Monday, October 11, 2010

Manly Jazz Festival and Darling Harbour Latin Fiesta

The October long weekend (1st weekend of October) saw a variety of activities across Sydney. I picked 2 of these to attend:
1. Manly Jazz Festival
Held across 6 stages in the beach suburb of Manly, this festival makes for a pleasant outing. On the ferry crossing from Circular Quay, I started talking with an elderly Aussie gentleman who has been living in the US for the last 30 years or so. He was thinking of coming back to Australia, and I enjoyed talking with him, hearing his experiences of Sydney from before he left for the US to the current economic scenario there.
The music at Manly was, as always, good. I listened to a school jazz band, a band from Queensland playing Latin jazz, and a solo artist who does not use any instruments! It made for an eclectic mix!

Latin Jazz inside a Church in Manly

2. Darling Harbour Latin Fiesta
The next day, Monday, I headed to Darling Harbour for the Latin Fiesta. It was a lovely, sunny, spring day, and the fiesta was well attended. Flamenco, tango, salsa, lambada, and Mexican pop, the festival had it all.
Stage at Darling Harbour

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Camping in the Royal National Park at Bonnie Vale

S and I went camping a couple of weekends ago at Bonnie Vale, which is within the Royal National Park.

The Royal National Park is the second oldest National Park in the world, and lies about 40 kms to the South of Sydney, along the Pacific Coast.

To reach our camping grounds, we took a ferry across Port Hacking, from Cronulla to Bundeena. The ferry crossing is an enjoyable part of the trip, in a smallish brightly coloured (in yellow and green) wooden ferry. As always, I was amazed at the cleanliness and clarity of the waters at Bundeena, which is not more than 50 kms from Sydney. One can see the sea bed a few metres below the surface, and all the marine life in the waters.

The camping site itself was about a 20 minute walk from the ferry wharf. Bonnie Vale camping ground is situated right alongside Port Hacking, and is part of the Royal National Park. There are a large number of camping sites marked and numbered on both sides of the road that passes through the site. We were at number 31, almost at the end of the road. Campsite 31 was a medium sized clearing at the base of a small hill. The site was a bit uneven, but we managed to set up our tent without much of an issue.

Being the end of autumn, the camp site was not very busy, and we enjoyed the late autumnal weather of blue skies and warm sun. After setting up the tent, we had our lunch of barbequed veggie patties, and set out exploring the site.

We had noticed a kayaking set up a few metres before the camp site, and we decided to kayak. It was a great experience to be out in a small kayak in the bay, though I was a bit wary of the speeding boats. After one minor adventure where I managed to run aground on a small beach, we completed our hour long kayaking session, and headed back to the tent for a cup of tea.

Preparing tea was an adventure in itself! We just could not get the camping stove we had purchased to work. After much fiddling around, we finally did succeed, by which time it was dark, and almost time for dinner!

We were wary of the cold at night, but, thankfully, it was not very cold, and we were prepared for it. We were woken early in the morning by the sounds of the birds, and awoke to another beautiful, sunny day. We went walking along a trail to a settlement nearby called Maianbar. The walk took us past some mangroves, where again, we could see a lot of marine life from the path.

After breakfast, it was time to pack up. While I was not very keen initially on the camping trip, I must admit that by the second day, I could very easily have stayed on longer, if I did not have to go to work! In the end, it was great that we managed this camping trip, before the onset of winter.