After living in a real home with all the amenities that implies, it was time to head up the east coast on my own. This was a momentous occasion for which I was ready. My time on tour had introduced me to hostels and the art of daily travel. I was confident that I could manage the east coast successfully on my own.
I purchased the Bruce Express pass from Oz Experience, and it allowed me 35 days to travel from Sydney to Cairns. Piece of cake, right? So I packed up my stuff and humped it to the train station. Unbelievably, it took me less than 20 minutes to reach the train station even with the extra weight on my back (and in each hand). Apparently all the hiking I did on tour was good for something.
I caught the train into the city and checked in to 790 on George for the night. It was right around the corner from the Oz office, where I was to meet the bus at 6 am. I ended up in an eight-bed girls dorm that appeared to be occupied by long-term residents. There were clothes hung up to dry everywhere and at 3:30 in the afternoon, someone was sleeping behind a curtain of towels. Wonder what kind of job she had?
The room was not the best I’d ever been in but it’d do for just one night. After checking out the girls bathroom, which was all the way down the hall and around the corner, I was still not impressed. There were only two shower and toilet stalls for the entire floor, and everything was dirty and wet. On a positive note, it did have a hair dryer that worked. So, despite its overall uncleanliness perhaps this hostel did have its priorities right.
Even though this place wasn’t ideal, I still had so much to look forward to and did not let it bother me one bit. All of the east coast was in front of me, and who knew what kind of glorious adventures were ahead?
After a nice day spent in the Bondi area, I caught the bus north to Watsons Bay. I had this rather romantic idea of catching the ferry back into the city at sunset. I wanted to experience the beautiful reds and purples from the water and see how the light reflected off the tall buildings in Sydney Harbor.
Unfortunately, my lack of planning foiled me in the end. Sometimes spontaneity and going with the flow are over rated. By the time I reached Watsons Bay, the last ferry had set sail more than two hours ago. The only way I could fulfill my idealistic notions was to swim across to the harbor.
Since my plans had gone awry, I decided to check out the bluffs at Gap Park. For more than 40,000 years before the British arrived, the Gadigal people lived and prospered in the area. But, of course, when the Brits showed up, the natives moved farther and farther away from their lands.
I walked up the path to a spot that overlooked the sea. As the sky darkened, the water looked ominous and the waves appeared dangerous. Who knows what kind of toothy sea monsters lay just beneath the surface? I took a few moments to contemplate the contrasts of nature. On one side of me, darkness fell quickly casting shadows everywhere. On the other side of me, the sun’s rays were still visible and highlighted the buildings, trees and water in an amber glow.
As I watched the sun setting behind the city I thought, “Today was a good day.”
After recovering for a couple of days at Sharon’s, I decided to check out Bondi Beach. How could I come to Sydney and not see it?
When I arrived, the sun was out and the water was a shimmering blue. I found a trail that hugged the coastline from Bondi to Bronte beaches for 2.5 km and decided to follow it to see where it led. The track was lovely and wove itself in and out, up and down the rocky ledges of the coast. There were wonderful cliff-side views of crashing waves and surging tide pools. Wooden benches littered the trail providing perfect rest stops for the weary or those who would like to take in the scenery.
At one point on the trail, I stopped to sit on some rocks that overlooked the water and a group of surfers and boogie boarders. The waves looked like they were decent enough but only a few boogie boarders caught them while I watched. The surfers floated atop the waves and watched them come in, but no one made a move. I’m not sure why not though. Eddie would go!
I continued on and passed Mackenzies and Tamarama bays and Bronte Beach. Rather than return by the same route, I decided to go a different way instead. I got to a road that I thought would lead back to Bondi Beach. Unfortunately, it didn’t. It actually led further inland and took me up a steep hill that just seemed to climb forever. Luckily, I’d been on the Sydney-Darwin tour hikes before this or I think I would’ve had to stop every 15 seconds to catch my breath.
As I continued on this unplanned mountainous trek, I passed some impressive homes. Many were under construction, and you could say this was the Black Point of the area. When I reached the top of the hill, I realized that I had no idea how to get back to Bondi Beach. I was in a neighborhood that I didn’t recognize (although, to be fair, I could’ve passed this way on the bus and wouldn’t have known).
By now, my feet were killing me and I was kicking myself for not taking the coastal walk. The best thing to do was to find a bus stop and seek the help of a map. Now, my map-reading abilities are sketchy at best but at least I’d be able to figure out where I was (by way of the nifty little “You Are Here” dot). I made a beeline for the nearest bus stop and sat down to catch my breath.
I caught the next bus to Bondi Junction, which is next to a Westfield mall, and had lunch there. Since I can barely fit all my stuff into my backpack, there was no point in looking at the shops. Why tease myself by window shopping too? So I hopped on another bus and headed out to Watsons Bay, where I hoped to catch a ferry back to the city.