We’re on holidays. We’re in Sydney. What about holidays on holidays? Holidayception. To rest a bit from big city life and spend some time in a charming town by the seaside.
So what? Opal Card in my hand and it’s time for holidays on holidays. We’re going to Circular Quay and looking for a ferry to Manly. All aboard! From the ferry we’re admiring: Harbour Bridge, Opera House, CBD, Kirribilli, Prime Minister’s House, little islands and so on for about 40 minutes. We’re arriving in Manly and all of sudden we’re on holidays.
But Manly is still Sydney. Sllightly different Sydney. For me something like a little town by the seaside. Nice pedestrian area from the port to the beach? Checked. Shops selling everything from towels to tacky things no one really needs? Checked. Beach? Checked. Tourists? Checked. Holidays, pure holidays.
It’s impossible to get lost. Pedestrian area called The Corso leads you from the ferry to the beach. If you’d like a t-shirt from Sydney, The Corso is the best place to shop. They really have nice prices here, even for Australia. What I don’t recommend is fish&chips from one of the bars on the right side of The Corso. But I do recommend eating a takeout on the beach (for people with a lot of nerve, because seagulls would like some lunch too). But wait… let’s keep some kind of order here.
The Corso leads us to the beach. Nice little bay, beach, pine trees along the boardwalk. So charming. So we’re going to the right and passing the “Beware, Pamela” sign. We’re walking past Mediterranean style villas, generally it feels very mediterranean here. And it’s so calm. Can I stay? For like forever?
We’re meeting a friend:
We’re at Shelly Beach. Instead of soft sand, we have teeny-tiny seashells. The beach is in a lovely harbour, surrounded by forested hills. Once, again: CAN I LIVE HERE? The only thing that is quite disturbing in this serene atmosphere is a sign which warns you not to swim withing 24 hours from a downpour, because of pollution. Yhym. Let’s keep walking.
Somewhere between bushes there’s a path leading to the hills and through the hills to Farifax Lookout – vantage point which is at the same time an entrance to the harbour. They say it’s amazing. Unfortunately I can’t tell from my own experience and here’s why:
That day there was a fire in Manly. We started hiking next to the Shelly Beach, and the further we were going, the darker it was getting. The sky was turning dark gray and we could see helicopters flying somewhere in the area were we knew fire was. Helicopters were getting bigger and bigger with every our step. We were hiking through bushes and finally we got to Bluefish Drive. At that point we decided that going to Farifax Lookout wasn’t the smartest idea, as it was obviously in the direction of fire. It was time to go. Funnily enough in Manly no one really cared about the fire. During our hike we met some people who said that we can join them and that after crossing Bluefish Drive, we would get to information center and there they would tell us if we had to run away or not. These people also didn’t care. At all. Ok. So we went back to Manly. On our way back the smell of smoke was getting stronger and it started irritating our eyes. We went back to The Corso, bought fish&chips and sat down on the stairs to the beach.
Burned eucalyptus’ leaves were falling into my fish and smoke was getting stronger, so we decided it was time to go. Good timing, given the fact that when we arrived at the pier it started to rain.
The whole way back I was wondering why everyone was so calm about the fire. It was unusual. So I googled what was going on with these burning eucalyptuses. Mystery solved. They set the fire on purpose to burn down the greens to protect nearby houses and little penguins from a bigger fire caused naturally. That explained a lot.
If I could choose one place to live in Sydney, it would be Manly. Yes, I know, 40 minutes by ferry to CBD. But there’s a lot of space, beach, sunshine (CBD is pretty dark for me, too like), it’s so calm and feels like holidays.
Circular Quay – Manly ferry: slightly over 8 AUD in rush hours and over 5 AUD outside rush hours.
How much time do I need in Manly: it depends. If you’re going there to lay on the beach, it’s up to you. If you’d like to go for a walk like I did + lunch + going M.I.A. in the bookstore, than you need half a day not to be in a hurry. If you’d like to do a whole thing including Fairfax Lookout, you’d need more time.
Is it worth it? YES. It’s totally different Sydney than what you see in CBD. And of course you have to experience ferry as a regular mean of public transport. It takes 40 minutes to get to Manly. 10-16 AUD return is a pretty good price for a ferry tour.
Important: bring comfy shoes; be careful, there are a lot of spiders on the way to Farifax Lookout. The path goes between bushes and these are pretty dense (at least they were in March) and sometimes it’s easy to loose the path.