Visiting the Northern Beaches: Curl Curl, Avalon and Palm Beach

Day 21 ::: Monday 25th September, 2000

Well, the weather remained gloomy when we woke this morning. We said our goodbyes to Wendy who was off to work and would not be back in time to see us off at the airport. It was probably the last time that we would see her at all, as she had opted for taking a permanent job offer in Melbourne over staying in Sydney with Andy. Sad really, and particularly sad to hear it today, our final day in a gloomy, overcast Sydney.

We headed down Campbell Parade one last time to get some final souvenirs and also a breakfast at Gabby's café. Andy had taken the day off work to make sure that we got to the airport OK and generally to spend the day milling around with us doing whatever we decided upon.

The Northern Beaches

Although the weather was poor, we opted to go for a drive up to the north head where Manly beach begins the succession of beaches that, so far, we had not investigated. The beaches here had some great names including Dee Why, Curl Curl and Avalon (which was the beach that almost became host to Baywatch). The further we travelled, the fewer people we found on the beaches - admittedly, it wasn't really bathing weather, but it just showed that there are some fantastic places that are largely untapped because they not quite so convenient to get to. The surfers were still out in small numbers at each one though.

Sitting on a windy Palm Beach

Our final stop was the northernmost beach - Palm Beach, otherwise known as 'that one they film Home & Away on'. Not being a fan of the programme, I couldn't recognise it as such. No cameras here today, either - we appeared to be the only people on the beach. We had lunch in a café/restaurant next to the beach which was next to a gift shop that sold a variety of Home & Away merchandise. I guess fans of the programme might consider this a kind of pilgrimage!

We had gone as far north as we could without heading back inland and around another bay (Broken Bay), so we turned round and headed back to base, crossing over the Harbour Bridge as we reached the city centre.

Goodbye to the mad Kiwi

Time was rapidly running out now. With everything packed and ready, we loaded up Winnie then said a fond farewell to the flat, Bondi Beach and its many eateries before heading off to see Philby. He had said he would like to see us off at the airport, but first we had to track him down somewhere in Botany Bay. When we arrived at the address given to us, the person who eventually answered the door didn't appear to know who we were after. Like I said before, you can live in the same house as him and not see Philby for months! Philby's face appeared over the vacant looking man's shoulder and he asked us to come in.

We didn't stay long - Philby was nervous about an exhibition of his mobiles that he needed to do some work for. Either that or he was just stoned (a fair bet, actually), but the upshot was that he wouldn't be coming along with us. We said our farewells then grabbed a quick photo for the record. I believe this was the last known sighting of Philby - he's done another disappearing act, and his mobile number is dead again, so we wait to hear from Andy when and where Philby next resurfaces! As we drove away I spotted a figure that I recognised immediately - it was La Bolla crossing the road in front of us!

Wendy did see us off at the airport after all - Andy picked her up from her work place as we headed to Kingsford Smith Airport. As far as exits go, this was a strange one - our flight was due to board at about the time that Cathy Freeman was due to run the 400m. To say that Australia had high expectations would be a massive understatement. It was such an event that as we waited to check in, the check in staff actually shut up shop to watch the race take place, as did much of the airport it seems. It was probably like this throughout Australia. Freeman won, people cheered then the airport crew got back to work with a spring in their step.

For us though, the spring had all but gone now, and any that we did have was soon to be sapped by almost 30 hours of travelling and waiting as we went from Sydney to Melbourne, then to Singapore, then Abu Dhabi and finally London. Couldn't Andy have chosen somewhere nearer to live, I ask you?