Monday, June 13, 2005

At a loose end in Manly

I didn't see any bandicoots

This weekend Australians celebrate the Queen's birthday - and everyone is given a holiday on the Monday. Odd, considering as most younger Australians couldn't care less about the distant monarchy - and odder still because back home us Brits don't get a holiday for her birthday (loyal subjects indeed). As if the oddness couldn't get any higher, New Zealanders got their Queen's birthday holiday last week. Anyway, I toyed with the idea of going to work to make some sort of point about the old dear not giving days off to her immediate subjects, but I couldn't be bothered. Instead I had planned to go up North to Mount Kuring Gai and do a bit of bushwalking. You can imagine my consternation however when I arrived at Town Hall Station to find all trains going North cancelled because of track work, leaving me stuck in the city. The irony of a British bank holiday wasn't lost on me, I can tell you. At least it wasn't raining. So I decided right there on the spot to switch to my emergency Plan B - which in all contingencies is the same - go to Manly.

I love Manly - it's probably the only other part of the city I'd ever live in. I've been several times of course, so today I visited the only part I'd not yet explored - North Head. As you know if you read this blog often, the entrance to Sydney Harbour is guarded by two craggy lumps that curl into the Pacific like giant fists. Called North and South Head, they are both National Parks, and both give great views of the Ocean and back to the city (South Head was near where I was the other week in Vaucluse). So I had a walk around, looked back at the city for the umpteenth time - it was all very pleasant. I didn't see any bandicoots (I suppose they are nocturnal), but there were dozens of black and white birds flashing through the bushes - New Holland Honeyeaters according to the signs. It also said you could sometimes see migratory whales at this time of year - but once again my luck with whales was nil and I didn't see any. So I walked around in the winter sunshine before strolling back down to Manly wharf and the ferry to the city. Not a bad Plan B really - thanks Queeny!