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  • Writer's pictureTim and Lindsey

The Manly thing to do – getting the Ferry to Sydney (Day 139)

A great visit to Manly, discovering The Big and The Beautiful, Shelly Bay, the North Head and then only the Manly Ferry to Sydney to see two amazing iconic sites.

We so enjoy meeting people and today was no exception. After going to the Gym (yes, twice in two days!) we drove over to Manly to visit Jill, our brother-in-law Simon’s 2nd cousin (once removed?). Jill has seen quite a few family members, so my sister thought it was about time she met us.

What a great place to live, Jill lives on the fourth floor of a nice small block of flats with views overlooking the sea and Manly harbour, where you can see the renowned Manly Ferry taking passengers into Sydney Harbour.

After offloading to her our adventures over a nice cup of tea, we walked down to the Manly Corso, a very nice pedestrianised shopping precinct. This was built in the mid-1800s as a boardwalk for early tourists connecting the harbour pier to the beach over Manly’s sand spit. As we were coming to the beach side, who should we see but Paul and his two children, who we visited yesterday! So we need to come all the way to Sydney to see him after 13 years and then bump into him again!

We carried on our walk, chatting away along the oceanfront walk to Shelly Beach. The view was wonderful, the sea was calm with lots of people relaxing on the golden clean beach and others swimming and snorkelling in the sea. Jill shared that every day a group called The Bold And The Beautiful @boldandbeautifulswims meet at 7am every day to swim the 1.5km round trip wearing pink swim caps. Having researched this, I’ve discovered that back in 2008 a group of six friends swam from the beach to Shelley and back, the next day there was 9 and it has grown and grown ever since. I’m not sure how many are in the group now, however in a blog I’ve read from 2012 it says “We are currently sitting on around 3,782 with a good chance of getting in the Guinness Book of Records for the largest Ocean Swim Group in the world!” I wonder if they achieved this.

Shelly Beach is beautiful, the most southerly of the northern ocean beaches, it’s a protected marine reserve and also because of its locality, it also is a protected area for families to enjoy and relax. Jill took us to The Boathouse for lunch, a thriving busy café and restaurant where we had a delicious meal and couldn’t eat it all! Jill is a psychologist, so you can imagine we had lots to talk about plus putting the world to rights. Education, one of Tim’s favourite subjects, came up. Unfortunately children are often not allowed to work things out for themselves and make mistakes. Tim admitted that with our sons when they were young, he would teach them the “right” way to do things, rather than allow them to fathom it out, explore different ways to do things. Jill came up with the quote for the day – something like “Mistakes are the pathway to Wisdom” I love that and even discovered a book of the same name.

We walked back to Jill’s flat to pick up her car and she drove us out to North Head. This area of heathland with amazing views across the sea towards New Zealand and the harbour of Sydney is steeped with history. It has rock engravings and rock art made by the indigenous people, in 1828 it was used as an area to put passengers from ships into quarantine, and during WW11 it was a heavily fortified site to protect the harbour, lookout huts are still there today. Luckily this area is now a National Park, so protected from any building developments.

Jill was going to the Theatre with a friend in Sydney via the Manly Ferry, so we joined her on this quintessential trip across the inlet. The journey only takes 30 minutes, a very smooth ride, until the ferry reaches the open waters, and then it becomes calm again when it sails into the Harbour. As we turned the corner round Bradley’s Head, the view was spectacular. There in front of us, with a wonderful sunset in the background was the two most iconic sites of Sydney – Sydney Opera House and The Harbour Bridge. Many photos later, we arrived. Jill was going in the opposite way to us, we said our warm farewells, we had such a delightful day with her and so grateful for the time she spent with us.

We made our way to see the Opera House. Oh wow! The Architecture is amazing, the shapes, the glass, and the diamond tiles on the roofs. So inspiring. The architect Jørn Utzon was the winner of the international competition to design a ‘national opera house’ for Sydney’s Bennelong Point in 1957 and wow – did he do an amazing job! Sadly, due to political interference, he was forced to withdraw as chief architect, left Australia and never returned to see his masterpiece completed. What a shame. He was however asked in 1999 and agreed to develop a set of Design Principles giving guidance to all future changes to the building. As he said “I like to think the Sydney Opera House is like a musical instrument, and like any fine instrument, it needs a little maintenance and fine tuning, from time to time, if it is to keep on performing at the highest level."

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