February 15 - 21, 2015: Issue 202
INAUGURAL SYDNEY HARBOUR & COAST WALK - NIGHT 19A – COCKATOO ISLAND
INAUGURAL SYDNEY HARBOUR & COAST WALK - NIGHT 19A – COCKATOO ISLAND
by John Illingsworth
Community action from 1996 saw the creation of the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust. Iconic foreshore lands were thus kept in public hands. A rich and unbroken history from convict times through to the 1990s makes Cockatoo Island a remarkable relic.
John Barry – Walkabout, The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Nic Raine, Crouch End Festival Chorus.
INAUGURAL SYDNEY HARBOUR & COAST WALK - DAY 1 - BARRENJOEY TO AVALON BEACH by John Illingsworth
INAUGURAL SYDNEY HARBOUR & COAST WALK - DAY 2 - AVALON BEACH TO NARRABEEN LAGOON by John Illingsworth
INAUGURAL SYDNEY HARBOUR & COAST WALK - DAY 3 - NARRABEEN LAGOON TO MANLY by John Illingsworth
INAUGURAL SYDNEY HARBOUR & COAST WALK - DAY 4 - REST DAY: Day 4,19 August, 2014. No Video. Rest day spent at Manly. Better weather than yesterday still windy but with reducing showers. Manly’s long time mayor, Jean Hay, hosted us and local groups to a BBQ at Manly Surf Life Saving Club to discuss local environment issues. Mayor Hay has been a driving force for the Manly to The Spit walkway, now one of the best known walking tracks in Australia. She is also a great supporter of this inaugural walk.
INAUGURAL SYDNEY HARBOUR & COAST WALK - DAY 5 - MANLY AND NORTH HEAD by John Illingsworth
INAUGURAL SYDNEY HARBOUR & COAST WALK - DAY 6 - MANLY TO MIDDLE HEAD by John Illingsworth
INAUGURAL SYDNEY HARBOUR & COAST WALK - DAY 7 - MIDDLE HEAD TO CREMORNE POINT by John Illingsworth
INAUGURAL SYDNEY HARBOUR & COAST WALK - DAY 8 - CREMORNE POINT TO THE ROCKS by John Illingsworth
INAUGURAL SYDNEY HARBOUR & COAST WALK - DAY 9 - REST DAY: DAY 9, 24 August 2104: At Sydney Rocks YHA with washing, shopping and something special. Margaret Campbell runs Dreamtime Southern Aboriginal Tours around the Rocks, talking about the Aboriginal tribes and clans of the Sydney area. We learnt about the many uses of the native vegetation making tools and living before white settlement. As well we explored the excavations relating to early white settlement in the Sydney Rocks area. All well displayed and with good signage.
INAUGURAL SYDNEY HARBOUR & COAST WALK - DAY 10 - THE ROCKS TO GREENWICH by John Illingsworth
INAUGURAL SYDNEY HARBOUR & COAST WALK - DAY 11 - GREENWICH TO WOOLWICH, PART 2 by John Illingsworth
INAUGURAL SYDNEY HARBOUR & COAST WALK - DAY 12 - WOOLWICH TO MEADOWBANK by John Illingsworth
INAUGURAL SYDNEY HARBOUR & COAST WALK - DAY 13 - MEADOWBANK TO PARRAMATTA by John Illingsworth
INAUGURAL SYDNEY HARBOUR & COAST WALK - DAY 14 - PARRAMATTA PARK by John Illingsworth
INAUGURAL SYDNEY HARBOUR & COAST WALK - DAY 15 - REST DAY
Well, we have turned the corner. After a rest day here at Parramatta, having got as far as the head of the river, we start back east this time on the south bank making for Sydney Olympic Park.
Half way and so far no major health concerns other than the odd blister and complaining muscle. The rest days help of course and the ability to stay in some places more than one night - a memorable stay at the Q station, Cockatoo Island and now here at UWS.
Weather has been an issue, apparently the wettest August for a long time. Most dramatic was day 3 when at Long Reef we were hit by gale-force winds, sleet and even hail stones mixed with wind-driven sand. Even the best rain-proof gear was not up to the task and we were a rather bedraggled group shuffling into Manly that evening. It was not a day one would normally walk in but we had a schedule to meet and arrangements difficult to change. We will however be able to dine out on stories of a storm that will increase in ferocity with each re-telling. The spectacle of an angry sea battering the coastline will also remain with us.
The days since have been benign by contrast and we even had a rain-free sunny day last Monday. The main nuisance has been the fickle showers requiring rain gear, only to become hot and sweaty with the next sunny break. An umbrella is not normally recommended for bushwalking but providing the wind abates it has been an essential for this walk.
Phil warned us that some of the toughest/steepest walking would occur on the first day and so it proved with the two main headlands south of Palm Beach. These conquered, the cry went up "it's all downhill from here". That of course has not proved to be true although the last couple of days along the River have been relatively easy topography. Nick Hollo, one of the many well-informed experts helping interpret along the way, pointed out the unusual circumstances of the Parramatta River in that, instead of rising in hilly country then flowing to the sea through flatter plains, it tends to do the opposite. He also pointed out that due to the tilt of the strata the North Shore is hillier than the south. That however is all relative and I know we have many hills still ahead of us. Hopefully those muscles that complained in those first few days will be more used to it.
It has been a privilege to be on this inaugural walk. Councils and other agencies have been supportive and we have had all manner of expert guidance along the way. I am also with some of the most experienced and well-informed walkers in the country. A tremendous effort has been put into the planning and logistics to get us to this point. The challenge now is to ensure that anyone willing to take on the challenge can replicate our experience.
While a viable red line exists on our maps there is much room for improvement of the actual tracks and signage. Also, while we have so far been fortunate in the accommodation we have been able to secure there is great scope for modest establishments such as B&Bs to cater to walkers and importantly devise luggage transfer arrangements making such multi-day walks more feasible.
This 30 day walk has been an opportunity to 'proof test' the full extent of the coast and harbour routes. Although in its entirety It could become a 'rite of passage', more are likely to undertake it in smaller sections. Places like the Q Station and Cockatoo Island could be the base for a number of multi-day walks without the need for luggage transfer. No doubt we will be talking more on these issues when we are finished the walk (if indeed we are still talking to each other) but back to the present.
Today we were VIP guests of the mayor at the reception and street parade of the Parramatta Lancers attended by the Governor General. It was only yesterday we were in the presence of Governor Phillip as we walked to his old campsite at the head of the River. Just one of the many little extras that have added a further dimension to our walk.
In summary this is proving to be an exhilarating and rewarding experience and I look forward now to the second half.
Convenor The Walking Volunteers
INAUGURAL SYDNEY HARBOUR & COAST WALK - DAY 16 - PARRAMATTA TO SYDNEY OLYMPIC PARK
Parramatta to Sydney Olympic Park. 12.5 km
At last a beautiful sunny day, not a hint of rain.
Retracing our steps back a couple of km, some new tracks on south side not yet complete, we took the opportunity to, once again, climb the wonderful sandstone steps to the former Female Orphan School and now part of Uni of Western Sydney's Whitlam Institute. Great start to the day.
Lots of people, all ages and a united nations of origins. By and large we seem to rub together pretty well. Lots of hellos, g'days and smiles. Good to be out and about.
At Silverwater we connected to the south side tracks leading to Sydney Olympic Park – a Park with its genesis in the 1990's from defence and industrial land and developed as a sustainable precinct for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and a viable long term community asset. The extensive restricted access to nature reserves of lagoons, mangroves and grasslands, with extensive walking/cycling tracks, kid's play-grounds and family picnic facilities, are worthy of a big city. Also featured is the remediation of industrial land giving high points for 360 degree viewing to the Blue Mountains and a high level circular walkway around the old brickworks site where over 3 billion bricks were made in its 80 year existence and currently the habitat for the rare green and golden bell frog. An amazing structure with excellent interpretive material and a safe haven for a threatened species.
The Sydney Olympic Park Precinct is extensive, now home for Sydney's Royal Easter Show, sporting stadia(iums) - take your pick - and concerts, Lady Ga Ga is performing to night for example, you need to know that eh!
Tomorrow we edge a few km closer to the big smoke and it looks like an interesting day.
INAUGURAL SYDNEY HARBOUR & COAST WALK - DAY 17 - SYDNEY OLYMPIC PARK TO CABARITA by John Illingsworth
INAUGURAL SYDNEY HARBOUR & COAST WALK - DAY 18 - CABARITA TO CHISWICK
Mortlake to Cockatoo Island via Chiswick Wharf. 14 km
Overcast with a couple of sprinkles, temperature in mid-teens.
What could have been a longer walking day than some previous days was compensated by extensive, well made and well used waterside tracks.
Still encountering green headlands as we move toward the city, mangroves to soften the views and dense housing to replace the industrial activity of earlier times with Bushells Tea and Coffee Co. being a very obvious exception, with its multi-storey glass fronted factory.
Ah! The coffee aroma set us of on a familiar search and success at Barnwell Park Golf Club soon enough.
We walked Hen and Chicken Bay with its three smaller bays France, Exile and Canada bays that celebrate the notoriety of political exiles dispatched to the colony from Canada. A little known, but great story, of how the colony was used to isolate perceived troublemakers from other colonies.
Lunch at Quarantine Reserve, where live animal imports were housed to ensure no diseases were being introduced to Australia. The remnant buildings are a reminder of this important effort towards keeping our flocks and herds healthy and sustainable.
Finally another on time, friendly enjoyable ferry trip to Cockatoo Island where we were taken on a tour of the island's buildings with its convict and shipbuilding past and now self-funding commercial activities. A real treasure of a place worthy of a blog of its own.
INAUGURAL SYDNEY HARBOUR & COAST WALK - DAY 19 - CHISWICK TO BALMAIN by John Illingsworth
The Inaugural 315 Km Sydney Harbour and Coast Walk Finishes by John Illingsworth