Sydney North Shore Beaches

Date: 21/03/2007 | Author: Gabby

So we stayed at a couple of backpackers in New Zealand and they weren't that bad. Looking for accommodation in Sydney we read about an 'award winning' Youth Hostel on Collaroy Beach on the north shores of Sydney. It sounded great, pool, free internet, family rooms with ensuite bathrooms and great communal facilities. All that for only $84 per night if we stayed there for the week! Dave wasn't that familiar with the area but thought it was just north of Manly Beach with it's easy access to the city. Ideal, or so we thought.........
Arriving in Sydney during rush hour meant we had to fight our way through nightmare traffic, over the Harbour Bridge and through the sprawling northern suburbs. By this time we realised that Collaroy was at least 6km north of Manly, so too far for a casual stroll for dinner. Never mind, we were sure Collaroy itself would have a lot going for it. Well, the beach was nice, but the local restaurants consisted of a local RSL (exact translation: Returned Services League - NSW is full of them!) a take-away chicken shop and a BYO Thai restaurant!
Unfortunately, things went from bad to worse. The shared facilities in the hostel may have been great but when we were shown our room I was really disappointed. It was on the ground floor and the window was tiny so the bright neon light had to be on constantly, it just about squeezed in a double and pair of bunk beds (no room to swing a cat) and it had that vague smell of unwashed bodies! Even Ella said it was like a prison cell - not that she has ever been in one. I wasn't very happy about it so the next day asked to move rooms. We moved to the 2nd floor to a slightly brighter room, moderately bigger but still smelly. I still wasn't happy and managed to take it out on the rest of the family! I didn't think I could do anything about it - we'd paid a week upfront!
After a gorgeous day enjoying the delights of Whale Beach, a black cloud passed over me as we headed back to Collaroy - I just didn't want to be there. After the 6th row with Dave within about 3 days (cos I was miserable!) I decided to bite the bullet and look for somewhere else to stay. I was told that we'd lose a night's cost if we moved out the next day as they had a 48 hour cancellation policy - $84 - what a bargain! Armed with just a small Sydney guide I managed to find a room at the funky but slightly shabby Manly Lodge right in Manly, 2 minutes from the beach and 2 minutes from the wharf where the ferries take you across Sydney Harbour in to the city. A family suite for $195 per night - we all thought it was worth it! I guess I'm not cut out for youth hostelling - apart from a school trip to Italy when I was 15 I have never stayed in one before. I'm not sure I'll be staying in one again.
A final farewell present from Collaroy Beach House - the fire alarm went off at about 5.30am on our last night there. All of us had to get out of bed and gather outside while the fire brigade went in to give the all clear, all because some silly sod had decided to light a mosquito coil in his room with the window closed - I have never been so glad to check out of a place!
4 days in Manly and we all absolutely loved it! I ran along the beach every morning and we all managed a swim before breakfast. It's full of cafes, bars and restaurants - we didn't have to get in a car once. Jess came over for a night with her boyfriend and flatmate. I caught up with an old friend from Bristol. We even managed to sort out all the chores we needed to do as well as take part in a working boat race on the harbour to celebrate the 75th birthday of the Harbour Bridge.
Manly's a great place, it feels like an island yet is so close to the city. The people who live there undoubtedly have a great quality of life and if you work in the city, what better way to get there than across Sydney's beautiful harbour?
I love Sydney, find me a lovely property close to the beach in Manly, a great job and I'd be very tempted to move there!

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