7 Jun 2021

A glorious winter walk

 Yesterday-Sunday-the weather here was glorious. A cold start to the day but beautiful and sunny and by late morning the temperature was topping 20ºC. Ideal weather for walking. Not too hot and crystal clear.

We left Terrigal at 8.00 and had a dream run down to Sydney via the M1, the Northconnex tunnel, the M2, the Harbour Bridge and the Cahill Expressway. It may have cost a few dollars in tolls but we were parked in the Domain car park close to the Art Gallery of NSW by 9.20. If only the traffic was that light every day of the week.

I decided that as it was a walking and talking day I was not going to walk all day burdened with a camera looking like a tourist. So for the day it was my phone, a sweater and my walking companion.

From the Domain car park we walked past the Art Gallery and after a coffee in the sun at an uncrowded  cafe on into the Botanic Gardens, through the rainforest walk and the fernery and upto a new structure, the Calix, which neither of us knew existed. The plant colour wall display of over 18,000 individual plants is really worth a visit.

From the Botanic Gardens we walked down to the harbour and on to to Mrs Macquarie's Point passing along the way a beautifully laid out engagement party where the guest were going to be seated on cushions on the ground. Some of the female guests arriving for the party must have regretted their choice of short skirts when they saw the set up.

We walked round the Point opposite Garden Island naval base and then back to the Opera House. When we set off from the car park at 9.30 there were few people around but gradually as the morning progressed there were more but nowhere near as many as we were expecting.The lack of tourists-overseas and local-was obvious at the Opera House where usually the steps and forecourt would be thronging with visitors on such a beautiful day.

We were even more surprised when we went down to the Opera House restaurant and bar area and were able to walk in and get a table right on the edge of the harbour looking straight onto the Harbour Bridge.We just could not believe it- a lunch table in one of the most iconic tourist locations in the world on a beautiful day and we walked straight in! There are upsides to the pandemic. Not many but this was one of them.

The lunch was good and the prices were surprisingly reasonable. There were families with young children having lunch and the whole place had a vintage Sydney buzz. This is how Sydney was 20 years ago-not overcrowded, friendly wait staff, no Chinese tour groups and no teeming hordes ashore for the day from cruise ships. I was certainly glad that I had not bought a camera-I would have looked like a throwback to 2019.

Fortified with some pasta and light beers we walked down to Circular Quay and then up onto the walkway beside the Cahill Expressway and then right across the Harbour Bridge. Two accidental tourists. The Harbour had never looked better. Sailing boats in a race further down the harbour. Ferries scuttling across to Manly. Climbers on the Bridge Climb above us. and at least three weddings on the lawns sloping down to the water beside Milsons Point. It was just wonderful. 

When we reached the pylon at the Milsons Point end of the bridge we turned round and walked back. This time we climbed down the steps to the Argyle Cut, then through the Rocks and back across Circular Quay. Another stop at the Opera House Bar for two more beers looking over the harbour. It was more busy by then but not impossible.

From there we sauntered back through the Botanic Gardens to the Domain car park. We had walked 12.5kms, 21,938 steps A full day's parking cost just $12. A bargain. The drive home on the same route was not as empty as the morning run but we were back in Terrigal tired but very happy for supper by 5.30. A wonderful day. My best day for many months. Thank you Sydney and thank you Cheryl.

I did use my phone to record a few snapshots of the walk. I make no claim to any artistic merit for them.

The Calix in the Botanic gardens. Cockatoos overhead
Part of the 18,000 plant colour wall in the Calix


In the Calix
Big bugs in the Botanic Gardens

Engagement party by the Harbour. So lucky with the weather.

Harbour view
Look mum, no tourists.

Sydney you really have grown up. Part of the view at lunch

From above Circular Quay

From above Circular Quay 2

Cranes, everywhere cranes

Iconic view from the Harbour Bridge

Look mum, no toursts 2

Late afternoon, Botanic Gardens

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