Having had a number of medical and other appointments booked for months, with the curtain coming down on Queensland following the Northern Beaches Covid scare, we didn’t expect it to be up in time for us to keep any of them.
The curtains lifts
Lo and behold, despite NSW not having met the 28 day rule of no cases, and less than a week before our imminent departure, an announcement was made. First thing I knew of it was then I received a text from my friend Tracey with a link to an article ”Queensland to open border to all of NSW next month as Sydney bring coronavirus outbreak under control”. Yippee!!
So, it was all systems go. No need to book or change appointments, just a few personal catchups to organise and accommodation to book. Fortunately, we had been in touch with our favourite Manly accommodation provider, Jarmo, and we could get things organised fairly quickly. We were soon on our way – and only a couple of days later than planned.
En route discovery ….
For a long time, we were fans of the inland New England Highway for our travels between Sydney and Brisbane due to constant roadworks on the coastal road. More recently, we’ve been going inland a fair bit of the time as we’ve been dropping in to visit our friends, Michael & Melissa in Armidale. With the coastal road having improved a lot and not having the opportunity to visit our friends as they were out of town, we chose the faster route.
There are two downsides of the coastal road. One is the fact that we have to navigate the crazy freeway past the Gold Coast and the other is that it bypasses most of the little towns which doesn’t make for very interesting coffee & lunch stops. We attempted to solve the first problem by leaving home early. Having woken at 4:30am, we were on the road a little before 5am. And even then, the road was busy – but manageable!
Whilst we packed a picnic lunch to avoid being tied to a time to eat, the second issue turned out to be more challenging. We decided to pop off the freeway (an additional 20km or so) and go via Woodburn, a little town we used to stop at often. Sadly, our attempted sojourn at the coffee shop there didn’t quite go according to plan. Having entered NSW soon after their introducing a Services NSW App to check in at all venues, we were confused, unable to download the app and as a result, left without a caffeine fix. Ultimately, the story had a happy ending. Having never managing to find a good coffee stop in Coffs Harbour, we ended up with a gem. Michelle, the owner, met us at the door to help with the app check in and soon we discovered that she’d been at school down the road from where I lived when at high school. Small world!! I’m going to give a shameless plug to Palate & Ply – if you like strong coffee go for the Rage blend and you won’t be disappointed!
Arrival in Manly ….
The Pacific Highway into Sydney was much quieter than anticipated – possibly because we were earlier than expected, maybe because of Covid or potentially because of the recently opened toll road and tunnel heading south. Regardless, it made the drive down to Manly easier and quicker and soon we were meeting Jarmo’s son, Terje, to let us into the apartment.
No matter how often we stay in the 9th floor apartment, the views from long reef on the northern peninsula, down to south head cannot help but take the breath away.
After a brief walk, we had a rather unsatisfactory visit to Coles before giving up and visiting the bakery for some pies for dinner. This turned out to be another blessing in disguise as we received a huge welcome from Emily, one of the members of the family that owns it.
Into the city ….
Having had a rather miserable trip into the CBD in July 2020, our last visit to Sydney, we headed off to the doctor and optician the following morning. We had to wear masks on the ferry – one of the remaining rulings from the December lockdown – but the rest of the ride across the harbour was pleasant, with very few people on board. The city itself had a lot more life than the previous time and was certainly not as dirty. Generally, it felt much better. In between appointments, we had a good breakfast at an old haunt.
Catching up with people…..
Glenda had an appointment with her podiatrist one of the afternoons, but as he’s set up new rooms downstairs from where we were staying, this didn’t impact us much. Other than that, we had lots of walks along the beachfront and harbour and were really grateful to see so many old friends. Glenda’s breakfast with her friend Tracey was a highlight as was a brief catch up with her cousin’s wife, Debbie, who we hadn’t seen since her husband passed away suddenly last year. We hadn’t seen Rick & Brig for ages which was strange as we often used to stay with them – so there was lots to talk about.
Five minutes of fame…
Our little bit of excitement of the trip came when we were able to have personalised coke cans printed with our names on. They were churned out within minutes.
The sun run…
The Sun Run from Dee Why to Manly was certainly aptly named this year. Whilst we didn’t enter the event, we woke up just before the start time, and from our apartment we could see the red of the sky reflected in a sea of red. We enjoyed our own run along the organised route, soaking up the atmosphere and providing support to the runners that were competing.
The following day was the related Coles Classic, a swim from Shelly Beach to Manly and we were fortunate to be able to see the swimmers from our position atop the building – except in the morning where the sun was too bright and hot to let us do so!
The trip home turned out to be a little eventful at the start. On trying to exit the building before 5am, out key fob wouldn’t work. The number we called based on a nearby sign didn’t help much – the best the guy on the other side could give me was that I should wait until the person came to open it – which according to the notice was 6:30am, 1 ½ hours later. Thankfully, a burly guy with gloves came to our rescue. Truth be told, he wanted to get to work, so heaved the door open using an old rusty chain.
The rest of the day was uneventful. We had another stop at Palate & Play in Coffs and managed to sneak past the Gold Coast before the afternoon rush. We even had time to stop at the supermarket to stock up on food before heading home.