real life

A holiday at home in Manly.

Parasailing in Manly.


Nostalgia. That’s the feeling that washed over me as we approached our destination. I could smell the salty air, see the sand, and feel the sun beating down on me. And I had that familiar feeling of anticipation.

My earliest memories of Manly Beach are from my early high school years. I must have been 14 or 15 – which is really not that long ago for me, but it sure seems like it. Every weekend in summer, the girls from school and I would jump on the 9am bus, always sitting in the back seat, new members of the group joining us as we travelled closer to the city. By the time we reached Circular Quay there was usually at least 6 or 7 of us. From there we would board on the ferry over to Manly, excited to be on an adventure without supervision.

We would spend all day at the beach, with whichever group of boys one of the girls had a crush on at the time. It was as if every Sunday, every single 15 year old you knew was there. A stroll down the corso at lunchtime to one fast food chain or another was mandatory, and someone was always left watching the bags. Often me.

My delicious lunch.

However, my most recent memory of Manly is quite different. Picture this; a private water taxi greets you at Circular Quay en route to Manly. Champagne (Veuve Cliquot to be specific) and breakfast awaits you on arrival at the iconic Manly Wharf Hotel, followed by a morning parasailing in the incredible harbour with quite a few of Sydney’s well known. From there it was a quick stand up paddleboard (I may have snuck off with Erika Heynatz before lunch to have a crack at it– even though it wasn’t technically in our schedule) and an incredible lunch back at Manly Wharf Hotel. Sure beats the maccas lunches we used to scoff down back in the day.

Oh and did I mention that the day was a crystal clear, 29 degrees without a single cloud in sight.

It’s strange, I have never really given Manly a second thought since my days spent there when I was younger – but I was genuinely surprised at how much it has to offer. It’s like going on a holiday at home. You can do all the activities you would do if you were to take a trip up or down the coast somewhere – except travel time is greatly decreased. So it’s easy to escape for just a day, or even the weekend.

And as we were all sitting down at long tables for lunch at the Manly Wharf hotel – I truly felt like I was on holidays (and that I was a very lucky intern.) I was surrounded by the likes of Ben and Lucy May – owners of the Manly Wharf Hotel, which has just celebrated its 10th birthday, but also Erika Heynatz, Hayden Quinn, and Layne Beachley even made an appearance. The menu had just undergone a revamp, and the food was incredible.

And the following weekend – I even made an appearance on the social pages of the Sun Herald, which was quite a buzz.


Freya is a Sydney journalism student and an intern at Mamamia/iVillage. She is a retired acrobat and her friends have taken to calling her ‘crazy cat lady.’ You can check out her twitter here.

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