Wednesday 31 October 2018

Sydney - Day 2 - Dangar Island paradise


I first heard about Dangar Island a couple of weeks ago when I heard an interview with Australian author Liane Moriarty and she mentioned her next book would be set on Dangar island, where she used to spend her summer holidays as a child.
It piqued my interested and I did a search and found out it wasn't too far from where my husband lives in Sydney. And that's how we found ourselves on the way to Dangar Island on my recent visit to Sydney...


On Sunday 21st October we drove 45 min north to Brooklyn, a small town on the upper north shore of Sydney, on the southern banks of the Hawkesbury River.
The town which is home to about 750 people was full of cars, and we drove around for a while until we found a street going uphill where a huge area used for parking was still half-full.
Some of the houses built perched on top of rock scared me a bit, and we found interesting rock formations with layers of colours.

Bridge into Brooklyn, the bay, rock formations and houses perched on rock

After parking our car we walked down to the wharf, a few metres from the Hawkesbury River Station (you can take the Central Coast & Newcastle line train from Central Station).
Next to the wharf a cute house with the sign "Riverboat Postman" attracted our attention and we went inside.
The young girl explained that since 1910 the Riverboat delivers mail and other supplies to water access only properties along the Hawkesbury river. This trip is also popular with tourists who get to enjoy the river scenery (fee applies).

Riverboat Postman, Brooklyn Marina, statue to Captain Phillip who discovered and named Hawkesbury river in 1789.


Ferries are almost hourly during the day, but not as frequent during the weekend, we checked the time-table and just sat around as we didn't have long to wait. 
When it arrived the few people that were waiting got on and shortly after the "Captain" came to collect our fare - $7,70 (each way) and just 15 minutes later we hopped off the ferry at Dangar Island.

The Hawkesbury river rail bridge, map of Dangar island, arriving at Dangar


Right next to the jetty is the local Cafe/general store, but we left our coffee break for later and started walking along the main street where a few wheelbarrows waited ready to be loaded with goods from the ferry. 
On the wharf there is a Book exchange, and the Buggy roster detailing who is responsible for driving it.
The island also has a community hall where they shows movies and plays, a bowling club and a kids playground.

Road from the jetty with the wheelbarrows on the side of the road, the gold buggy and passengers

Some of the houses - level, up or down the hill and views from the street. Someone had a tiny covered area for the buggy

There are no private cars on the island (the only utility vehicle on the island can be rented to transport large loads like furniture), there are a couple of private owned buggies, and there is a golf-buggy service available, driven by locals on a designated roster.

A 3km walking track around the island (2-3 hours walk) takes you to the Bradley's Beach, via Grantham Crescent, or to the top of the island, via a small path in Riverview Avenue to Kiparra Park, where you can see rock shelters and art proving Aboriginal habitation. 

On Neotsfield Road we feasted on ripe mulberries while Rainbow Lorikeets also picked on them high above...they didn't even bother to fly away when we arrived.
Not far away a Kookaburra sat on the electricity wires above the road making it's laughing noise.

Mulberry tree on side of the road, my husband's hands after picking fruit, Lorikeets and Kookaburra

Variety of flowers on the island

Art on the island 

Entrance to "The Pavillion", the Bowling club and kids playground  old surfing boards along the street, the fire brigade/ambulance buggy

We didn't walk around the whole island as my husband isn't a keen walker, so on the way back to the ferry we stopped at the Cafe for coffee/hot chocolate and shared a waffle with local berry jam which was delicious.
While we sat enjoying the afternoon sun and the beautiful view of the river, we watched a few people arrive on their private boat with shopping, tie the boat up to the jetty and climb on the buggy for a ride home.

(History and map of the island at the bottom if you wish to read)

Dangar Cafe, views from the esplanade tables and our delicious waffle

Hawkesbury river, post boxes at the Cafe, Wharf swap library


When the ferry docked we hopped back on the ferry, paid our fare and it took off towards Little Wobby Beach one km away, before going on to Brooklyn
Little Wobby is a 1,5km strip of land along the Hawkesbury river, and with no roads in the area access to the properties is by boat only as behind the houses is a cliff.

The area was originally occupied by military forces during the World War II to protect against Japanese invasion through the river. A couple of buildings were erected then to house artillery batteries, and those have been renovated to residences. 
The few buildings there are mainly used as weekenders by people from Sydney. There is no sewage connection, but they have electricity and telephones. 
I was still surprised at some of the 3 level properties and how difficult it must have been to transport building materials, furniture, etc!!

Little Wobby jetty, the houses with the escarpment behind them, the ferry at Brooklyn and pelicans on the poles


It was 5 pm, we hadn't eaten lunch, just the waffle on the island, and we debated if we should have seafood in one of the eateries in Brooklyn or drive to Petersham, 60km away to eat at a Portuguese restaurant. Guess who won?

Crossing the Sydney Harbour bridge on the way to Petersham. Water tower, main street and flowers in Pertersham

An hour later we arrived in Petersham, but the restaurant my husband had wanted to go to was totally booked and they weren't accepting anyone...and it was only just after 6pm!

If you live in Europe you might find it strange that restaurant kitchens close very early in Australia, this one closed at 8 pm!
So we went around the corner and the other Portuguese restaurant was full, but we were told to come back in 30 minutes as they would have a free table.

We had a delicious Portuguese meal of pork, clams, pickles and fried potatoes (Carne de Porco a Alentejana - pork Alentejo style). We shared a favourite dessert - 
Molotof  pudding , a Souffle made with egg whites, sugar and caramel. Very sweet, but it's something we eat once in a blue moon...

As you can see from the photos, the sky was overcast but it wasn't cold. 
Another full day that ended with a great meal, and then it was time to go home, as the next day my husband had to go to work. 
I still had 2 more days to explore Sydney...

Our meal and dessert at Silva's Restaurant where we ate, and Frango (chicken) where we couldn't
 get a table


Aboriginal people - the Guringai or Eora, were the first custodians of the island. 
The first recorded visit by Europeans was in 1788 by Captain Arthur Phillip (first Governor of New South Wales), and the island was named Mullet Island due to the abundance of this fish.
In 1864 the island was sold to Henry Dangar, a Sydney politician for the sum of 76 pounds for 76 acres.
It might have been cheap, but it was isolated and had no access, but he knew that sooner or later the railways would have to bridge the Hawkesbury River and the island was a prime site for construction works.
In 1886, he finally made a substantial return on his investment by leasing the land for 3 years to the Union Bridge Company of New York, for the construction of the Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge.
The area became the busiest construction site in the Southern hemisphere with 300 to 400 workers, mainly from the US, living on the island. They had a social hall, library and school.

The bridge was inaugurated in 1889 and most of the workers returned home. It has since undergone replacement of the entire structure from 1940 to 1946.

With the lease agreement Mr Dangar required that the land be restored after the bridge construction, and a large wooden house was built for Henry and his guests, plus a building called "The Pavillion" which still exists today. The Pavillion is now owned and was restored by historian and author Ann Howard.
During the next 25 years the island was a popular weekend entertainment spot for Henry and his Sydney friends. Henry Dangar died at the age of 86 in 1917, and the land was transferred to his son Reginald, who sold it in 1918 to property developers for 7500 pounds.

In 1921 the developers obtained approval to subdivide the island and the first two plots were sold in 1922.

The first proper ferry service started in 1928 by a Greek migrant, who worked at the guest house on the island, just one of 5 houses then.
With regular transport more people built and by 1931, there were 34 houses on the island, and no more would be built until after the Second World war.
With the threat of a Japanese invasion up the Hawkesbury river, the island became a strategic location for its defence. 
After the end of the war, electricity was connected in 1948 as well as the Post office facilities opened in the general store, water mains in 1971 and garbage collection in 1974, and the island became popular again.
In 1957 the Bowling Club was opened, and the Community Hall opened in 1966.
Nowadays a mix of permanent residents and weekenders enjoy the peace and quiet of this beautiful island just 1 hour away from Sydney.
Dangar Island is home to about 300 residents, and on weekends and during holidays the population rises to 400.
The island still remains a sleepy natural hideaway on the river, but despite it's isolation Sydney's exorbitant price tags have extended to the island's houses too, and you'll need well over 800 thousand dollars to enter this market...

Dangar island map

Ferry timetable (week and weekend)

Monday 29 October 2018

Monday Mural - Dubai Airport

Taken at Dubai Airport in April this year on our return to Perth from Budapest.

If you like murals or have a mural you'd like to post, this meme is for you; 
just follow the Linky steps below.   Be sure to link back to this blog and visit your fellow posters.  Looking forward to your mural finds this week.  Thanks.


Thursday 25 October 2018

Sydney - Day 1 - Beaches, Royals and food


Last Friday I flew to Sydney to spend a few days with my husband (who is working there for a while). 

My flight from Perth airport was meant to leave at 3.30h, but boarding time came and went and passengers weren't getting called, so some of us went to the help desk to find out what was happening.
We were told that the plane coming from the Eastern states was late getting in and that meant that our flight would be getting to Sydney after curfew time, so the flight was being delayed until 11,30pm.  I had not booked the red-eye flight on purpose, it's a little bit cheaper, but at my age it's a killer as I don't get to sleep at all on the 4 hour flight to Sydney.

Some people managed to get onto another flight whose departure was delayed, but I wasn't one of the lucky ones.
People were upset at not being notified, because if the plane was late leaving the Eastern states they would have 3 or 4 hours notice...but we were told sms's or emails had been sent to us. I didn't get any nor did most of the others.
I was offered a $25 meal voucher to be used at the any of the airport eateries on the day. 
Since I don't live far away instead of waiting for 9 hours I decided I was going home and  would later claim taxi expenses from the company.

When I came down from the Departures area one of the flight assistants asked if I needed any help. I told her my flight was delayed and she asked if they had checked me in to the later flight upstairs?  No, not done! She checked me in, suggested I check my hand luggage in and get taxi vouchers at the Help counter down the hall. I joined the long queue and 45 minutes later I obtained 2 taxi vouchers and went home to rest. On the way home I got a text saying the flight was being changed! 
When I returned to the airport at 10pm I used my food voucher.

On departure the pilot apologized for the delay due to a mechanical fault. So that explains why we didn't get notified in time! 
Luckily the flight was half full and most of us had at least 2 seats to stretch, but I still only slept about 3 hours.
My husband picked me up at 7am from Sydney airport and we drove home to drop my bag and refresh myself.


Shortly after we drove to the seaside suburb of Mosman on Sydney's north shore, and parked the car at Balmoral Beach.  When I went to get a parking ticket for the car I was flabbergasted when I saw the hourly price - 9$ per hour!!!
Wow, we are so lucky we don't pay parking on Perth beaches!

Balmoral Beach, the fancy McLaren's parked on the foreshore

Parking paid for, we went to have breakfast at The Boat House, a very cosy seaside cafe.

Nine McLaren's were parked near us, at a cost of upwards of 350,000 each... there must have been an owner's coffee meeting at one of the cafes on the foreshore 😁.

Even though it wasn't that warm (23C) and the water temperature was only (19C) a lot of people were swimming in the netted swimming bay, others surfing, lots of kids playing on the sand or on the playground.

The Boat House, coffee & hot chocolate, boat containers full of plants on the front garden

Before returning to the car we crossed the small bridge onto Rocky Point, a tiny rocky island between the north and south side of the beach.

Back to the seashore and past the white Rotunda. In front of it a bronze statue of "Billy" (1959-1978), a tribute to a loyal dog who during 17 years accompanied his master Cliff Williams (Inky), on his rounds as a city sweeper with the Mosman council during 30 years.

The white rotunda, a wishing well, Balmoral Beach and Rocky island, statue of Billy the dog 
 Rocky Point Island and bridge


Next we drove to the Taronga Zoo area where we found free parking and took some photos of the city across the bay.

Taronga Zoo entrance, Taronga Zoo ferry terminal, the view of the city from the jetty

Back in the car, we drove into Sydney Harbour National Park until we reached Bradley's Head.  At the bottom on the amphitheatre where scenes from Mission Impossible 2 were filmed, a wedding was taking place with lovely views of Sydney harbour. On the other side is the mast of the cruiser HMAS Sydney that took part in World War I.

An unknown (to me) turkey like bird - the Brush Turkey (also known as Scrub or Bush turkey) calmly strutted by. Other birds I saw there were the white cockatoo, the ever present Indian Myna and a Kookaburra.

The HMAS Sydney mast, a wedding taking place on the amphitheater with views of Sydney
A white cockatoo, an Indian myna, a Brush Turkey and a Kookaburra


Our next stop a few kms away was the suburb of Kirribilli, one of Sydney's most affluent neighbourhoods  just 3km north of the CBD.

The suburb is home to Admiralty Housebuilt in 1842 and the official residence of the Governor-General of Australia (Sir Peter Cosgrove) and Kirribilli House, next door, the secondary official residence to  Australia's Prime Ministers (when not at The Lodge in Canberra, the nations capital) and where Commonwealth visitors usually stay.

Kirribilli - Art Deco houses, welcoming British flags, Admiralty House gates and view from the harbour (top and bottom right) (top right photo from net)

Kirribilli Street where the ministerial residences are located was full of policemen and their cars, but we managed to find a parking spot nearby and as we walked down the street to the Beulah street wharf we could already spot views of the Opera House and cityscape on the other side of the bay.

Views from the top of Beulah st wharf
When we reached the wharf there were lots of people with their cameras, some with huge lenses, cardboard cutouts of the royals, people on the balconies, all pointing to the Kirribilli jetty. 
We realized we had arrived just in time to see Prince Harry and Meghan leave the house to get onto a private vessel on the way to Cockatoo Island for the Invictus Games, which were created by Prince Harry in 2014. 
I managed to get a photo from the Royals about to board the vessel. From what I heard from the Royal watchers on the jetty, the Royal couple had waved to them. 

Royal cut-outs, big lenses, houses next to Admiralty house, jetty with royal watchers

I managed to just get the Royal couple almost boarding the vessel. (bottom right photo from Matrix pictures)


We returned to the car, drove under the Harbour Bridge past Wendy's Secret Garden and happened to drive onto a street with small restaurants and businesses.
We found a parking spot and chose the first restaurant as the menu appealed to us - Piato Restaurant at 123 Blues Point road, in McMahons Point.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

A Brazilian waitress brought us the menu and got our orders and I spotted a TV star behind the counter - George Houvardas.
When George delivered our drinks I said hello and mentioned I remembered him from the role he played on "Packed to the Rafters" a much loved TV series, and that I hadn't seen him on TV in a while. 
He said he was now doing some films, and apart from acting he works with his Dad and brothers in the family restaurant too. 
I wanted to ask for a photo with him, but I was a bit shy to ask and felt he was a bit embarrassed at being recognized too.
A lot of the customers seemed to be local and were on first name basis with the family.
Service was good, food was tasty, prices were reasonable, what more can you ask?

Piato Restaurant, Seafood Tagliatelli and Chocolate Fondant with ice cream and berry coulis 

The actor George Houvardas

Northbridge Baths - seawater pool

On the way home at about 5pm we made a detour to Northbridge Baths, as my husband lives nearby and was curious to see what it was. 
There is a netted swimming area with swimming lanes and a boardwalk all around, a shallow area for the kids to swim, some grass and steps to sit on. Just behind is a small waterfall and houses above it.

There was free parking for 4h and the baths are free to use.

The seawater pool is apparently very much loved and well used by the locals, the only worry was the sign that warned against pollution...there are boats just on the other side of the netted area... not sure I would swim there.

And after such a full day of driving around and not having slept much the night of my flight I was exhausted by the time we got home and after a cup of tea and a snack was in bed by 8pm!

Map of our day tour