Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Coogee by day and by night

Coogee by day

Every iconic coastal city should have an equally iconic beach to go with it.  Miami has the Miami Beach, Los Angeles has the Manhattan Beach, and Blackpool has the Blackpool Pleasure Beach. 

So what about Sydney?  Well the obvious answer would be the famous Bondi Beach.  However since coming here I have heard mixed reviews about Bondi Beach.  The general gist I got regarding Bondi was it is a nice looking beach but is very popular with tourists and consequently is usually very overcrowded.  

Luckily Sydney does have a few other less well known beaches to offer and one of them is Coogee Beach.
The house* and I decided we would drop by Coogee beach for the day.
*Referring to the gang of people living in the house, not the house itself.

Put another shrimp on the barbie

Our plan was to buy food and alcohol and have a barbeque on the beach which is something I felt I had to do at some point whilst in Australia.  Before I arrived in Sydney everyone I discussed Australia with mentioned barbeques.  People seem to think that having barbeques is a necessity of Australian life.
I believe this stereotype is a result of a popular TV advert that ran back in the 1980s where you saw some old guy burn food on a barbeque whilst inviting you to Australia and telling you how great it is.  This advert used the tag line “put another shrimp on the Barbie”.

Luckily you don’t even need your own here as it seems most popular beaches in Australia come equipped with public barbeques for everyone to use.

They are a good idea although they do have their issues, the main one being there are never enough of them.  We arrived at Coogee beach around midday but it wasn’t until mid afternoon that one of these public barbeques became free.  But even then we had to share it with a small group of locals and a large group of Koreans. 

The second issue with these public barbeques is that they don’t get very hot.  I slapped on a few Waitrose value burgers onto the small corner of the barbeque I managed to occupy but it took a while before they started to sizzle.  I think I would have been better off placing my burgers on the bonnet of hot cars left out in the sun.

Overall Coogee beach is nice though, with its white sand and clear blue waters.  Since it was September (Australian winter) it was too cold to venture into the water.  I could imagine that during the heat of the Australian summer Coogee beach would make an excellent retreat, especially when everyone else is flocking to Bondi beach in their masses.

Everything you want from a beach.

 Coogee by night

On a separate occasion I was invited to attend a roof top party with the house in Coogee.  The venue for this shindig was on the rooftop of a rather fancy hotel near the waterfront called the Beach Palace Hotel.
Since buying alcohol at bars in Australia is usually very expensive we made an early start and had many drinks at the house before setting off.

I didn’t go into much detail about the town of Coogee last time because the bus dropped us off right at the beach, but just like it’s beach Coogee is clean and generally a nice place to be.  Most of the streets here are lined with small cafes and bars.  It seemed the biggest building in this small town was the Beach Palace Hotel.

The roof terrace was separated into two areas, the area where the party was happening and another private area for hire.  The other area had been hired out for a kid’s birthday party by some obviously wealthy parents.  “How could they have a kid’s birthday party and an adult rooftop party full of drunks, alcohol and loud music?”  I thought to myself.  Luckily the kid’s party was just ending when we arrived.

We were amongst the first to arrive and I had that awkward feeling of when you arrive at a party and no-one else has shown up.  However it didn’t take long for the rooftop to fill up with variety of colourful characters.

Say hello to my little friend

For this event I decided to bring my DSLR camera rather than my compact.  I was worried that I’d get bored of having to carry the heavy camera around my neck all night and that people would give me funny looks, but in the end I was really glad I bought it.  I was surprised how good of an ice breaker the camera was, random people were just coming up to me wanting to talk to me and have their photo taken.  

I did make it clear that I wasn’t the event photographer but they didn’t seem to mind.  It just seems people at parties like to have their photo taken and I don’t really know why.  Perhaps it is because they have spent ages on their appearance and feel good about how they look, or maybe it makes them feel important, or perhaps it was just because they were drunk.
Random people love their photos taken.

Overall the roof top party was great.  When I usually go out on nights out I always end up in some converted basement with black walls sticky floors and annoyingly loud music.  But this was completely different.  I was on the rooftop of a nice hotel watching the sun set over the Tasman sea.

Not only was I feeling good because I was at a good party, I also felt a sense of achievement, a sense that I “had made it”.  Moving to Australia was difficult at first, I arrived in the not so nice area of King’s Cross a few months ago with a suitcase and no friends.  But now I was living in the nice and upcoming area of Surry Hills, had a decent job and a group of friends who I was at this awesome party with.  Despite the noise party and all the drunken people dancing, I felt a sense of peace within myself.

A better view than a basement wall.

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