Back to Sydney for today’s blog, and specifically to Manly. Its beach ranks alongside Bondi in the popularity stakes, but in fact Manly has two sea-fronts - one on the Pacific, and one on the Bay of Sydney. Whichever bit we were on certainly looked like a lovely beach, but we weren’t there to swim that day, we were there to visit Manly Sea Life. But let me backtrack just a little. Our day started very early, 4am to be precise, as we needed to get to Coogee Beach for the 5 am Anzac Day Ceremony. Anzac Day, a national holiday, marks the anniversary of the landings at Gallipoli in 1915 but goes beyond that to commemorate all Australians who have served and died in wars. There was a massive turnout at Coogee for the hour-long service, which had speakers, hymns and prayers. It also, sadly, featured fainting. The girl next to Caiti suddenly thunked to the ground, poor thing. Her mum and friend were quickly joined by a policeman, who had to call for an ambulance. He tried for a St John’s Ambulance person first, as they were on-site, but all these volunteers were tied up with their own faintees, so a hospital ambulance turned up for our lass. I can only suppose it’s low blood sugar to blame, with people heading out and not having anything to eat first, or possibly claustrophobia as there was quite a crowd. However, it well spread out and it wasn’t particularly warm. A bit of a mystery as we don’t have this sort of thing going on at our remembrance ceremonies in Nouzerines where the average age must be 60+ and the atmosphere is equally emotional.
The last post rang out as the first rays of sun crept over the horizon. Beautiful and very moving. Caiti and I headed for Giles Baths for a dawn swim. Well, we’d done several sunset and beyond swims, so we fancied a change. It was superb to swim as the sun rose. We spotted quite a few fish, including porcupine fish. We were in need of breakfast by now, so we went to our favourite McDo’s, stopping to inspect the wreaths around the memorial on our way. The stage from the ceremony had already been dismantled and most of the wiring and huge screens gone too. They work fast in Australia.
After a nap back at Caiti’s flat we took the ferry to Manly, where our first stop was Manly Sea Life. This is little brother to Sydney Sea Life, where Caiti worked. It’s another super aquarium, but smaller, however it has some wonderful exhibits that Sydney doesn’t.
First up, sea slugs. This name covers a huge variety of marine gastropods that are shell-less or appear to be so, having either very small remnants of shells or internal ones. I’m pretty sure the ones were saw were nudibranchs, which don’t have shells at all. These were in the Touch Pool and if you very gently prodded one, you could feel its body closing around your finger. Wow and eeeuuw at the same time!
Sydney Sea Life had Gentoo penguins, but here we had Fairy penguins. They were tiny, as their name implies. Amongst them was Hugo, who is thirteen and doesn’t like water! He certainly stayed out of it all the time we were there.
I told you about the tunnels at Sydney Sea Life which go through the exhibits so you see rays and sharks swimming beside and above you. There are tunnels at Manly too, but here there are sea turtles too. And what better name for a turtle than Myrtle. Poor Myrtle was hit by a ship’s propeller and has a chunk of shell missing. Some of it has been replaced with a metal plate to make her heavy enough to be able to submerge.
There are also some giant cuttlefish, which are very impressive creatures.
We had our lunch on the busy, windy beach then set off on a coastal walk. We’d intended to do some snorkelling at a place where Caiti had snorkelled before and seen loads of fish, but it was very grey and chilly so we opted to carry on walking instead. The path took us onto rocky cliffs, past some wartime defences.
We saw some brush turkeys and many stunning trees.
We returned to Manly where we had some fancy ice-cream and then took the ferry back to Sydney. Yet another wonderful day out.
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