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On Saturday Roy was up bright and early to install our new barbecue and make a rather unceremonious offering of our "not so old", completely rusted, falling apart Kuuma barbecue" to Neptune, following which he spent some time replacing one of the dinghy davit lines again. Then, after an afternoon on board, it was time to head off in the dinghy to Sugarloaf Bay, where we had a great evening on board Raya. It was lovely just to be able to relax and catch up with Roz and Rick for a few hours, while enjoying our sundowners and snacks.

Yesterday,  after a fairly lazy morning initially and Elaine baking cream scones for her afternoon outing, we had to deal with a slight collision when the boat next to us t-boned Paw Paw in the high winds that had all the yachts swirling in various directions.  Fortunately there wasn't any damage and setting a stern anchor to keep us at a safe distance  helped the situation temporarily.  It was all resolved permanently a little while later when the owners of the other boat arrived and were able to shorten their mooring line.

Then it was time for Elaine to enjoy an afternoon "tea party" in celebration of Angie's mom's 85th birthday. Elaine also had the pleasure of being "chauffeur" driven to and from the event by Angie's friend, Dani. While the pick up and drop off arrangements had a clandestine feel to it all, since Elaine and Dani had never met before and then having to meet in the carpark of Echo Point Park through Elaine's recognition of nothing but the description of the "blue Toyota" which Dani drives, it was a fun-filled afternoon with plenty of laughter. It was lovely to meet all of Angie's friends,  not to mention the fact that we all rolled out of her home after all the eats and treats we enjoyed. While Elaine was out playing with the girls,  Roy busied himself with continuing his work on the watermaker.

Today was a rather frustrating day, though. We had prior arrangements with a courier company to collect our liferaft from the Davidson's Park boat ramp and deliver it to the Plastimo agent in Sydney for recertification. So, after breakfast and with amble time for the 0930 pick up, the process began. Drop the dinghy in the water, lower the swim platform,  tie the dinghy to the swim platform, remove the liferaft from its locker, place the liferaft on the swim platform, move the liferaft from the swim platform to the dinghy without dropping it in the water,  dinghy to the boat ramp, tie the dinghy to the boat ramp,  lift the dinghy onto the dock,  again, workout dropping it in the water, haul the liferaft across the ramp and then leave Roy with the liferaft on the dock. To put this in perspective,  the liferaft is like trying to lug around a body weighing approximately 68Kg / 150Lbs.

Well, 5 hours later and after numerous phone calls, there was still no sign of the courier company and we had visions of having to repeat the entire process in reverse to get the liferaft back onto Paw Paw. Thankfully, they eventually arrived late this afternoon. Lets hope this level of service is not indicative of the recertification we're actually going to get and that we get the liferaft back before our planned departure date from Sydney.

In-between all this activity, Elaine has also spent the last few days catching up with family and friends around the world and sorting out our photographs of Vanuatu and New Caledonia. She definitely got behind on all these website activities,  but is catching up slowly,  but surely!

Besides spending a few days coming to terms with Elaine's diagnosis and considering the impacts thereof, Elaine spent most of Wednesday getting our Fiji article completed and loaded onto our website, while Roy completed a few more boat projects,  including cleaning the exhaust elbow and adjusting the v-belt of the port engine.

Today, however, was a day of fun. Angie collected us as scheduled at Echo Point Park, following which we made the short trip to her home to collect her mom and had the lovely surprise of seeing her son, Stephen, having last seen him as a toddler in South Africa.

Angie had selected the North Head Sanctuary in Manly as our destination for the day, followed by a trip into the town of Manly to have a light lunch, enjoy the promenade,  have a snoop around the Corso and take the opportunity to get some groceries.

Our visit to the North Head Sanctuary commenced with a coffee and some freshly baked delights at the Bella Vista Café while enjoying the stunning views over Sydney Harbour and getting introduced to a few of the "locals", the fauna and flora, many of which are endangered and unique to this part of Sydney. The sand dunes here support one of the few remaining patches of Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrubs. Once abundant,  now less than 3% remains. This area is home to the Rainbow Lonikeets, Little Wattlebirds and the Long Nose Bandicoots, the latter of which are now listed as an endangered population.

North Head, traditionally known as "Car-rang-gel", held special significance for the local Aboriginal people and was used for ceremonies and medicinal practices. From 1828, most of the headland was set aside to quarantine passengers on ships arriving in the colony.

More than 240 people were buried in the 3rd Quarantine Cemetery between 1881 and 1925, mostly dying from smallpox and bubonic plague. A visit to this cemetery took us on a winding trail through the Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrubs, which occur on patches of nutrient poor,  aeolian dune sand and include small patches of woodland and low forest, with the wind-blown sand having been deposited many centuries ago and where wild plants like the Sunshine Wattle, the Flannel Flower and the Crowea flourish.

We also had the opportunity to enjoy the walk and spectacular clifftop views of the Fairfax Lookouts, before heading to St Patrick's Seminary completed in 1889, after land was granted to the Catholic Church on North Head to build a Cardinal's Palace, and, it is a palace indeed, with its beautiful sandstone walls and fabulous views overlooking Manly Beach.

During WWII, the whole of North Head became a major defence base, making it one of the most heavily fortified sites in Australia and where North Fort was constructed with concrete gun emplacements,  tunnels and an underground plotting room, with the associated Barracks built to house and train the army gunners. The base was subsequently relocated to Victoria in 1998.

Our day was wrapped up with a barbecue at Angie's,  where we had a second surprise of seeing her eldest son, David, who also demonstrated his expert skills after cooking the meat to "melt in your mouth" perfection.

After loading all our deliveries in the car, including a new barbecue, a few logistical manoeuvres in the dark got us to the Davidson's Park boat ramp where everything was safely loaded into the dinghy before returning to Paw Paw late tonight. 

Many thanks Angie for a fascinating and unexpected day of touring an area of Sydney we would not have had the opportunity to enjoy without our personal tour guide. 

After a few severe thunderstorms during the night, we woke to a rather dull, overcast day, but, thankfully, the rain held off. The weather, however, was certainly not going to dampen our spirits, since today was a special day; Happy 60th Birthday to a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, brother and son, oh ya and captain. Chocolate cake and a mexican cutie for breakfast was a great start to his day, no doubt!

Then it was off to enjoy the birthday boy's gift; a day out in the historic area of Sydney, The Rocks. After a mid-morning coffee at the Munich Brauhaus, we then enjoyed a delicious seafood lunch at "Fish at The Rocks"; sashimi starter, followed by a seafood linguine for Roy, mussels in a tomato and white wine sauce starter, followed by blue-eyed cod for Elaine. Coffees and a soft centred hot chocolate cake to share with a birthday candle, complements of the staff, completed the meal. Yum!

What began as Sydney's convict settlement, The Rocks is a neighbourhood in the shadow of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. From cobbled laneways and sandstone warehouses to Australia's oldest pubs, it is also home to Cadmans Cottage, claiming the title as the first building to have been built on the shoreline of The Rocks area, the second oldest surviving residential building and the third oldest building in Sydney, having been built in 1816. It is one of only a handful of Sydney buildings that remain from the first 30 years of the colony and was used for the governmental coxswains and their crews.

It was also home to John Cadman, born in January 1758, and one of Sydney's first convicts, sentenced to death in England for stealing a horse, but his sentence was commuted to transportation to the colony of Australia in 1797 at the age of 40. From 1806 he worked in Castle Hill as a convict labourer, then transferred to Government Docks in 1809. In 1813 he was appointed as Coxswain of Timber and Lumber and received a conditional pardon in 1814. After serving as Coxswain of the Antelope for 4 years, he received a free pardon by Governor Macquarie in 1821, eventually becoming Master of the 30 ton cutter, Mars, which was later shipwrecked off Port Stephens. In 1827 he was appointed Superintendent of Government Boats and lived in the cottage, with his wife and two stepdaughters, from 1827 until his retirement in 1845, staying a total of 18 years, the longest time served by a governmental coxswain until the position was abolished after Cadman's retirement. He died in 1848.

John Cadman was born 200 years, exactly to the month and the year, before Roy. How uncanny is that!

After a very stormy night, with plenty of rain, thunder and lightening,  we woke to a partly sunny, but another very hot, muggy day. Preparations,  including having the oven on to bake Roy's birthday cake continued regardless. Fortunately,  a light breeze kept the temperatures somewhat manageable.

Besides catching up with Keenan, we also got a few long overdue minor boat projects out of way, like redoing our fender lines that were just too short and a new, longer bridle on the dinghy. While Roy did a number of fresh water runs, Elaine eventually completed our Fiji website article.  All it needs now is a proofreading before we load it up.  Better late than never, as they say!

With temperatures still hovering around 30C / 86F this evening, even after a few thunderstorms this afternoon, we're enjoying yet another barbecue  on board, accompanied by some cold beverages.

We woke to a beautiful sunny Sunday morning and enjoyed a cooked breakfast to start the day. It didn't take us long to realise, though, that the temperature was rising rather rapidly. By mid-morning we decided that taking the dinghy to the little beach at Echo Park Point to clean it and then have a swim was probably a good idea instead of spending time onboard. When we returned to Paw Paw, Roy continued to play in the water and cleaned her bottom as well; the first time since leaving New Caledonia. Surprisingly, there weren't too many barnacles, but rather a layer of black algae that we haven't seen before, but, fortunately, came off easily enough.

We had known from the weather forecast yesterday that it was expected to be a sweltering day today, hence our decision to visit Bondi Beach yesterday instead, but we definitely hadn't realised just how hot it was going to get and we're not sure anyone else did either.

Penrith, a western suburb of Sydney, reached 47.3C / 117F, originally believed to be the highest temperature in 79 years, recorded by a weather station in the Sydney metropolitan area. However, a tweet just after 1600 from the Bureau of Meteorology indicated that they had missed a temperature in the north-western Sydney suburb of Richmond, where 47.8C / 118F was recorded in 1939. Either way, it was a very hot day!

Being on the water, with at least a breeze blowing, thankfully, kept it slightly cooler for us, so there was no need to turn on the air-conditioning. The only energy we managed to muster, though, involved a lazy afternoon of reading and not much else!

Yesterday we started the day by exploring a different bus route from where we leave the dinghy at Echo Point and our efforts were rewarded by finding a bus stop that was not only closer, but an easier walk and with a more regular service into Chatswood. It's safe to say, our reconnaissance of this area is complete and, at least, now we only have take the dinghy to Cammeray Marina to do the laundry every two weeks or so.

Once morning coffee was enjoyed, it was time to run an assortment of odd errands and ones we really haven't been able to do in any other country during our sailing adventures; a dry cleaners, a decent hardware store to get some perspex as well as solar powered garden light to use as a transom night light and then an automotive shop to obtain decent engine degreaser and diesel biocide. Roy, however, had to walk 6 miles to get to all the stores, which we subsequently found out later could have been accessed by bus. Oh well, at least we managed to get these long overdue items regardless. Elaine, on the otherhand, shopped for shoes, then found a bench under a tree on the pedestrian section of Victoria Street and read her book, glancing around from time to time to people watch. She definitely had the better end of the deal!

Today, was another excursion; to one of Australia's most iconic beaches, Bondi, for a beach day of sorts. Three buses got us there, two buses and a train ride got us back and we didn't wait more than ten minutes at any one time; we just love the public transportation system here.

Morning coffee and a slice of toasted banana bread, served with marzipan butter and honey, was enjoyed at Bondi Trattoria shortly after our arrival around mid-morning and before taking the obligatory very slow stroll along Bondi to savour the sights. Our walk took us all the way to the rock pools at Ben Buckler, with its spectacular views of the coastline and the sweeping white-sand crescent of Bondi.

"Bondi" or "Boondi" is an aboriginal word meaning "water breaking over rocks" or "noise of water breaking over rocks." The beach is about 1 kilometre long, but it is its width that strikes you at first. Add to that the laid-back cafés that line Hall Street and the clifftop Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk, with its dramatic scenery, and a second visit is definitely warranted.

Having worked up an appetite, we enjoyed a very healthy lunch at the Depot restaurant; freshly baked pies with a super foods salad accompanied by a tumeric bomb to drink. By then it was time to join the throngs of people making their way back home after a sweltering day on the beach, while stopping off in Chatswood to get a few provisions along the way.

Today we decided to try something new; take the train from Chatswood Junction to Central Station in downtown Sydney, then enjoy the Hop on-Hop off Big Bus tour around the city. Well, it was a great idea with a few flaws. Although the train journey was excellent, the weather forecast was wrong and, by the time we reached the downtown area, instead of a little rain in the morning, then brightening up, we had an overcast, somewhat chilly day with interspersed splatterings of rain. Then the "Ask Me" gentleman sent us on a wild goose chase when we left Central Station to try and find the bus stop to commence the tour. It was a bad start and it didn't improve.

The 90 minute tour turned into nearly 3 hours just to do one revolution due to the traffic, the roadworks and the number of tourists trying to get on and off. That meant we couldn't actually run the risk of getting off anywhere, since we wouldn't have been able to get back on without waiting in long queues for hours. Add to the fact that the tour audio was completely out of sync with the actual driving, that there was really no substance to the content with little to no historical references, but rather information on where we could pick up other tours and then having to listen to Walsing Metilda and White Christmas repeat over and over in our ears, we can safely say we both had a headache at the end of it all.

Although we thoroughly enjoyed seeing all the beautiful old buildings that are mixed in with the modern, we also, at least, now have an idea that we want to go back and visit the Harris Street area with its historic terrace cottages and the Sydney Fish Market, the Maritime Museum, the Chinese Gardens of Friendship, the Wildlife Centre near Kings St Wharf, The Rocks, the Elizabeth Street / Hyde Park and St Mary's Cathedral area, the Botanical Gardens, the King's Cross / El Alamein Fountain area and take a tour of the Sydney Opera House. It was, however, a very expensive way to come up with a list of places to explore at our leisure over the next few weeks. Definitely not value for money!

It didn't help matters that, while passing the Darling Harbour area at the start of the tour, we made the mistake of deciding that that looked like a good place to have lunch, only to discover an overpriced tourist trap. Lunch at the Watershed Restaurant added to the expense of the day for what turned out to be a frozen, deep fried calamari meal when one of the largest fresh fish markets in the world, which sells 50 tons of fish everyday, was less than 1 mile away. Scandalous!

We managed to salvage the day though, with a delicious fresh tuna feast back onboard Paw Paw this evening, thanks to Peter, who delivered the tuna to us yesterday; tuna sashimi, tuna carpaccio and pan-seared tuna with a side salad. All's well that ends well!

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