17 July 2011
There are a few ingredients to our perfect Sydney weekend – a bit of sailing, a good long run, some time to think, a good feed, plenty of sleep, a dip in the ocean and some time alone among the trees. But with the inevitable chores to get done and more often than not a bit of overflow from the week’s work to contend with, there is only so much time to cram these things into. And who wants to rush such things anyway?
Well, this Sunday and completely unplanned, we found ourselves rolling all our favourite activities into a few serene hour on Middle Harbour. A short sail out to Castle Rock Beach followed by a picnic at anchor, a siesta, a swim ashore and long run through the Sydney Harbour National Park before heading back through the Spit Bridge in time to take care of chores and feel ready for another week.
Sydney is full of treats. The clear-sky days can be truly awesome. The vibrant blues of the harbour set against the sandstone cliffs, green woods and cobalt sky makes for one of the most pleasing mixes of colours I have seen anywhere. When the sun warms, the afternoon sea breeze kicks in and the short choppy waves send cool spray over the boat, no trendy Melbournian will ever convince a Sydneysider that their superior cafes, quirky bars and better music are a match for our harbour. (Not to say that such things aren’t nice, and I’ll concede that Melbourne undoubtedly trumps Sydney on a number of fronts. But having lived in both for almost an equal amount of time, I made my judgement long ago.)
At the same time, on such days you can be so busy avoiding the kayaks, the ferries, the lightning-fast 18foot skiffs and the thousand-and-one other pleasure boaters that it is hard to fully appreciate the surroundings. This was not one of those days. It was the kind cool, damp sultry day when the rest of the world stays indoors to paint the walls and catch up on emails and the harbour takes on a whole different character. The kind of day when looking out between the heads you could imagine you were looking at the North Sea, not the Tasman. But also the kind of day that rewards you with the sort of surprise that makes you so glad you chose to head out.
On this occasion it was a pod of dolphins feeding off Grotto Point. I have seen dolphins just outside the harbour many times but never inside. I’m told that like the increase in whales and sharks entering the harbour and the necklace of oysters around every mooring pile and beacon, it’s a sign the water is getting cleaner. Indeed, when you look at the amount of development around the harbour the water does seem remarkably clean. Compare to Hong Kong Harbour or the waters around Singapore or Jakarta, two other places I’ve been lucky enough to visit in the last few years and, well, there is no comparison.
Anyway, enough tales from the backyard for now. It’s time to get on with the week!