While looking through stories I had written in the last few years, I came across a travel piece I wrote a few years ago about how the Sydney beachside suburb of Manly Sydney had been captivated by Nic and Keith’s wedding.
It was the celebrity wedding of the year, a Hollywood leading lady tying the knot to a Grammy-winning country rock star.
I still remember the conversation with my masseur Shara, while my back was being pummelled on a massage table in the Honey Body Salon.
“It was all hush hush and no one really knew it was happening until the last minute,” she said. “On that day, I heard the helicopters circling in the air and I realised that something exciting was happening.”
I think Shara was secretly hoping Nicole might have dropped in at the last minute for an eye-brow wax.
Recently, I was surprised to read a gossip piece on the internet that the marriage is on the rocks. Sorry, I don’t really have news about the status of Nic and Keith’s marriage but I thought I’d write a piece about what to see and do in Manly.
For two international stars – who obviously had the resources to tie the knot anywhere in the world – choosing Manly Sydney was a big win for the seaside suburb.
If you’re visiting Sydney, Manly is a 30-minute ferry ride from Circular Quay. It’s a lovely seaside suburb with great beaches, walking paths and a swag of good restaurants along the palm tree-lined Corso.
Where to stay
The Sebel Sydney Manly Beach is a boutique hotel located on a tree-lined esplanade on the quiet southern end.
When it opened in 2006, some of the Sebel’s very first guests were friends and relatives of Nic and Keith who attended the wedding.
What to do
If you have a car, take a drive up the hill to North Head, where there are spectacular views of the ocean beating against rugged cliffs.
The Fairfax walk starts at the end of North Head Scenic Drive connects three lookouts and provides scenic views of Sydney’s skyline across the harbour.
On the way back down, stop in at the National Artillery Museum and Q Station where, from 1828 to 1984, immigrants entering Australia were quarantined in order to protect the colony from epidemic diseases.
The North Head Quarantine Station has been transformed into Q Station, which has a hotel, conference centre and restaurant complex.
Drop into St Patrick’s Seminary, a heritage-listed sandstone building that is a scene from a Harry Potter movie.
It’s now the International College of Management. Students in neat uniforms stroll around the grounds and along the wood-panelled corridors. Magic classes with Professor Snape anyone?
Where to have a wedding?
Nic and Keith exchanged vows in a traditional Catholic ceremony in the Gothic Cardinal Cerretti Chapel, chosen for its stunning outlook, beautiful grounds and layout.
I was told that Le Kiosk was approached but their location wasn’t suitable from a security point of view.
Had it been up to me, Le Kiosk would have won my vote for its fabulous position on Shelly Beach and dazzling views across the bay. Le Kiosk closed in 2014. The building is now a cafe called The Boathouse.
These days, Q Station is one of the best places for a wedding.
You can arrive by boat and be married on the heritage wharf overlooking Quarantine Beach, or on the picturesque grassy slopes of North Head, with Sydney Harbour as your backdrop.
The best thing about Manly is…
Go surfing, swimming or sun baking. Walk along Marine Parade, the promenade that hugs the shore. Another fun way to enjoy the beach is to join a volleyball class.
Where should I eat?
Four Olives Deli for chorizo, bratwurst, Italian-style salamis and a mind-boggling variety of imported cheeses.
The Pantry Manly for a great location with beach views and a satisfying menu.
Garfish Manly for a seafood feast.
Christina Pfeiffer was a guest of Tourism New South Wales.