I suspect every Sunday is an adventure for Abby – in Sydney or not.
Actually, now that I think of it, every day is an adventure for Abby. She’ll be 3 in November [EDIT – grrr, October. Her birthday is in October]. She’s the precocious, strong-willed, smart, sometimes a little shy, blue-eyed, curly-haired daughter of my friend Erin and her partner Matt. She loves aeroplanes, trains, outings to Bunnings and watching Bluey – among other things.
And right now she is jumping up and down spontaneously and yelling, “My favourite! My favourite!”.
I wish more things in life made me feel as gleefully joyous as Abby does when she sees aeroplanes and Qantas aeroplanes in particular.
Last week I went bushwalking in Mouth Kuring-gai and, so, this is set to be my second Sunday adventure in Sydney (even when Sundays are not the beach). I thought about going to North Narrabeen for my belated Winter Solstice beach – but there’s a process to execute ahead of that journey and it’s just taking some time. Then I thought about an amble along the North Harbour shoreline followed by a visit to the Manly Art Gallery.
Then Erin messaged to say that she and Abby were coming to town to go look at aeroplanes – would I like to come with? So, it turns out, this Sunday is an Abby and Erin Adventure in Sydney.
Let’s Go Look for Aeroplanes!
Nearing our first destination – a playground with a view of the airport – we spot kids selling lemonade. Who can say no? Its proper, homemade lemonade with real lemons and sugar – tart and delicious.
By the time we get to the park Abby is again warming to me. She’s stopped hiding her face in her mum’s leg whenever I speak to her. She finds it hilarious when I climb up on the slippery dip and slide down.
Every time a plane taxis past or takes off she’s like a wee, Australian, girl-child version of Tattoo on Fantasy Island (this is a 1980s reference, here’s a link) – shouting “the plane, the plane”. Even as she’s gliding through the air on the swing her attention is pulled towards the aeroplanes. It’s really pretty adorable.
Our next stop is one of her true favourites – Shep’s Mound. This is plane-spotter central. I’d never heard of it, never knew it existed but here a dozen or more people, family groups, are enjoying a Sunday afternoon of watching planes taxi, take off, and land. The taxiing planes are only maybe 200 metres away, and some people wave at the planes. Not just Abby and her peers, but, like a 65-year-old man. Now, maybe he knew someone on that particular plane. Or maybe the very sight of a jumbo jet gives him as much joy as it gives Abby.
Having Adventures in Sydney is Hungry Work – Time for Sunday Lunch
Erin has a strong internal measuring stick for a good, proper pub and the one we picked largely by location has met her standard. The Sir Joseph Banks Hotel in Mascot is a classic, traditional, suburban pub. They even have a $20 Sunday roast which comes with a glass of wine. Pretty happy with this Sunday’s Sydney adventure so far.
An Exploration of Sir Joseph Banks Park
Our friend Jonathan catches up with us here and before we lose the last of the sunlight on this winter’s day we head out for Abby to ride her bicycle around Sir Joseph Banks Park.
From the pub to the park with pass the old Sir Joseph Banks Hotel. A glorious 19th-century building which has been immaculately maintained and seems to now be private residences. I find out later, courtesy of Wikipedia, that it was built from 1840 to 1874, has been on the NSW Heritage Register since 1999 and was converted into apartments in 2000.
The park we’re heading to was once, possibly, a historic campsite for the local Aboriginal people, listed as such by the La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council, and a “location of considerable interaction between [those local] people and European settlers”. To me, “considerable interaction” sounds a lot like conflict resulting in the dispossession of the local people but I haven’t found anything further on this point.
Later this area became the gardens, a zoo, and sporting grounds associated with the hotel. These pleasure grounds were an early tourist attraction – to begin with, they featured an emu park, cricket oval and giant swing. Later they added a running track, horse stables, and a zoo which included a Bengal tiger, elephants, giraffes, gorillas, bears, and camels.
Abby scoots her bicycle while chatting away with Uncle Jonathan. I poke around the memorials and statues snapping a few photos by which remember the day. Then as the sky takes on a pinkish, sundown tint, we head back to Erin’s car to wrap up our Sunday adventure.
A bit about the journey and the suburbs we visited
Our journey was 30.8 kilometres round-trip.
We visited the suburbs of:
Botany (Bayside, State electorate of Maroubra (Michael Daley, Labor), and Federal Division of Kingsford Smith.
For what it’s worth, the current Sir Joseph Banks Hotel has classic pub style accommodation that look nicely maintained on their website – need to remember this next time I hear someone looking for a place to stay near the airport.