At the beginning of May we saw the Icelandic folk/pop/alt band Of Monsters and Men in the Concert Hall of the Sydney Opera House. The Opera House opens its doors to contemporary artists pretty often as I’ve seen a few bands there over the years. We were seated in the stalls for the first time, which gave us a real close up view.
Listening to their albums, I’m aware that the band is a large one, having two lead singers, but I wasn’t quite prepared for 9 to 12 people on the stage!
The audience was a real mix, from under 20’s to over 60’s – a real surprise given that the group is only 5 years old and doesn’t get a lot of mainstream radio play. I guess these days people can discover new music in all sorts of ways.
They played the content of their two albums, and a few odds and ends, and their music sounded grander on stage than on their album. To me, they are one of those bands that sound better live than on their recordings. It even brought the crowd to their feet every now and then!
And yes, the smoke machine and strobe lighting was in use. Not surprising given the atmospheric nature of much of their songs.
All in all, a good night out.
The sun sets fast in autumn, so it wasn’t long until we got a glimpse of a lovely sunset over Umina Beach.
Soon it will be winter solstice, and perhaps a wet patch, so let’s enjoy the beach-going weather while it lasts.
I can’t quite believe that Bridie the Beagle is now at the ripe old age of 13. She’s well into pensioner age now and much of the time is content to lounge about.
Unless she senses another dog ‘invading’ her territory.
Or when there’s a beach walk on the cards.
That’s when she gets really active, behaving more like a disobedient pup (do beagles ever grow out of this stage?)
Sprinting, jogging, and all the while sniffing out the many scents on the beach. She particularly likes seaweed!
This spell of warm weather seems never-ending at the moment. Today it was 28C here in Sydney, warm enough to enjoy the beach. These photos though were a few weeks ago during the Anzac Day weekend. Umina Beach was surprisingly deserted for a long weekend.
There was very little swimming going on even though the water temperature hadn't dipped as yet.
I think there were more dogs than people in the water that afternoon.
After a light lunch on-board, we arrived at the waterside hamlet of Marlow, on the northern side of the Hawkesbury.
Once again, it’s a community with boat-only access – which means no town water or sewerage, although they do have power and garbage collection. Unlike Dangar Island though, it takes a bit more effort to reach this place, the nearest road access being via a track from the M1.
Nevertheless, there are some nice houses – some look quite historic.
There’s mail to be delivered and collected here, and the local dog to treat. Boots the dog (named because of his white paws) expects a biscuit every day.
And all too soon we are cruising back downstream to Brooklyn. A nice way to discover the Hawkesbury.
Pretty soon we were cruising past long stretches of bush and mangroves. With national parks on both sides of the river on this stretch, there was nary a house in sight. The landscape here has probably changed little in 200 years.
Being mid-week, there weren’t even many boats on this stretch of river, except for this fishing boat. Fishing and oyster farming used to be the mainstays of the lower Hawkesbury. These days it’s almost impossible to make a living from these industries. The oyster industry has been particularly hit hard in recent years due to disease.
Further upstream, we pass under the Pacific Highway/M1 bridges. Not so exciting as the railway bridge, but important bridges nonetheless since Sydney would be very cut off northwards if they were to go down.
Then it was cruising into the great Australian bush.
The Hawkesbury sandstone has been sculpted by the elements into all sorts of shapes here.
From Dangar Island, we cruised to the Hawkesbury River railway bridge.
When Sydneysiders think of bridges important bridges, they automatically think of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, but this bridge is actually on-par with the Harbour Bridge as it links Sydney by rail to not just the Central Coast and Newcastle, but to the rest of Australia.
Before the bridge, passengers (and goods) had to get on a steamer at Brooklyn and travel 3 hours across Broken Bay and Brisbane Waters to Gosford, hence it was important that a bridge was built, and built to last.
Unfortunately the first bridge constructed didn’t turn out that way. It was first opened way back in 1889, and at the time it broke all sorts of construction records, including the deepest bridge foundations in the world (at 49m below the water) and 4th largest bridge in the world. But by 1938 the bridge needed to be replaced due to severe cracks in the pier, among other things. The current bridge was constructed during WWII as a replacement and opened in 1946. The old bridge was taken apart, and nothing remains except for its sandstone piers and tunnel (now used as storage).
The new bridge hasn’t had as many problems as the old bridge (I guess they learned from the old bridge). It’s also good to see they’re still taking care of it in the 21st Century, since it’s still a very important part of Sydney’s transport system.
Our first mail stop was at Dangar Island, just off Brooklyn. It is a settled island with ‘facilities’ (electricity, sewerage, and garbage pickup) but no cars.
As you can see, all the residents (and pets) get around by boat. Some even commute to work from here.
The island’s public jetty has ferries to the mainland, and a rural fire service boat in case of emergencies.
The riverboat drops off and picks up not only mail but supplies as well. It’s a crucial service!
We’re back on the Hawkesbury again, this time on its lower reaches, and on the water with the Hawkesbury Riverboat Postman. Yes, it’s a cruise that also delivers mail to the river-only-access communities of the Lower Hawkesbury.
The cruise started and ended in Brooklyn, which has the honours of having a train station and a fully-fledged marina.
However it somehow still manages to remain a fisherman’s village. The harbour itself is more practical rather than pretty.