It occurs to me that if you read the title you really don't need to read the remainder of the blog to find out the most interest parts about my latest walk. For those of you of a masochistic bent however please see below.
My previous two walks around sea adjacent portions of my home city having fired me with a desire to stare at large expanses of water that I can't drink I eagerly sought out another such opportunity for my recent walk. Eventually I settled on La Perouse a suburb in Sydney's south whose main claim to fame is that it is where the French didn't colonise Australia. La Perouse is fringed with bush, well to be honest its fringed with golf courses but the golf courses are fringed with bush which collectively make up the northern part of Kamay Botany National Park. Quite a bit of coastline is included within the park's bounds and this was my destination for the day.
Two trams and a bus having been used to deposit me at the waters edge in La Perouse I wondered briefly if I had time to do the walk and get back before my employers started demanding my attention. I decided to risk it and set forth.
An expanse of blue water stretched out in front of me. This wasn't the sea, it was Botany Bay which goes some way to explaining the oil storage facilities across the way in the above photo. From this position I took a hard left and made my way through some slightly disheveled bush until I arrived at Congwong Beach. I had no choice but to go to the beach as the walking track I was taking led to it and out the other side. Having dressed for hiking rather than the beach the soft sand proved to be some of the most tiring and difficult walking terrain I encountered and I was glad when I could bid the sand goodbye and head into the more tree intensive parts of my journey.
|Slightly disheveled bush|
Taking photos at the beach is a slightly dubious prospect nowadays particularly when you quite obviously have no decent reason for being at the beach so I kept my camera in my pocket until I encountered a small stream set sufficiently away from sunbathers and children to excuse my taking a photo of it.
|A small stream with a beach lurking modestly out of shot to the left.|
I left the beach with a sense of relief and delight that my feet were back on solid ground and set off around the coast. The day was glorious; the sky and sea were blue and the sun was bright. Very bright in fact, very very bright. I had brought a hat which is the only reason I survived. I had not brought sunscreen which is the reason why parts of me now resemble a refugee from a leper colony. Still melanomas and seared flesh were in my future. For the moment I enjoyed the bushland full of tiny, beautiful birds that absolutely refused to sit still and be photographed. The sea fortunately was more accommodating.
|The sea goes on for quite a bit further past this photo|
Having tried the sea's patience by getting it to pose for photos I left it alone for a while to take photos of various plants which also had the advantage of not moving as swiftly as those damned birds.
|This plant didn't jump out of the way in time|
I also kept an eye out for the Clare McIntyre memorial fungus without which none of my walking blogs would be complete. Sadly fungi was rather thin on the ground but I managed to take the photo below which I'm about 60% certain is a fungus and not just a tree disease.
|The Clare McIntyre memorial fungus (probably)|
I was in a good mood, I had got away from the beach and photo opportunities abounded. A lizard posed for a photograph (ok he didn't know that but I'm pretty sure he won't sue) and the weather continued its self appointed task of burning my shoulders to a crisp.
I had just got used to being some way above the sea when the path forked and plunged back down towards the shoreline again. With nothing better to do I followed it and wound up at Brown's Rock which must be one of the most unimaginative names for a geographic feature I have ever encountered. The rock was indeed brown or at least dirty and there were people fishing from it. We greeted each other politely and then even more politely ignored each other. If I really wanted to meet people I probably wouldn't wander around uninhabited parts of the bush. I did take quite a nice photo from the rock or at least a rock.
|Quite a nice photo|
And then I took a photo of a ship because it intruded itself on the scene and I figured if it was going to spoil the scenery then it should at least have its name taken down. It's name was (and probably still is) the Golden Chie. Either that or some exotically named gang has tagged the side of the ship.
|The Golden Chie|
For the record the Golden Chie is a Panama flagged tanker currently making its way to Cairns.
With the entertainment value of brown rocks and wandering oil tankers exhausted I retraced my steps, uphill this time, and continued my journey. Well I say I continued my journey, actually I sat down at the fork in the path, gasped for breath, drank some water and tried to remember what the warning signs for a heart attack were. Then I continued my journey.
To say I had a destination would be to attribute more organisational skill to me than I actually possess but the next point of interest according to the signs I encountered occasionally was Henry Head lighthouse. I quite like lighthouses so it was with a spring in my step (or at least an enthusiastic shuffle) that I plunged through the bush again.
The bush came to an abrupt end as we reached Henry Head itself. Instead was an open, windswept headland with the world's most disappointing lighthouse situated on it. I, of course, had been thinking about a tall cylindrical building with a flashing light on the top. What I actually got was this;
|A solar panel has been tethered to the lighthouse to stop it running away|
In fairness it is cylindrical. It was at Henry Head that the most interesting part of my walk began. Which will probably infuriate anyone who has actually bothered reading through the above. I would now be taking the Cape Banks walk through hanging swamps and heathlands that decorated the cliff line. I wouldn't be walking right on the cliff edge because signs pointed out that it wasn't stable. It and me both.
The scenery was an immediate contrast to what I had been walking through so far. Trees vanished and in their place sturdy bushes and somewhat wind battered grasses prevailed. As with North Head a walking platform had been created so that we didn't sully the earth with our tread.
|Heathland, I presume|
I walked on the path through the heathland taking in the sights (heath) and sounds (wind on heath) and politely ignoring the annoyingly large number of people who had chosen this day to do the same thing. The walking path changed suddenly from wooden boards and occasional metal grates to handsome stone and I thought to myself "ah ha, the National Park is going up in the world" then I saw a sign that said "Golfers have right of way." I was walking through a golf course. Or at least I was now. Here the golf course had made its way right to the sea but had graciously permitted random strangers (such as myself) to continue their walk as long as they stuck to the path, allowed golfers through and didn't sue if hit on the head by a golf ball. I obediently stuck to the path and arrived at Cape Banks which was another land extrusion into the sea.
|The aforementioned sea|
There was scenery at Cape Banks and the sea being as photogenic as ever but what really grabbed my attention were the crows. I have never seen crows of such magnificence. Glossy blue black feathers, deep barrel chests and pale blue eyes. I've never thought of crows as being handsome birds but these were amazing and very happy to be photoed. I took many many photos of which only a small selection are added below
|A different but equally photogenic crow|
I may have gone a little nuts over the crows actually. Certainly I have so many photos that I could be accused of having a fetish. I stared at them in awe and they stared at me with a combination of disdain and disinterest.
Eventually I tore myself away from the crows and continued my walk. I didn't realise it yet but my walk was almost over. The path I was following joined up with a road and gunshots crackled in my ears. On one side was the golf course and as it turned out on the other was the Sydney Pistol Club. Psychologically I had finished my walk, now there was just the tedious business of getting myself from where I was to somewhere I might be able to catch a bus. A hasty checking of google maps informed me that the road I was on would eventually get me there. This was useful since there wasn't another one. Further as an added teaser it informed me that a certain way along the road once all of the golf courses and gun clubs were done with the bush started again and I would be able to walk along a boardwark through a small piece of natural bush before emerging onto a suburban street which connected to another suburban street which connected with a multi suburban street (Anzac Parade) which had bus stops on it.
Possessing for the first time an actual plan I headed off walking along a narrow road, leaping to the side when cars passed by and pausing to snicker as a couple of expensively dressed guys in a convertible mercedes drove slowly and with wincing care along a road liberally decorated with potholes and speed humps. I have never seen anything look so out of place in my life.
Without widening at all the road suddenly became littered with parked cars. I looked to my right and yes, there was the golfcourse again. A couple of guys were teeing off; standing directly in front of them was an ibis which paid absolutely no attention as a rain of golf balls flew over its head. The golfers didn't pay any attention to it either. I wasn't particularly interested in either golfers or ibis, I had stopped because on my side of the road was the aforementioned bush and a wooden walkway allowing access.
With bush once again on both sides of me I headed along the walkway aiming for the aforementioned suburban street which was only three hundred metres ahead of me. Approximately a hundred metres into this little journey I looked at the ground beside the walkway and saw a snake looking up at me. I literally said, "Holy shit, a snake!" Then I took photos. Not great photos because the snake wasn't as inclined to pose for them as the crows had been but I managed to get one decent one before the snake disappeared under the walkway I was currently standing on. I waited to see if it would emerge on the other side but apparently it had decided to wait until I was gone. I would have too.
|Holy shit, a snake!|
After that there was nothing left but to walk the last few hundred metres back to civilisation and a couple of hundred more to a bus stop. I didn't see any more snakes although a local I met on the walkway assured me they were there.