One Man and His Dog…and his Board and his Boy

Secret Water has gone Aotearoa. The land of the long white cloud lived up to its name last saturday as we drove down into Matauri Bay, with mist shrouding the islands and hardly a soul on the beach, just the way I like it. We were greeted by a very bouncy friendly dog who we realised was waiting on the beach for his master who was giving his little boy a surfing lesson. A really heart warming sight, especially when the boy caught a great wave and stood up all the way into the shore.

One eye on the waves

Father to Son

Happy Dog

Are you sure that's safe?

Home in time for lunch

Come on Down Beach Babies!

Happy Days

The big wet is back, Sydney is drenched and dams are overflowing. In between showers though we enjoyed a gorgeous stretch of late spring sunshine last week so we made the most of it and headed to one of our favourite spots in the shire .

My father in law has asked me not to tell everyone about this little gem but since my readership is, well let’s say still in its “growth” phase (Hi Pete!),  I don’t think we need to worry too much about the hoards descending. The place in question is the sand flats at Grays Point, just round the bend in the river from Swallow Rock boat ramp, only accessible at low tide.

There is no amenity block, kiosk, tap water etc. and limited parking. The sand is also not everyone’s liking; nice on top but slightly muddy, sulphurous and a bit pongy at times underneath.  Not the usual clean golden stuff that people like to let their toddlers loose in. Tess also cut herself on some oysters last year and if you stay too late you will get molested by swarms of sand flies.

So all in all you might be wondering why on earth I took the children down there for a picnic last Thursday. Well quite simply because all of the above combine to generally grant us the entire place to ourselves save a few a few bait diggers, fishermen and dog walkers for Ruby to terrorise. More importantly we get to share it with the odd heron, jumping fish, baby mud crabs,  and if we’re lucky a pair of soaring sea eagles on their way back to the nest. Raucous cockatoos squawking in the National Park across the water and the reflection of the sunlight on red gum bark and sandstone rocks complete my selfish little picture.

I also like to take the children there as an alternative to the picture perfect golden sands and concrete sidewalks of the city beaches and live a little on the wild side.

So now that I’ve convinced you how awful it is…hopefully I won’t see you there!

Art by the Ocean

Take a look chook

Last Friday, after several years of missing out, I made it to the Sculpture by the Sea exhibition, an annual event staged on the Bondi to Tamarama coastal walk. If you also made it there yourself this year then you’ll have experienced the real deal, but for those of you who didn’t get a chance to take a stroll, here are some snaps of the ones I got to see. They are mostly from the Tamarama end of the walk as I went on the last and only sunny weekday of the exhibition and struggled to get through the throng with the pram. I was thanking my lucky stars I didn’t bring the dog as she would have surely been arrested by a Waverley warden for boisterous behaviour given the number of four legged designer dusters out and about.  Next year I have vowed to go at the crack of dawn, finish with a breakfast picnic and then get the hell out!

Anyway, on with the show. Apologies in advance if my commentary on any of the pieces causes offence or exposes my amateur eye for art. Enjoy.

This was the first one I looked at. I love it. So simple and in memory of the indentical rusty one I just threw out,  I might stick this on the wall in the kitchen!

What a Grate Piece!

This one was like an item of clothing I’d normally walk straight past. On second glance though I had to admire the genius in this one. The sheer complexity and attention to detail is mind boggling. All made from discarded bottle tops and a stark reminder of the awful trail of rubbish we leave in our beautiful ocean.

Sea Slug


Cable Tie-tastic

Another favourite were these clusters of sea urchin, barnacle sort of things. I couldn’t help wondering if the artist had been inspired by the local coastal flora close by or was it just a coincidence? In fact all the way along I kept seeing art mimicking nature.



Pretty in Pink


If the panel van’s a rockin….. know the rest

The invention of Goretex obviously passed this guy by completely…..

Sweaty Betty

I absolutely love this one. Made of sand. Real talent. Looks just like the real thing but bigger.

Fab Crab

Can someone please explain this one to me? I just dont get it.

The lights are on but nobody's home

I reckon this one would get the people’s choice award. I love the tail feathers and the eggs inside. Reminds me of one of those ceramic chooks you keep your eggs in, in the kitchen. Always wanted one of those… 

Take a look chook

Take another look chook

Not sure if you can pick out this aboriginal rock carving in the photo, but clearly Waverley Council weren’t the first ones to think of staging an exhibition on the clifftops.

The original sculpture by the sea

And I have to say, isn’t mother nature the most talented sculptor of all?

Touched by the sea

Here’s the rest in a gallery….

They Breed Them Tough in St George

And if the recent Dragons win over the eastern suburbs Roosters wasn’t proof enough, take a look at this snapshot of family fun that I captured down at George’s River on the weekend.  Now I’ve seen this done with dogs to really tire them out,  but to see the same technique used on kids made my heart sing. We had a bit of a cold snap in Sydney on the weekend, and most people who had dipped a toe in the week before would have thought twice this weekend. But down on the beach not far from the skiff club was a father with a cricket bat and a tennis ball playing a game of fetch in the river with his two young sons neither of whom were wearing a wetsuit, and were having so much fun they were completely oblivious to the wind chill factor.

Go Fetch

Those of you reading this in cooler climes are probably thinking “big deal” but temperatures are all relative and we get some pretty chilly southern ocean currents off the South East Coast of Australia.

Anyway, it was nice to see heaps of families out with their kids on a blustery cold day doing busy things and generally soaking up the outdoors…bring on spring.

Losing Myself in The Brighton Le Sands of Time….

The dune...where land meets sea

When Secret Water was kicked off back in January this year one of my aims was to stay motivated to get in, on and around the water with my family. The arrival of baby Harriet, as expected, has curtailed our adventures somewhat, as newborn babies, winter weather and tinnies are a slightly unrealistic combination. Harriet has been out and about though and we have been reminded yet again what an amazing city Sydney is if you have a love of the outdoors and the water. There are so many accessible options for getting your family into the fresh air and near the briny without a tinny, a backpack or a GPS but that still leave you feeling you have had some respite from urbanity.


Compared to the ocean beaches of the Eastern and Northern suburbs, Brighton Le Sands and Botany Bay at first seemed a little bit concrete and subject to too much passing traffic for my liking. However, on a windy Sunday last week, inspired by 52 suburbs, a blog that goes in search of “beauty in the burbs” on a weekly basis, I decided to take a closer look. 

On closer inspection...

I have often secretly wished I was born about fifty years ago and whilst spending a few hours down by the board walk near the kiosk in the old bathing pavilion it wasn’t hard to imagine what the suburb was like a few decades ago…all dunes and weatherboards. Walking rather than just driving through on the way to the Shire, showed Brighton to be bursting with character, good coffee and a safe beach for children to play and swim.

Happy Feet

The walk back via Ramsgate required several stops for babycino and took a long time with a toddler in tow but was worth it for the peaceful walk back through the Hawthorne Street Nature Area.

Nature Walk

This is a beautiful patch of bushland which is apparently one of the few remaining pockets of Kurnell Dune Forest and home to the endangered mouse eared fishing bat. Walking through this little haven it then occurred to me that this is what the area was really like way back when. Heres the rest….

Grays Point to Jibbon Beach: Autumn Days on Port Hacking

Tinny Track to Jibbon Beach

A clearing fog, steam powered chugger, dolphins splashing off Jibbon beach and little boys fishing from the wharfs dotted along the river bank. Just picture it. Well actually you’ll have to because a combination of wriggling toddler, unsympathetic tinny skipper, technical camera problems and having the agility that comes with being  seven months pregnant meant I hardly captured any of it on camera. By the time we got to Jibbon beach the camera was actually confiscated from me due to the ridiculousness of my predicament and the general angst it was causing on board. Imagine the chaos if Rhubarb had been in attendance?

When we got to Jibbon beach my frustration evapourated. What a stunning spot to pull up for morning tea and a dig around in the sand.

Jibbon Beach

No sooner had we laid eyes on the beach and started assessing how to land, I spotted some activity in the water beyond an anchored dive boat; dolphins! I’ve seen my fair share of dolphins on races and deliveries and the thrill of getting close to them never goes away. This time though the thrill was taken to a level I haven’t experienced before. Sharing the moment with your two year old daughter for the first time and who has so far only seen dolphins in story books, was simply magic. I wish I could have bottled the excitement. Of course the confiscated camera was immediately reclaimed but I’m afraid the shots I managed are, at best, just evidence of what we saw, along with a vast number of snaps of splashes and ripples where dolphins had been.

Spot the fin

And a nose....?

Absolute Proof!

The pod of dolphins soon departed and we headed back toward the beach to attempt to land. However not long after we pulled up we realised that the small surge would actually make landing the tinny a bit tricky with the current capabilities of the crew on board so we set the anchor, cracked open the thermos and put the camera away. A happy hour was then spent soaking up the autumn sun.

Useful information and activities

  • Jibbon beach is part of a number of Royal National Park bush walks and makes a great spot for a picnic a swim or as a stop off on the way to surf Jibbon bombora.
  •  The water is very clear (listed on NSW parks and wildlife as the cleanest beach in Port hacking complying with 100% of bacterial indicators) and so is perfect for snorkeling.
  • On May 15th Parks and Wildlife are running a discovery activity “Jibbon Headland and Rock Engraving”. Join an Aboriginal Discovery ranger and take a leisurely stroll along Jibbon Beach to the rock engravings at Jibbon Point, hear why this site is important to the Aboriginal people. For more info click on the link below.

Getting to Jibbon Beach

  • We took the tinny from Swallow Rock Boat ramp at Grays Point, a distance of about 2.5 nautical miles.  If you’d like the navionics track file please drop me an email. I still haven’t managed to upload the file type to the blog yet!
  • You can drive to Bundeena (about a 1 hour and 15 minute trip from Sydney CBD) and then walk along to the beach from the ferry wharf. There are also numerous bush walking tracks that lead to Bundeena including the Jibbon Beach Loop
  • You can also reach Bundeena by ferry from Cronulla (and Cronulla via train on the Illawarra line)

Useful Links

Google Map of Jibbon Beach

Great Information on walking the Jibbon Loop Track from Wild Walks

Swallow Rock Boat Ramp

Cronulla Ferry Time Table

Jibbon Headland and Rock Engraving Discovery Activity (scroll down)

Sandy Bay: A Little Slice of Doggie Heaven

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Gordons Bay; A Little Gem in The Eastern Suburbs

Tinny Magic

You know that strange thing that happens when you’ve never heard of something and then after you learn about it for the first time, for days afterwards it keeps popping up everywhere?  This happened to me this week in a very nice way with the discovery of Gordon Bay near Clovelly in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. When leaving the SLSC car park after a trip to Clovelly beach last week I spied what the Cornish would describe as a cove, with a line of small boats, rafted up along the top of the beach.  When Tess and I returned today to check it out we realised the walk was a little further than we anticipated from the car park, but absolutely worth it when we got there, not to mention the views on the way. Furthermore it fitted in nicely with our participation in the Great Outdoor Challenge. The walk itself goes all the way along to Coogee and if you were in a rush you might just overlook Gordons Bay on your way past. This didn’t happen to me as I was sucked in by the sight of over a dozen tinnies, all racked up together, glinting in the sun.

Two of my favourite things

We had the beach more or less to ourselves for a couple of hours,  save for a few surfers heading across the rocks to reach the bombora,  and a black dog out for a swim with a large stick.

This Black Dog's Not Depressed

If you’re looking for a quiet weekday spot to take the kids for a paddle and a fossick around the rockpools, or somewhere quiet to read a book, away from the buzz of Bondi , then this is just the spot. Don’t forget to take a picnic. We wished we’d brought our thermos along to wash down a scrumptious slice of Clovelly Bakery Bread and Butter Pudding (we burned it off of course walking up and down the steps to get there).  If you’re after something a bit more active, Gordon’s Bay is the home of a scuba diving club who have established an underwater nature trail in the bay, which on a clear day can be enjoyed with a snorkel.  Anyway, in this instance, pictures say it better than words so here’s a snapshot of the delight’s of Gordon’s Bay. Get yourself down there.

Getting There

Clovelly is about a twenty minute drive from Sydney CBD

Google Map

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