Friday, August 28

An afternoon at Hugo's

Australia is sweltering under the hottest August on record. Across the nation winter temperatures have hit new highs. Brisbane has had its hottest winter day ever with the mercury climbing to 35.4C, while coastal areas along the New South Wales and Queensland border have recorded their warmest days for the entire year. It’s hard to imagine winter temperature surpassing those of last January and February, at the height of Summer. With only days to go, meteorologists expect the average temperature nationwide to finish more than 1.6C above normal.

This superb weather created the perfect excuse last weekend for a leisurely afternoon on the harbour front in Manly. This is one of Sydney’s iconic beach suburbs, nestled on a narrow spit of land separating the city’s majestic harbour from the Tasman Sea. Less than five hundred metres separates a pine-fringed, white sand beach from a scenic, sheltered harbour wharf.

The most enjoyable way to reach Manly is by ferry, which is exactly what we did on Sunday. The day dawned with clear blue skies and warm sunshine - perfect weather for a ferry ride. I can honestly say that nothing revives the soul better than Sydney harbour at its best. As we pulled away from Circular Quay, the Opera House and city skyline unfolded in picture-perfect harmony. Manly beach was equally picturesque upon arrival. I had to pause and remind myself this stretch of sand littered with sun-baking locals was in fact a winter scene.

My best mate Brendan booked us into Hugo’s, a new restaurant that’s opened on the Manly ferry wharf. Hugo’s has a popular and well-established venue in town so we were keen to try its latest expansion. The restaurant is open to the air along two walls and furnished with large, comfortable leather sofas. We spent 4.5 fun-filled hours enjoying the view, great wine and mouth-watering food. I even taught the bartender to make fresh ginger Caprioskas – a cocktail Garry and I discovered earlier this year in Milan.

Our return ferry ride was just as memorable. We departed Manly at sunset, just in time to witness the sky transforming itself into silhouetted orange and purple hues. By the time we glided by the floodlit Opera House it was almost dark. The city’s iconic building glowing on the harbour’s edge seemed to bookend a perfect day with friends. These record-breaking winter conditions suit me just fine!

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