As much as you try to recreate the feel of travel in your own city, when you have to return home the holiday is over and you return to the same chores and routine you had when you set off for the day. There is something special about spending the weekend away from home- even if you are really still only down the road.
So, when my brother and his family asked us to house-sit (more specifically dog-sit) their place in Mosman, we saw it as an opportunity for a mini staycation. Housesitting is a great inexpensive way to get a mini-holiday with all the the conveniences of home including toys and kitchen basics, and all for the price of walking and feeding the dog!
We woke early on Saturday morning to a spectacular sunrise over Sydney Harbour and with views out to North Head, a pleasant change from our standard view across inner west rooftops to Sydney Airport. Whenever we are ‘traveling’ I look forward to getting out amongst it so we were up and out before 8am, en-route to breakfast.
I had researched a little before our staycation and read about Burnt Orange, a cafe in a stunning sandstone mansion in Mosman overlooking Sydney harbour. Unfortunately, in my eagerness to begin our day the restaurant was not yet open for breakfast so to kill some time we took a walk along a short bush track out to Middle Head.
For history buffs, there are military fortifications scattered around Middle Head, for us though we were just happy to explore and take in the spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, framed by North and South Heads.
The Café at Burnt Orange is located amongst bushland on a wrap around verandah with stunning views of Sydney Harbour round to Mosman Bay and Manly. The staff were really welcoming and the breakfast menu made choosing difficult. We had a lovely meal and felt like we could sit and relax on that balcony all morning, alas the kids didn’t so we finished off our coffees and wandered around to the gift shop in the back room of the building. There were loads interesting books and nik naks as well as clothing, accessories and gorgeous leather handbags. Given we were on ‘holiday’ I felt it was appropriate to buy a ‘souvenir’ so bought a beautiful leather handbag from the chatty shop attendant.
We walked off breakfast toward Obelisk Beach, one of Sydney’s few ‘clothing optional’ beaches. It is a small beach, only around 100m long and requires you to navigate down steep rocky stairs before you reach its shores.
On a 9 degree morning in July, the beach was empty when we arrived so, as is custom on a ‘clothing optional’ beach, my husband stripped off to prepare for a swim. At that exact moment an older jogger appeared at the base of the stairs, a little surpassed to see a young family gathered on his beach! That didn’t phase my husband who ran along the beach and into the chilly waters of Sydney Harbour much to the delight of the girls who giggled from the sand.
Once dressed again, we headed back to my brother’s house to chill for a little while in the sun in their back garden before heading out again. We decided to walk down Pirrawi Road in Mosman down toward Spit Bridge for lunch. There are lots of gorgeous mansions along this road and the views are spectacular. We stopped by the 104 year old Rosherville Lighthouse and wandered down the steep winding staircase toward the water. On such a sunny day, the water was sparkling and the different hues of blue were too much of a pull to not head down and discover from the shore.
With the tide going out, the girls were keen to discover the rock pools and I loved introducing them to the anemones and how they close softly around your finger when you go near them.
After a short explore of the pools we made the track back up the stairs and down the road to Middle Harbour Yacht Club. The Club has a small, sun-drenched beach next to the marina and was the perfect place for us to lay down our picnic blanket. There is a cafe with basic sandwiches and drinks, but we ordered from the bistro and they were happy for us to eat on the beach, which we did. The kids were happy discovering the shells and washed up starfish on the beach while we bought a bottle of wine and sat back and enjoyed the winter sun for the next couple of hours.
To reward the girls for allowing us to indulge in a relatively relaxing afternoon drinking in the sun, we popped across the road to the playground for a play before returning back ‘home’ to feed the dog.
Our day in Mosman was full and we did feel very much as if we were on holidays. After returning the house back into the state it was when we arrived and feeding the dog (like any good house-sitter), not wanting the holiday to end we headed to Balmoral for breakfast.
We explored the ‘island’, watched artists at work, spotted lorikeets in the trees and laid our picnic blanket on the sand. We grabbed coffees, pastries and fruit salad from the nearby kiosk and enjoyed the winter sun once again by the lapping waters of Sydney Harbour.
Surrounded by a range of accents, visitors and locals alike, we enjoyed the last moments of our staycation as if we were many miles away from home before the short drive back to normality – chores, routine and all. Thank you to my brother and sister-in-law for giving us the opportunity to explore your beautiful suburb this weekend- we are happy to house-sit any time!