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A forced change of plans leads to a great but soggy walk along the Australian shore

On my first day in Australia I decided to do a walk about - the old-white-lady-colonial version of the spiritual quest the aboriginal people of this country call a walkabout.

Aboriginal walkabouts can last several months through the bush as boys transition to manhood. My walk about lasted several hours along the coast as I tried to meet the goal I set for myself when my original plans for a hike in the mountains fell through.

First, the arrival in this great city. Look carefully and you can see the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge behind my big head.

I had booked a trip to see the sunset and wildlife in the Blue Mountains that stand sentinel west of Sydney. That adventure was to run from noon to 10 pm in on Sunday of this week.

But the ship unexpectedly parked in the harbour, instead of the dock, and promised to transport us to shore by tender (small boats). We were told the last tender would return to the Poesia at 10 pm. That was too tight a timeframe, so I had to cancel the mountain trip.

I decided instead to walk the ocean-side trail along rugged shore from Bondi Beach, the famous kilometre-long stretch of white sand south of Sydney Harbour, to Coogee Beach, another bit of sand a distance to the south.

I took the city bus to Bondi and went for a quick dip in the surf. Because I was alone, I was wary of leaving my bag with phone, passport, money, credit cards etc unguarded on the sand for very long. So ... it was into the water, splash, and out.

Now I had sandy feet and was preparing to walk for several kilometres. So I sat on a rock near the shore to rinse them off, and got completely washed over by a giant wave - clothes, phone, towel, shoes, everything. (Pro tip ... at Bondi, there are showers just above the beach for washing wet and sandy feet and bodies ... something of which I was unaware at the time of my misfortune.) Fortunately the phone was saved with a bit of towelling, but the rest of me was soaked.

Anyhoo ... I set off on the walk in soggy pants, drenched socks and shoes, and covered in sand washed in from the surf.

Up hills and down, past one beautiful beach after another. Because it was a fabulous Sunday afternoon, every spot on every beach was populated by sun-worshippers. Families, lovers, many lean and tattooed gay men from the International Pride festival that was taking place.

This below was Cloverly which was more of a giant wave pool than a beach, but I went in just to say I did.

At one point I stopped to ask lifeguards if I was on the right path to Coogee Beach and they said 'yes' but pointed out that it was very far (no doubt looking at the old, perspiring, bedraggled woman in front of them and thinking I was not up to the trek.)

I stopped for an ice cream along the way - I have decided not to pass up ice cream when it presents itself on this circumnavular trip. And I made it to Coogee in about three and a half hours. My Fitbit says it was 13 k --- but all of it was hills.

I was almost dry by then, and the sand had mostly fallen off me. But I am sure the person who sat after me in the seat I occupied on the bus back to the boat was wondering why it was a bit wet.

I was planning to change and go out for dinner but I was exhausted so I stayed on board and had a quiet meal watching the Sydney cityscape from the open upper deck.

And then the ship moved into port unexpectedly at 6 pm. So I could have done the damn Blue Mountains after all!!!

But hey. We were treated onboard to a dance by local indigenous people and John the Irishman and I watched from above.

Then I crashed very early with 25,000 steps on my Fitbit.

The following day, Josie, Virginia and a bunch of our English speaking friends took the free five-hour tour of Sydney offered by the ship. Our excellent guide told us about the colonial history - so many interesting stories about the convicts that settled this continent.

We had an hour-long tour of the Opera House. It was magnificent. I could show pictures but it would not do justice.

Below are the three of us Canadian girls and our dinner companions, Tilka and Ed (the retired nurse and doctor from Florida), after we had wandered through the wood and concrete halls.

We stopped at a place called Mrs. Macquarie's chair which is a chair cut into the rock by convicts in 1810 so the wife of a former governor could watch for incoming ships.

Doris and Liz, two cousins from Manitoba who are among the seven English-speaking Canadians on the ship (along with the Windsor sisters, a couple from Alberta, and me), took a seat in the chair as I took pictures.

The bus then drove through Sydney streets and suburbs which were decorated at every turn with rainbow flags in honour of the Pride festival. And we ended up we at Bondi Beach where Josie took this picture of me.

When the tour ended, I asked to be let off in downtown Sydney so I could walk back to the boat. I grabbed a sandwich and a glass of wine at a cafe - it is just nice to eat off ship for a change - and shopped for some essentials.

All and all, Sydney was fab!

We are now off for Brisbane - which may be a bit of a disaster because we have so little time on shore. But I am hoping for good things.

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