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Review: Palm Beach

City/Town/Region/Island

Sydney, Australia

Unwelcome visitor in Paradise

  • By SilverTraveller Jenjens

    99 reviews

    Ribbon Ribbon Ribbon

  • Jan 2010
  • Adult family

116 people found this review helpful

Palm Beach, New South Wales! What pictures that conjures up – sunshine, an idyllic lagoon, a sandy beach, and the location of the filming of the famous Australian soap opera – Home and Away. But also something else more sinister …



One January a few years ago my sister and I spent an idyllic two weeks in Sydney, visiting my daughter who was living there at the time. We adored Sydney – the lifestyle; the climate; the harbour; the Opera House; the bars, the restaurants, the bays … I could go on and on singing its praises. I would love to live there, but …



Half way through our stay we decided to go for two days to stay at the aforementioned Palm Beach – Sydney’s most northern beach where we hoped we might see some of the filming of Home and Away. We rented the top storey of a very attractive villa – there were bougainvilleas and sweet smelling frangipani in the courtyard, and fantastic views of the lagoon at the front. It seemed perfect.



Our first two days in the resort were delightful. We swam in the lagoon, saw wallabies in the wild, ate breakfasts of pancakes, maple syrup and fresh fruit in the open air café down the road, and dined at the delightful restaurant near our villa, shopped at chic boutiques, and walked to the beach nearby where we paddled in the sea.



On our last night my daughter and I swapped bedrooms, the reason for this being that she had found it difficult to sleep due to the noise of neighbours laughing and chatting on the balcony of the villa next door. I slept well that night, and the noisy neighbours did not bother me. The following morning I woke at about 6 a.m. It was light, but too early to rise, as we were not due to leave the accommodation until about 11 a.m., so I decided I would lie in bed and doze for a while.



As I lay there quietly semi dozing and contemplating my good fortune in finding myself in such a perfect location, I happened to glance up at the wall by the end of the bed. And then I saw it. The spider! It was the size of my hand – if not bigger – bold and brown and ugly. At first I froze, thinking that it could not be real; that maybe in Australia they have spiders as ornaments on walls – like we have flying ducks in Britain. But then I realised that, indeed, this could be, and was, real! It looked like a huntsman and I knew that they can deliver an unpleasant bite which can cause headaches, nausea and worse.



Bill Bryson said in his book “Down Under” that Australia houses some of the deadliest creatures on the planet – this in itself is frightening. And I am seriously arachnophobic. It was the one thing – with the possible exception of the 24-hour flight – which had deterred me from visiting Australia. However, I had overcome my fears, deciding that 24 hours in a plane was not the end of the world, and the chances of seeing a spider in a Sydney hotel were comparatively rare.



I was out of that bed in a flash; grabbed all my belongings and ran as fast as I could to the furthest end of the villa – as far from the spider as I could get. Neither my sister nor my daughter could believe the size of it. My daughter, who had spent two and a half years in Australia, had never seen anything like it before. She was brave enough to take a photograph, which makes me shudder every time I dare to look at it.



We didn’t wait until 11 a.m. to leave as planned. We gathered up all our belongings, took the key to the owner who lived downstairs – I think she was surprised at our hasty departure – and after having breakfast at the café down the road – a safe distance away – we caught the first bus back to Sydney.



I am just so relieved that we didn’t find the spider earlier – what would we have done? Left immediately and lost the money which we had paid for the accommodation? Gone elsewhere? Told the owner? Tried to kill it? Whatever would have been the case we would not have been able to rest easy, thinking that perhaps there was another one like that lurking nearby?



So although our stay was delightful, I will never forget the unwanted, not so handsome stranger, at Palm Beach!

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This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.

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