I walked every street in Woy Woy

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Walk #20 - Chainsaws At Midnight

(Walked 3rd of June 2005)

After the podiatrist, I sat at the beach for a bit with the paper and the sound of the surf. Roughish sea today. Waves jumping high as they hit against the rocks at Barrenjoey Head and Lion Island.

Daisies & marigolds on the verge

The Esplanade is a street across the road from the beach. There's a narrow strip of dunes covered in marigolds and small trees bent by the wind then a footpath and the road. The houses along that road look out over the beach and across to Barrenjoey Head and, in the far distance, North Head at Sydney Harbour. So we're talking million dollar views. All the newer houses along there are two-storey and the second storey gets a clear view onto the water. Here and there a tree gets in the way of someone's ground floor view and that tree has had a rough and illegal trim. I imagine there's a conspiracy of silence on that street. "You hear that chainsaw, dear?" "Chainsaw? A midnight? You're imagining things."

Anyways, I wandered along The Esplanade. Seagulls pecking hopefully, small nervous dogs on leads, big boofy dogs grinning at me from the car-park, 50 year old surfer dudes in wetsuits and bare feet anxiously examining the surf.

Selling the backyard
(Big version)

At the Life Savers Club end of The Esplanade it's all 30s and 40s beach houses with extensions and cacti gardens. They're mostly inhabited by Dear Old Things who're out on the beach fishing in their underpants at 6AM every morning. A few of them have sold their backyards and are living it up on the proceeds. One of the 40s houses had two of those pencil pines in the front garden. Not the skinny pencil pines. These were the same sort of tree but short and fat. They were immaculately trimmed and obviously loved but they blocked 90%of the view.

The Esplanade

The next block is 70s and 80s flats, some merely boring to look at, some hideous like only 70s architecture can be. Dark chocolate brick boxes with small windows and glass doors opening onto the balcony in the teeth of a gale. The 80s ones are mostly rather smug-looking and have too many walls of glass brick.

Then it's all 80s to the present to Barrenjoey Road. Glass and steel two-storey houses with massive balconies and four wheel drives in underground garages. On the corner where I turned to come back there's a hideous 70s block of flats with a few pine trees out the front. It's called The Pines, of course, and has a nice flat roof covered in deckchairs and ashtrays.

Behind it there's no bus depot. My map must be older than I thought because it says "bus depot" there and those units went up about two years ago. Pretty standard maisonette flats (2 up, 2 down). Nice big scented geranium growing against the wall. Yep, I nicked a bit. I'm not yet carrying a shovel and a lookout like your mother, Suzanne, but I'm perilously close to turning into my Nana.

Back on The Esplanade there was a crappy old block of flats ready for demolition. Growing on the verge outside its fence were a few dozen baby daisy bushes. I studied them for a bit and decided they were fair game so I ripped a few out and bunged them in a plastic shopping bag. They're my favourite kind. White with a navy centre. The biggest one got a bit bashed on the way back but it'll be right. They'll go nice with the lavender on my sunnier balcony. I'll bung them in a pot after my lunch. That geranium I nicked last week is looking a bit frostbitten so I've moved it to the north balcony too. The north balcony gets a bit of sun and a nice warming up in the mornings.

With the daisy added, I've now got daisies, lavender, geraniums, one succulent, one asparagus fern and the garlic chives. And the basil in the kitchen. It's mostly geraniums at the moment and in a couple of months it'll be mostly geraniums and lavender. I'll add that frangipanni tree in a bit but it'l stay mostly geraniums and lavender. They're hard to kill. After a couple of years it'll be a nice leafy green garden on the south balcony and a nice shady and fragrant one on the north balcony.

All along The Esplanade the verge grass was tiny clumps of marigold. The gardens were filled with cacti and jade plant, lavender, daisies, oleander, hibiscus and hakea. All tough seafront plants. There's bugger all trees along there, what with the views and everything. But a block back the trees are the usual mix of native and European.

Where-ever Hollywood makes some movie on the beach here they bring all these bloody palm trees with them and make with the Caribbean music (I'm talking to you, Jackie Chan, re First Strike). It's bloody irritating and confuzzles the tourists no end. Far North Queensland aside, Australian beaches have pines not palms. (On a side note, First Strike was filmed on the Gold Coast (Queensland) and in the snowfields at Perisher (NSW or the ACT) and we had great fun shouting out "gum tree!"during the bits that were s'posed to be in the Ukraine.)

The wildlife board at the beach informs me those owls I occasionally see in the midnight hours are boobooks. I think they're silent. Will look them up some time. They like the paperbark trees and stringybarks. So do possums.

There's a gazillion different types of possums in this country. The ones round here are mainly small-to-large cat sized ones that like to land like elephants on your roof at 2AM and the tiny ones that live on nectar and are the size of your hand. I saw a cat-sized one a couple of years ago. Beautiful light grey fur and tiny yellow hands. Dead as a door nail at the bottom of a lamppost.

It was overcast when I got up this morning but by the time I finished my walk the clouds were lifting and it was even a bit muggy. Got the bus back from Whatsit Street with the world's gloomiest bus driver. Got my new orthotic devices and one knee is aching a bit now but that'll pass in no time.

Beasts

There's a lot of bush round here so we get plenty of native beasties coming into the suburban backyards.

bandicoots - cat-sized, pointy nose, eats spiders and seeds
crested pigeons - the crest is more like a spike, eats anything
blue-tongues - lizard, as long as your forearm, eats insects
flying foxes - red fur, cute faces, use vision not echo-location so they're pretty quiet
honeyeaters - birds, black and grey striated colouring, eat nectar from native trees
kookaburras - AKA laughing kingfishers, shy, move round in packs, noisy at dawn & dusk

Marine beasties from the info board at Umina Beach:

octopuses - smallish, no blue-rings as far as I can tell, blue-rings're poisonous
crabs - tiny buggers that scramble back into their holes in the sand as soon as you move
starfish
rock oysters
dead man's finger - seaweed, gives you the heebies if you see it reaching up for you from the bottom
Neptune's necklace - seaweed, looks like strings of beads, favourite for popping
blue mussels - yum, grown in farms all up and down the Central Coast, ditto oysters
cuttlefish
leatherjackets - fish, caught off local jetties in reasonable numbers

Next walk

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