Cronulla

Cronulla ocean pool

I wanted to get in another “Greek swim” before coming back to London and so we got on the Illawarra train line all the way south to Cronulla. It’s a long way from where the folks live but we’d never been and thought we should get out of our comfort zone. Cronulla is the only one of Sydney’s beachside suburbs where the train runs all the way to the beach.

We were delighted to find a really lovely and local beach. It’s charm comes from it’s laid back-ness and there are few tourists. And there are two ocean pools! I love Sydney’s ocean pools because you can swim safely on the edge of the sea, with a wonderful view. I’ve never seen pools like these anywhere else.

When we had enough of the sun and sea, we went to get iced lattes at Grind, a quirky coffee shop that has been serving the area for over a decade … and a big wall of photos of their patrons saying “I’d rather be at Grind”.

~ Spotted Cow

Cronulla main beachCronulla sea view Girls on the edgeI'd rather be at Grindiced chai latte

“Greek” swim

Coogee beach

One of our favourite Sydney walks is the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk up the eastern city beaches. It’s an easy walk, the views are amazing, and there is a choice of beaches and cafes to stop off at along the way.

This trip, I did the walk with my beautiful Greek-Australian friend, M. We had a lot to catch up on and we started from the Coogee end – first with a mid-morning coffee and juice – with a view to finishing with a drink from the bar at the Bondi Icebergs at the other end.

The walk takes about 2 hours, and we broke it up with a stop at Bronte beach where I notched up my first swim of 2015. When I say swim, I mean a “Greek” swim, as M calls it. I wade into the sea up to my waist and when the waves come, I jump with them. There is no actual swimming in the technical sense!

~ Spotted Cow

Boats on the beach Bondi to Coogee walk Swimming coveBondi Icebergs and Bondi Beach

Dead Sea mud

Did you know that the Dead Sea is landlocked? It is a lake, and also the deepest hypersaline lake in the world.  On the shoreline, you’re sub-sea at 393m below sea level.

We did what you would expect, which is jump in the sea and try to swim … but the salinity makes you just bob along.  Don’t fight it. Get one of your friends to pose for the classic picture where they’re floating about reading the newspaper.  We forgot to do that and the beach was steep and a bit of a faff to get out again.  I took my one floaty picture of a random swimmer and jumped in.

Afterward we smeared our bodies with handfuls of therapeutic Dead Sea mud from large buckets sitting on the beach.  I’m sure it was someone’s idea of a joke. It’s a demon and a half washing the dried mud off !

~ Spotted Cow

Dead Sea mud Dead Sea shores Dead Sea floater  Dead Sea salt

Weekly Photo Challenge: Abandoned

Barmedman mineral pool. We were lured by the regional tourist brochure describing its therapeutic waters fed by mineral-rich underground streams.  In the dead heat of a spring day in country New South Wales (ie October), we took a 35km detour from West Wyalong and headed for that cool dip in Barmedman (pop. <300). We pictured lovely swimming, cold drinks and a picnic among the lush green banks.  When we arrived, we found the gate open, an abandoned pool with no water, and a sign saying they’re back in the summer ! What’s up with that ?!

Barmedman, New South Wales, Australia

~ Spotted Cow

Barmedman mineral pool

In the slipstream of the President

President Obama was in Hawaii at the same time as us. Alright, so we didn’t hang out with America’s most famous Hawaiian, but we did visit Hanauma Bay several days after he and his family snorkelled there.

The reef is in shallow water and you can see the marine life easily. It was like watching an underwater circus, with shoals of fish weaving back and forth. The offset is that you have to be very careful about not destroying the coral. There is an information hut with snorkel hire.  It also had several big boards with pictures of sea life so that we could identify the sea slugs and the butterflyfish underwater. Or even the humuhumunukunukuapua’a, the reef triggerfish which is Hawaii’s state fish. Bit of a mouthful.

~ Spotted Cow

 Hanauma BaysnorkellingFish chartView of Koko Crater from Hanauma Bay

Bondi Icebergs

This being Australia Day, I thought I’d take a walk through the archives and look for something quintessentially Australian. Something from Sydney.  My folks and the rest of the cows live in Sydney and every other year I go back to hang out with them as well as play tourist, albeit a familiar tourist.

I’ve chosen the Bondi Icebergs Club, which is a saltwater swimming pool down the road from Bondi Beach. Back in the day, it started out as a winter swimming club so that lifesavers could stay fit in the colder months.

I used to be an avid swimmer but I think I’ve been swimming there only once and I remember that the water was freezing.  It took ages for me to get started on laps because I was standing on the side, not wanting to get in. They don’t heat the pool and I’m particularly chicken about cold water.

I have, however, had lunch on the balcony from their bistro menu. It was a far more agreeable experience – eating and drinking with friends, taking in the ocean view, and watching the lap swimmers do their thing. The Bondi Icebergs website says that 82 whales have been seen from deck. I’m hoping I spy one next time.

~ Spotted Cow

Bondi Icebergs Club