Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Long Way to Watsons Bay

Watsons Bay is a great spot in Sydney. Though I’d say it’s a Level 3 tourist zone (beyond Centerpoint Tower and the Opera House, but still in the guide book), it’s relatively peaceful and had a cozy feel to it, at least on the day we went. Imagine a lazy Sunday in the park and by the water. You can take a really quick ferry from Circular Quay, or you could do the almost 8km scenic route.

My mom, two housemates and I train-and-bussed it over to Rose Bay. I had a vague idea of where we needed to go and figured the walk would be self-explanatory from there. We randomly hopped off the bus at the above spot on New South Head Road. We walked through residential streets until we came to the historic Strickland House. Wandering the public grounds lead us to the water and the Hermitage Foreshore path. Perfect.

There we walked across the rocks and collected colorful bits of beach glass, admiring the gorgeous day that developed out of a drizzly morning. The trail followed the shore, but turned out to be more of a bushwalk than I’d expected. Nothing too strenuous, just more dirt and vegetation than the Bondi-Coogee walk.

Soon we reached Nielsen Park, a stunning family beach with crystal clear water, a lush park and rainbow lorikeets in the trees. It was nearly June, but we wanted to dive in. Instead we sat on the concrete steps for ages, watching the little girls at a birthday party splash about.

After Nielsen Park, our walk moved back to the residential streets, which was fine because we loved seeing the beautiful homes in Vaucluse. We weren’t sure if this was the route we were supposed to take, but we kept winding back to the coast, so I suppose it was right. We crossed the bridge over Parsley Bay, then shared a bench for another extended period of time.

Eventually we reached Watsons Bay. We had no idea what would be there — I hadn’t done any research — but we were pleasantly surprised. There was a big open park, restaurants along the wharf, and a trail up to The Gap, which offers extraordinary views south to the city skyline and north to Manly, not to mention the sparklingly cobalt Tasman Sea.

Back at the wharf, we ordered takeaway fish and chips from a place called Doyle’s. We had to finish the meal on the ferry back to Circular Quay, but it was delicious. I later learned Doyle’s is something of an institution at Watsons Bay, and for good reason. Those were the best fish and chips I’ve ever had. My friend Becky later declared it the best meal she had in Sydney, but to be fair, we had just walked nearly five miles and my mom paid for it. Still, I’d say it’s worth the trip...by ferry or by foot.

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