We really could have gone anywhere but we chose Cronulla because Barret had an unused train ticket.
We rode south, through suburbs and arid landscapes. The eucalyptus trees shed their bark like sunburnt skin. I read my book while the state of New South Wales slid by in a peripheral blur of blue, bricks, and green.
From the train station we walked down the main drag towards the beach. Cronulla was a sleepy beachside town, but eight years ago it grabbed headlines because of race riots. They began on the beach- an altercation between a group of surf lifesavers and Middle Eastern men. The ensuing anger had rolled down the streets on a wave of broken car windows and ended at the very train platform we had just alighted from.
Not that any of that drama was evident on our overcast Sunday. The only agitated local we encountered was in a dispute with her frozen dessert.
“I just can’t do it,” complained the middle-aged woman to our left. “I am going to the bathroom to wash my hands,” she said as she shook her left hand with disgust. “This is awful. It’s so sticky.”
Her companion, an elderly man sitting on a bench, acknowledged her statement with a nod of his head.
“Jesus Christ.” She took a few steps back. “This is melting too much.”
It was warm enough to provoke ice cream, but not enough to go swimming. The waves were too choppy and the wind was gusting so we walked along the coast. The pockmarked rocks resembled a porous sponge with green strands of bacteria, like beaded necklaces, growing from within the bowel-shaped holes.
We walked the length of the rocky coastline before heading back into town for a cup of tea. A light rain began to fall that cleverly dodged my umbrella.
Since arriving in Australia almost four months ago, I had been planning trips outside Sydney that just never seemed to materialize. Between all the weekend markets, festivals, restaurants, and outdoor events there was a strong gravitational pull towards the city center that was hard to escape.
Despite our best efforts we only made it as far as sleepy Cronulla. It’s probably only considered a satellite town of Sydney, but it felt far away enough to ease my restless legs.
At least that’s what I am telling myself for now.
How to get to Cronulla: From Sydney take the Eastern Suburbs and Illawarra Line to Cronulla Station.