7.20pm, Friday 16th July, Glebe, Sydney, New South Wales
Another tremendous clear sky day here in Sydney, and before we get to our adventures today – let me sort out yesterday.
Things went pretty well as I outlined at the Kings Cross internet cafe. We ended up around at the Australian 18 Footers Club in Double Bay for lunch – one of the absolutely best-kept secrets in Sydney! The building shares a jetty right on Double Bay with the inner harbour ferries, and we sat on the deck right out front !
Now what are the 18 Footers all about? That was my question.
It turns out that 18-foot skiff sailing on Sydney Harbour started back in 1892 and developed into an organised ‘sailing league’ in 1935. Your man J.J. Giltinan got involved and planned a proper “World Championship” for these sailboats in 1938 in Sydney to coincide with the city’s 150th anniversary, and that has developed into the modern day sailing season that runs from October to March each year – with a fleet of 20-25 boats owned by the club, which is still situated at Double Bay.
Now they have their own restaurant, lounge and bar which is open year-round – and the spectator boat that loads up with 200 supporters and heads out on Sunday afternoon race days in season, with their own on-board bookie and bar.
The club has a fabulous history, and seeing as JJ Giltinan was also instrumental in setting up the NSW rugby league competition, apparently a lot of the early rugby league stars used to crew 18 foot skiffs in their off season – to keep fit.
I spent a couple of hours soaking up the sun, sea air, and sailboat stories with two delightful young blokes: Luke Redmond, the club manager, and Jordan Roche, the bar manager. We have several of our wines on at the 18 Footers Club, and it’s definitely one of the more impressive ‘on the water’ addresses that we’re at!
After lunch I caught the ferry back to Circular Quay and noticed that as we went past Wooloomooloo Bay that the navy ships Sydney, Success, Ballarat and Tobruk were all in port. Around the corner, and a nice look at the Opera House and Harbour Bridge just as the sun was sinking behind North Sydney … and you can see why folks are sold on Sydney being one of – if not the – most impressive harbours in the world.
PS Here’s the ship’s crest for my adopted patrol boat HMAS Childer.s “Serve With Honour”.
Now to today.
Back on to the harbour, around to see our boy Rami at the Sugaroom on Johnstone’s Bay. We did our Sydney consumer dinner for the Rare & Fine wine release back in May this year, and we took the opportunity to go round and have a look at the new winter menu. I tried chef Nick Clarke’s new Prawn Scallop & Spinach Wontons with Nam Jim, as the inner harbour traffic chugged by – sailboats, barges, ferries, fishing cruisers, tugboats and the odd coastal freighter. If you were ever in any doubt about Sydney being a proper working harbour – Sugaroom is the place to prop and watch it all happen. Seeing as I’m on leave, I even had a glass of wine with the wontons – a glass of NV Zonin Prosecco from Friuli – just to see what all the fuss is about. Clean fresh light & fluffy pear apple perfume and bread dough with a sweet/sour apple twangy finish. Nice with the coriander, lime juice and prawn combo. I cannot tell you how lucky I know I am to be able to do this stuff . If you’re looking for a quiet corner of the city with great food, coffee and just lovely people looking after you – go see Rami & Nick at the Sugaroom. And just for fun – don’t forget to ask Rami for some of his home made limoncello – memorable stuff!
And so now it’s an early night, as it’s the big birthday party tomorrow night that I’m actually in Sydney for … and I have a rugby game to go to first. See ya when it’s Saturday.