A more-or-less perfect beach day was predicted for Sunday: mostly sunny and 28 degrees. Although I was spending Thursday and Friday in Canberra at a bicycle tourism conference I put out a call for at least one beach-goer to join us. We had reached 21 and would need a hand to make it work.
Things didn’t look good, we’d received a lot of regretful ‘no’s. Then a twinkle of hope on Saturday from L1 and another from Dave M. The day dawned perfect — sunny, warm – like Sydney’s entire summer had come at once. L1 bailed but Dave was up for it so off we went.
We rode our bicycles to Burwood Station, caught the train to Wynard Station and got the L85 bus north to Dee Why.
Dee Why is just about 30 kilometres or 18.5 miles from our home.
From the bus stop on Pittwater Road down to the beach is about a 10 minute walk through a residential neighbourhood dominated by low-slung red brick flats from the 1970s and ‘80s.
Jim has often said, as we drive through Dee Why, that Dee Why is the Marrickville of the Northern Beaches. I see what he means is that it is a bit more multicultural and a little less well off. Or, as Dave would put it later in the day, ‘a bit of a ghetto and hot-spot for street crime’ – pointing out the main bus interchange as a place where a lot of robbery and fighting happens.
Can’t say it reminded me much of Marrickville but for having similar style flats which were, as some are in Marrickville, a little over lived-in: lots of stuff on balconies, furniture-sized rubbish left behind on the kerb by departing residents, etc.
Dee Why is a lovely beach. A grassy reserve with playground hugs the beach. The park slopes down from the headland to the south which divides Dee Why from North Curl Curl – a lush green parkland with a healthy towering row of Norfolk Island pines. A local road divides the beach and reserve from a retail strip: good-looking cafes, fish and chips and burger joints, sit-down Italian and Japanese amongst others. The beach is wide and long; at the southern end there is a splash pool and lap pool and surf break off the headland which was offering good waves to a dozen surfers.
As this was Sydney’s one day of summer for the 2011/12 season there were literally thousands of people on the beach, in the reserve and flushing money through the tills of the cafes. The last beach we visited that was this chockers was No. 6: Bondi Beach (18 April 2010) and, frankly, Dee Why was even more crowded.
I had enjoyed Bondi in spite of, or perhaps because of, its busyness. Dee Why, on the other hand, not so much – maybe it was the crowd, maybe because we’d arrived a bit late in the day and I was a bit hungry, maybe because we had other plans for later in the day.
The crowd was made somewhat worse by the rough surf conditions and rips which left the flags only about 10 metres apart corralling hundreds of swimmers into one narrow stretch of sea. The Surf Life Savers were on high-alert and we saw them go in to pull several people out. Not all these were ‘rescues’ but at least one was as the ambulance came to treat a girl who, I think, had been dumped on a sandbar. Their high-alert kind of added a tension to the scene.
Having had No. 20: Currawong to ourselves last week the difference couldn’t have been more stark. Which added to my … not dislike of Dee Why but more, just, I wasn’t as relaxed as I’d have liked. We spent about an hour on the beach – Mitch and Dave caught a few waves (and got dumped by a few as well), I went in up to my belly or so, we took some photos and people watched for a bit.
Then I was too hungry to wait longer for food and we found a table outside of Sushi Kenzo: good warm, slightly salty edamame is a pretty perfect beach food, especially with a cold Asahi beer. I had the California roll and Mitch the chicken teriyaki – all good.
Dee Why is in the local government area of Warringah; the state electorate of Wakehurst (Brad Hazzard, Liberal); and the federal division of Mackellar (Bronwyn Bishop, Liberal).
Next up will be beach number 22: Delwood.