closely hugging the contours of the cliff. We had an amazing moment when we found a Lyre Bird digging for grubs at our feet – totally oblivious to our excitement at seeing him! Parrots sat in the branches overhead.  We passed Honeymoon Point which provided another breathtaking view over the mountains, came across more fern trees and still we walked on.  The views were breathtaking!

image imageMonday 27th September image image

The sulpher crested cockatoos again flew below us. We wandered along the track just absorbing the beauty of it all. We eventually arrived at Echo Point, looking back of the Three Sisters Stacks and decided to call a halt. We had to get back so we retraced our steps – staring in wander at one particular overhang and pausing to sit and watch two parrots sitting a tree warbling to each other…….

image image image image

We eventually reached the Leura Cascades and walking back up the track towards Leura town walked straight into a snake sunbathing   Now anybody who knows me knows I don’t do snakes, and I was not convinced that it was a grass snake as Keith said …….  Bravely (I thought) I circumnavigated said creature and we moved on. I am still in the recovery mode from this particular case experience!

image image image

We wandered back up the road to pick up our bags again – we had been walking over four hours, but we had had a great time.

More flowers edged our path….

image image image image

What a great place to walk.

we met our hosts as we entered the garden to pick up our bags   They were amazed at the ground we had covered – they told us thar they have lived in Leura fo10 years and have never got to Echo Point!

Monday 27th September

We were up with the lark, leaving the house with Justine at 6.20 am as we were off to the Blue Mountains for a couple of days and wanted to get there in time to get some good walking in. We just took our rucksacks and were dressed ready to walk, so looked a little out of place on the commuters L90 bus. This Is a much speedier bus than our 180 from the Collaroy Plateau but involves the challenging clamber up and down the hill, which is something of a deterrent. Justine takes the car for the hill climb – sensible girl!

The bus took us right to the central station in Sydney. Tickets purchased, we bought some breakfast and headed for the slow train to the Blue Mountains. Trains here have an upstairs, so for the novelty value we took to the stairs and settled down for the hour and a half’s journey out of the City. As we started to head to the suburbs, we found a different style of living altogether away from the beaches and balconies of the coastal areas.  It provided a useful balance to counter the exotic lifestyles we have been observing in the Sydney areas we have been exposed to thus far here, lovely though they are.  It is certainly not the lot of the majority of Australians to live in architecturally designed splendour overlooking the sea.

As we left the City and its commuter and out of town commercial areas behind, the train starting stopping more frequently at little Victorian country stations, where station masters still blew a whistle and waved a flag to tell the train driver that it was safe to proceed. The journey had the feel of past times in the UK – a Lego land of train sets and Thomas the Tank Engines …..It was absolutely charming and seemed light years more than a few miles from the business of Sydney.

As instructed by the people with whom we were staying, we called them a couple of stops before Leura where we were to get out. As we climbed the steps from the station, as promised, a red Lexus drew up, the very nice man introduced himself, took our bags and pointed us towards the best coffee shop in town and on to the start of the mountain walks. And he was gone! We were left a little dazed but headed off as directed. Coffee stop over we started off down a road lined with trees in blossom of varying shades of dark pink through to white. It was a sight to behold. Equally springlike were the rhododendron shrubs and azaleas in the gardens along the way. Sadly the camellias had obviously been bruised by the weekend’s rain, but this aside,, everything was set for a beautiful spring scene – to be admired and remembered as this time next week we will be heads down for winter at home.

image image image image

True to the instructions, we came to a t-junction at the end of the road and a map of the cliff top paths that gave access to the blue tinged mountain views that we had heard and read about. Not totally certain where we were heading we descended steep steps on the path signposted Gordon Falls and within a very few minutes we were confronted with the most incredible view. We were looking out over the forest below and out towards a blue mountain horizon. It was magnificent. To our left a small waterfall sent water several hundred feet down to disappear into the woodland below. Our first taste of the maze of paths that meander the cliff side of the Blue Mountain National Park.

image image image

Our meanderings along these pathways took us through locations exotically named the Elysian Rock, Fernery Cave, Bridal Veil View – this one bringing us right out to the end of a precipice over looking the end point of the Leura Cascades across the valley. I was heartily pleased that a handrail had been added to the steep steps that took you down to this point. Bouncing was an unlikely option if you missed your footing! Below us Sulphur Crested Cockatoos swooped, dipped and turned, screeching to each other and disappearing out of sight into the distance. Incredible! From this slightly nerve racking viewpoint we retraced our steps and took another path which took us round eventually to the Leura Cascades themselves, a broad rocky waterfall.

image image

We had seen few people as we had walked, but at the Cascades a number of people had gathered as the path came very close to the road that travels along the cliff top. At the point the Cascades become a waterfall there was a lookout tat enabled us to see as a small speck in the distance the Bridal Veil lookout point where we had been half an hour before! It looked even more precarious looking back.

image image image

We travelled on. The path that drops away steeply to the left as the cliff descends into the valley below was variously a stoney walkway intersected by large tree roots, rocky steps (either natural or man made), steep wooden stairways or rock walkways. Trees met over head and vast rocky overhangs jutted out to give a nasty headache to the unwary. The path went up and down and turned this way and that as it followed the contours of the cliff face. Not for the faint hearts but absolutely great walking. Birds called.  Small flowers appeared to grow out of the rock.  Lizards rustled by in the tree debris beneath our feet.

image image imageimage

We eventually reached the top of the cliff and took a short cut through to the town and checked into our accommodation having been reunited with our bags.  Then it was back up to centre ville to have lunch at the cafe where we had the coffee stop earlier in the day and a little wander around some beautiful shops. It was a lovely spot.

We had supper at a restaurant called Silks at the top of the town and very good it was too.

All in in all another excellent day!