blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Remembering the beaches!

The sky is blue outside on this New Year's Day but the air is cold in the extreme: "feels like -28ºC" at midday. Overnight it's forecast to feel like -38. This, I think, is a good day to recall November last year, when we were on Sydney's northern beaches, acquiring a suntan that still hasn't quite faded.

November 19th, 3013

Barrenjoey Headland and beach, ocean side
It was a 45 minute drive to Palm Beach, down a series of wide roads––skirting the Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park along Lane Cove Road, and past an extraordinary Baha'i temple at the top of the hill along Mona Vale Road, then along Barrenjoey Road. George drove, helped by the GPS map with Chris at its controls and I as back seat driver using the conventional street map for backup and confirmation. In case you wonder about the name Barrenjoey: in 1788, Captain (later Admiral) Arthur Phillip of the British Royal Navy, first Governor of New South Wales, he who founded Sydney, had named the headland at our destination "Barrenjuee" (i.e. little kangaroo or wallaby).

Pittwater estuary, Barrenjoey
Palm Beach is on an isthmus or "tombolo" with sandy beaches on either side. The Pittwater estuary on the western side has seaplanes, yachts and pleasure boats moored on it, and we walked along the sand there first, the water silky, clear and inviting, overtaking someone's blond puppy called Mango and buying icecreams at an old fashioned icecream parlour still with 1950s coke adverts on its walls.

Nice view through the wing mirror
 The eastern side of the isthmus has equally inviting, rolling waves. We parked in the shade under the Norfolk pines that grow by the shore. I swam first on my own in a salty rockpool bath beside the concrete changing rooms under the cliff, then with Chris and George in the breakers themselves, staying in the area between the flags in case of rip currents. The waves were small enough to enjoy diving through them as they broke over us, nothing too alarming. To keep watch over clothes and valuables we had to take turns to swim two at a time; none of us wanted to come out of the water though, once in.

After lunch George recommended we climb the Barrenjoey Headland up a path that was mostly steps, Smugglers Way. Half way up this hill, blackened by a bushfire so recent (end of September) that we could still detect the smell of burning, George went and sat cross-legged below an overhang in the mouth of a small pockmarked sandstone cave. From the Gledhill Lookout at the top where the Barrenjoey lighthouse was, we could enjoy a panorama of the mouth of the Hawkesbury River, Lion Island and the headlands to the north. Whales come this way on their migrations, but this wasn't the right season for spotting them.

Looking back the way we'd come we had another good view of the beaches and spit of sand with a path through the Dunes. We descended on a steep jeep track and walked in this red sand but it was none too easy going. It would make for good ankle and calf strengthening if you attempted this walk every day. A more relaxing way of passing the time on another occasion might be to take one of the ferries (Scenic Cruises) to Bobbin Head or Patonga or somewhere like that.

Wikimedia panorama from the Gledhill Lookout

View of Palm Beach from Barrenjoey Headland

We were game for a further walk at dusk that day, beyond the end of Vimiera Road down and up again through Lane Cove, to the creek and back.

Those were the days! Hardly more than a month ago, but distant now.

A month later, near Ottawa

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