Broken Bay Writers – Stories of NSW Central Coast and beyond

Scribbles on life, the universe and everything… Woy Woy, Ettalong, Umina and teh Central Coast that is!

Tag Archives: sydney

I Hear That Train a Comin!

Australia has an amazing system of public transport, trains! Which means, for the first time in my life I have been reliant on trains, therfore I have had to learn how to read train schedules, as well as bus schedules (go ahead, call me a small town girl), that connect with the correct trains. It has been a steep learning curve, but fun.

Just finding out which exit will suit you best when at Central Station is difficult, but trying to find the next train is even more difficult, especially when you are not sure if it’s the Eastern Suburbs, a city circle or maybe even a country train. I have learned to go to the big electronic boards, look for my destination, figure out which train system it’s on and then stress about where the platform might be as Central has three levels of platforms!

Speaking of trains, did you know that here in Australia there is a carriage called the guards carriage? This is where you will find the guard in case you have problems or it is late at night and you don’t feel comfortable traveling on the train alone.

How do you know which one is the guards carriage? There is a blue light on the exterior of the carriage. Apparently everyone knows this means there is a guard in that carriage. I wonder if tourists know that, because I sure didn’t?

Speaking of which, I always wonder how the tourists know where to buy their tickets, which tickets to buy and the most important thing…hang onto the ticket because you are going to need it to exit the train station on the other end! Maybe it’s just me, but this is all stuff I have had to learn being a “newbie” at train travel.

I have grown to enjoy train travel as long as I get a seat. If I have to stand, I of course, don’t enjoy that. I actually don’t mind so much as long as people are not taking up seats with luggage, purses or other paraphernalia that they think will keep the seat free for their use. I feel that when city rail personnel come through the train to check tickets, they should charge people that are using more than one seat if they don’t have an extra ticket for the extra seat. This would quickly stop the rude people that take up more than one seat!

For the most part, I am liking the train. It is inexpensive, a great place to people watch, enjoy the scenery or immerse yourself in what can end up being a very quirky conversation with fellow train travellers!

I Feel Dirty!

It is windy here in Ettalong Beach this morning. Not just windy, but sustained winds gusting to 60 km per hr.The winds are supposed to increase to about 100 km per hr.  The weird thing is this wind started in inland NSW and South Australia. It whipped up the dust and has carried it all the way to the coast. When I say dust, it is like I have never seen before.

We went to sleep with our bedroom windows open. We woke this morning to a bedroom full of dust. My eyes hurt, my throat is dry, my nose hurts from breathing in the dust. The dust is red, so when the sun hit it the sky turned red. Blood red! The sight is amazing.

Sydney has been in chaos as the dust is setting off fire alarms. Those suffering from allegeries are choking emergency rooms. Flights are delayed or outright canceled. Visibility on highways is low to nil. We look outside and can see virtually nothing, the dust is so thick!

Al and I will be going out in this dust as we have to go into the city. I am sure that a lot of other people stayed home, if they are smart.

The worst part? My entire house is covered in dust. You can feel the grit on the floor when you walk. It will take a lot of cleaning, but not today. Today I get to go out and breathe in the dust and be blown away by the high winds. I feel dirty!

Check out this utube video.

The Old Pacific Highway!

Kit Kat and I lay in bed on Sunday morning, gazing out the window. The weather looked cloudy but dry across Broken Bay and my sudden urge to fire up the Triumph broke our reverie. Half an hour later, we were cruising past the Easter Sunday crowds at the local Churches. I could not help a wry smile at the number of devoted devil dodgers who ardently flock to places of worship  for two events of the year… I guess people are just too busy for god the rest of the time.

We headed straight for the Old Pacific Highway. Until the opening of the F3 in the 80’s, this two lane, twisty scenic drive was the main arterial heading north of Sydney. My childhood memories include the “bumper to bumper” snake of cars slowly writhing along the beautiful strip adjacent to the mighty Hawkesbury River.

Since the opening of the F3 freeway, the Old Pacific Highway is a mecca for motorcyclists. Fifty kilometers of windy road with a reasonable surface and very few four wheeled cages to dodge makes this the promised land. Relics of the “old days” litter the route, abandoned service stations and old stores.

The Aussie scenery is beautiful here. The road winds through grand sandstone bluffs and crags resplendent in grey, orange, red and yellow. The tortured trunks of Eucalypts with leathery green leaves hanging lazily above the road. Exultant stands of Gymea Lily raise their scarlet beacons as an offering to the heavens. The shrub layer bursting with Wattle, Ti Tree, Banksia and a carpet of native grasses and sedges.

The Triumph performs faultlessly. The occasional thump in the back, reminds me not to let the Bonnie go too hard. The road is damp in patches in the mornings, catching the occasional flashy sports rider off guard. We cross the first bridge over the F3, the traffic is light on the northern route. A couple of sports bikes slip by going the other way. This bridge is a favourite for wheel standing – nothing like grandstanding for the bored F3 crowd.

The sparkling Hawkesbury materializes through the early morning mist and the lush coastal forest. The air is pungent with the smell of salt water. One last bust of acceleration through the twisties and we lunge over the old bridge across the river. Kit Kat has gone from assaulting my back to massaging it… I relax back onto her caressing palms. The sun is warm on my face and I savor the salt air in my lungs.

Brekky is at a cafe near the Hawkesbury River train station. We eat eggs, bacon, mushrooms and toast. Kitty sips on her Chai Tea Latte and I down a strong Cap. A guy on a Harley “sportie” has wandered over to chat about the Bonnie. Nice bloke. One of the great things about being a rider is the connection you have with other riders. There has always been a great bond between two wheel enthusiasts. It gets tarnished occasionally by the bad guys but it still is there.

I am reminded of my former life riding a Beemer in British Columbia, Canada. Bikes go to the front of the line up for the vehicle ferries there. Riders, waiting for the ferry to load, circle each others bikes, checking them out and making comments to each other. It is a great ice breaker. I always think it reminds me of dogs and their ritual of greeting. Thankfully, this is less personal.

Kit Kat and I have a look around Brooklyn, not much is open on Easter Sunday. We head home back up the Old Pacific Highway and via Peats Ridge. We pass motorbikes and fruit stalls as we wind our way back to the coast. It is half way through the day and we are feeling very fine. Brekky and a lazy 120 kilometer round trip have made the day.

A Canadian Living in Australia

Here I am on the other side of the world!

I didn’t come here for work or because I have always wanted to experience living in another country.  No, I came here because I fell in love with an Australian.

He had worked in Canada for over 3 years when I met him.  We met in May and started seeing each other in September.  He already knew he was going home next March.  We went into the relationship with the idea that it was going to be short term.  That didn’t last for long.
We spent all of our spare time together and when we couldn’t be together we spent the rest of the time on the phone or internet talking.
We were trying to live in a long distance relationship, but it wasn’t working.  We lived about 3 hours apart.  We took the plunge and essentially moved in together.  Although neither of us gave up our apartments, we stayed at each other’s place on alternating weekends.  The weekdays were taken up with work, although I sometimes worked from his place.
The stress on each of us and on the relationship was incredible.  As the date of his departure grew near, I talked him into staying another 4 months.  Not sure why or what I thought I would accomplish with 4 more months, but it worked out.
In that 4 months we grew together as a couple and knew beyond a doubt that we would be staying together.  This meant I was moving!
It was exciting, stressful exhilarating and gutsy for both of us.  We haven’t looked back!
We both arrived in Sydney July 2008, he was, we were, coming home…