Distractions, reflections

David Ing, at large … Sometimes, my mind wanders

2009/07/05 Manly, North Head, Manly Ferry, King’s Cross

While most people visiting Australia would probably stay in Sydney and take the ferry across the harbour to the north shore, we were already staying in a suburb on the north side.  From the North Ryde station, we rode the CityRail to Chatswood, tranferring at St. Leonards for the 143 bus to Manly.  This put us near the Manly wharf, where we saw children playing on the rock sculpture on the plaza.

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Walking away from the ferry wharf, the pedestrian promenade to the beach is called The Corso.  On a Sunday morning in a Sydney winter, the benches were empty.

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The children’s playground had a few climbing on the equipment.

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Fountains emerging from the sidewalk would be more popular if more children were around.

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After a short stroll, we arrived at Manly Beach, which faces northeast into the Tasman Sea.

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Our sons, feeling the effects of jet lag, were happy to sit on the step and look out to the sea.

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A hardy group of surfers dressed in wet suits were patient waiting for big waves.

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Since I don’t surf, I don’t appreciate why some surfers will pick up a wave while others won’t.

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A few surfers were obviously more skilled than others, riding all the way in to the beach.

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Without summer heat, there wasn’t much of attraction for children to play in the sand.

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We walked back across the Corso and happened to fall behind a group of surfers taking a break.  We browsed in a few shops, and stopped by the supermarket to pick up the makings of a picnic lunch.

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While the intrepid might walk or bike up to North Head, we rode the bus.  I had previously visited the Quarantine Station when I visited Sydney in 2001, and it’s now become a commercial venture that requires reservations in advance.  At the top of the hill, we set up our picnic in North Head section of the Sydney Harbour National Park with a view southwest to central Sydney.

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A little further to the east, South Head marks the other side of the mouth of Sydney Harbour.

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Aside from the view, the other major attraction  in North Head is the National Artillery Museum.  With a modest admission fee for the family, we joined the guided tour.

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The first building started with display of a simple cannon.

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Shells used for coast guns from the 1930s to 1960s were presumably not volatile.

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A Turkish mountain gun made in 1899 was used in World War I.

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This Japanese battalion gun was used in New Guinea in World War II.

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Mortars of this type were first used by the British in 1916, with small changes through the 1960s.

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The Vickers Machine Gun was used in World War II.

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Leaving the first building, the guide led out outside to the memorial.

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This set of displays described the colonial wars.

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Some military units were remembered on the brick walk.

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Protecting Sydney Harbour, cannons aimed out to sea were platforms on this gun base.

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Inside the gun base, the doors for loading area from the storage below were visible.

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Our guide led us down a narrow set of stairs down into the gun base tunnels.

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Racks of mockups of artillery shells are stacked up underground.

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The shells would be hoisted from the tunnel to the surface.

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The rooms were connected by a long series or narrow tunnels where two peoples would not easily pass.

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Periodically, we passed vents that would bring air underground.

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In the electrical room, a running generator would have been deafening.

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The style of the meters tells of an older era of technology.

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We left by a different exit than we had entered.

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Above ground was a triangulator — essentially mirrors at each end of a long tube.

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We entered another shed to see  anti-aircraft-guns.

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Before the age of digital calculators, the Predictor was an analogue mechanical computer that would transmit the position of an aircraft target electrically.

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In Australian slang, a furphy is a rumour or improbable story.  These originated with stories told by drivers of Furphy Water Carts in World War I.

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At the end of our tour, we had a choice of waiting a long time for a bus, or walking partway downhill to the stop by the Quarantine Station.  We opted for the exercise.

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The bus dropped us at the Manly Ferry Terminal.  The interior lobby is busy with shops.

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We arrived in time to directly board the waiting ferry.

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Leaving Manly, the trees of the north shore are a contrast to the urbanism on the south shore.

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The crossing takes about 30 minutes.  As we approached Circular Quay, we passed an old lighthouse in the harbour.

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Ferries pass directly by the Sydney Opera House.

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Docked at Circular Quay, our ferry had the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background.

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To catch another neighbourhood before the sun set, we rode the city rail over to King’s Cross.  Victoria Street is a residential area of large houses with the Butler Stairs leading down.

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Instead of following  the Butler Stairs down to to the working class Woolloomooloo neighbourhood, we continued in the upper level neighbourhood.

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The King’s Cross neighbourhood is known for large houses that have been converted into backpacker hotels.

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A few streets over, Macleay Street is more commercial.

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Circling back towards to the station, Fitzroy Gardens is a large plaza with a bit of greenery.

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The El Alamein Fountain on the plaza commemorates soldiers in World War II Egypt.

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The King’s Cross police station at the edge of the Fitzroy Gardens keeps an eye on the neighbourhood.

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We continued down Darlinghurst Road.  The area still bears some of the history as a red light district.

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Just at sunset on a Sunday night, the area was still relatively quiet.

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If we had been driving westbound up William Street into King’s Cross, we would have seen the landmark Coca-Cola Billboard on the rise.  It’s hard to miss.

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For a real Australian-style burger, Burger Fuel is located under the billboard.

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Diana and I sat at the counter.  An Australian burger is definitely a two-handed affair.

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In the corner, our sons enjoyed the local version of a carnivorous feast.

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From the counter, we could see the well-designed assembly station, with a bun toaster and bags marked for each of the variations.

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The sun had fully set by the time we finished dinner.  We headed back to the train station on Victoria Avenue.

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The escalator down to the train at King’s Cross station still has the wooden treads of another era.

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We had had a long day with a full tour of the north shore, crossing the harbour south for dinner.  To see more of the neighbourhood, we would have to return another day.

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