A Haggle of Herons?

Source: google.com.au via Charley on Pinterest

Finally, we swept the cobwebs off the tinny on Sunday and headed for the Georges River to check out our new stomping ground. We move house in two weeks and we are beyond excitement.

A planned two hour trip turned into four, giving me a chance to flex my newly licensed tinny driving muscles. We have explored parts of George’s River before, which I wrote about here, and here.

One of the main purposes of the outing was to check out a tiny mangrove inlet that runs parallel to our new street, below our block. I was pleased to discover that all you can see from the water is a dense tract of bushland and mangroves, with the houses in our street hidden away behind.

Mangrove...somewhere on the George's River

Over the last few weeks I’ve been racking my brains for a suitable house name, possibly translated into Cornish. As we entered the little bay (which shall remain unnamed), we noticed a large group of herons sunning themselves on a disused jetty . I have always thought that herons were solitary birds, hunting alone in a quiet backwater, still as statues scanning the water for their next meal. This bunch numbered at least ten. My mum tells me the proper term is a “heronry” and she’d know because she’s a bird nerd.

When I got home I looked it up in Burnum Burnum’s Wild Things and would you believe there was the white faced heron on page one, the first species listed? I also looked it up on backyard birds where the heron’s nesting habit is described as “an untidy structure of sticks, placed in a tree.” Yep, that sounds appropriate. So there it is, our new home, perched among the trees above the mangroves shall be called “Herons Nest”.

If your house was a nest what kind of a bird would you be?

Wake up we're at the beach!

Queue at the boat ramp

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.

Hidden Treasure up The Georges River

Treasure Hunting

It often happens that when out and about in the tinny there is more to look at and see than can be covered in one blog post, and I return home with a memory card full of photos and a brain buzzing with inspiration. Thus was the case after we’d spent a couple of hours snapping vintage boats at the Variety Club Putt Putt Regatta back in March.  The smell of two stroke and diesel fumes we’d inhaled after loitering around the regatta course was eventually too much for us so we cranked up the Mercury and went exploring up The Georges River. Georges River is quite different to Port Hacking, deeper, less sandy and I’m told offers a higher likelihood of an encounter with a noah (that’s shark for anyone not familiar with the Aussie slang).

This little jaunt was the perfect example of why sometimes its best to just follow the river and see where it takes you.  We cruised up the river at a refreshing 15 knots, admiring the waterside shacks, boatsheds and jetties, belonging to an array of residences ranging from opulent to “shabby chic”. We didn’t get all the way up the river (an adventure for another day) but grumbling tummies led us to stop in Como where we expected to find perhaps a café or kiosk offering the usual marina style fare of fish and chips, ice cream etc.

Hmmm...GPS not updating fast enough!?

To our surprise we came across an unusual combination of chandlery, granny craft and Asian cuisine. We pulled up at the Como marina where you can hire tinnies for the day and browsed around the charming chandlery, an outlet providing for all the practical requirements of the small boat owner and fisherman as well as some nauticalia for your home or boatshed such as mobiles and model boats.

Crab nets... a bargain at twice the price!


Just outside the store was the “Café de Dogge” where your salty sea dog can help himself to a drink and be tied up if necessary. Sadly Rhubarb wasn’t with us to do her own review of the facilities.

Cafe de Dogue

Wandering on we passed a quirky little shop “The Marina Craft Nook”, stocked with beautiful creations from an array of local artists and crafters, seemingly manned by one of their elderly husbands sitting on a deck chair. Beautiful little girls dresses selling for a song that would fetch four times the price in a mosman boutique and knitted tea cosies that tugged at my heart strings saying “pick me”.

Take me home in time for tea!

Marina Craft Nook

We finished the trip with a casual Thai feast enjoyed in the shade of a beautiful garden that belongs to the Thai Rim Nan, a restaurant that resides tastefully in a gorgeous weatherboard heritage cottage at the entrance to the Marina.

The Thai Rim Nam

 Heading home via the boat ramp at Tom Ugly’s bridge where we launched, I had to reconcile myself with the decision not to purchase the pink hobby horse OR the $8 crab net. Much to Chris’ dread I’ll have to go back.

Sorely tempted


Google Map

Tom Ugly’s Boat Ramp

This map shows the marina at Tom Uglys Bridge on the western side of the bridge. We launched the tinny on the eastern side of the bridge which is accessible via a slip road from either side of Princes Highway. The ramp can be a little slippery and easier to launch with two people.

Como Marina Boat Hire

Classic Boats and Putt Putts Grace the Georges River

Ship Shape and Bristol Fashion

At some point in every sailor or “boating enthusiasts'”  life an appreciation for classic, hand built vessels will eventually creep into your psyche. The young guns are always going to be wowed by the speed and technological brilliance that modern boat building can produce. The modern day Sydney to Hobart super maxis and the gin palaces of the rich and famous all have their place in the rich and vibrant tapestry of the yachting world. I’m the first to admit the usefulness of modern navigation tools and the maintenance time savings that can be achieved from carbon fibre versus timber. However you just have to agree that a wooden classic boat is a far more beautiful thing to behold and sail upon. In the words of the poet Robert N. Rose:  “Ships are the nearest things to dreams that hands have ever made, for somewhere deep in their oaken hearts the soul of a song is laid.

So being a sailor who has come to appreciate the beauty of a classic we launched (the very unclassic but utilitarian) tinny at Tom Ugly’s bridge and set off across Georges River to the Variety Club’s  6th Annual  Classic Boat and Putt Putt Fundraising Regatta. Whilst the quantity of entrants was slightly disappointing with approximately 15 or so entries the quality of the vessels more than made up for it. On shore at the St George Motor Yacht Club the Hubertus Model Boat Club put on a display of lovingly crafted model boats and the Vintage Speed Car Association brought along a collection of cute little racing cars and motorbikes. In attendance were the usual candy floss, sausage sizzle , face painting, marine market place and big band crowd pleasers for young and old.

The main event saw the classic boats and putt putts do a couple of parades past the clubhouse before heading off on several laps of a course around Kangaroo Point and back. We got back on the water in the tinny and captured some of the action. Trying to snap moving vessels from my own bobbing boat certainly gave me a new appreciation for the skills of the professional marine photographer! We hope you enjoy the gallery and put it in your diary for next year!

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