With this being my third time in Sydney, I didn’t need to revisit all the same tourist spots. Although, of course, I still did! I left lots of time in my plans to visit my friend, Sal, who lives in Erina, on the Central Coast north of Sydney. You may already have listened to our podcast on my podcast site, Where on Earth… and if not, click here to open that page.
Getting to Erina couldn’t be easier – I needed to pick up a train from Central Station to Gosford. New South Wales has those stacked double-decker trains, so I settled into the top deck so I could get a good view. Of course, in this – the quiet carriage – there was a man shouting into the phone about how he had been let go from his job. I thought he had enough troubles and I should not do a loud ‘ssshhhh’ to make his day any worse!
Gosford was about 90 minutes from Central Station, but the journey flew by as the scenery switched from suburban to green to water.
There was Sal waiting on the station for me. Really, please do listen to the podcast as Sal’s story of coming to Australia and transforming her life is inspirational.
First stop was some petrol to make sure we could flit around a number of Sal’s favourite beaches. I have a favourite beach, Gyles Quay in County Louth, but at this time of the year, it would freeze the wotnots off a nun!
Was I tempted to run in and get a morning meat pie from 7-11? Not really.
I won’t get all the names of everywhere correct. We did start with a lookout which I think is called the Captain Cook lookout near Avoca.
Gorgeous! Of course, it was very warm so Factor 50 was in play!
The view is simply stunning and you could see for miles and miles.
I thought moody was a good look in this location. It matches the lemon in my tee-shirt.
We met an elderly Chinese couple – he had a few words of English (more than my basic greetings in his language!) and they had me take some pictures for them.
This was the interpretative sign. I have to admit I didn’t read it, but it does have a picture of Captain Cook on it!
We zoomed back to the car and onwards!
Next up was one of Sal’s favourite beaches – Avoca. We nattered about how Avoca is (at least for me, an Irish place name from Co. Wicklow, then taken as the name of the Avoca fashion brand and cafe). If I remember it correctly, Avoca is where the Cumar an dá Uisce or the meeting of the waters (two rivers) takes place. I wondered if there was a ‘meeting of the waters’ here and Sal informed me that a lagoon met with the ocean at just this place. I’m sure that connects the dots!
Although it was a school day, some bathers were out in their sun tents.
Sal produced an astonishing blue hat which threw many of us into the shade! Just what you need for a sunny day!
The rock formations were gorgeous in this location and a perfect place to try out a little photography.
Mind that rock, mate!
Sal rocks her inner Kate Moss.
So beautiful. Along this pathway, the ocean really crashed on the rocks – no wonder they recommend staying within the boundaries/flags where a lifeguard can see you!
This reminds me a bit of the West of Ireland. Except think rain.
Moody mystical musings at the seashore…
I was trying to work out if I could take a shot of the single filament of spider web. Just out of shot was an enormous spider.
Sal spotted that the rock formation in the picture below looked like a Viking longboat. I’m not sure they made it this far, but you never know!
We pretended we were taking a picture of the Surf Rescue vehicle, but we were really taking a picture of the lifeguard. He was almost entirely covered with blonde hair (beard and mop-top).
We had time for one more little climb as the heat hit its peak.
This was in Terrigal, near where we would have lunch and it gave us a little workout to build up an appetite!
This is Sal in explaining mode – that hand does point and she is very eloquent!
We enjoyed taking photographs of the local flora as we went into the Rugby Club for lunch.
Gary (Sal’s husband) met us for a nibble and he picked calamari for lunch, which looked lovely (although I’m not a huge fan of squid). Sal went for some smoked salmon with beets. I did try the salmon and it was good.
I opted for the catch of the day, barramundi (which I really love) with some caper dressing and a side salad (cough, of chips!). Well, potatoes are a vegetable.
After a lovely lunch, Gary was kind enough to let me see inside an Aussie ‘ute’ (or utility vehicle) on our ride home. This one looked like new though he’d had it a couple of years.
Sal and Gary’s house is so spacious and luxurious – this open living is a real feature of Australian life and I like it!
Out in the garden, we saw these ‘fruit salad’ trees – had you ever heard the name (I hadn’t). It’s when two types of fruit are grafted on to the same base – so you could have (say) oranges and lemon. I think one of them, Sal said, was pomelo and lime which is very fancy altogether!
Oh hold on! I took a picture of the other one – it WAS oranges and lemon for making lemonade!
Isn’t that a grand back garden (not overlooked) for two wee ones to enjoy! Dylan and Carys are growing up not only with a loving family, but also the space (and the weather) to enjoy life outside.
I was thrilled to see something of the real Australia – it’s easy to make assumptions based on visiting regional capitals like Melbourne or Darwin. However, it’s in the experience of the everyday that you understand some greater truths about lifestyle – that life in Australia really can be transformative.