Australia, Day Eight
Posted by hyperpat on October 17, 2008
Another early morning to get back on the plane for yet another flight, returning to Sydney. At this point, we were beyond the tour package and on the part of the trip I’d planned myself. Getting to the hotel from the airport this time was actually a bit easier and faster than when we’d arrived, even though we were the last stop of the shuttle bus. We checked in to the hotel and once more headed for the train station to complete my planned look at my old homestead. This time the sun was shining and we had no pressing engagement, so we took it easy, noticing for the first time the statue just before the Town Hall train station:
Going down to the station itself, we took the other entrance from George street, which actually leads down to all the shops underneath it. As we were really just looking for the station platform, we didn’t pay much attention to the shops, but merrily walked along, until we finally realized we were heading the wrong way, having made a left instead of a right when we reached the entrance point. We got straightened around and headed down to wait for the train:
This time we got off at the Miranda station. One oddity that we noticed about the train system here is that while the stations in Sydney have the typical turnstiles that won’t allow you in or out without a ticket, this is not true for the outlying train stops such as Miranda or Cronulla. It looked to me like it would be possible to just board the train at Miranda and get off at Cronulla without paying anything, and we never saw anyone coming around to check tickets either on the trains or at these stations.
Smart me, this time I’d actually looked up the way to go from the train station to my old house on the net earlier, so unlike our first trip to this area we didn’t get lost, heading immediately down Kiora Street till we reached President’s Ave:
Back when I was here in 1954-55, this street was just a small two lane affair. As you can see, they’ve made some upgrades since. Also note the steep dip here, as the road goes down to the Ewey Creek declivity (part of the Hacking River catchment complex). This is now is a poor cousin to what it was when I was last here, with barely any water flow at all:
About halfway up the rise from Ewey Creek, we got to the Matson Crescent road and headed down it. Once again, changes are strongly evident, as the homes here are now definitely upper class as opposed to the simple affairs then, with most being of brick rather than wood construction, and there’s a lot more of them:
We finally reach 54 Matson Crescent, my old home address. What’s there now is a very pretty well kept home, and as we came up to the place, the owner came out, naturally curious as to what a couple of people were doing there madly snapping pictures:
I told him that I’d used to live there fifty years ago, and he graciously consented to let us go into his back yard for a look around. He told us that the house I’d lived in had been a little further down the slope to the bay and had been torn down about 1960 and replaced with the current structure. What’s there now is just a little boathouse:
The view from his backyard is still spectacular, looking directly across Yowie bay to the other peninsula. Back when I was here, the other side of the bay was just forest, no buildings, and can remember one enforced period of idleness due to an infected knee when I would look from the living room towards that side, with the occasional boat trundling up the bay.
At the extreme left of the above picture is the area where I used to go swimming, the Yowie Bay Baths. A little more on this later.
As you can see from the picture below (look at the area just behind the house), nowadays the bay pretty much turns into a mud flat just north of the house. This has been caused by a lot of silting and reduced water flow from things like the Hacking River over the last twenty years or so, and is a continuing problem. Some of houses further up Matson Crescent have their boat jetties sticking out into nothing but mud where there used to be four to five feet of water:
Leaving our very nice host, we continued on up Matson Crescent towards the Camellia Gardens and Kareena Park. The road here goes up a little bit from the house, and then downward towards where the Yowie Bay Baths used to be. I have a very vivid memory of being carried up this little rise by one of the teenage girls who had pushed me into the pool there and slicing my foot on the barnacles that covered the steps/pool side at point. I still have about a three inch scar on my foot from that incident, to go along with the scar my brother Mike picked up in that same pool by swimming underwater with his eyes closed till he ran into the enclosing fence:
We finally got to Camellia Gardens, which I don’t believe existed when I was there earlier. They’ve created a very nice park area, with a little dammed up pond that ducks and ibis birds seem to like:
I headed down to extreme edge of the park to reach the bay. Here the silting of bay is really obvious. I looked for some evidence of the old pool, but it’s just not there anymore (it would have been just beyond the little jetty in the photo below):
This is a google map of the area. Where the old pool was is just at the left edge of and at the very beginning of the mud plain near the center of the map. 54 Matson Crescent is the red-roofed house at the extreme left edge next to the mud/water. Kareena Park is on the right hand side, and where the above photo was taken from is at the southernmost treed point at the end of mud inlet. This former pool area is now referred to as the Yowie Bay Old Baths Reserve.
This is a street map of the area, as posted on a large billboard at the train station.
Here’s the type of barnacles that caused our family so much pain:
We left the park and headed up Kareena Street back to Presidents Avenue, completing the entire circuit. Heading back on Presidents, we deliberately took the little pedestrian path by the Ewey Creek to avoid having to go all the way down and back up that dip. On the map above it shows as leading into Kirkby Place. Once again, this area has had big changes. Back in 1955, this walkway was just a little dirt path worn through the underbrush mainly by kids heading up towards the train station. I can remember at least a couple of times when I and my two brothers walked along here on the edge of the steep drop towards the river. Now its nice asphalt with all the underbrush carefully cleared away from the sides.
Completing our little hike, we headed back to Sydney, and spent the rest of the afternoon in one last souvenir and gift buying spree. Some of what we picked up:
For dinner that night we went out to Kingsley’s Australian Steak house on Market Street. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a menu with that many different kinds of steak listed – over 20 of them, and what I eventually ordered was extremely good. For a rarity, as we almost never do so, we also ordered wine with this dinner, an Australian Shiraz, which surprised me as a red wine without that tannin undertaste typical of red wines, and with an excellent bouquet reminiscent of blackberry with a strong fruity taste.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and that was now true for this trip. We had the luxury of sleeping in a bit the next morning, as our plane departure wasn’t till 2:45 PM, but eventually we sadly packed ourselves up and bid farewell.
Looking back over this trip, it now seems apparent that we tried to pack a little too much into it, that we were almost always on the go seeing this or that, with too little time to just sit back and enjoy what we were seeing. On top of this, we barely scratched the surface of all the places and things to see in Australia, not even touching Melbourne, Tasmania, the outback, Ayers Rock, Alice Springs, Brisbane, Darwin, the Gold Coast, any sheep or cattle stations, the intercontinental train ride, the list goes on and on. Of course the major reason for trying to pack so much into so few days is money, as every day there cost us about $300, but after this taste of the country and with so much left to see we have started planning for another, longer trip, hopefully not too far in the future.
I will say that just about every Australian we met there was polite, friendly, and helpful, and while I may have kvetched a bit about the food prices, I think we got great value for our money and time. It’s a beautiful country, one that recognizes the importance of preserving it great natural wonders and historical sites, and while certain places have certainly set themselves up to service the tourist trade, they don’t appear to be over-commercialized and chintzy, like too many attractions in the US.