Ever wish you could spend more time at Balmoral? These lucky local workers gave us the lowdown on having the world’s most beautiful beach as their office…
Who: Chris Meredith
Photographer and Founder of famed Facebook Group This is Balmoral
“I’m a refugee from Britain’s terrible winters. I arrived here in 2004 with my wife, three children, thirteen suitcases and a broken surfboard. A few years back, I’d begun swimming at Balmoral each morning and I started taking my camera with me because of the beautiful sunrises. A friend of mine saw some of the images and suggested the idea of launching a Facebook group. These days, I publish three or four shots per week, and the site has almost 1000 followers and many thousands more who view it. There are followers from as far afield as Helsinki, Mumbai and Johannesburg. I’m fascinated by the beautiful light and the stunning scenery at Balmoral. For me, a great Balmoral shot has to be recognisably Balmoral but delivered in a way that people haven’t seen before. Although the images with the most favourable comments do tend to be classical views of the Island, the Rotunda and so on.
One of Chris’s all-time favourite pics
The most memorable shoots are when something exciting or unexpected happens! If there are really big waves, it’s fun to tempt fate. My swimming buddies treat my big wave photography as a spectator sport because I often trip and get dangerously close to camera ruin! If there’s ever a big electrical storm, it fires up my imagination. On these occasions, you’ll find me heading to the beach just as everyone else is heading for cover. I’ve now published two This is Balmoral calendars and am planning a third one for 2019. There’s also growing demand from collectors around the world for my fine-art framed framed prints, and my work has recently appeared in the Mosman Art Gallery, The Bathers Pavilion, Martha’s Restaurant and The Australian Centre for Photography. I’m also planning to create a full-size sculpture of one of my ‘Balmoral Mermaids’ to be placed on a particular rock at the north end of the beach. I’m hoping that it will become a Balmoral landmark.”
Chris also runs Sunday morning Photo Tutorial classes at Balmoral: https://www.airbnb.com.au/experiences/119888
(With thanks to Chris Meredith and This is Balmoral for homepage image).
Who: David McIlwaine
Founder, Fit4Dreams & Mums Squad
“In 2003 I was a journalist working for Channel 7 and launched into my own project to train in Jeff Fenech’s professional boxing gym and have a fight. It was before the real wave of reality television got going. I broke my nose, lost 20kgs, got fitter than ever and realised it was all about having the right attitude. I thought if I could share what I’ve learnt with others I could make fitness fun. I started with Fit4Dreams, then built Mums Squad when some of my clients became pregnant. Balmoral is such a beautiful place – it is perfect for Mums Squad. It’s easy to keep babies and toddlers safe on Balmoral oval with our nannies, and as they get older the kids can go on adventure walks while their mums train in the best location in Sydney. Our mums work hard and then head for the fantastic new playground or sit in the cafes with a coffee. It just ticks every box. Once our first Balmoral Mums started getting so much fitter, their husbands wanted to get a piece of the action and we set up our 6am sessions on a Monday and Wednesday and everything has grown from there. We have been in Balmoral for over a decade. It’s the perfect location for what we do. The setting is beautiful, clean and looked after. There are great amenities, plenty of hills and fantastic views. I love being there and my favourite thing to look at is the bush covered hills that surround Balmoral Oval. The wildlife seems to be exploding though. Bush Turkeys, the white Ibis birds and the Kookaburras seem to be present in greater numbers than ever. Sometimes they can be really bold and upset the kids. Last year I was eating a toasted sandwich out of a brown paper bag at the Balmoral Beach Kiosk and a brazen Kookaburra swept down under the awning to grab a bite!”
David is offering a week’s free training, childcare included, for as many sessions as you’d like to attend in that week – just mention you read his story on Mosman Living’s website.
Who: Sita Narisia
Assistant Venue Manager, The Boathouse Balmoral Beach
“My journey began in 2016 when walking the path from Manly to Shelly Beach and I noticed the most amazing venue that was The Boathouse. I decided then and there that I’d love to be a part of this team. A few weeks later I found myself working a few shifts at the Shelly Beach venue, getting to know the team members, and really immersing myself in the Boathouse life and what it’s all about! I worked at our Shelly Beach venue for a while, and then an opportunity came about for an Assistant Venue Manager at our Balmoral location. I was very excited but nervous about taking it on, but once I had arrived, there was a sense straight away that this was an amazing place to work. What really makes this such an amazing venue is this undying loyalty the locals have. Rain, hail or shine they are here supporting our venue. It makes it even more special when you hear guests enjoying and loving the location, being on the water, and taking in the tranquil scenery. On the weekends during our busy time we have such a diversity of guests who come through our doors, they not only live in the area but come far and wide, and being such a kid/pet friendly venue all are welcome. The most challenging thing is not being able to seat more of our guests at our busiest period. But we do our best and we always have our back wharf area that is quite tranquil and pleasant, being close to the water’s edge, to enjoy your breakfast, lunch or beverage. Overall I feel very blessed to be a part of an amazing team that gives the best quality, not only in food but the experience. When you can leave any of our amazing venues and rave about it to your friends/relatives, it’s a great sign!”
Who: Jono Allen
Balmoral Water Sports
“We’ve been here at Balmoral for over 20 years now. Balmoral Water Sports offers sailing, windsurfing, paddle boarding and kayaking. We run school groups, junior sailing programs, windsurfing programs, private tuition, corporate groups and hire. You name it, we pretty much do it!! Our hours are usually around 8:30am – 5:00pm but this can vary slightly. We get here early and after a morning meeting/briefing, the staff begin setting up and preparing the equipment needed for the coming day. Our staff stay in great shape due to the amount of equipment they have carry to the beach every day. Once we are set up our instructors will begin to prepare their teaching sessions and then it’s time to have the fun. Whether it’s a school group, private lesson, junior sailing program or even a hire, our staff want to make sure our clients have the most fun in as safe an environment as possible. Learning the new skills will then follow as a result of this. Once we have delivered our morning and afternoon sessions the instructors begin to clear the beach. The location itself has to be the greatest highlight – not only for our beach here but the whole of Hunter Bay itself. We are lucky enough to be able to sail around the Bay and stop in at many of the beautiful beaches. I think the physical aspect is probably the most challenging, along with managing the large groups on the water. We always have to bring our A-game during sessions afloat. We also don’t mind a practical joke or two. The favourite seems to be removing a bung from an instructor’s boat before they go on the water and then watching them slowly sink as they leave the beach!”
Who: Michael Oliver
Founder, Lost Jewellery Recovery
“My parents bought me my first metal detector when I was 10 years old, because I was fascinated in both treasure and wildlife. Two years ago I bought my father a metal detector for his 60th birthday and after a few hunts my passion was back. I bought the Minelab Excalibur ll Detector, did my scuba course and decided to start my own business. It’s called Lost Jewellery Recovery, so I’m the one to call if you’ve dropped something on the beach. Metal detecting is perfect. I get to meet great people, it keeps me fit and I never know what I’ll find! A typical day is being on standby; calls usually come in after 12pm. If it’s a weekend I try to spend some time with my baby boy and beautiful wife, but once a call comes in my wife understands I have to go. I drop my wife and baby off at home, load up the car and meet the owners of the lost items at Balmoral (or sometimes other beaches too). Weekends can get crazy with multiple recoveries all over Sydney. There are both scuba and land recoveries, and some take five minutes while others take five hours plus or even multiple hunts. Weekdays can be hectic as I’m currently training for Ninja Warrior, plus I have my own YouTube channel. People love seeing film of the recoveries, and I have over 20,000 subscribers. Some days are 20 hours work with video editing into the early hours of the morning and website blogging. Some days I go without sleep – it’s hard and I love it. I’ve already done eight recoveries at Balmoral this year. It’s a great place to find lost treasure. One person recently lost five rings at once valued at over $30,000. She took off the rings and placed them in a towel, then walked across the beach to speak with a friend forgetting about the rings. She later flicked the towel out and instantly remembered the rings were in the towel – except now they were somewhere in the sand. She searched on Google, found me and it was a successful recovery! It helped that she could tell me an accurate search site. My success rate is up over 90% and it’s something I take great pride in”.
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-7CORh9e1DwTSxQwFqjW8w