Day 5 – Puberty Blues in Sydney

I awoke to the sounds of a door opening and a light switch flicking on and off. “What’s going on?” I mumbled to the siloutte between my bed and the bathroom door. “There’s no power” said Danielle who then proceeded to perform her abolutions in the pitch black bathroom. When she came out she complained that it was hot because the fan wasn’t working anymore due to our lack of the 20th century basic right. What kind of place were we in?
Our concerns began when we first entered our lodgings and saw numerous signs warning us against letting strangers in and keeping alert in regards to security. My next worry was that the window in our room led on to a tin roof which was just a small jump on to the balcony of the room next door. This had prompted us to keep the window closed when we went to sleep, but now we had no choice as it was either be raped, beaten and murdered or die of suffocation. I guess I chose the murder option because in my half zombie state of sleep I opened the window and passed out thinking that perhaps the power outage was some sort of way that the place saved money. I was confident that it would be working again when we woke up.

Danielle had a sleepless night worrying about the power, the window and my lack of concern. The first rule of a thriller or murder mystery is that you turn off the power. We were in the middle of an unfamiliar city, in a dodgy hostel in a dodgy suburb without power and without a gun. Would Keifer Sutherland turn up to get us? When we awoke to find that we had survived the night intact but still couldn’t turn on the tv we debated over who would tell reception. Danielle lost the battle so while I felt sorry for myself for waking up with a sore throat, she went downstairs and let them know our problems. Turns out they had to switch the fuse back on which was in a locked box in the hallway.
Both of us were too weary to complain or ask to be moved so we ate some Krispy Kreme donuts for breakfast and got ready for our beach outing. We had decided to take a Saturday drive along the southern coasts of Sydney to check out their beaches. I didn’t take my swimmers as I was swallowing razors down my throat and didn’t feel much like getting wet. Danielle was smart enough to take hers though.

We took a nice sedate drive from Newtown to La Perouse via the airport. It’s almost like driving in Grand Theft Auto because you go under runways while planes are landing overhead. Right next to the airport there must be some excellent fishing as there were a lot of cars parked along the side of the road. I would have liked to stop to take photos but we were on the wrong side of the road.

La Perouse is the place where we pulled out a briefcase and listened to our plans for the day. Our mission, should we choose to accept it, is to walk over a small bridge in Botany Bay to check out the place where Mission Impossible 2 was filmed. You know, the place that was a lab that looked like a bit of a bunker? It’s called Bare Island Fortification. You aren’t allowed any further than the gate, but there is a lot to look at with all the divers splashing around either side of the bridge, the planes landing in the distance and the small family oriented beach with little waves. Seems like Sydney’s B-Grade actors haven’t figured out that filming is over because Danielle spotted one all dolled up in dive gear as we walked back to the car. On the hill there is a lighthouse that was being guarded by a tiny white dog. I suspect it was actually a spy in disguise who was on to our plans to enter the bunker. We left the spy and singing ice cream vans and headed to our next destination.

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Somewhere between La Perouse and Maroubra is a desolate suburban wasteland that was the home to Danielle for 2 months in the late 90s. She wanted to stop in and have a look at her old unit to see how much things had changed. She had settled on the spot as it was the cheapest thing her and her 2 friends could afford at the time. The place looked alright, but I can understand Danielle’s dissatisfaction with the place as it is so far from anything – especially for someone without a car. A lot has to be said for inner city living.
We cruised quickly through Maroubra as there wasn’t anything that caught our eye. Maybe if we had surfboards attached to the Merc it may have been more appealing, but we’re the sedate non surf chick types and didn’t want to relive the Puberty Blues type scenarios of the 70s. The only chicko rolls we were going to fetch were for ourselves, not the boys with the boards.

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A few curvy coastline views later and we hit busy Coogee Beach. Coogee is blessed with a fair bit of history and 3 wave pools. One is free and right on the beach, one is $3 on the rocks and smack bang in the middle is the 20 cent womens only beach. After struggling to find a carpark we managed to make a bee-line for the middle one to partake in an exclusive bathing experience.

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Coogee womens only baths is one of the most devine swimming baths ever created and not just for the fact that there are topless women bathing. The wave pool is crystal clear blue water filtered by the sea’s own waves. The rocks around it provide ample space for sunbathing or just gazing at the sea or Coogee Beach. It was here that I regretted my decision to not bring my togs and watched jealously as Danielle headed down to the pool for a swim. I stood up the top watching the waves, the beach, the women and the pool wishing I could be a participant instead of a watcher. I wanted to take lots of pictures of the place but only ended up with 3 for fear of being escorted from the place due to invading peoples privacy. So alas, you won’t get to see any naked booby pictures. 🙂

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Sadly and regretfully we said goodbye to the pool and wandered down to the beach to fill our bellies. At the end of the beach is a lovely domed shape building that used to be an Aquarium in the early 1900s but is now a modern shopping complex. Coogee Beach also had a jetty that was ruined some storms around the 1940s or something. The intent was to have a sort of Santa Monica pier or Blackpool type amusement park but nature decided it wasn’t on. They also strung a shark net off the pier on one side, so everyone ended up squeezing in there and leaving the other side of the beach empty. Bit of a waste don’t you think?
These days the place is looking like it is overcoming a bit of a lull. There is still old hostels running down near the beach but there are also brand new 5 star hotels casting ominous shadows. Eventually those old hostels will be sold for millions of dollars and replaced with new same old same old franchises. Coogee is a definite “must go back” destination.

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Onwards to the most well known beach in Australia – Bondi. $4.50 an hour parking, huge crowds and tourists in your face make for a bad first impression. After hearing Danielle talk about wanting to see Bondi since we first came up with the trip idea, I was surprised when she didn’t want to stop. I parked the car and cracked the shits when she said this and told her I was paying for parking and going regardless of whether she wanted to or not. Cracking the shits just involved locking the car and walking briskly ahead of her for a few minutes to calm down. This was our first and only real argument of the entire journey – truly impressive.

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Taking a quick glance at the beach to make sure it looked exactly like it did in “The Block” we crossed the road and checked out the shops. Although we had just eaten Danielle was hypnotised by a dessert window and couldn’t pass without making a purchase. Chocolate mousse with cream inside was her choice while I just had coffee. The american waitress who served us was impressive with her eye contact and prompt attention to our needs but she wasn’t good enough to distract us from the bitches she worked with. They were judgemental twits to the customers that they served and we were close enough to watch their antics with scorn. They also chucked a tanty when we paid with lots of coin but they deserved it the silly wenches.

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By then our $4.50 parking ticket was nearly up so we took our car and hightailed it out of there. Bondi was a big let down after the brilliance of Coogee. Continuing along the coast we came across a huge reserve nestled between some of the most expensive houses in Sydney. The houses were expensive due to the impressive views of the CBD but we saw it for free from the reserve. I guess it’s not a secret though because there is a designated bus park and a load of japanese people came and took photos while we were there. It’s just this big piece of bare land with a few trees and some cheapo swings. In the distance we could see some clouds in the south forming.

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The Gap is the scene of many a Sydney suicide as it’s large cliffs above rocks ensure that you won’t get a chance to change your mind. Filled with tourists flocking to see the views of the Harbour entry combined with the CBD view it’s one of the most picturesque places in the city. It was here that Danielle paused to reflect on the journey so far while I tramped up and down the cliffs to get pictures of the storm going on in the west. Just as I was heading back these huge droplets started invading my space but we made it to the car just before the downpour started. The radio told us it was hailing in the west but driving back to Newtown through Bondi Junction and Randwick the rain felt pretty bloody hard. I was praying that it didn’t hail on my mothers car in between concentrating on navigating the rivers that had suddenly formed on the roads. I’m not exaggerating – it was almost like a flash flood!

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Randwick was the site where Danielle and I harnessed the ghosts of the bondi bitches. Sitting smugly in our dry car we spotted a poor girl huddled up on her haunches on a bus seat with a clear raincoat on her head. She looked so miserable I asked Danielle to take a picture and when the flash went off she almost snarled at us. It was like she was thinking “I’m at my lowest point right now and you bitches had to take a picture of it”. As we drove off I gave her a smile and a wave and left her to her own devices. We then had a massive case of the guilts as we realised we should have offered her a lift but luckily the rain subsided not long after that. She got her own back as the picture didn’t turn out because it was taken through the window with a flash. We have a lovely raindrops photo though. 🙂

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After chilling for a while listening to the rain in our now powerful room we headed out to eat Mexican at the restaurant down the road. We started of with this non-alchoholic chilli shot drink that was brilliant! Both of us got tacos while I had a corona then we trudged tiredly back to the rooms to vegetate in front of “Black Hawk Down”. I thought it was a movie about an ex Australian prime minister who drinks too much guiness one night and passes out, but apparently it’s a film that gave Eric Bana his big break to go and make “The Hulk”. Switching it off started a 3 hour marathon conversation and we finally fell asleep around midnight/one o’clock. Unfortunately it was the end of the running away part of the journey and the beginning of the return home.
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