April 6 - 12, 2014: Issue 157
Parading Palm Beach
by Robyn McWilliam
Locals often refer to the area around Pittwater as God’s Own Country. I decide to lead our bushwalkers on a Palm Beach venture including a visit to The Bible Garden.
We meet at the steep steps on Barrenjoey Road opposite its northern intersection with Iluka Road. Ascending the ridge, a view over Pittwater appears. After days of rain it’s bright and sunny, the waterway a shimmering blue.
Following along a bush track, we come out onto Ralston Road then turn right onto Pacific Road finding signs to The Bible Garden. Established by Gerald Hercules Robinson in the 1960s, he believed that ‘the Garden and the view behind it provide a perfect example of the glory of God’s creation.’
The terraced Bible Garden.
Whatever your beliefs the panorama from this spot is uplifting. The golden arc of beach, white frothy waves and the land-tied island with its lighthouse atop is spectacular. The garden itself is a tiny enclave of tranquility amidst the houses. Grassy terraces and shrubs are contained by sandstone block walls. A pond with waterlilies adds to the contemplative atmosphere. There’s even a Bible in a waterproof box on the table. Enjoyed by locals and visitors, The Bible Garden may also be booked for weddings, christenings or other suitable occasions.
The tranquil pond.
Panorama over Palm Beach,
Emerging from the garden we retrace our footsteps to Pacific Road. On the right we come across a large piece of sandstone with Hordern Park carved into it. Steps lead down through a pocket of rainforest dominated by cabbage tree palms. Palm Beach was named after this indigenous species and early settlers made hats from their fronds. (see Joan Lawrence’s Pittwater Paradise)
Cabbage tree palms in Hordern Park.
We come out at the southern end of Palm Beach near the ocean pool. Someone remembers a carved rock beyond the pool so we stop there for a break. A huge sandstone boulder features frogs, turtles, fish and Neptune grasping a trident. Many hours of carving have produced this wonderful memorial to the sea. I understand it has been there for more than twenty years. Perhaps someone knows who carved it and when the work was done.
Palm Beach ocean pool.
A pathway flanks the beach. There’s a salty tang in the air as waves break rhythmically on the shore. Past Governor Phillips Park with its play area featuring a boat, we climb over to the Pittwater side again. Yachts heel in the breeze and a catamaran ferry slides in Palm Beach wharf. After several hours we’re back at the steps.
This walk takes in bush, beach and amazing views of the coast as well as Pittwater. As the weather cools it’s perfect for seeing more of Palm Beach on foot. And include The Bible Garden for a few quiet moments.
Article and Photos by Robyn McWilliam, 2014.