A Day North of the Hawkesbury with a Reminder of a 1980s Band

Yeah. Long title for a blog post, I know. But couldn’t think what to call it so that’s it.

Last weekend we took the relatively short trip up the coast to the start of what is called ‘The Central Coast’. Basically north of Sydney but south of Newcastle. We stopped in a place called Umina Beach which is part of quite a large urban residential area that just seems to have grown in the middle of nowhere with no real industry or major sources of employment around. Yet thousands of houses. Look at it on google maps and you will see what I mean.

Will be nice when the weather picks up…

It is only about 40 kilometres from Sydney as the crow flies. But to get there by road takes about an hour and a half as there is no straight run. Fortunately almost all the buildings are no more than two storeys high so it is quite a pleasant little area. There are other little places not far from the urban sprawl that is Woy Woy, Blackwall, Umina Beach and Ettalong Beach. (Basically all one stretch of residential housing with a few high streets thrown in here and there.) Like Pearl Beach and Patonga Beach for example. Again look them up on google maps.

View from inland
Umina Beach to the left…

This area is built on the north side of the mouth of the Hawkesbury River inlet. On the south side of the inlet is the Barrenjoey Lighthouse and Palm Beach area that we visited a while back (the setting for the Aussie soap opera ‘Home and Away’). This whole area is not unlike Sydney Harbour (or Port Jackson, to give it its proper name) in its geographical layout. Plenty of little coves, some off of other coves and green lush hillsides. Of course most of Sydney is built up so not so lush any more. It is quite a pleasant little enclave, although the weather was fairly bleak. Grey mostly and plenty of rain over the weekend.

The quay at Patonga Beach
Pelicans relaxing in the bay
Patonga Beach
Great little hotel and restaurant in Patonga Beach

I definitely want to take a boat ride up the Hawkesbury River when the weather gets a little better and the days longer.

Barrenjoey Lighthouse is on that hilltop near centre of picture

Highlight – The Teardrop Explodes in Umina

While walking around Umina Beach town centre I spotted an interesting shop on a side street. The sign read: Shop 55 Vintage Clothing Boutique. So I walked in and there was indeed some interesting looking clobber on display.

No sooner had I started rummaging through the racks of clothes than the guy behind the counter asked me to use the hand sanitiser before touching anything. I detected a familiar accent. Well, at least more familiar than I was used to hearing this past six months. I asked him where he was from and he told me. London. So we had a good old chat.

It turns out that he is a well known bass guitarist and former member of (among others) a band from the early 80s called ‘The Teardrop Explodes’. I remember them well and have their most famous album ‘Kilimanjaro’ – almost certainly in my mum’s attic still. But I did not know his name. Probably because most people – me included- only recall the band’s front-man, Julian Cope; so often the way with these things. Also he was not a founder member.
Note: Actually I think The Teardrop Explodes started off in the (very) late 70s but hey…

Anyway, just to set the record straight, his name is Ronnie François. He has been in Australia for some 20 years having toured all over the world with various bands. We had a good old chin-wag – about a few things including the old music scene – and it kind of made my day.

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