I feel overdressed. I am wearing jeans on this bright, sunny, 21C day. My legs do not feel the heat. But my head does; I have a headache.
The first thing I notice about Balgowlah are the hils. From afar I can see the roads going up and down framed by tall and imponent palm trees.
As I start making my way around the area, a tower emerges above all the houses. It is topped by a cross. I soon discover it is an anglican church.
I look for a cafe – as usual – so I can write and have a coffee with my painkiller. They have a patio and I decide to sit there. I love that it is just me and it is quite and fresh. There is a back door that goes to the street. It reminds me of stories with secret doors that take you to magical worlds. I am tempted to sneak out and discover what is behind but I have to pay at the front so it is not appropriate. From the patio I see another tower, another church. This has the very distinctive green of old copper.
I find out that behind the mysterious door are a charity shop and a uniting church. I go into the shop whish is quite big. I look around, laugh at some funny photos they have on a wall at the back and on my way out pick up a flyer about volunteering – on a parti-time basis – at one of their shops. I may think about it.
Further down the road, there is a little shopping centre. I go in because – like the old cliche – I am drawn to malls like bees to honey. I buy a book and it makes me feel smarter than, let’s say, buying shoes.
For the last time I admire the 1960′s style of the houses around the area. I am not an architect and I wasn’t even born before or during that time but I watch tv, and movies, and read magazines so I think I know how they look. In fact, when I was born, we lived in a house built in the 60′s…or or was it in the 70′s?
I don’t know if this is cute or sad, but it definitely is different when the “city centre” of a place is 4-5 shops on one side of the road. Oh, Sydney! I love thee…but you have to give me a little bit more action here.
I go into a pizza bar. No surprise there that I am eating. Marinara pizza made the way it should. Thin, crispy, full of garlic and oregano. I was in a rush, I even burnt my palate.
I eat half the pizza and take the rest with me. I leave the half pizza in my car and decide to go for a walk. During my walk I notice that the local pharmacy closes at 1:00 p.m. on Saturdays and doesn’t open on Sundays. So, does that mean that people can’t get sick half of the weekend? You find the usual suspects; a mini-market, a hairdresser, a cafe.
It is so quite that I can hear my own shoes stepping on the concrete. The architecture of most houses tells me this is an old suburb. I see a man painting the exterior of a house. I look carefully at what colour he has on his brush. Most of the house is mint green and just a tiny corner is grey. The brush has grey. Good luck, he has a whole house to paint ahead of him. He is not the only one though as I see many houses around that are being painted or fixed.
I keep walking and suddenly I see the exact moment when a palm tree branch breaks and lands on a roof. A lady that is walking pass jumps at the noise. The branch stands vertical on the roof. I get my phone from my bag to take a picture but instead read the message my sister sent me and reply. The branch falls off the roof to the ground and I miss the photo. Note to myself: Snap away, my sister can wait!
I see I am reaching the spot where I parked my car and then see a black cat walking into a front yard. When I get to that house, I look for the cat. When I call him out, he turns around scared, stares at me and runs away. I just smile.
You must be kidding! I am in the city centre of Badgerys Creek – according to my GPS -. In reality, I am in the middle of nowhere. I have company though, cows and I can hear them mooing. I can’t believe this is considered a Sydney suburb. I drove for an hour and this is more like a country town.
I drive eight more kilometres to a winery. I don’t drink but they have a restaurant and food is exactly what I need right now. But there is no restaurant in sight: ony a wine shop and train rides for kids. I am not happy. In fact, I am “hangry”.
Travel writers the world over may stone me for this – plus Badgerys Creek’s residents, of course – but I think coming was ind of a waste of my time. Although if I stick to my own words, I have to say that I have now an “educated” opinion when it comes to this place; I can tell first-hand if I like it or not instead of taking someone else’s opinion as a fact.
I am ready to go home – so soon – and I hope I will find some food closeby. Suddenly I see a sign that says “Hubertus Country Club” (Fancy!) and after making sure they take visitors, I drive in. Well, it feels like I am in a trip within another trip. I am not in Badgerys Creek anymore – literally -. I am now in a nearby suburb/town but inside this restaurant in the country club, I am transported to Germany. And Austria, Switzerland and Hugary. The menu, the signs, some of the customers, all is German. Deutschland rettet den Tag!
I am sitting in a beautiful cafe; the type of place you would expect to see in one of the very posh suburbs. It is empty though. It is Friday after all, lunch time and there is no one around here and I mean in the whole area. I do not know anything about Abbotsbury. I only found out of its existence when I started this project. It was a one hour drive from my house; long for me, someone who feels something more than a 30 minutes drive is a road trip.
I cross the street to the reserve. The first thing I see is a sign warning not to feed the ducks. “Ducks?” – I think. And as an animal lover, I go looking for them. As soon as I reach the pond I see one. Then two. And then 10. It seems they were all hiding and came out to welcome me into their home.
I follow the trail around the park. Beautiful houses all around. None of them looks older than, maybe, 15 years. This is the type of place I would love to live in, if it wasn’t because it is so far away from the city, and for someone who still has a full time job in the middle of the CBD, that is not convenient. Perhaps when I become a full on travel writer, I will be able to live anywhere I want. Although, on a second thought, I may just move near the airport since that would be my new “office”.