Saturday, 1st April

We are really on the last lap now – we leave for home on the 12th.  It was a beautiful morning and we were encouraged out of bed by the news that it was to be a barbecue breakfast on the beach…….  within no time at all we were all in the car and heading down the hill to the Colleroy Beach.  It was already busy with walkers, swimmers and birthday party preparers!

Justine and I went for a stroll, after buying a coffee from the nearby cafe for the chaps, while Tony, Keith and the girls got started on the breakfast and setting up the table, complete with gingham cloth!    By the time we returned things were more or less ready.  Mickey was on sausage turning duty and we all took a turn before we settled down to breakfast.  

How amazing!  It was just lovely! These free barbecue spots are fantastic and unimaginable in England.  
After breakfast we watched the people for a bit before gathering up the equipment and setting off for home. It was not yet 11.00 am!

Everyone went their separate ways later – Mickey went to a film with a friend, the boys took Coco to her dance class and took the shopping list to do the shopping and Justine and I went for a walk along the headland, passing the golf course to Long Reef Beech. 

It was a lovely afternoon.  Justine and I just did not stop chatting.  So good to catch up.  The sun shone.  The views were amazing.  A marker showing the different beaches along the coast was interesting.  

Eventually it was time to turn back and tackle the hill.  There were guests for dinner. 

We arrived back at about the same time as the chaps.  Food prep commenced. A young couple from England visited and before we knew where we were, we were on parade and the dinner guests – David and Lesley who we met on our last trip – were arriving!  Dinner was great, the conversation hilarious, fuelled by some great wine.  Another excellent day.  

Friday, March 31st

An unexpectedly bright and sunny day!! Great news! The weather forecast has been so dire for Sydney and to wake to sunshine was a real treat!
We decided to walk across the Sydney Harbour bridge. It is possible to climb the bridge and walk across it on the metal work so much a symbol of the Sydney Harbour scenery.  Fresh from the Walpole High Tree Walk experience Keith was quite clear that he was not going to climb the bridge, but that we would walk across it. Fair enough.  
So we set out to walk down the hill to get the fast bus route rather than take the lengthy bus ride from the Collaroy Plateau to the City. The route down gave us another view of the sea.  

 We found the venue identified as our rendezvous with Sarah, Wendy and Peter and had a brief wait before the bus arrived and we were off to Sydney centre. 

We decided to head for the Rocks area initially, the original location of the city settlers. First we came across a large church and buildings associated with an early Irish convent. Today Harrington Street is a busy thoroughfare but there were two huge murals depicting early days in the area, in stark black and white. Views of them are marred by the line of motorbikes in front of them. I felt it was an interesting juxtaposition of old and new.  

We wandered along the road and passed a couple of the rare older buildings – Sydney probably has the least original buildings than any place we have visited in Australia.  

They were surrounded and somewhat overpowered by ‘new Sydney’ rearing up behind them. Just down the road the Rocks Friday food market was well under way – against the background of an enormous cruise liner docked in the harbour. 

It was really buzzy. We wandered along the stalls and decided that we would walk over to the opera house to see if there was anything we wanted to go and see and then return to have a snack for lunch.  

All sorts of foods were on offer. Tourists milled with office workers who were making the most of the sunshine and daylight in their dash to get their lunch and return to their desks.  

We wandered through the harbour crowds, swelled by the people joining the Emerald Princess. They were easily identifiable by their large wheelie cases and slightly anxious air. They need not have worried – there was a long queue forming at the ship – boarding was going to take some time!

We passed the aboriginal musicians on the Quay

And trundled round to the Opera House where we found we had just missed La Traviata and there was no indication of what was going to take its place. We had an alternative view of the cruise liner which more or less eclipsed the bridge behind it……….

Back at the market we joined the longest queue to a food stall on the basis it would provide us with the most tasty street food.  We had made the right decision.  We had a great Gozleme, a Turkish flat bread stuffed with spinach, feta and meat.  It was very good……,,.,

As the time was getting on, we decided to abandon the bridge walk for the day and head back home.  People eat early in Australia and we were due to meet our chums at 6.30.  By this time the weather had taken a very wet turn.  Justine gave us a lift to the bottom of the hill so we did not get too wet and we had a great evening with our chums, getting  up to date on goings on since our last sighting and getting their input on the next Australian trip………!!

Two bottles of Champagne and a southern Indian meal later and Keith and I clamboured up to the plateau very happy bunnies if a little out of breath!  

Thursday, 30th March

We were not up early.  The Wightman’s had left long since when we got up.  As predicted it was raining and expecred to continue to be wet for the whole day.  

We had volunteered to do the cooking, so set off on the bus for Westfield, the nearest shopping Mall.  This has been greatly developed since we were last here.  Regrettably the developments, which are not yet finished, have not been built with rain in mind.  Throughout the complex, there were buckets on the floor to collect the drips from the ceiling.  Oops!

The weather was so bad that we decided to get the bus back after having a bite to eat there. 

So something of an uneventful day.   Keith cooked and we ate supper with Tony and the girls.  Justine had been caught up in the cyclone further north and delays meant she was unlikely to arrive home until midnight.  

We adjourned to bed.  Hopefully a better day tomorrow from the weather perspective. 

Just before bedtime we learnt that our planned trip to meet our train chums would have to be cancelled due to the early arrival of a grandchild who had been expected later next week.    Disappointing for us, but wonderful for them.  I am confident we will meet up with them some time in the future. 

We had also learnt that correspondence between us and Wendy and Sarah has not been getting through and they have been trying to arrange to meet up with us with Peter,  who we thought we were not going to be able to see again this trip.  We are now connected again, thank goodness, and will have dinner with them all on Friday in Collaroy. Really great news.