Sunday, July 31, 2011

Beauty Point Hike

Beauty Point is the northernmost peninsula of Mosman, and arguably one of the best views of Middle Harbor.  This residential hike is approximately 2km and starts right from our front door! The first half follows Bay st. up up up to Delecta avenue. From there you'll find unmarked steps going down down down to the water where you must ditch any stroller you brought.  It's a short hike from here around the rest of beauty point past a number of tiny natural caves to the spit junction.
Ana exploring sandstone cave, Mosman
The Spit bridge, named for a spit of sand in the water, has parks and marinas on either side. It opens four times a day at regular intervals for tall ships to pass into Sydney Harbor, and has dozens of boats on both sides.  It is a steep incline in either direction to return home, or northbound towards Seaforthe. We are so lucky to have such a picturesque hike right outside our front door.  Both the Mosman free rider and North Sydney cycle route to Manly follow the entire lengthy of 
A literal houseboat parked at Mosman Rowing Club

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Mosman Barracks Hike

One of the first places we intended on visiting in Mosman was the Barracks. Sydney loves to turn old military compounds into parks, and this one is no exceptions. Strategically positioned, it is an ideal spot to pick off incoming ships and submarines.  There are no guard rails or signs as you approach the edge of the ocean cliffs, so be sure to watch little ones closely! There is a main paved trail and nearby tea parlor, as well as a longer rugged side trail for the more intense hikers.  Overall, it makes for a picturesque lunchtime setting and you can't beat the free parking.

Mosman North Head Army Barracks, Watson bay on horizon.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Cremorne Point Park

There are dozens of places you can visit in Sydney from a Circular Quay ferry, and one quick trip is Cremorne point.  This peninsula is walkable to North Sydney, popular with expats, and has beautiful views of Sydney harbor.  There is a park running the circumference of the peninsula where New Years eve spectators gather to watch the fireworks show.  If you time your visit right, you may catch the harbor at low tide and be able to walk straight across to Kirbilli.

When we were applying for apartments, one of of top three choices was a mansionette in Cremorne.  This is a large home that has been sub-developed into four or five apartments. Milson road is lined with them and it is a rare opportunity should something become available.  The 2km stroll along Sydney Harbor is well paved, passes Sirius playground, and ends in the ferry trip back to circular quay.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Shelly Beach & North Head

Shelly Beach is perfect and safe for kids
Sydney as our Backdrop on the 4th of July!
If you are looking for a safe beach for kids to swim in, I can recommend three places. Freshwater beach, Balmoral, and Shelly beach.  Shelly beach happens to be our favorite because of the views, proximity to Ben & Jerry's, and good snorkeling. The beach deservingly gets its name for the pebbly and shelly sand which is not ideal on bare feet. It is also the ending point to one of the nicest sydney boardwalks imho from Manly. It is the only place in Sydney that you can catch glimpses of a wild penguin known as the Fairy Penguin. Since moving to Australia, we have visited shelly beach 5 times, and I've never had trouble parking.

A short hike up from Shelly beach is North Head, a famous whale watching spot that offers amazing ocean cliff views. I didn't realize when we were living in Manly how lucky I was to spot whales offshore. The time of year to spot them is June/July and I hope to take our kayak out there one day to get an up close look. Just a short walk from the Corso at Manly will take you to Fairlight. If you are traveling by ferry, you come out right next to this Bavarian bear. The Phoenix Chinese restaurant and Fairlight sailing club here are both fun eats with quaint harbor views.  The sailing club has live music on the weekends, and several flat TVs to catch a quick game of footy.  Apparently Fairlight beach is a popular spot for sharks, as there are big nets up everywhere. 

Bavarian Bear Matradee
Ana wants to take out the skiff at Sunset

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Rapid Acclimatization

Ana at the Library

The first thing I do when I'm new to a town (or country) is visit the local library.  They are an unlimited resource for new families and I still hold active cards in five previous cities.  When here make sure to ask for a decent map of the area and ask to circle/highlight points of interest and important shopping. Mosman library holds a good but very crowded story hour, has a decent Zine collection, and some wacky furniture.

You will end up with a to-do list a mile long every time you move, but I always find first-day priorities for us reside on obtaining an internet connection, SIM card, and bank account (citibank if you want a US bank). Remember pricing structure are usually different, such as internet here is charged by usage and rent is weekly.  Any bank will take your money in Australia, but you must have 100pts of ID to obtain a credit card.  Lastly, if you have kids be sure to scope out a playground near your house if you want to keep some sanity.

Countess Park, Mosman

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Canberra Day Trip

While everyone was celebrating the 4th of July with fireworks and barbecues, the Backscheiders have been busy exploring Australia's capital city Canberra.  Hope to Parliament and the famous War Memorial, celebrating veterans isn't just a pastime in Australia, it is a way of life.  Anzac day (April 25th) is the biggest holiday of the year to commemorate the 100k soldiers that have given their lives for Australia. Every town has a lawn bowling league (boccie ball) and retired servicemen center that offers free hot meals to those who have served their country.  In general, I feel the respect paid to veterans here would put Americans to shame.  That being said, there are far fewer and between.

Australia War Memorial, Canberra
We took a walk-in tour of the parliament building and saw the argument chamber where current prime minister, Julia Guillard sits.  The entire city was built and planned with the intention of making it the state capital.  Australian government is relatively new with the first prime minister voted in in 1901.  They are still part of the commonwealth of Great Brittain, meaning the queens birthday is a national holiday.  The very modern structure of the parliament house was designed with a lawn on top for protests.