Spiders, Sand, and Kangaroo Steak

Another Saturday, another day spent exploring Sydney.  This weekend, Ariana and I woke up super early to make the hour-plus bus journey to Manly Beach.  Manly is one of the two most famous beaches in Sydney (along with Bondi), so a visit there was a must.  When we arrived at Manly, the sky was cloudy, a chilly wind was blowing, and drops of rain were sporadically falling from the sky.  Not exactly great beach weather.  So instead of putting on our swimsuits, we walked along the ocean from Manly Beach to the much smaller Shelly Beach.  From there, we took a path up a cliff and into part of Sydney Harbour National Park.  The views from the clifftop were stunning, and we saw some interesting things along the way.

I wonder what happened here. Lightning strike? Very small forest fire?

Sitting on the edge of a cliff. Don't worry, Mom, there's another ledge right below this one.

I love how cloudy, windy days make the ocean look that much more fierce.

These spiders were EVERYWHERE. They just string their giant webs between trees above our heads. Scott assured us they were harmless.

From the national park, we wandered into an area that appeared to be some sort of former military outpost.  We eventually figured out it served as a military base during WWII.  Today, it contains an artillery museum and various memorials to WWII service men and women.

When it began to rain lightly for approximately the third time since we’d arrived at Manly, Ariana and I decided to look at a map and figure out where the heck we actually were.  As we were doing so, a park ranger named Scott spotted us and asked us if we needed help.  We told him where we wanted to go, and he led us partway there.  Along the way, he told us all about various features of the area–both natural and historical.  He must’ve noticed our accents, because at one point he asked, “So–and I offend a lot of Canadians this way–are you American?”  We both laughed and said yes.  I’m beginning to see more and more differences–and stereotypes–between Australians, Americans, and Canadians, but that’s a topic for another post.

Ariana and I walked back down to the beach along a road lined with beautiful city houses.  We discussed which area of Sydney we’ll live in when we hypothetically inherit money from long lost relatives/win the lottery.  Manly is definitely near the top of my list.

Our planned lunch spot–and really, the only planned part of our day–was Manly Grill, a beachside restaurant that serves kangaroo steaks, among other things.  Like most restaurants in Sydney, Manly Grill offers both indoor and outdoor dining.  We chose to sit outdoors so we could enjoy the oceanfront view.

As we perused the menu, I realised this was the first time I’d been to an actual restaurant in Sydney.  My college fees include unlimited food in the dining hall, so I eat most of my meals there.  When I’m out during lunchtime, I often stop by a bakery for a meat pie.  They’re $4 or less, they’re everywhere, and they’re delicious.  Furthermore, many restaurants charge more for dine-in meals than takeaway (carry-out) ones.  It doesn’t make sense for me to pay a few dollars more to eat a sandwich in a restaurant when I can just as easily walk down the street to a park bench and enjoy it there.

Anyway, back to the restaurant.  I ordered what I’d come to the restaurant for: kangaroo steak, medium rare.  The steak was marinated in a mild flavoring and served with a small salad and some very delicious chips (french fries).  Ribeye steak is one of my favorite foods, so I wasn’t sure what to expect as I cut a piece of kangaroo steak.  As it turns out, it tastes almost, but not quite, like beef steak.  It’s also leaner and has a much milder flavor.  The steak was juicy and cooked perfectly, but it lacked the melt-in-your-mouth tenderness of a ribeye.  Overall, it was a very good steak.  Was it better than a good ribeye?  I don’t think so, but I bet many Australians would disagree.

After lunch, Ariana and I walked down to the beach.  It was still chilly and still cloudy, so we just took off our shoes and walked along the beach.  It was nearly empty of swimmers, but dozens of surfers were out riding the waves.  We watched them for a while, marveling at the skilled ones and giggling at the not so talented ones.  Not that we could do any better.

By this time, it was mid-afternoon and the sun showed no signs of reappearing, so I decided to go back to college and get ready for Mardi Gras.  Instead of taking the bus back, I took a commuter ferry to Circular Quay, then rode the normal train back to college.  The journey didn’t take any longer, and ferries are infinitely cooler than buses.

Leaving Manly by ferry.

Overall, I had a great day exploring Manly.  Hopefully next weekend, it’ll be warm enough to go back and enjoy the beach.  Autumn and cooler temperatures (we’re talking 60 degrees Fahrenheit) are just around the corner, so I want to take advantage of the beach weather while I can.


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