Last week I parted, reticently and rather sourly, with thirty-five Australian dollars to be led by a scruffy man in a silly hat a merry dance around the streets of Melbourne to look mainly at street art and the interior of a bank. As you’ll see from the inherent bitterness filtering all the way through that last sentence, the wound is still raw.

Yesterday went some way to repairing that damage. China’s pal Bets has a job interview for a nanny for a young couple who live between Coogee and Bondi beaches. Meeting Bets at Coogee Beach and equipping myself for the hike ahead as only the thinking man’s triathlete can, via the energising powers of a lamb & rosemary pie* washed down with a pot of Earl Grey, I’m ready for the six kilometre trek.

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Bets has spent a bit of time in Sydney so acts as our tour guide and is delightful company. The walk takes us from the understated loveliness of Coogee Beach, where every square inch of sand or grass bank has been settled on slovenly by variations of slowly roasting human flesh, along an undulating coastal path to one of this country’s signature sights and a Mecca for anyone who’s ever bought a pair of Billabongs.
The blazing mid-afternoon sun means it’s as hot as Isa Guha while the route is more hilly than three people who spent the previous night in an Irish Bar would reasonably like it to be. The pathway meanders through Clovelly, Bronte and Tamarama, all teeming with locals and tourists politely jostling for surf space, while the piercing effervescent sea and its gentle breeze prove the perfect antidote to the heat.

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We head for some shade while Bets speaks to her new employers. China takes a dip in the sea as bronzed, shirtless muscle bound all-Aussie kinda guy approaches me. “Aw look mate, I’m not being gay or anything but can you spray some lotion on my back?” He’s big, real big. Probably a prop forward for Cronulla Sharks. Or a lifeguard. Or a male stripper. Not being gay? You couldn’t get more gay if he’d have minced up with Kenneth Williams on his arm asking if I fancied making up a threesome for the matinee performance of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
I’m either getting punched or, indeed, fisted if I refuse, so to China’s great amusement and badly muffled giggling, I apply, as manfully as is possible when asked to perform such a request, the aforementioned spray. I make quite a good job of it as it happens, though luckily Bets returns from her interview in the nick of time and we make a sharp exit before the budgie smugglers come out. On the final stretch we pass Waverley Cemetry, a vast expanse of head stones and tributes overlooking the Tasman Sea that marks the dead centre of our walk.

Sorry.

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Reaching Bondi we look around for something to eat, but decide, due to the vastness of the crowds and menu prices to head back to town. On the bus back, I watch on hopefully as a dozen or so tanned lovelies saunter past to find seating at the back of the vehicle. The unoccupied seat next to me is eventually taken by Johnny Vegas’s Bogan brother.
More badly muffled giggling from China.

Feeling like we’ve earned it, we head to George Street for a McScruffy’s steak & chips (Hello Jim!) but our tour of Sydney enters its second leg. Bets needs her baggage transporting from her hotel to the bus stop, a further four kilometres stroll around the city. As gentlemen, it’s the least we can do as a thank you for an enjoyable day. And this time we don’t get charged thirty-five bucks for the privilege….

*Pie-Day Friday Five Word Review: Probably not worth a review.

P.S. Where’s Wally? Scan the beach scene above to find the guy doing press ups in the middle of the beach.
“1001, 1002, 1003…. Oh-h, it’s the deep burn! Oh, it’s so deep! Oh, I can barely lift my right arm ’cause I did so many. I don’t know if you heard me counting, I did over a thousand.”

Knobhead.

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