First of all, let’s just dismiss the idea that any 12-to-15-hour flight in economy class can ever be “enjoyable,” or even comfortable. It’s just something one has to endure if one wants to experience the Southern Hemisphere. We arrived this time via Auckland, which just added to the amount of time spent in transit. Too bad we couldn’t have stopped for longer in New Zealand–perhaps another time.
So here we are back in Australia, our second home (we’re dual citizens), still in jet lag, and me with an airplane-induced cold. But it’s summer in Australia, and we are in Pearl Beach, a very upscale beach community about an hour and a half to the north of Sydney. Our friends Bruce and Diane Swalwell have lived here in one place or another since we first came to Australia in 1990; we met them 40 years ago, when we were all dorm parents while in graduate school in Philadelphia. Our kids grew up together. Pearl Beach is the most perfect beach for children, since it has limited waves, and a beautiful strand to walk on, plus fascinating rocks and tide pools to explore. It received its name from Arthur Phillip, Captain of the First Fleet, in 1788, when he spotted the cove while exploring this part of the coast; he said the waves breaking against the beach looked like a strand of pearls. And they do!
And it’s high summer in Australia! No better place to experience essential aspects of Australian life than at the beach in January: kids playing cricket in the sand, families with all their beach gear walking and biking down the road, wet bodies walking up to the showers or to their cars. And there couldn’t be a more salubrious setting than Pearl Beach, with its jungle-like bush around, and its overwhelming number of birds and wildlife surrounding the beach. And to hear kookaburras again is just music to my ears.
The Swalwells’ house is a block from Pearl Beach’s Arboretum, a lovely left-wild but well-cared for parcel filled with the most glorious red gums and ferns and cabbage trees. The paths are tended by the village’s residents; flyers on the trails list the “Birds of Pearl Beach,” which number more than 100. We didn’t see any there this time, but the vegetation was as beautiful as ever.
Oh, to be able to live here! But alas, as with most of Australia’s East Coast, the house prices are obscene, even for falling-down fibros. So we will have to look further afield, even for rentals. But aren’t we lucky that we can visit this wonderful place?