I have few friends who hail from this part of town. Those who I know share one thing in common: they dislike the long commute, often in excess of two hours. But on paper, Sydney’s Northern Beaches fall well within the metropolis’ reach, closer to the city as the crow flies than much of the urban sprawl in the outer west.
Last time I was here in Dee Why, it took just above half an hour to get to the city. But with the commuter railway not having reached this part of town, the options are limited: by bus, car, or not at all. And the roads from the city all cross a body of water known as Middle Harbour at the bottom of a deep, leafy valley. It’s a pleasant drive through thick forest, but day in, day out, most see it as a long drag.
And the forest one must pass to reach enhances the feel of these suburbs being like another city on its own, with its own way of life separate from the way the rest of Sydney thinks. Living near water turns any suburb into prime real estate; yet most institutions here are blue collar if not retail, surf related or entertainment. And asfor thebeaches, Dee Why is probably the only one known to most even within Sydney. It’s a long commute for the Dee Why folks indeed, but they return to a vibe a world away.