Time has transformed with the antipodean clocks turning backward. What was previously generous is now more meagre. The sun still shines but dwells less in the sky, the time in the day becoming both a literal and figurative challenge: sometimes there is just not enough of it. Catching the sunset can cause a rush, the luxury of lingering and meandering and simply just killing time vanished. Time, with the predictably sudden splurge of work, is now precious. So much so, that I want to keep this brief. You may be thankful for such small mercies.
With work travel finally emerging like the red gloss upon a Canberra oak, I have the fortune of tacking on bits and pieces of tourism around insightful spells of blue sky strategy. Like a spell last week in Sydney, giving me the perfect opportunity to simply dwell in Sydney again. To walk alongside its waterways and admire its skyline. To stride through its city streets part England, part America, part Asia. To turn a corner and come up against the looming harbour bridge, all brickwork glitz and dark steel glamour. And from there – of course – to embrace that centrepiece of shells jutting out from Circular Quay, impossible to resist.
With sun-filled days setting record April temperatures it was hard to avoid getting distracted. An early morning coffee run turned into a walk under the fig tree shade of Hyde Park which turned into a jaunt over The Domain which led into the many pathways of the Botanic Gardens. I often find refuge in the gardens of over-researched regional towns, a touch of civic serenity amidst a clutch of daggy stores and gargantuan pokie palaces. The Botanic Gardens in Sydney are another matter entirely, a mammoth attraction in their own right, lapping at the silver towers of the city and the sparkling opal waters of the harbour. They are free and open and – even with oodles of exercisers and selfie takers and backpackers – remain forever fabulous.
A cliché-ridden, repetitively photographed documentation of Sydney would not be complete without some beach shots. And because this was – after an absence of what must be getting on for a year – a journey down memory lane – there was no other place for me to go than Coogee. After a lengthy evening discussing interesting things with interesting people I had earned that breakfast at Globe the next morning. And while I should probably have been listening back to interesting people discussing interesting things and making sense of it all, it was infinitely more alluring to stride on the sand and to push on along the Eastern Suburbs Pedestrian Expressway.
Each step a memory, each stride made afresh. Gordon’s Bay, Clovelly, Bronte, Tamarama…I am not sure I have seen them looking quite as lovely as they do now. The midweek morning provides a contrast from the irritating queues and blockages of walkers and runners and selfie takers cluttering the place on weekends, almost all of whom are exquisitely beautiful, but almost all of whom somehow ruin the views. Today there is freedom and space and just the attractiveness of golden sands and a becalmed, translucent Pacific to excite. Today, it really is all in the timing, and I just about got it right.