The sparkling, clear green water suddenly froths into a wash splashing the legs of my jeans, soaking my sneakers and sending me scurrying back up into Beare Park, to start my filming again.
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It might be the first day of Spring in Sydney, but the water in Sydney Harbour is still ‘as cold as’, as I find out squatting on old stone steps cut into the sandstone sea wall while attempting to take a short ‘viddy’ of this enviable scene.
The sparkling, clear green water suddenly froths into a wash splashing the legs of my jeans and sneakers and sending me scurrying back up into Beare Park, to start my filming again.
Coffee, sitting out over the water on the decks of the Marina is such a joy – out of the cool breeze and with the sun beaming down from the clearest blue sky. And all this is only five minutes walk from my apartment!
With the recent burst of warmer weather, the azaleas in the gardens in front of Elizabeth Bay House will be in full bloom, so I head off up the hill. I’m not disappointed, except for finding locals lying on the grass, reading the newspapers or simply enjoying the tranquillity of the setting with views out over Sydney Harbour right down to the Heads, and so preventing me from using my iPhone to take the best shots.
Stone paths lead me across manicured lawns and over a little stone bridge while huge carp swim amongst lotus leaves in the ornamental pool cut from the rock years ago. The pool is surrounded by gardens of exotic, flowering plants, kaleidoscopic in their beauty at this time of year.
For the first time ever, I’m drawn to walk inside the 1839 Elizabeth Bay House.
I won’t start describing the beautiful interiors and the commanding views to the sea. The domed saloon is regarded as the finest interior in Australian colonial architecture. I set out up the cantilevered staircase of Marulan sandstone to view the bedrooms and take in the remnants of old Alexander Macleay’s insect collection in the extensive Library.
I spot a pencil sketch of this amazing staircase drawn by that famous Australian artist, Donald Friend, who was living in the building when it was converted to flats during the Second World War. It is not ‘Society’ weddings or gatherings that he depicts, but visiting US Servicemen in uniform, bare-breasted ladies, and beer-swilling bohemians sliding down the balustrades.
Donald Friend writes in his diary, just days before I was born in 1942, “The exquisite proportions of the hall and staircase, designed as a superb abstract in oval forms and spirals, never fails to excite fresh delight, no matter how often I see it. It is a work of art, that changes and changes, renewing itself and seeming to alter, offering fresh vistas and ideas, every time one mounts those old shallow stairs . . . ”
Walking home, I detour over the Wilbur’s Place in Kings Cross hankering for one of his roast pork and dill mayo sandwiches. But I end up with the most delicious slow-cooked corned beef with cheese and salted cabbage on a cross between a bagel and a Polish bialy. It’s not boiled but baked. Instead of a hole in the middle there’s just a depression filled with mustard. I’m going back for the flaked salmon with cream cheese & chive version tomorrow.