Monday, November 30, 2009

Too darn hot

 Wilma looks on PB250005

Sydney's had several bouts of high temperatures, with the mercury circling 40ºC in the middle of the day. On some of these days neither Munson nor I leave the house. When it's not too bad in the evening we venture to the park. There the dogs try to play under the shade of the tree next to our favourite hillock.

Batman & Munson PB270002

Munson & Morrissey (4mo) 

On Wednesday we welcomed a new malamute puppy to Sydney Park: Morrissey is a 4mo boy with very similar markings to Munson, and is half brother to Billie. I suspect he may outgrow Munson given the relative sizes of their paws and parents!  There are quite a few new big pups at the park: Wilma is a 4mo German Shepherd, yet to grow into her ears and tail; Argos is a 4mo Landseer Newfoundland who will undoubtedly outgrow everyone before long; and then Buddy is a 10mo Australian bulldog.

Buddy is not as large as Munson, but he seems to outweigh him already. The bromance between Munson and Buddy is a sight to see, as they wrestle endlessly regardless of the weather. I don't think a visit to the park is complete for Munson unless Buddy makes an appearance.

Size aside, Munson has become the de facto guardian cum policeman among the two-three dozen regulars at the park. He checks that puppy brawls don't get too rough, and when new dogs turn up, vets them carefully as Bondi used to do. Even with this role, he still likes having small dogs crawl all over him. One day he trotted out to the centre of the village green to say hello to a tiny silky terrier. He lay down next to it and waved his paws around to invite it to play. Finally he rolled onto his back and it clambered onto his belly. Magic.

Dackel Chips, Pierre, Munson & Wilma Pierre, Wilma and Munson 

One day this week we sitting on the hill while Munson raced around with his friends Jet and Taffy. A new dog turned up that wanted to play roughly with Jet without the appropriate sniff-and-assess introduction. Some of the folks sitting next to me noted that Munson was running around herding the new dog away from his mates, and having a few warning words when it crossed a line behaviour-wise. When Bondi was younger his tactic was to stand between two warring dogs, so they couldn't even see each other; it was like a Berlin Wall had suddenly been rolled out to divide them.

Munson & Hayden (age 15yr)Munson seeking shade

Munson & Teddy Teddy & Munson at Boat Harbour

On Sunday morning I got a call from Teddy's owner inviting us to join them down on the north end of Wanda Beach at Cronulla. I've never been down here before,  but this area (also known as Boat Harbour) has 4WD access on to a 2km stretch of sand, and dogs are also officially permitted off-leash. I believe this makes it the only ocean beach in all of Sydney where dogs have such access. Several others which had a decades-long record of dog access have been lost in recent years, even where the beach or bay has little to no human activity or wildlife presence. Sydney has fifty ocean beaches and many more harbour beaches on Port Jackson, Pittwater and Botany Bay, so the access level is pretty poor.

Eedra Zay was quoted in a newspaper article last year about the restrictions in the northern areas thus:

Unless they go for a long drive, most Sydney dog owners can forget about giving their pet a day by the sea. Eedra Zay, of the owners' lobby group Barking Mad, says the city's dogs are short-changed when it comes to beach access.

"Warringah and Pittwater councils expect people from 69,879 homes who own 28,845 dogs to drive to one legal area [Rowland Reserve, Bayview] to swim their dogs and this area has 26 car spaces," Zay says. "This is crazy when most of these people live within walking distance of a beach."

Sydney's public transport policy being what it is, you can't get to most parks or beaches unless you have access to a private vehicle.

Munson at Boat Harbour

Driving directions to Boat Harbour hereAn entry fee of about $20 applies, but you can get a 6 month season ticket for about $100. While you require a 4WD to travel along the beach, there is a car-park for regular vehicles at the top of the beach, and you can walk a few hundred metres along to the sandy stretch. For other dog off-leash areas in the Sutherland Shire Council area, check this page - NB the Boat Harbour area is referred to as Wanda.


  1. Wow - very hot. Glad we are entering winter here. And what a great new puppy pal!

  2. Teal'c says: Oi! Teddy is my friend, only my human has been sooo busy lately that we didn't catch up much :( But he introduced us to that beach as well - it is awesome!!!! The surf is so much fun!

    Anyway we also know Wilma! She is a real beauty - despite the huge ears :) Have a look here, my human did a photo shoot with her! WILMA