Just before Christmas, I walked from Bondi Beach to Bronte with my mother and her partner. It was the first Christmas outside the UK for all three of us and it was an act of almost deliberate incongruity for us to walk along the beach, squint in the sunshine, swim in the surf, walk along the coastline with other tourists, stop to look at the flowers and the incredible natural rock formations, envy the beachfront houses, marvel at the blue skies, and finish up with fish and chips from Fishy Bite in Bronte - an unpromising outlet, and a longish wait, for really only moderately good fast food. Still, it was a beautiful day, and food always tastes better in the fresh air.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Thursday, December 23, 2010
The Solitary Restaurant sits, naturally enough, in splendid isolation at the top of a hill near Katoomba in the Blue Mountains, with spectacular views. It's decorated in muted shades ("hot chocolate" or "mushroom" according to your preference) in a strangely old-fashioned but contemporary style. A group of us arrived seeking shelter on an unseasonally cold and windy day, and enjoyed, variously, tasty smoked fish soup, rich and fragrant banana bread with honey butter, and a moist chocolate brownie with vanilla bean ice cream. In case you wondered what might have been on offer at the Solitary for New Year's Eve in 1975, the menu is reproduced for your edification.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Ebenezer Church sits alongside the Hawkesbury River at Ebenezer and is the oldest surviving church in Australia (built in 1809 by 15 pioneer families who arrived on the Coromandel) as well as the oldest extant school building. Nearby grows the shattered remainder of a huge tree under which the pioneers first worshipped. There's a tiny museum in the former schoolmaster's house, with the steepest stairs in the land leading to attic rooms occupied by original furniture, such as an ancient single bed complete with patchwork quilt and chamber pot.