First a big thank you to Martin Belinda Mila and Theo for making space for us in their distinguished long old house in a Sydney suburb. Our bedroom window is by the frangipani tree.
We arrive at Circular Quay on our first day, through the precipitous Sydney Business district. We get off the bus impatient to see one of the world’s most famous views. Behind us is a wall of skyscrapers. In front is the long building that marks the entrance to the waterway hub of the city and the view.
But just as we make our way through the crowds, a sheet of water drops from the heavens and the brief glimpse we had of the harbour bridge disappears. As soaked tourists and locals squeeze together under the shelter of the ferry wharfs, the curtains are drawn on the outside world.
Driving in Sydney – don’t take the wrong turning you’ll find yourself in a jam on the express way with no means of retracing your steps.
The Magic Flute featured dancers hanging from creepers in the magic forest and Masonic symbols in the temple – and a vertically revolving room in which the singers tumbled. Papegono strolled onto the stage with a six pack of Castlemain XXXX.
To Sydney Botanic gardens to see the bats. They hang like some grotesque fruit on trees that are stripped of foliage. When disturbed there is a cacophony of shrieks and their flight is straight out of a Hammer Horror film.
I really like lime and ginger marmalade.
On Bondi Beach a group of young men as thickly bearded as Ben Gunn sit on the pavement on mats. One gets up and performs a party shuffle that is slow and almost menacing in its apparent playfulness. To hoots of hilarity, he suddenly bends his body and in one sinuous move he rolls onto his back and spins. It is his party piece and it never ceases to delight his friends. At last he jumps up and proffers his cap to imaginary passers by.
There is a pedestrian walkway that takes you from the headland of the Sydney inlet along all the ocean beaches. If you want to watch the surfers the best viewpoint is from the cliffs as you have turned the point so that your eye is in line with the breakers out at sea hundreds of yards from the beach.
Has Doctor Martin tried surfing? He nearly died. “You’ve got to do it from a young age. No-one tells you you’re up on the crest of a wave and there’s a sheer drop down to nothing. They brought a young Englishman in last week; landed on his head; he’s a vegetable now.”
Recent Incidents of dangerous marine life – sign below The Ladies’ Beach at Coogie.
How weird and scarey is Australian wildlife?
The flight to Bali took us over the centre of Austrailia – unremitting emptiness just black lines in the red.
Among the photographs of those 200 burnt alive in the Victoria fires, one face catches my eye: he poses with jaunty hat and cheeky grin, a few beers inside him and ready to yarn, have a crack at the poms, wind up his mates and pull a tipsy sheila. Rest in Peace.