Christmas Eve, the sun shining, the sky deep blue and it was breezy.It was 2.30pm when we headed off in the BMW - sun roof open. Our point of interest was snorkelling in the Cabbage Tree Aquatic Reserve. So Manly, Harbord and Shelly beaches were the initial targets. So hungry by then.
A quiet day at Manly Beachside Restaurants
Amid the rapidly closing café’s along the Manly Esplanade we settled for the Manly Grill and sat on the footpath among the passing parade and almost within reach of the waves. Fish and chips for me and rack of lamb for Gary. Something happens when Gary and good food meet – instant all encompassing infatuation – pure gustatory love culminating in satisfied lip smacking murmurs of delight and then he’s done, mellowed, reminiscent of a purring cat just waiting to pounce on the next opportunity.
Looking south,over surf board stack towards Shelley Beach
We are recharged enough now to embark on the main game of the day despite the late hour – already 5pm, but it is the summer solstice, the most sunlight that can ever be packed into a summer day.
Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve - Shelley Beach
We take the walk from Manly round to Shelley Beach and revel in the momentary ownership of this well heeled and beautiful seascape – surely one of Sydney’s best, but there are so many.
Family fun on the beach
And there we are at Shelley beach, so much like joining a family picnic.
No wind and the water glistening and turquoise. I made camp on the bouldered viewing platform perched over the snorkelling arena and spotted at least half a dozen snorkelers in this lovely protected bay.
Togs on, magic mask and flippers in hand. And my newly acquired underwater digital camera. I’m in...
It’s nearly 6pm( daylight saving time) but Gary keeps reminding me that it’s really only 5pm.
Our first underwater shot
This was what the whole day was leading up to, cool, crystal clear water, late day sun, the magic mask in its element. I feel so desensitised now that there is no fear of the unknown creature from the deep. I relax and just Be with the water.Suddenly a shoal of tiny stripped fish appear and waft in front of me – so quiet and delicate – wonder and delight have replaced fear – and this sensation of being in the water, yet breathing and my eyes remain dry behind the magic mask. I glide around, the tiny fish coming and going. Such a satisfactory effort.
I want to come back another sunny day to venture further – round the rocky point, the fish will be bigger and the experience more daring but sufficient unto this day we pack up and cross the sands of Shelley beach through the casual Christmas eve gatherings of family picnics, beach football and cricket. Its approaching dusk. We’re spent and the Christmas crowd is just getting started.