Sunday, September 07, 2008

3 Sydney Walks

After days of rain and a lingering scent of wet under-exercised fur around the house, today's sunshine was an incredible relief. First stop was Cremorne Point on Sydney's "Lower North Shore" from whence I commuted to the "upper south shore" for a period c.1987

Slightly underwhelming fish+chips lunch at Balmoral Beach, thankfully not overcrowded and parking possible within 5 minutes walk of the waterfront. One guy was very keen to find out names of breeders to obtain one. I suggested he try the RSPCA pound, as mals are sadly one of the most dumped breeds in Australia. A few weeks ago I was commended by an RSPCA worker who spotted my troupe at Glebe markets; she said she didn't often see them loved or treated well by owners here and said that a large litter had just been turned into "death row" that morning. While pet stores are still allowed to sell (very rapidly growing) mammals over the counter here without any vetting, owners who grow bored of the effort to raise their dogs simply abandon any attempt to train them and send these magnificent, intelligent creatures off to the pound.

A meander around Neutral Bay shops on the way back, garnering a free espresso at a coffee shop where the staff couldn't figure out how to rethread a cash-register roll and thus gain access to the cash tray. I showed them the miraculous manual trip switch on the base and voila! the drawer shot out. I felt even more virtuous when a couple dining outdoors commended me on the demeanour and appearance of my two young charges.

A much more amusing reaction was noted a few weeks earlier on King St in Newtown. A woman pushing her 3yr-old along in a pram, was so surprised by the sight of B&M that she crashed the pram into the front of a shop and her rather eloquent but goggle-eyed son cried out "FUUUUCK! ... THAT's a big dog!".

Less pleasing was my experience last Sunday when walking the two along the Sydney city waterfront from Hickson Road, through the Rocks, along Circular Quay and around Bennelong Point. I was taking the time to explain some of the history of the area to my companion (eg the markers showing the 1788 shoreline, and the Writers Walk plaques). All was going magically until we were about 100m from the Opera House, and a security guard came trotting over to say that dogs were not allowed anywhere near the place (in fact not past the Macquarie St roundabout) for nebulous "health and safety" reasons. I wondered what was so magically different about this area that nice (leashed) dogs were such a threat to all - but I put it down partly to relentlessness nannyism of civic authorities here, and the universal penchant for security guards to justify their keep by keeping the ambient threat level high (unlike police or militia who want the reverse). How different to walking down London's Pall Mall (where there are genuine security issues) and being welcomed by the Town Crier of London).

I noticed this plaque for Anthony Trollope with an quotation whose experience you could read as having reversed since 1873.

Final stop was the Glebe eastern harbour shoreline, the walkway at the other end of the Blackwattle Bay excursion we tried two weeks earlier.

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