Along the Away

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Archive for the ‘ Challenge ’ Category

It was the beginning of 2014 that I set myself the challenge to walk all 37 coastal walks from the Coastal Walks Sydney book… I did 6! But luckily they’re not going anywhere, so I’m still ticking them off in 2015.

I just came off a BIG work project and after weeks without a day off I had five days stretching out in front of me. It’s the end of winter at the moment but Sydney was boasting that gorgeous feels-like-summer weather that often dazzles us at the end of the cold season. I was craving some outdoor time after too many long weeks in the office so the book came off the bookshelf and I did three coastal walks over the next five days.

Spit to Manly walk

First up was the Spit Bridge to Manly walk which is a very well known coastal walk in Sydney. Obviously it can be done in both directions, but I prefer doing it from south to north so that I end up at the beach – and judging from the people I passed it seems to be the most popular direction!

It is a truly beautiful walk, the water is alongside the track almost the whole time, except for a section that heads upwards. It’s fairly steep but nothing a reasonable level of fitness can’t handle. Where there’s a climb, there’s a view – and this one is amazing.

Spit to Manly walk

I was so happy to be back in my natural habitat under the sunshine, amongst the trees and beside the ocean. Nature is a great healer.

Spit to Manly walk

The walk is about 10km and according to the Coastal Walks Sydney book should take about 3.5 hours. Once again, similar to other walks I’ve done in the book, I took much less time to finish – about 2 hours and 40 minutes. I did that with plenty of stops along the way, probably about 20 minutes worth. I’m a pretty brisk walker once I get going!

There are a number of toilet blocks along the way and water bubblers/taps to refill your water bottle. I recommend filling up at every tap you see as they are not as frequent to chance that you’ll see one when you need it. When I did the walk in summer I struggled in the last 30 minutes with an empty water bottle, so this time I topped up at every chance.

Spit to Manly walk

Once I walked into Manly I wandered around looking for a brunch spot to refuel. I discovered a new cafe called Bare Naked Bowls on Market Lane. I was heading to the Swedish Fika Kitchen which is a fave, but Bare Naked Bowls caught my eye. I wandered in to look at the board and on recommendation from the waitress decided to try the Chia Bowl – it was delicious, as was the coffee.

Once nourished, it was time to relax! The glorious thing about coastal walks is that once the hard work is done there is a beach to relax on, which I did… for about three hours! I may have even fallen asleep on the sand. Considering how stunning the weather was I was surprised how quiet it was, I’ve never seen Manly beach this deserted – I guess that’s the perk of being there on a weekday when most people are at work.

Spit to Manly walk

In regards to transport, the walk is fairly easy to get to, coming from the lower north shore I drove to the Spit Bridge and parked in a side street just north of the bridge. There is a timed carpark there but it can be costly, I have always been lucky to get an untimed spot on the road. Once I was in Manly I got the bus back to the Spit. It was a bit tricky as I didn’t realise the footpath stops before the bridge on the north side where I got off the bus. I had to chance my luck across the road and then walk up the steps and around the suburban roads – all without a phone thanks to my battery dying. Next time I will get off south of the bridge where the foothpath extends… or else get the bus the whole way.

Time for another Coastal Walk! To refresh your memory I have set myself the challenge to walk all 37 walks in the Coastal Walks Sydney book in 2014.  This walk is #18 in the book but #5 for me (confusing? yes.) Yikes, only 5, I better get a move on. I walked this one solo on an early Sunday morning, keen to get out into the beautiful day. I started on the track at Waverton, walking in the opposite direction as directed in the book, but it all turned out OK.

The walk is studded with plaques and information notices about the history of the area. North Sydney Council has a handy online reference to this  one of their ‘Plaques Walk‘. The amazing BP Park offers fabulous views of Sydney Harbour as a bonus, but the best part is the feel of the repurposed site. In the 1920’s BP established the site with massive storage tanks for fuel that would come in from the ships. It was decommissioned in the 1980’s and the North Sydney Council transformed the site into something the views deserved.

A framework of steel walkways navigates visitors through the sandstone and concrete, it has such a cool atmosphere.

Moving on, this ‘Coastal Walk’ took me away from the coast for a little while, crossing the train tracks and then back again.

Sawmillers Reserve sits right alongside the train line. It was the site of a sawmill in operation from 1880-1980.

It’s neatly paved and offers a large grassy area perfect for picnics and BBQs.

There are ruins left behind and a ship-wreckage nearby in the water! Full of surprises on this walk.

Blues Point Ferry Depot And here I arrived at McMahon’s Point for this glorious view. As the book points out, it’s the only point where you can stand across from the bridge for a view opposite it’s arch (though I stood a bit further around reserve when taking this photo). Sydney Harbour Bridge from McMahons Point

In a shock turn of events, a long weekend in Sydney dawned clear and sunny, with a brilliant blue sky and toasty warm sun rays slicing through crisp fresh air. It seems like too often our recent public holiday long weekends have been dogged with cloud and rain, so this one was a treat, a perfect day to take on another coastal walk. My twin sis joined me on this one so we decided to pick one fairly local to the both of us – Mosman Bay to Taronga Zoo.

Although starting at the Mosman Bay ferry wharf, almost immediately the walk heads to the street (firstly going up up up) but once you’ve endured this bit of effort then the rest of the walk is a dream with plenty of pretty vistas.

There were a few other people doing the walk but it wasn’t busy. There were more people (and four legged pals) enjoying the sunny afternoon at Little Sirius Cove. Is there any happier being in this world than a dog playing at a beach with other dogs? We stopped to watch a few having the time of their lives running and swimming together. I have a soft spot for Samoyeds (the big white fluffy ones with the permanent grins on their faces), they are such a joy to watch.

Just past Little Sirius Cove is Curlew Camp an artists’ camp that was established in 1890 by a guy called Rueben Brasch who lived there with his brothers and a number of other plein air artists. They lived there in tents painting outdoors and teaching art classes to support themselves. An artist called Arthur Steeton moved to the camp in 1891 when he was 24 years old. He recalled in an interview when he was 73 that they “had half a dozen tents between them and there was a dining tent, a dancing floor and even a small piano.”

There’s more interesting info in this Wikipedia article, I love reading about days gone past in Sydney. These quotes are by Julian Ashton who lived at the Balmoral artists’ camp at the same time:

“I saw Streeton fairly often at this time. He lived in a camp at Little Sirius Cove, Mosman, where he was joined later on by Tom Roberts. He used to do the marketing, and on arriving at the Musgrave Street wharf had to walk around the point and blow a whistle for the boat to come across from the camp. To see him returning on Saturday nights, laden with parcels of bread, beer and beef, and as merry the while as a boy at a picnic, was a delight. In those days the painters’ material wants were few, but their hopes were unbounded.” – Julian Ashton, 1890

“Around the tent climb the Begonia and Clematis and Sarsaparilla the rough winds broken for us by an exquisite fusion of tender gum-leaf. Honeysuckle (like the trees of the old asters). Cotton plants heath and a wild cherry (bright green at our tent door) and the beautiful flood beneath. All is splendid.”

“Tis now 11 O’clock. My tent stands like a quiet glowing lamp on the deep black hill – the sombre night all round – a southerly gale sweeps over the bay the boat bumps against the pier below. All alone in the camp tonight.” – Julian Ashton, April 1891

Seeing as the Sydney Harbour Bridge was not built until 1923, the view across the harbour would have looked so different to the artists in the late 19th century. It would have been dark and still at night, not the glittering, iconic skyline we see today.

There are spectacular 180 degree views at Little Sirius Point; you can sit on the ledge there and soak it all in.

And snap away too of course, such a picture perfect day :-)

The track was so beautiful; nothing beats being surrounded by nature on a gorgeous day.

A heart in the pavement :-)

The walk took us less than an hour one way, that was even with us chatting as we walked and stopping along the way. We had left our car at Mosman so we walked back again which took even less time. It was about 90 minutes return.

And being Good Friday we drove to Balmoral Beach to have fish and chips from ‘Bottom of the Sea’ – the crowd was crazy, we were order number 453 and they were still serving the 390’s when we joined the wait.

Ah well, it was worth it to sit in the sand for a warm Autumn evening’s feast :-)

at Balmoral

What a spectacular part of Sydney foreshore this is! The Cremorne Point walk seemed perfect for a Sunday afternoon stroll as I read in the Coastal Walk book that it’s paved the whole way. I had been having a super lazy Sunday morning but the sight of the blue sky outside beckoned me to get out and do something – this was a good low-energy, high-reward compromise.

I drove over to Cremorne and parked on Milson Rd and walked along til I found an entry to the track. I couldn’t help but pine enviously at the view these houses have.

Cremorne Point Walk

The afternoon was hazy, dreamy, beautiful.

And here it starts, a nice neat triangle route water-side most of the way.

Footpaths most of the way made it super easy.

Can we stop for a moment to admire this totally awesome sideways leaning tree?

The path is lined with grassy picnic worthy spots, I’d only been walking ten minutes but it was too tempting to stop and lay down under the trees for awhile.

Usually I take photos of this view from the other side – it looks just as good in reverse right?

A lighthouse sits pretty at the triangle tip.

A community garden lines the eastern side, there is a plaque there dedicated to the local residents who maintain it.

This walk took me about two hours including an hour laying under the trees time (ha, I told you it was a lazy Sunday kind of day!)

I awoke early one Saturday morning and decided on a whim that the day called for exploration – time to tick off another Coastal Walk.

I hadn’t heard of this walk before, and certainly wouldn’t have expected to find a coastal walk in what I vaguely consider the mid north shore, but after studying the map I now realise that the coastline extends inland quite a bit with a series of bays and inlets south of the northern beaches.

The Harold Reid Reserve is named after a well respected town clerk who served the local area in many functions for over fifty years in the mid nineteen hundreds. It’s located in the suburb of Middlecove and consists of a circuit track around ‘The Sugarloaf’ headland.

I drove to Middlecove, parked my car at the end of Sugarloaf Cres and hit the trail.

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

Yeah! This was a good decision for 7am on a Saturday morning!

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

I think this may actually have become my favourite walk (but perhaps I will say this after each of them? Possible).

It has everything; well maintained tracks which still retain their natural bushy vibe (I don’t particularly like walking on man-made track structures when bush walking unless they make an impossible walk possible); signposts; spots to sit and admire the view; and friendly locals saying hello (two legged and plenty of four legged ones on leads).

And shadows. Always with the shadows.

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

I’m becoming truly obsessed with light. Early morning and dusk walks are my favourite, the light is ethereal, such a treat.

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

I love how this challenge has revealed more dimensions than just getting fit. Striking out on unknown tracks have awakened the explorer in me. And the artist as I snap photos and attempt to record the beauty before my eyes. And the worshipper as I experience overwhelming awe and gratitude.

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

On the west side there are mangroves, where the water ripples shades of blues and greens and browns, and the trees stick out of the water giving the distorted impression of a flood zone.

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

I found a rock to perch on and sat beside the tranquil scene.

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

Water rippled past. Fish appeared and vanished. Voices wafted from a nearby boat.

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

Laughter rang from a father and son kayaking north. The cicadas and crickets roared. The kookaburras let loose.

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

There is no doubt about it that the Australian bush has been embedding itself deep into my psyche all the more as the years past. I have always loved getting outside for a walk in nature, but lately more than ever I find great peace and connection being surrounded by it.

It’s my happy place :-)

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

Look at this bumpy tree branch, so strange, so beautiful! I hugged it – eek! I’m literally a tree hugger, goodness!

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

I followed the sun rays.

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

I drank in every view, resisting the urge to jump into the water.

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

Funny how the water changes colour so; the picture above and below were taken in the same spot.

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

Being at the water’s edge is good, but so is the climb up worth the effort.

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

Shadows, oh my heart…

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

The track circling the coastline of the headland eventually led me inland towards this roadway which mirrored the coastline loop on higher ground around The Sugarloaf.

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

Drape your shadows over me trees!

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

There’s always a reward waiting at the top.

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

Life on the edge. I’m not afraid of heights but I am extra cautious and move a hell of a lot slower when standing at the edge of extremely high things. I totally felt fine here until I heard the sound of paws behind me and a dog owner wildly calling two dogs to leave me alone. I turned slowly to see two Labradors bounding towards me all happy and joy! At any other moment than one where I’m perched on the edge of an extremely high rock ledge I would be all enthusiasm. Hello puppies! Let me hug you! But I could see only one scenario playing out in that situation. I froze and braced. But luckily the Labs took heed and slowed it down. The owner arrived looking a little frantic, I’m sure she also thought the two of them were going to pitch me off the edge!. But I survived, so all good.

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

I sat down after that. Just to be safe, yo.

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

Less of a threat is the log lizard that basks permanently in the sun at the lookout :-)

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

I followed the roadway around until I found the track to take me back to Sugarloaf Cres. The path featured this super cute mid-rock stairway which I just squeezed through.

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

And that was the end of the beautiful Harold Reid Reserve track – definitely one to do again (and again).

The very first coastal walk in my 2014 challenge was one nice and close to home – #27 Greenwich.

I went in the afternoon after work, starting at 6pm when the golden sun was throwing long shimmery pools of light across the water – oh how I love that time of day!

Sydney Coastal Walk - Greenwich Walk Track

I walked to the walk (as strange as that sounds) from Wollstonecraft so that added an extra 20 mins to the walking route outlined in the book, which took me an hour just as it indicated it would. That was with some stops to sit and ponder as I suppose those lonely looking benches facing out at the water are calling for.

Sydney Coastal Walk - Greenwich Walk Track

The water was in sight almost the whole way, and there’s much to watch.

Sydney Coastal Walk - Greenwich Walk Track

It’s an easy walk; partly bush track, some roadside, a few steep stairs but all clearly identifiable and easily done in thongs/sandals or joggers.

Sydney Coastal Walk - Greenwich Walk Track

I watched the ferry leaving Greenwich wharf.

Sydney Coastal Walk - Greenwich Walk Track

And took every opportunity for sitting and pondering.

Sydney Coastal Walk - Greenwich Walk Track

Sydney Harbour was in glorious form. There is no getting tired off this beautiful sight, especially with so many vantage spots to see it from.

Sydney Coastal Walk - Greenwich Walk Track

Sydney Coastal Walk - Greenwich Walk Track

I discovered Greenwich Baths – I will remember this on hot days when I fancy a quick swim but not the drive to the beach.

Sydney Coastal Walk - Greenwich Walk Track

Sydney Coastal Walk - Greenwich Walk Track

Sydney Coastal Walk - Greenwich Walk Track

Sydney Coastal Walk - Greenwich Walk Track

Sun light does brilliant things to the nature so that it changes all day every day, from one to the next and every time I notice something new. This tree’s branches caught my eye – so graceful.

Sydney Coastal Walk - Greenwich Walk Track

Sydney Coastal Walk - Greenwich Walk Track

The kookaburra found me along the way as it so often does (more on that another day); it perched high and proud against the brilliant sky, cackling that chorus so attuned with the close of the day.

Sydney Coastal Walk - Greenwich Walk Track

I always inevitably become obsessed with shadows when on a walk – maybe that’s why they take me so long?

Look it’s me!

Sydney Coastal Walk - Greenwich Walk Track - Shadows

On the wander home, outside the local school, I looked down at my feet and found a D. I looked around and found the rest of the alphabet and then numbers 1-20, but it can be no coincidence that it was D that called to me right?

Sydney Coastal Walk - Greenwich Walk Track

I had had a tumultuous day but the pent up energy and uneasiness I had carried home shed from me as I wandered along. Sometimes solitary walks are just right.

40 Sydney Bars

December 31, 2013 Challenge, Life Comments

Another challenge – but this should not be too much hard work; after all, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to have more fun (and work less). This challenge is certainly aligned with that!

My goal is to visit 40 of the bars listed in Time Out’s 100 Best Sydney Bars & Pubs in their 2014 Bar Guide. This challenge is aligned with my goals to spend more time with friends, work less and have more fun and explore more of greater Sydney.

I’m actually not a big drinker to be honest, but I really like the cosy, quirky small bar scene that’s in swing at the moment.

The full list with write-ups can be found on Time Out’s website; here’s the whole list in order including the change in rank from last year.

The sunshine coloured text indicates bars I have already been to; as my goal is to visit new places I will update my progress as the year goes on – these bar visits will be marked in coral text.

Time Out Sydney Bar Guide: Sydney’s 100 best Bars & Pubs 2014

01 Bulletin Place [new]
02 Baxter Inn [-1]
03 Earl’s Juke Joint [new]
04 Lobo Plantation [new]
05 Monopole [new]
06 Eau de Vie [+1]
07 Mary’s [new]
08 Love Tilly Devine [-3]
09 10 William Street [+6]
10 Shady Pines Saloon [-6]
11 Tio’s [-5]
12 Rockpool Bar [-2]
13 121 BC [-5]
14 Gardel’s Bar [-8]
15 Palmer and Co [-9]
16 The Wild Rover [new]
17 The Roosevelt [-1]
18 Wine Library [-15]
19 Sokyo Lounge [new]
20 The Hazy Rose [-8]
21 Frankies [new]
22 Black Bar [-2]
23 Arcadia [-6]
24 Vasco [new]
25 Grandma’s [-6]
26 Local Taphouse [+9]
27 Victoria Room [-16]
28 The Barber Shop [new]
29 Neighbourhood [new]
30 Bottleneck Bar [new]
31 Hinky Dinks [-17]
32 Low 302 [-14]
33 Button [-5]
34 Grain Bar [new]
35 Assembly [+24]
36 Anchor [-9]
37 The Union Hotel [new]
38 Midnight Special [-17]
39 Longrain [-16]
40 Mojo Record Bar [-18]
41 Gilt [new]
42 Stitch [-16]
43 Icebergs [-14]
44 DeVine [-13]
45 Island Bar [new]
46 Hemmesphere [-8]
47 The Little Guy [-15]
48 The Morrison [new]
49 Hello Sailor [new]
50 The Henson [new]
51 Commons [-7]
52 Tapavino [new]
53 Pocket [same]
54 Corner House [-12]
55 Ivy [-12]
56 Courthouse Hotel [+1]
57 Abercrombie [-21]
58 Play Bar [new]
59 Miss Peaches [new]
60 Cricketers Arms [+1]
61 Panama House [new]
62 Four In Hand Hotel [-38]
63 Miss Marley’s Tequila Bar [-9]
64 Australian Heritage Hotel [+7]
65 Café Lounge [-25]
66 Foley Lane [+10]
67 Riverview Hotel [-1]
68 Darlo Bar [+11]
69 Zeta Bar [+4]
70 Hemingway’s [new]
71 White Hart [-22]
72 Hero of Waterloo [-25]
73 Bar Racuda [new]
74 Shakespeare [-33]
75 Old Fitzroy [-17]
76 The Dock [-30]
77 Tokonoma [-25]
78 Manly Wine [-30]
79 Lord Nelson [+19]
80 Foxtrot [new]
81 Norfolk [+5]
82 Opera Bar [-5]
83 Beresford [same]
84 Lord Dudley [+6]
85 Establishment [-23]
86 Firefly [-19]
87 Shop and Wine Bar [-17]
88 The Stuffed Beaver [-25]
89 The Rook [new]
90 Jimmy Liks [+6]
91 Winery by Gazebo [same]
92 Lodge Wine Bar [same]
93 Marble Bar [+4]
94 Flinders Hotel [-1]
95 Friend in Hand [-8]
96 Grasshopper [re-entry]
97 Crane Bar [new]
98 Timbah [-23]
99 The Vic [new]
100 Hotel Hollywood [-35]

Bring on the bar hopping!

37 Coastal Walks

December 30, 2013 Challenge, Life Comments

I have set myself the challenge to walk all 37 walks in the Coastal Walks Sydney book in 2014; a challenge aligned with goals I have to improve my fitness, explore more of the greater Sydney area and spend more time out in nature (tick; tick; tick!)

Here are the 37 walks in the book, I’ll update the list as I tick them off:

# Walk Name Length Time Completed
1 Patonga to Pearl Beach 6 km 2.5 hrs
2 West Head to Resolute Beach 3 km 1 hr
3 Elvina Bay 6 km 2.5 hrs
4 Barrenjoey Head 3.5 km 1.5 hrs
5 Palm Beach to Avalon 7 km 3 hrs
6 Avalon to Narrabeen 11 km 4 hrs
7 Collaroy to Manly 11.5 km 4 hrs 15-08-2015
8 Manly to North Head 9 km 3.5 hrs
9 Spit Bridge to Manly 10 km 3.5 hrs 13-08-2015
10 Harold Reid Reserve 5 km 2 hrs 18-01-2014
11 Two Creeks Track 6 km 2.5 hrs
12 Flat Rock and Magazine Tracks 9.5 km 3.5 hrs 03-10-2015
13 Bantry Bay 7 km 3 hrs
14 Cremorne Point 3 km 1 hr 26-01-2014
15 Mosman to Taronga Zoo 2 km 1 hr 18-04-2014
16 Taronga Zoo to Balmoral 6.5 km 3 hrs 16-08-2015
17 Circular Quay to Lavender Bay 4 km 1.5 hr
18 McMahons Point to Waverton 3 km 1 hr 14-05-2014
19 Balls Head and Berry Island 7 km 2.5 hrs
20 Circular Quay to Botanic Gardens 5 km 2 hrs
21 Circular Quay to Darling Harbour & Pyrmont 6 km 2 hrs
22 Anzac Bridge, Rozelle & Blackwattle Bays 5 km 2 hrs
23 Balmain to Birchgrove 8 km 3 hrs
24 The Iron Cove Bay Run 7 km 2 hrs
25 Hen & Chicken Bay 9 km 3 hrs
26 Hunters Hill and Woolwich 5 km 2 hrs
27 Greenwich 2.5 km 1 hr 13-01-2014
28 Double Bay to Rose Bay 4 km 1.5 hrs
29 Hermitage Foreshore to Vaucluse 5 km 2 hrs
30 Watsons Bay to South Head 2.45 km 1 hr
31 The Gap to Dover Heights 5 km 2 hrs
32 Bondi to Coogee 6 km 2.5 hrs
33 Coogee to Maroubra 5 km 2 hrs
34 Maroubra to La Perouse 10.5 km 4 hrs 22-08-2015
35 Cape Baily, Botany Bay 8 km 3 hrs
36 Bundeena to Jibbon Head 5 km 2 hrs
37 Bundeena to Marley Beach 10 km 3.5 hrs

I would love to share my progress as I tick them off so stay tuned.

Sydney Coastal Walks Map