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North of Sydney: Manly

Last weekend was a long weekend for most of us here in Sydney. Monday was Labour Day, and most workers–including Rusty and I–got Monday off! I decided we needed to get out a see a bit more of Sydney. It was another tough weekend for us emotionally here, but I thought a little exercise and a change of scenery would be good for us. I planned a little excursion to a northern suburb of Sydney called Manly.

Manly is circled in red, and I put a blue star over our neighborhood, for some perspective.

First we rode our bikes from home up to the Sydney Opera House.

It’s about a 3.5-mile ride, and we were able to take a protect bike path almost the entire way, which is quite nice!

From the opera house, it was just a short walk along the harbour to the ferry quay.

It was easy enough to board the ferry with our bikes, and we only had to wait in the holding area with these friendly people for a few minutes before the ferry arrived.

The ferry ride in itself was an awesome excursion. We had the most beautiful views of the harbour and surrounding areas.

We arrived at Manly about thirty minutes later. We locked up our bikes outside the ferry terminal, and set out to do some exploring. The first beach we came to–North Steyne Beach–was absolutely packed!

It was a beautiful, sunny, warm spring day, and Manly was a having a jazz festival. The sense of community was heart-warming–it seemed like everyone was out there!

Rusty and I are not big on crowds, so we carried on along the coast, following the coastal path to the southeast.

The next beach we came to was Shelly Beach.

Rusty and I liked Shelly Beach a lot. The water was calm, and there were a number of swimmers out. One side of the beach was lined with rocks and a steep incline to some cliffs.

We spent awhile looking in at things in the water.

When we left Shelly Beach, we continued along the coastal path, which took us up into the woods of the Sydney Harbour National Park and along the cliffs.

On the top of the cliffs, the environment was a bit different. It was definitely drier, and everything was kept short by the winds off the coast.

We found a handful of bizarre plants and flowers that we hadn’t seen anywhere else.

What on earth?

We happened upon a sort of pond on one of the cliffs that some little ducklings in it. Adorable!

From the pond with the ducklings we descended into a grove that had been recently burned.

It was totally bizarre–kind of creepy, but totally fascinating.

When we got out of the forest, we found ourselves on yet another beach, just as the sun was starting to set.

A sign at the entrance to this beach told us that it was a primary nesting ground for penguins and that it was penguin nesting season, but we didn’t see any penguins. Disappointing! We are definitely going to monitor the park’s website and come back when there are penguins, though.

On the way from the burnt grove to the beach we passed through a wooded area that allegedly housed some endangered bandikoots, but we didn’t see any of those either. Also disappointing.

One iconic Australian resident that we did get to see, however, was this guy in the tree.

My first kookaburra sighting!

After I stalked the kookaburra for a bit, it was time to go home. We got our bikes, got back on the ferry, and headed to Sydney. The sunset on the ferry ride back was gorgeous, though hard to capture with just my cell phone camera. I guess you’ll have to come visit us and see it for yourself!

This weekend was pretty tame; we’re just cleaning, shopping, running, and blogging. Next weekend, however, we’re going out of town for the first time! We’re taking our tent and going camping near Wyrrabalong National Park. There’s an ocean swim race at Forresters Beach on Saturday, and the southern part of the national park is supposed to have an excellent whale-watching spot. I can’t wait to show you the pictures!

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About theacademicsabroad

Rusty and Ali are a couple of nerds who moved to Australia to go on adventures. Oh, and work. :)

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