Tag Archives: sydney

Sunny Shiny Sydney Beaches on Mother’s Day

It’s not the kind of Mother’s Day celebrations I would have ever thought about, but apparently one of the ‘things to do’ on Mother’s Day in Sydney, Australia is to take your mother to the beach to celebrate if it’s a nice day. And Coogee Beach was a perfect example of the packed-with-people spots. The ‘Pram Brigade’ of young parents pushing children in strollers was certainly out in force!

The skies were gorgeously blue, the winds were ever-so-slightly brisk, and the temperatures were warmer than the norm. So it was a perfect day for a walk along the boardwalks and footpaths at the seaside with a hearty cafe lunch as a reward.


Danger sign on the clifftop walk to Coogee Beach in Sydney, Australia

Danger sign on the clifftop walk to Coogee Beach in Sydney, Australia

Boardwalk along a section of Coogee Beach in Sydney, Australia

Boardwalk along a section of Coogee Beach in Sydney, Australia

Every single bench facing the ocean was filled on Mother's Day at Coogee Beach in Sydney, Australia

Every single bench or seat facing the ocean was filled on Mother’s Day at Coogee Beach in Sydney, Australia


©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
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Is Sydney Always Sunny?

Today’s photo might deflate those folks who live in colder, wetter climates worldwide and who have the mistaken notion that it is sunny in places like Sydney, Australia 99.9% of the time. Nope! They get some whopper thunderstorms. And the scene below is after a particularly wet day out dodging the rain and trying to take decent photos.

A Wet Walk Quayside in Sydney, Australia


©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
Please respect the words and images on this page.
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Wrapping Up A Temporary Life in Sydney Australia

Step away from the gelato, sir! No, not really — just kidding. Don’t look at me like that!

Gelato goodness at Coogee Beach

The friend who gave us the keys to her apartment while she was away for the holidays just happened to mention that there were three gelato shops in this tiny community. And then she issued the challenge to Mark to try them all and report back on which one had the best gelato. I can honestly report that he has thrown himself into this task with gusto and thus far the hazelnut gelato from the shop at the far end of the beach has been his all time favorite.

We have loved it here. The smell of the sea or the harbour, the positively perky people who all seem to glow with good health and fitness, the vibrant hum of daily activities, the quiet times in slower-paced neighbourhoods, and the technicolour look of the place. Is it any wonder that this city is the first choice of spots to visit for most overseas visitors to Australia!

But by actually living here for several weeks, we have enjoyed a different pace of life and have, except for one visit to the Art Gallery of New South Wales, stayed completely away from all of the ‘sights’ that are thronged with tourists. Instead we have ambled up and down the hills of Sydney in the radically different neighbourhoods of North Sydney and Coogee Beach, shopped in the local stores, cooked almost all of our meals in our temporary homes, and relaxed into the experience in a way that we never could have if we had been staying in a hotel.

Art Deco era apartment at Coogee Beach

We had the use of a splendid apartment in an Art Deco era building and our proximity to all of the fresh groceries, seafood, butchers, etc. made our frugal travel concept quite easily manageable.

I will be posting more travel tales and photos in the days ahead from Amsterdam. But for now (and we will be back!), we bid a fond farewell to the lovely, friendly Sydney, Australia!!!

Beachside Surf Rescue Team at Coogee Beach in Sydney Australia

Parents with Child Wearing Sunblock Swimwear at Australian Beach

Living Like A Local at Coogee Beach in Sydney Australia

Intense glare, stunning heat, sunburnt bodies sprawled on every inch of sand, men in swimming trunks wearing Santa hats, and the unmistakable fragrance of coconut-scented suntan lotion — it all conspired to give me a serious flashback moment to childhood Christmas holidays spent on Florida beaches. But then the smell of beer and sizzling sausages combined with the overlapping Aussie or British or Irish or Scottish or German or French or whatever other accents and it jolted me back to the 21st century. I looked around and knew that I was in Australia for Christmas at the beach.

I didn’t try to take an expensive professional camera with me on Christmas Day because we would have gotten jostled in the thick crowds. The picture below was taken on Boxing Day — the very next day after Christmas — and the crowds were back to a manageable size. But this gives you a glimpse of this little piece of heaven.

Boxing Day at Coogee Beach in Sydney, Australia

Even the ‘Mums and Bubs Pool’ (aka Mothers and Babies Paddle Pool to you non-OZ folks) was thinned out compared to the previous day. But as you can see by the clock on the Surf Life Saving Club building, it was late in the day and rather a lot of people had already packed up and gone home.

Beachside Mums and Bubs Pool at Coogee Beach in Sydney Australia

We are currently enjoying our final week in Australia and the beachside Christmas which is quintessentially Aussie. We were able to have this final holiday in Australia because we were quite generously given the keys to a friend’s apartment which sits just up the hill from these scenes — a less than ten minute walk away. She lives in such an idyllic spot and we feel very blessed to be living in her gorgeous apartment while she is out of town.

Sometimes it’s the little things that allow you to relax into your holiday a bit more thoroughly — and having a full sized kitchen, a big deep bath tub, a spacious living room, and a view of a beautiful beachside neighbourhood has certainly contributed to our sense of well-being. I’m not a loving-the-sand kind of person but Mark certainly is. There are days when he goes down for a swim three times in one day. And watching the stress of our former lives just melt off of his face is quite joyous.

I do enjoy the beach scene as a spectator and observer. And as you can see, there is always something worth taking pictures of!

Gateway to the Baths — a natural pool set in the rocks.

Coogee Beach is around the bend from the well known surfing spot, Bondi Beach, but Coogee is definitely more laid back and family oriented.

Back down the hill from the apartment where we are “living like a local” is a very convenient street that contains well over a dozen cafes and restaurants along with pharmacies, gift shops, numerous banks, doctors and dentists, and a full-sized grocery store. Just like our previous stay in North Sydney, the proximity of all of these stores allowed us to shop for food and supplies every few days and cut our daily expense budget in half or less.

I’ll be sorry to see this end tomorrow, but we are off on an evening flight to Kuala Lumpur, a one day layover, and then it’s on to cold and wintery Amsterdam for a week before we travel to England. What a shock to the body that change of temperature is going to be!

We will be arriving in Amsterdam on the morning of New Year’s Eve. After a bit of sleep to recover from the jet lag, we will be ushering in a New Year AND a new life in the Northern hemisphere. And yes, we will be “living like a local” there, too.

Stay tuned for more travel adventures and a wrap-up of our temporary life in Sydney!

© Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
Please respect the copyright of all text and photos on this website.
All rights reserved.

The North Sydney Neighbours

The neighbours came for a visit the other day — and how very cheeky they were. Completely uninvited, one of them walked right through the open door of the balcony and startled me since I was alone in the apartment just them.

Later that day we got a long distance call from the owner of the apartment and she filled us in how how these neighbours frequently made themselves at home and were actually a bit demanding. Then she explained how to handle the situation. I felt a bit more prepared for their return.

The next morning, I awakened and opened the balcony door to let some fresh air in — and sure enough, the neighbours walked right in and began to demand that I give them something to eat. Mark found it quite amusing and he had much more patience with the process of getting to know them than I did, so he leaned forward to speak quietly and soothingly to them. Deciding to just stand back and observe, I picked up the camera to record their behaviour.

Mark building trust with the lorikeet

Our rather bold neighbours, the ones who simply walked in the door each morning and loudly demanded some food and drink, were this pair of Rainbow Lorikeets. Our hostess had explained that they were accustomed to their morning bowl of warm water with honey dissolved in it and she said that the lorikeets would come inside each day and pester us until we complied with their demands.

Rainbow Lorikeets on the Balcony Railing

Amazingly, by the time we had been in residence in our temporary home for a mere few days, the bright and beautiful visitors were no longer waiting for Mark to carry the bowls out to the balcony. As soon as they determined that he had finished stirring the honey into the water, they would fly in and perch on his fingers as they gargle-slurped the improvised nectar down their throats. I wasn’t keen to try holding them, but I was fascinated at this interaction between previously unknown humans and wild birds and I was quite content to stand quietly and take pictures.

Rainbow Lorikeets on fingers2

Living Like A Local in North Sydney

Travel writers and savvy individuals have known for years that the best way to fully appreciate a place was to settle in for awhile. Instead of paying a ‘flying visit’ or staying in a hotel, more and more people now choose to live in a short-term apartment or house rental so that they can shop in the local stores, cook in their temporary kitchen, and get a feel for the neighbourhood in a way that they never would have if they had been cossetted behind the walls of a hotel with room service and daily housekeeping services.

When you remove the bag carrying, room cleaning, food cooking, concierge, and front desk services of a hotel, you will frequently discover that apartment or house rentals can save you a substantial amount of money over the cost of a very average hotel. And if you value your privacy the way we do or you enjoy the opportunity to sleep late occasionally, you’ll appreciate the fact that no one will knock on the door in the morning to ask if you want your room cleaned.

We had an extraordinary opportunity recently when, instead of renting them out, two dear friends lovingly offered their two apartments to us at no cost for our 16 day stay in Sydney. We had just sold our house in Australia and had a 16 day period to fill prior to flying on to Amsterdam at the end of December. We would be staying in Sydney during the weeks before and after Christmas and any available rental apartments would have already been scooped up. The offer of these two apartments was both a wonderful surprise and a huge blessing!

Sydney is a very accessible metropolis with a comprehensive train and bus system, City Rail and Sydney Buses, linking the various neighbourhoods. The Sydney CBD (Central Business District) is a short distance from the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, but we were headed for the opposite side of that same bridge and the neighbourhood of North Sydney which is served by two different train stops at Milson’s Point and the North Sydney station.

A ten minute walk from either of the railway stations took us to the apartment, but I hadn’t expected it to be eight stories up in the air with views over the rooftops in that incredibly hilly neighbourhood. If you click on the photo and then look about 3/4 of the way over on the right, you will see a flag flying. That is atop the Sydney Harbour Bridge and we had the most wonderful view of the pre-Christmas fireworks over the bridge by simply standing on the balcony.

View of North Sydney rooftops from 8th floor balcony

I have to admit, I certainly got more of a work-out than I had expected every time we went out to shop or sightsee and I was huffing and puffing quite dramatically on the first few days there! But we found everything that we needed within a fifteen to twenty-five minute walk and the variety of shops and restaurant choices made our stay in North Sydney quite enjoyable. And I began to get fitter in the process of taking those daily walks!

One afternoon whilst on a trip to the bank, our curiosity got the best of us and we followed a stream of people who were descending on an escalator that dropped down beneath the pavement that we had been walking on. It became obvious as soon as we reached the bottom that we had arrived in the middle of a mall.

Greenwood Plaza in North Sydney-full sized underground shopping centre

The initial narrow hallway led into a bright and open two-level full-sized mall that was operating beneath the office buildings, cafes, shops, and streets above. Greenwood Plaza was a pleasant surprise, especially when we found a rather nice organic butcher, a lovely fruit market around the corner from a full-sized grocery store, a health food shop, and dozens of other beautiful shops. This well-stocked shopping centre was the perfect discovery to help us stay on track with our budget travel and healthy lifestyle concept of cooking our meals from fresh ingredients.

Narrow lane in North Sydney

North Sydney was certainly a delightful place to “live like a local” for a week. Old stone cottages on narrow and hilly lanes co-exist with looming high-rise commercial buildings on busy hilly streets and then give way to glorious hilly parkland that sweeps down to the water’s edge beneath the bridge at the Sydney Harbour. You may have noted the “hilly” theme of North Sydney, but it is gloriously green and leafy and relatively quiet compared to many other parts of this hustle-bustle city.

North Sydney park at base of Harbour Bridge--taken by Mark Harmes

Unless indicated, all photography by Deborah Harmes.