For those of you interested in a chronological sequence this occurred a few weeks before my operation and thus before my interest in walking became confined to the location of the nearest bathroom.
I had pretty much run out of random fragments of bush to wander through in my immediate vicinity. So much so that I had perforce to move on to my intermediate vicinity. I do this by essentially looking for green spaces on a map that don't have the phrase "golf course" associated with them. In this case I wasn't entirely successful.
Bexley North is perhaps not the best known suburb in Sydney and one of the things it is not best known for is expanses of wilderness. It does, however, have Stott's Reserve a small patch of bush which appears to have simply been overlooked when they were lumping houses down on pretty much every other part of the suburb. I would travel to Bexley North and make my way to Stott's Reserve. Once there I would make my way through this tiny piece of bushland and then stroll over the hill and down into Bardwell Valley. Bardwell Valley has Bardwell Creek running through it and it should come as no real surprise that having encountered a piece of terrain too low lying to build on it was decided to build a golf course there instead. However the golf course ended pretty much where I intended to emerge from the reserve and a park of sorts took its place shadowing the creek upstream. I would plunge through Stott's Reserve up and over the hill (a modest rise at best) and the take a hard right at the golf course and make my way upstream.
Do you want to know something about the bush? It's actually quite difficult to walk through. I don't mean taking a walking trail which is easy enough, I mean actually forcing your way through undergrowth that nobody has helpfully put a path through. Stott's Reserve isn't large by any means, where I entered it didn't seem much wider than the blocks that the suburban houses on either side were built on. To be fair it did go back a bit further.
|The way in, so to speak|
I walked up to the reserve not entirely sure that I wasn't trespassing on someone's overgrown garden and then stared at it in bafflement looking for a way in. I was expecting a path and of paths there were none. To be fair we had had some rain recently and it was possible that one of the little rivulets trickling through was in drier times a path. In the absence of any other options I half forced and half squelched my way along one of these rivulets. Along the way I managed to make so many spiders homeless that they probably have warning signs up about me. I can't quite recall if the rivulet ran out but the path (if it was a path) certainly did.
|Virgin bush, just out of shot is the neighbours fence|
Sweaty, muddy and festooned with cobwebs (and the occasional justifiably outraged spider) I crashed, slither and stumbled across to the other little rivulet and with a mounting sense of triumph followed that instead. Said feeling of triumph evaporated moments later as any possibility of following that rivulet closed up as well. Up until this point I had been thinking uplifting thoughts like "virgin bush" and "unspoiled nature" (apart of course for the pollution in the water and the idiot blundering around like a lunatic). Now I was starting to think things like, "how am I going to get any further without a machete"? And also, what if i die in this remote place, will my body ever be found. Which was ridiculous when you consider I was probably never more than fifty metres from someone's garden fence the entire time.
|There was of course time for the Clare McIntyre memorial fungus photo|
Mindful of my duty to my readers I did my best to enjoy and photograph the wilderness I had so confidently blundered into and learnt a valuable truth. It is much easier to enjoy the beauty of nature when nature isn't continually hitting you in the head every time you take a step forward. By this time not only was I sweaty and sticky but I was festooned in so many cobwebs that I must have looked like I was partway through a mummification process. I kept finding more every time I brushed myself off. I was also getting increasingly concerned about my ability to actually make it through at all.
|This is the rivulet that might have been a path|
Just as I was about to give up in despair I gazed towards the heavens and found salvation. No I didn't have a religious experience, I saw a bird box attached to a tree. What this meant, so my cobweb addled reasoning went, was that there must be a path to allow access to the bird both. Unfortunately it was over on the other side of the reserve. I scrambled across managing to avoid slipping on rocks and treading on piles of leaves that didn't have anything underneath them until I arrived at the tree. There was no path but there was a fence and just ahead an open area of mowed ground with picnic tables.
Shedding twigs and the occasional random spider I stumbled forward as though I had been lost for weeks and in about thirty seconds I was in a totally innocuous park which bordered the reserve. I paused to brush the twigs (and as it so happened more cobwebs and spiders) out of my hair and set off to find Bardwell Creek the location of the second part of my journey.
|Yep the wild frontier which extends about another ten metres|
Through the back streets of Bexley North I went until I descended upon lush green beauty. Yep, that was the golf course. Right next to it was a rather scraggy piece of bush. It did however have a path. Actually the path was wide enough for a decent sized car to do a u-turn on. By contrast with my earlier experience this was barely bushwalking at all. Since the alternative was to walk through a golf course I chose it anyway and wandered alongside Bardwell Creek. Bardwell Creek trickles through this valley and eventually meets Wolli Creek just before that Creek in turn meets the Cooks River. Basically I live near a water course social event.
|Somewhere below all that stuff is Bardwell Creek, you're not actually missing much|
The creek it has to be said was a bit of a disappointment. This isn't really the fault of the creek but rather the people who insist on tossing rubbish into it. In amongst the detritus ducks gamely attempt to feed on whatever can actually live in the water. Frankly it wouldn't surprise me if from time to time they drag the ducks under. There was however a rather handsome looking butterfly.
|The aforementioned butterfly|
Still there were trees, bushes and the sound of water and I sauntered along quite happily enough until I ran out of park and almost out of creek. The creek in somewhat diminished form continued for a while but someone had built an aquatic centre directly in my path which prevented me from following it any further. On the way back I used Prime Ministers Walk which is a path through Bardwell Park adorned as the name implies with plaques of our nation's prime ministers. John Howard appeared to be the most recent, I don't know if they haven't got around to the subsequent ones or if they just decided to end the list at the last prime minister we had who was completely sane.
|Bardwell Creek looking uncharacteristically pleasant and inviting|
This retracing of my steps meant that I wound up at the golf course again. I could have left the way I came in but instead decided to walk through the golf course in the hopes of finding Bardwell Park a suburb from which I knew my way home. As a plan it sort of worked. The golf course was considerably longer than expected and I had actually overshot my target by the time I struggled out of it. No matter I had google maps on my phone. There followed about three quarters of an hour as I walked in the wrong direction, corrected myself, corrected myself again when it turned out I was right the first time, wound up back at the golf course, followed the creek until it became impossible to do so, stumbled out onto a street that I had walked past three times already and eventually made my way to Bardwell Park. It turns out I have a nonsense of direction. From Bardwell Park it was a simple albeit hilly walk home.