Tag Archives: Cronulla

A Riot of Kookaburras and Cerulean Seas – No 40 Jibbon (4 January 2015)


The strange summer continues as I’ve had to skip another (and hopefully the last) of the Hawkesbury beaches which can only be reached from the water. I will visit number 39, Hungry Beach, along with numbers 35 (Gunyah – Brooklyn) and 37 (Hallets) in due course.


I got up this morning and didn’t dawdle. I was going to the beach without delay.

I catch the bus to the Queen Victoria Building and the train from Town Hall Station to Cronulla Station and, from there, walk down to the ferry wharf. A riot of kookaburras are laughing their heads off in an oversize gum tree. The sun is hot. The air is steamy. A ferry’s worth of passengers await the 12:00 pm crossing.

With the arrival of the New Year my mind has finally turned fully toward my travel plans; my big bicycle ride begins in April with a hit out around Australia for a few weeks before moving to Europe in late May. I feel like I’ve opened myself to a traveller’s life and a traveller’s experiences even while still in Sydney.

On Friday afternoon I spent some time with Australian bicycle tourist and blogger Matthew Harris having drinks and talking travel – our catch up the result of good fortune and the internets.  In the evening while Jonathan Bradley and I had dinner we fell into conversation with Carla and Boris, recently arrived holidaymakers from Germany. (I wrote a thing about the day on my bicycling blog.)

Now here it is Sunday and I’m seated in the bow of the Bundeena Ferry surrounded by people speaking many different languages in many different accents. Opposite me two women of a certain age are chatting, they are wearing beach moo-moos and sun hats, gold jewelry compliments fresh manicures. What language are they speaking? Something Eastern European. At times it sounds German: und, nicht – but at other times it doesn’t sound like German at all. I am reminded I know nothing of Eastern European languages; I’m so ignorant I can’t even guess whether they are speaking a German dialect or Hungarian or Romanian.

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The water is cerulean, shimmering and beautiful. As we near the pier I can see both Hordern and Gunyah are crowded and many passengers await the return journey. Disembarking I am greeted by more laughing kookaburras; I never tire of that sound.

Jibbon is about a 15 minute walk from the ferry wharf. It’s 750 metres of curving beach stretching to a bush-covered headland which is part of Royal National Park and home to some Aboriginal carvings. A flotilla of pleasure craft are moored mostly at the eastern end of the beach while sun bathers and cricket players favour the western end. I find a patch of shade near the midway point. I sit and I write until a swim beckons.

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The water is cool but inviting and perfectly clear.

A dickhead arrives in his big motor boat, he is alone and middle-aged. He swims then sits in the sun with one of the worst radio stations in Sydney cranking from his sound system. “How’s the midlife crisis going?!” I shout but he can’t hear me over the doof-doof pouring from his speakers and making the water pulse with the bass. (Okay that didn’t happen – the shouting, the bass.)

The dickhead and his boat - I'll leave it to you to imagine the music.
The dickhead and his boat – I’ll leave it to you to imagine the music.

I sit on the beach trying to ignore the asshole and feel the sun and wind dry the sea on my skin into a fine dusting, a slight crust, of salt. I will enjoy feeling this on my skin the rest of the day and will sort of hate washing it off this evening.

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Jibbon is 30 kilometres (19 miles) from Five Dock. It’s in the Sutherland Shire Local Government Area, Heathcote State Electorate (Lee Evans, Liberal) and Cunningham Federal Division (Sharon Bird, Labor).

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It seems they may have forgotten this plaque.



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Aeroplanes and Surfing Nippers – Number 25: Eloura Beach (23 March 2013)

Another beach from under the shadows of last year … no picture to depict this as Number 25 because while I won’t remove pictures of Mitch from this blog, nor will I add any. Enjoy.

The best beach day all year, maybe, and here we are nearly to April. It’s already biting hot at 10:30, not oppressively hot but the hot that sends you into the surf, then back to your towel, then into the surf again.

The nippers have just wrapped up their session and the coach is talking with them and their parents; they’re the little ones – five and six year olds. When the official session is complete a Surf Life Saver takes a few of them, one at a time, out on the board to the buoy. A girl, who couldn’t be more than five, paddles all the way out by herself and rides in on the waves. I’m impressed and a little jealous. I’m neither that competent nor confident in the surf at 44. I was raised next to a giant lake which was frozen during part of each year – what should I know of surf?

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When we flew in over these waters a few weeks ago from our weekend away in Tasmania the sea had that hard gun-metal blue hue of autumn but it had been but a tease. Summer temperatures have returned and with it the sparkle, sparkle aqua blue of a shimmering summery sea. Gentle, simple waves break. I try bodysurfing into shore – missing a few waves before I catch one just right and I glide into the beach, head high and pushed by the eternal force of the ocean.

Eloura is the moniker attached to a stretch of beach between North Cronulla and Wanda beaches. My mate Adam warned me there’s not much here, but a good beach. When he moved to Australia from Boston as a little kid this was his beach, it’s where he learned to surf and that’s a big deal for an Australian.

Eloura is a beach without distinguishing features but its nice and full of people: families, teenagers, older couples. To our south the white and cream apartments of the Shire’s residents crowd the shore to snare their sea-views. Off to our north, the oil refinery of Kurnell and the aeroplanes appearing and disappearing behind the dunes lends an urban air.

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Eloura is an Aboriginal word meaning ‘pleasant place’.  It is 22.3 kilometres (16 miles) from home.

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Elouera is in the Southerland Shire LGA; the State Electoral District of Cronulla (Mark Speakman, Liberal) and the Federal Division of Cook (Scott Morrison, Liberal).

No 18: Cronulla Beach – 18 December 2011

We began our visit to Cronulla at Ham Harry & Mario where we had their breakfast plate: kind of a European deli take on the Australian big breakfast: prosciutto, avocado, sliced tomato, ricotta, boiled egg and good sourdough toast with a drizzle of olive oil over the lot. Tasty, filling and just a little bit different.  Coffees were good; service was fine given the busyness of the hour.

We’ve visited Cronulla once before in this project for beach number five, Blackwoods, back in March 2010.  Today we were visiting the main Cronulla beach and, as with Coogee a few weeks ago, we found it crawling with nippers.

For a fuller discussion of nippers and surf life saving see my last post.

Cronulla Beach is 22km/13.6m from home (our new home, so new measurements).

Like Coogee before it Cronulla is a familiar beach to us as we have been many times over the years.  The name is derived from kurranulla meaning ‘place of the pink seashells’ in the dialect of the Gweagal people (Wikipedia).

The coast line was explored and mapped by Matthew Flinders and George Bass in 1796 and European habitation began in 1835.

The train line to Cronulla was first built in 1885 and it is still the only of Sydney’s surf beaches serviced directly by the train which makes it accessible to a broader swathe of Sydneysiders than say Bondi or Manly.

The area is on a peninsula and is part of the Sutherland Shire. The Shire, as it’s known, has a reputation as a bastion of old mono-cultural (Anglo-Irish) Australia — the reputation seems to mostly be upheld by the people you see on the streets away from the beach: nearly all white, primarily northern European, but some Mediterranean people as well.

I’m trying to sidle up to the touchy and a bit complex issue of the 2005 Cronulla Riots.  I like this rather straightforward one-sentence definition offered by the Dictionary of Sydney:

Series of clashes and mob violence which escalated from a verbal confrontation between life savers and a group of young men of Middle Eastern appearance.

Frankly I don’t want to dwell on it and Wikipedia does a fine job summarising the events.  My two-cents: little in life is as black and white as mainstream media portrays it.  This event was fuelled, I think, by young men, pumping with testosterone, in a space of cultural conflict; add summer heat, lots of alcohol and the intentional fanning of the fires by race-baiters, shock jocks and tabloid journalists.  Oh and police caught off guard and unprepared for the chaos.  Ta da: Race Riots.

I’ll admit to feeling a bit bad for the mainstream majority of Cronulla who were tarred as a bunch of red necks because of what happened.  Frankly I think train access means all of Sydney arrives on their doorsteps on hot summer days; our city is amazingly multicultural, which is wonderful, but that means within our population we sometimes have widely divergent standards of behaviour.  I have on good, trustworthy authority that there had long been conflict on Cronulla’s beaches around the way some groups of young Muslim men behaved toward non-Muslim women and girls.  It’s not a condemnation just a realisation that some conflict is natural in a multicultural society; the challenge is how we address and diffuse that conflict.

Let’s get back to nice pictures from the beach.

Cronulla Beach is in the Sutherland Shire, the state district of Cronulla (Mark Speakman, Liberal) and the federal division of Cook (Scott Morrison, Liberal).

I found this cool image on the Dictionary of Sydney website Saturday arvo, Cronulla, 1961 by Jeff Carter:

There I also found this fascinating story of the Shark Arm Murder … which I’ll leave for you to explore on your own.


No 5: Blackwoods Beach – 28 March 2010

Blackwoods Beach was our first southern beach on this tour.  We visited just after sunrise on the morning I flew back into Sydney from the United States; Mitch collected me at the airport and we went directly to the beach.

Blackwoods is 28 kilometres (17.5 miles) from home.  It’s in Cronulla.  I think I’ll save talking about Cronulla for when we visit Cronulla Beach.  Let’s just say it’s a middle to upper middle class suburban neighbourhood which is home to predominantly multi-generation Australians of Anglo/Irish origins.

The morning of our visit to Blackwoods was quiet and peaceful.

I nearly felt bad that we might disturb this guy’s meditation but we too quietly enjoyed the rising sun.

After our dip it was time for a welcome-home breakfast at The Nun’s Pool Cafe: Awesome!

Blackwoods Beach is in the Southerland Shire LGA, the state district of Cronulla (Mark Speakman, Liberal) and federal division of Cook (Scott Morrison, Liberal).