Walking Balmain and Birchgrove in Sydney, Australia

Another beautiful day –

although most days you don’t know that it will be a beautiful day until mid-morning because you wake to a dark sky. By 10, the clouds have disappeared, and the weather is perfect.

Walking Balmain and Birchgrove

Today we are doing another walking trip, this time to Balmain and Birchgrove. We take the train the two stops to Circular Quay and hop on the ferry to Balmain East, which is a hop and a skip from Pyrmont, on the west side of Darling Harbour – although it feels like a million miles from the city.

This is not our first trip to Balmain – we were here a week ago for dinner and show at Café Tatu (unfortunately now closed), but it is our first opportunity to explore. We walk past Victorian terrace after Victorian terrace, either recently renovated or in the process of being restored, and in the process, the working class neighbourhood is being altered beyond recognition.

As always in Sydney, the city’s unique geography means that we are amply rewarded in our little expeditions with fantastic views everywhere we turn. Although we have been here long enough to know better, it still catches our breath when we turn a corner, and there is the bridge, magnificently soaring out of the terrace rooftops.

The Birchgrove Ferry Stop

The Birchgrove ferry stop is down a street bordered by beautiful old mansions; all renovated or in the process of being restored. We aren’t sure why there are mansions on this street when the neighbourhood was apparently working class until recently, but as we walk, we realize that we are on a long peninsula and the houses on both sides of the street back onto the harbour. We get to the ferry stop just in time to see the boat pulling out – and learn that the next ferry won’t come for about 1 hour – not enough time to walk back to Balmain. We are just nicely relaxed, lying on the grass enjoying the day, when the mobile rings: Graham wondering when to pick us up – we’re all dining at Eric’s tonight. We tell him where we are, after exclamations of surprise that we should have ended up in Birchgrove and not Balmain were we started! Graham says he’ll pick us up in 15 minutes.

We stop at Graham’s place, which is quite close by, take a photo of the view, pick some wine to take to Eric’s – we get champagne – oops, sparking wine – at the corner bottle shop. Australians are all mad for sparkling wine; we’ve never seen so much champagne drunk as here.

Bali, Here We Come

Eric produces a bounty of information about Bali for us. Then Vicky and Ron arrive, and another feast is produced, with no visible effort by Eric. Graham, Greg and I head off at about 10 – tonight is for some Mardi Gras Dancing. We arrive and dance ourselves silly, enjoying the craziness. We meet some new friends, Robert and Mark. Mark turns out to be a talented DJ and gives us his latest CD – our first new music since leaving home (we are carrying about 300 of our CDs, in MP3 format, on our laptop hard drive).

We dance till the wee hours of the morning.

Our Excellent Campervan Adventure Begins
Pulling Open Our Balinese Doors and Stepping Out.
Some Ancient Sea-Dog Superstitions
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