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Sydney May 22, 1988 - Publishers take boat tour: coast drive

By Bob Van Leer

Painting  (SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA, May 22, 1988) - The highlight of today's activities was a boat trip up the Broken Bay estuary, about 30 kilometers north of Sydney. Boats haul local passengers and freight up the waters of the Cowan waters and Hawksbury River. However, most of the passengers on the boat are tourists sightseeing, which somehow seemed familiar.

  Our bus drove us up the coast to the dock on Barranjoey point and we boarded a boat that would seat about 70. The trip is all in tidewater, and deep water at that, so size and draft of the boat is not a problem. The boat had restrooms and a bar and one of the crew barbecued pork and beef on the fantail for our lunch, which was served on board. 

  The trip was 15 kilometers with a stop at a village named Patonga and the final destination was Bobbin Head. Our bus driver met us there. He had to drive 40 kilometers around on narrow, curvy roads to meet us.

  As we drove along the coast we passed a number of rather small beaches nestled between headlands. All had a number of surfers waiting for waves. Our driver pointed out a helicopter and said it was a shark patrol. Sharks seem to be a considerable problem here, and he said it is not safe to swim in unprotected or unpatrolled waters. Some areas are protected by nets and the air patrols protect others.

  The driver said the sharks are easy to spot from the air and when the pilot sees one he radios to the beach and an alarm is sounded. The driver said you then see a beach full of swimmers "walking on water". He said there is more of a problem in the harbors than at the sea beaches.

  Houses are mostly roofed with red clay tile and Norfolk Island pine is one of the favorite landscaping trees. Norfolk Island is near Australia. These little trees we see mostly in pots, grow outside here and get to saw log size. Homes in working class neighborhoods, our guide says are in the $100,000 range. (The Australian dollar is worth about 78 U.S. cents. Service stations have signs for gasoline of 44.9 cents per liter.)

  Reading about one local controversy is like reading The Oregonian with the names changed slightly. There is a controversy over logging in Tasmania, the Island Australian state just south of the mainland. The environmentalist group, called the "Greenies" down here, is trying to stop logging. The Greenies called for a special commission to consider nomination of two forests totaling 300,000 hectares for World Heritage listing. The commission was appointed and reported back that only about eight percent of the forests deserved the nomination. The Greenies are now repudiating the commission they asked to have appointed. They want it all protected. But the Greenies have an uphill battle. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Federal Environment Minister, Graham Richardson, said that in the end the public action would win the day. "I am listening," he said, "and so far the roar isn't deafening."

  Tomorrow we are to leave Sydney and travel by bus to Canberra, the national capital, with a stopover at a sheep ranch, called "sheep station" here.

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