Tuesday – Shopping & Manly

April 20, 2006 at 11:43 am (Australia, Report)

Tuesday morning was a spot of relaxation for me – I'm sure you could tell by all the photos and reports arriving online. Ann & Samantha went for a spot of shopping instead. They bought shoes and stuff for the wedding, but I think they might have missed out on my cufflinks.

After lunch we took the ferry out to Manly. As ever, we cut the timing just beyond the point of perfection… Sam and I got the man on the ferry door to wait, while Ann had to vault the ticket gates & get shouted at by an Attendent. Ooops. Samantha called her "naughty" for the rest of the day…

Manly is a town on the peninsular that forms the northern barrier for Sydney Harbour (you can certainly feel the increase in the swell as the ferry crosses the narrow opening to the sea), in a narrow & low-lying spot, so has beaches on both the harbour-side and the ocean-side of the land, with a short walk between the two.

One thing I didn't mention about Monday's walk around the Rocks was that we wandered into the oddest department store… called the Galleria. It was full of high-end goods such as Burberry, Cartier etc, that were all being marketed to the Japanese (OK – they could be any of the Asian nationalities, but they *looked* Japanese to me). The signs were all 50:50 English & Japanese, the assistants were overwhelmingly Japanese, and the customers were entirely Japanese, and the line of tour-buses outside had Japanese hanging around sneaking a cigarette. We only used it as a cut-through to get to the next street, but we got such strange looks as we went, and even asked whether we needed help! I don't think I've ever felt so out-of-place, so unexpectedly (in the shadow of the harbour bridge). Anyway, my overwhelming feeling on exiting was that this was trashy tourism for the seriously-well-heeled.

Manly was catering for the opposite end of the universe. In being the closest seaside resort to Sydney, it must be something like Southend is to London. It caters for surfers, and has its share of back-packers doing the service jobs in the shops & cafes. And yet, while it was obviously a seaside resort, it was far less tacky than almost any resort in the UK. And it felt considerably nicer & cleaner to walk around in, less noisy, and with a conspicuous absence of drunk yobs. Perhaps someone has a better place to compare it to in the UK…

I don't want to do a disservice to the surfers or the back-packers here either (or to anyone actually). Everyone here (not just Manly) is extremely friendly. I find it hard to compare to the UK, but I have to both go back in time, and further to the north to find comparisons. There is a lot of pride in the place they live – the town/city as well as the country, as well as more of a recognition towards their place on the planet. Being ECO is a bigger thing here.

The ferry back to Sydney was just as the sun went down – and it goes with great speed here, around 6:30. There were good views of the city skyline appearing around the corner as the ferry sped along, but unfortunately a speeding ferry also brings a speeding wind, so we went to sit at the back, in much calmer conditions. Not so good a view though… and it was pitch black before we'd finished the 30 minute journey.

An early night needed tonight, as tomorrow has a really early start for a tour of the Blue Mountains.

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