Saturday, August 21, 2010

At Coogee

I'm just back from the Romance Writers of Australia conference in Sydney. This year it was at Coogee Beach, a location I'm very fond of. My writing group have been on retreat there for the last two years, and we've come to love it. I blogged about our retreat last March on WordWenches, so if you want to read more, go here. Mind you, it's not hard to love Coogee — a gorgeous beach, lovely accommodation and dozens of good restaurants and eating places.

The hotel is just over the road from the beach, and I had a balcony room, high up, so this was my view.

Even though it was winter, it was so warm I slept every night with my big glass sliding door wide open, and I fell asleep to the sound of pounding surf, and woke to this.

The  second day the surf was spectacular, with waves crashing on the rocks and spurting upward. I had only a cheap pocket camera with me and couldn't catch the splashes, but even so, some of the photos give you an idea of what it was like.

 I'd started brainstorming with my friend, Barbara Hannay, but the warm, fresh, blowy weather lured us out and we walked up to the bluff, almost to Clovelly. Barbara has a slideshow on her blog.

This is the view looking back toward the hotel. The hotel is the big white building in the top right-hand corner of the picture.

One of the nicest things happened on our last night at Coogee. Up until that point, we'd eaten virtually all meals at the conference, or at a place chosen by our publisher (thank you Harlequin Australia) but on the last night we organized whoever was left to go to our favorite Italian restaurant, La Spiaggia, for dinner. 

We love it for two reasons — firstly, the food is excellent and it's a really friendly place. Secondly, the first time we went there, two years ago when we were doing our first Coogee writing retreat, Jess, our waitress, turned out to be a writer, too, and we bonded. The second time we went back, there she was again, and we talked about agents and things like that, so we were hoping she'd be there again, and we could catch up on how things were going for her. 

This time when we went in, we were a bit disappointed to see she wasn't there, but the food was fabulous and we had a lovely meal anyway. Then the barman came over and asked if I was Anne Gracie. Bemused, I admitted I was, and he said Jess would like to buy us a drink. She still worked there, but not on Sunday nights, and the guys had phoned her to let her know we were there. Even better news, she'd sold the book she'd talked to us about in March! Isn't that wonderful? We were all so thrilled. It was the final fabulous touch to a great meal and a lovely weekend. 

Thank you Jess! My first taste of Sambuca, and it won't be my last. And I can't wait to buy the book. We'll be back to Coogee and La Spiaggia, and next time we'll be buying the drinks.


  1. Was wonderful seeing you again at Coogee Anne, and must say what gorgeous photos you have. Also loved your costume for the cocktail party.

    And what a lovely story about Jessica.

  2. Beautiful photos. Makes me want to visit. The DH's uncle lives in New Zealand and tempts us often with descriptions of the area, the ocean there, the day, maybe. In the meantime, I'll visit vicariously through you :o)


  3. Thanks, Eleni and Keziah -- it was lovely catching up with you both, even if briefly. Re the costume, I'm going to blog about the cocktail party and the costumes over on WordWenches on the 30th, so I hope you can drop in there.

    Theo, one day I hope you'll visit that uncle in NZ, and then hop over the ditch (as we call the sea between Australia and NZ) to Australia. But vicarious travel is also pretty enjoyable, I agree.

  4. Loved all your pictures, Anne! The sea is so envigorating. I love the sound of crashing waves and I love wind. That first picture of big waves is just spectacular. I can just hear the wind and crashing waves!

    How wonderful that your waitress sold her book. That was very sweet of her to buy you a round of drinks. ~Sherrie Holmes

  5. Sherrie, it's a brilliant thing to have a writers conference or retreat beside the sea. One time my retreat group went inland for our retreat, and the place was beautiful, but we missed the ever-changing beach and sea environment and afterward decided it always had to be near the beach.
    Maybe I should think of moving to the beach... I love wild weather and wind and crashing waves, too.

    And we were so thrilled that Jess has sold her book. We definitely will be buying her the drinks next time.