Thursday, March 16, 2017

riding the manly ferry

"Australians love the beach. It is our favorite recreation -- taking the family to the beach."

That was the announcer on our ferry ride to Manly Beach this morning. And that is exactly what Roy, Nancy, and I did today. We went to the beach. We are not Australian; nor were there many of them going to the beach.

For good reason. It was a blustery day. And had been for two weeks. The
 only question was how much rain was going to fall. A drizzle or a monsoon cloudburst. The answer was -- "both."

Yesterday we planned a beach trip to Bondi beach -- one of Sydney's fabled beaches. But we did not get off of the bus. There were a few brave souls on the beach, but the water was far too rough even for the surfers.

Our trip to Manly was just as nonproductive. Instead of tanning hard bodies, we were surrounded by what looked like a bunch of sulky Eskimos. Everyone was bundled and umbrellaed.

Even though the beach was closed, a handful of hearty surfers braved the water. They seemed to be enjoying the challenge.

I have always chuckled when I have heard the name "Manly Beach." The subtext was rife with possible tales. I suspected the name must be from some knighted early explorer. Sir Winthrop Charles Wedgewood Manly. Or something like that.

It turns out the name is far simpler than that -- as are many Australian names. Captain Arthur Phillip, the first governor of New South Wales (in the late 1780s), was impressed with the warriors of the aboriginal Kay-ye-my clan. He thought they looked "manly." And the name stuck for the area.

That is not the only thing that stuck. Due to a misunderstanding, one of the Kay-ye-my warriors thrust a spear into Phillip's shoulder. Being a progressive, he ordered no retaliation. He was smart enough to know that a struggling colony could not afford to start a war with a warrior nation. Not if the colony wanted to exist.

Phillips survived the spear attack and lived to die in Bath in 1814. His adjective for the local 
Kay-ye-my men lives on to this day.

Being drenched by rain on the beach is not new to me. Remember, I am originally from Oregon. And then there were those visits to Blackpool and the Devil's Causeway. So, this rain was not off-putting.

It was to Roy and Nancy. They wanted to show me a beach that would convince me Sydney would be a great place to live.

Manly is pleasant enough, and I can imagine how attractive it is when the sun actually cooperates. But it looks like most little beach towns that have to tear money from the pockets of tourists to survive. I live in one of them in Mexico.

The rain merely adds a rather sad patina to the shopping lane that leads from the ferry terminal to the inevitable beach where a walkway gave way to the grit of the beach that gave to the agitated waves dashing up on the closed beach. Even the gulls appeared to be depressed.

As I write this, I am looking out over Darling Harbor. The skies are the shade of gray that tickles designers. The rain has stopped.

But I am packing away the memories of this trip in my luggage. Nancy and I fly to Hong Kong and on to Los Angeles early tomorrow morning. Roy follows on Saturday.

It has taken me almost seven decades to get to Australia and New Zealand. I hope to return before another seven years pass. It has been worth every penny I spent.

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