“How long is the commute?” It’s the first question Sydneysiders ask when they find out I live on the Central Coast.
They’re often surprised to hear it’s only an hour. ‘Oh that’s not so bad,’ is a typical response, or ‘Takes me longer to get to work and I live in Sydney’, which is one of my favourite reactions.
I’ve now been doing the coastal commute for three years after moving from Gladesville to Umina Beach for a sea change.
If you’ve got to commute, this is the way to do it.
The Central Coast line offers a scenic journey via pristine waterways and untouched bushland. It’s a good backdrop for thinking or daydreaming and never gets old.
When the train bursts out onto the Hawkesbury River railway bridge, even seasoned commuters look up from their phones, laptops and e-books, to admire the stunning view.
Sometimes the water is still and silver as a storm brews in the distance, while other days the surface is a perfect reflection of the sky above with a baby blue sheen and a smattering of cotton wool clouds – like a scene out of Life of Pi. The sunsets over Mooney Mooney are breathtaking.
The only downside is the lack of reception between Woy Woy and Berowra but a portable wifi dongle solves that problem (and I like the excuse to put my phone down).
While there are days when I don’t want to go near a train and sometimes the commute wears me out, for the most part it’s relaxing and a chance to wind down after work.
But it has been a mental adjustment. In the beginning I used to get antsy when the train stalled in a queue at Hornsby but now I don’t even notice because I’m buried in a book (what a luxury, “me time” for reading, every day) or working on Coastal Chic.
I think the trick to not only surviving but enjoying the coastal commute is having something productive, relaxing or entertaining to do that you would want to be doing whether you were at home or on the train.
Ultimately, it would be great to see the train trip between the Coast and the city accelerated, and I hope to see a fast train become a reality one day very soon.
In the meantime, here are some Coastal Chic tips for surviving the commute:
- Always have a book or something to read – I never get through the whole paper on the weekend so it’s nice to have time during the week to devour all the sections, and I make sure my e-reader is stocked up with a couple of books
- Tick off some chores – whether it’s paying some bills or researching a holiday, there’s always something on the to-do list
- Learn a language or study something – I spent six months learning French on an app (Duo Lingo) with headphones. Oui oui!
- Listen to a podcast – Serial made me want to commute. I couldn’t wait to get on the train to listen to the latest instalment. RadioLab, Alec Baldwin’s Here’s the Thing, Anna Faris’ Unqualified, Mia Freedman’s No Filter, TED talks and The Joe Rogan Experience are also entertaining and enlightening conversations about myriad subjects. Best bet is to download them when you’re connected to the internet.
- Watch your favourite TV program or start a new series
- Sleep, meditate, listen to music or just zone out and recharge
- Catch up on work
- Keep a snack and some water handy (especially in the case of a delay) – I find nuts or dried fruit is enough to keep me going until I get home
- Build exercise into your commute – because of the early starts and late arrivals home, it’s hard to fit exercise into a commuter’s week. Instead of catching the bus, I walk the last couple of kilometres to and from work every day and feel so much better for it.
- Catch up with friends and family – I’m not a fan of loud phone conversations on public transport but by using What’s App, Facebook or texting, it’s easy to check in on loved ones or organise catch ups
- Social media – as well as working on Coastal Chic, I find endless hours of entertainment on Twitter and Instagram. I whiled away a delay following tweets on the Oscar Pistorious trial and used Twitter to experience the Origin decider when I couldn’t get home in time for the start of the game
- This one is for the ladies – stock up on a dry shampoo like Batiste so you don’t have to stress about washing your hair with the limited time you have at home during the week
- Because technology is so important for entertainment as well as communication, I always have a portable charger with me. You can also get a bit more out of your phone battery by turning down the brightness on the screen and closing all the apps/screens that aren’t in use.
How do you survive the commute? Leave a reply on this post or tag @coastalchic_au on social media with #coastalcommute