Sunday 28th January 2018
Friday was Australia Day, so this is a holiday weekend, the weather has been sunny, the winds light and seemingly the whole of Sydney, in celebratory mood, has anchored next to us. The sound of partying is all around, the loud beer drinking lads on the brash motor boat in front of us, the excited teenagers leaping from the 8m rock on our left and the screeching kids upset by the bursting of their bright pink, floating flamingo. Paddle boarders and kayakers pass close by, families fish from the wharf and swimmers risk life and limb dodging the dinghies and tinnies that whiz between it all.
Spring Cove Saturday afternoon.
Why, you may ask, knowing it would be even more crowded than last weekend have we chosen to anchor here again. Well sometimes with no particular demands on our time we just need a place to be, a place to stop and past the time until the next errand or adventure. Store beach and the other bays in Spring Cove we know have good holding, are protected from the NE winds and the worst of the harbour chop and have clean water for swimming and our watermaker. The ocean breeze provides a welcome break from the heat and car fumes of the city centre and when the crowds depart, as they reliably do, it’s really rather lovely.
We had spent a few days at the beginning of the week back in the Blackwattle anchorage, using again the safe docks for the dingy and the closeness to all the facilities to top up the fridge and visit the chandlers. Rick successfully serviced the generator, I failed to find a repair for the spare iPad. We took another day to be tourists and walked through the centre of town to the Royal Botanical Gardens.
An enchanting place that despite being surrounded by the bustle of the city is an oasis of calm. The huge specimen trees create a barrier to the traffic noise and the pathways winding between them cleverly lead your eyes away from the tall office blocks to colourful flower beds, spacious areas of green and the blue of the harbour beyond.
Huge fig tree in the Royal botanical gardens
The most dramatic sight was the green wall. A living art work, which at 50m long and 6m high takes 18,000 small plants to fill. Constructed of narrow tilted shelves, each plant pot sits in its prescribed spot, in a intricately choreographed design spelling out the word pollination, the theme of the current display. Just keeping them watered correctly requires over 1000m of pipes and a misting system. The back room of greenhouses providing the mixture of plants all at the right stage of growth must be an exemplar of organisation.
Green wall in The Calyx
Also this week we have, yet again, been touched by the generosity of the people we meet on this trip. First were the couple off Maunie, another British registered yacht, seeing each others blue ensigns we of course got together. They introduced themselves as they dinged past and we invited them over for sundowners. Such is the way with cruisers, having discovered that we were sailing on to Indonesia and South Africa, while they, for work reasons, had taken the decision to ship their yacht home, arrived arms full with valuable charts and a cruising guide to the Indian Ocean.
A few days later we were lucky enough to celebrate Australia Day with a group of Australians. Friends, of friends, of friends in England, Gerry and Carol kindly invited us to join them for lunch at the Manly Skiff Club. We ate, drank and enjoyed lively conversation about everything from the intricacies of night watches to the Australian love of travel, from the politics of Donald Trump to the current controversy of Australia Day itself. Celebrated annually on the 26th January it marks the anniversary of the arrival of the first fleet of British ships in 1788. Promoted as a day to celebrate Australia’s diverse cultures, the indigenous population and those supportive of their cause have begun to label it as Invasion Day and there is a growing movement to change the date.
However looking around us and from the chat at the crowded Skiff Club, as far as we can tell, it is mostly seen as a day at the end of the school holidays for everyone to take a long weekend and enjoy the Australian great outdoors.