OK, so I couldn't resist that title but for the more delicate of sensitivity among you permit me to assure you that it merely relates to the Spit Bridge, the starting point for this little stroll. Having made my way (in widely spaced stages) from the Spit Bridge back to Milsons Point I decided to complete the efffort by walking from the Spit Bridge to Manly. As is usual when I have these bright ideas I managed to undertake it on a day when it was blazing hot but I prefer sunshine to rain particularly given my propensity for walking down creek beds and river valleys.
This was hardly striking out into the great unknown, the Spit to Manly walk is an established feature on the hiking and tourist trail and for the most part the path was only marginally less difficult than walking on a treadmill. I pottered across the Spit Bridge and down a flight of stairs on the other side. On the way a gave a polite greeting to a couple of guys coming the other way. This would become a rather tedious routine.
|Ducking under the Spit Bridge to start my walk
My previous walk involved a lot of walking around headlands and so will this one so as you can see originality isn't one of my besetting sins. A couple of minutes quick walk across a neatly trimmed reserve and I was ready to plunge into the wild bushland.
|Hopefully I can force my way along this narrow and overgrown track
Despite the suspiciously good condition of the track I was surrounded by greenery which took the edge off a day that was both cloudy and oppressively humid. The path led along the water's edge (everything else being covered in suburbs) so picturesque views of the harbour or at least small parts of it were frequently dangled for my entertainment.
|A small part of Sydney Harbour dangled for my entertainment
Bush and sandstone flanked my left with the harbour on my right. You really can't avoid sandstone in Sydney unless you walk around with your eyes shut. Despite the opinion of those who know me I don't actually do that, often. I walked through what would be coastal forest if it extended a little further. I was heading towards Clontarf beach. Not that I was interested in Clontarf beach, it was just in my way.
|Coastal rainforest in miniature
If you've been reading this blog for a while you're probably sick to death of lizards by now. Not me, I will never get sick of lizards and certainly not while they're posing obligingly for photos directly in front of me.
|Don't worry, there will be more lizard shots later
Having obliging photographed a frankly shamelessly self promoting lizard I moved on. It is said that if you find a lizard in your house it symbolises something new in your life such as, for example, an unexpected reptilian house guest. I've no idea what it means if a lizard finds a human in its house although based on my experiences with this one it means photo opportunities and the possibility of becoming the world's first reptilian influencer.
The lizard had wisely picked a sunny rock on which to expose itself but once past it the trees closed in again hemming me to the shoreline. Small rivulets trickled down sandstone outcrops and trees fought each other for shade provision duties. I was grateful because the earlier clouds had given up and gone home leaving the sun in undisputed possession of the field.
|This is probably within spitting distance of some very expensive real estate
Little did I know it but my time in the cool forest was coming to an end. The path I was following had taken me around Shell Cove and now deposited me on a street next to Clontarf beack. The beach and the park attached absolutely heaved with people despite, well I'll let the photo say it for me.
|Enjoy your day at the beach guys.
My usual disinclination towards crowds of people wasn't exactly helped by the prospect that they had spent much of the day splashing around in sewage. I hastily made my way through the park and hit the track on the other side.
Here a distinct change in vegetation greeted me. Whereas the first part of my walk had been through cool semi rainforest type surrounds now I was climbing rugged terrain (there were steps) and the surrounding bush was of a hardier, scrubbier variety. It also provided less protection from the sun. Having successfully navigated Clontarf Beach I was now walking around or at least in the general vicinity of Dobroyd Head.
|Spindly trees and bushes with teeth would become more prevalent from now on
Now considerably above the waterline I traipsed across Dobroyd Head, I was now walking through endangered heath land which I had encountered before at North Head. As with North Head the local authorities had laid down a raised walking path so we didn't sully the earth with the touch of our boots. The area had a somewhat charred look due to some fires last year apparently but there was plenty of green among the black although undergrowth was still a little lacking.
The sound of birdsong drew me towards a bush by the side of the path. I stared for a while, there was a round sort of leafy, twiggy thing. Could this be a bird nest? I peered closer and a bird flew out and almost hit me in the face. I stumbled back reflecting in my panic that "killed after an encounter with a finch" would be an embarrassing thing to put on one's obituary. Fortunately I recovered before I tumbled the eighteen inches or so to the heathland below.
|A bird nest, I know this because a bird flew out of it
Gasping after my brush with death I stumbled on in a daze. Tourists were becoming more and more prevalent. In fact they were all over the damned place. I gave a gritted smile and polite greetings to those I passed and as a consequence probably engaged in more conversation than I had all week. I passed one large group of tourists with the obligatory greetings but then headed down a side path to see some Aboriginal rock carvings. As a result when I returned to the main path I had to go through all the greetings a second time when I passed them again. I don't want you to think I'm in any way misanthropic I'm as fond of my fellow human as the next man, as long as the next man is my Father, its just that I rather like wandering alone and this was turning into something akin to a social event. On the other hand given the views one could hardly blame them.
As I went along muttering anti tourist curses under my breath the landscape changed from "somewhat charred" to "distinctly charred". Ashy soil was more in evidence than undergrowth and the surviving vegetation still had a rather shellshocked appearance.
I was actually heading towards somewhat familiar territory. On the other side of Dobroyd Head was Balgowlah Heights and Forty Baskets Beach a place where I lived briefly in a youth that was not so much misspent as simply spent. Winding my way down towards the waterline again I obviously passed the bushfire zone and entered lusher, wetter climes more akin to the vegetation I'd encountered at the beginning of my walk. Once again I encountered a gaggle of tourists but this time I really couldn't blame them for gathering because a lizard was proudly posing on a bridge over a small creek and was surrounded by eager photographers.
|Doing its best Smaug impersonation
Despite the writing on the bridge on the left I've no idea if this is an Eastern Water Dragon but I checked wikipedia and the colouring seems to match. Let's face it, David Attenborough I am not.
|This is a completely different lizard I encountered a little further along
Glutted on lizards I made my way through the reserve that surrounds Forty Baskets Beach and then along the shoreline itself for a while. That wasn't my choice, the track ended at the shoreline with a distinct hint that surely I could find my own way for a little while before picking up the track again at the other end.
|And for no reason at all, a pelican
That was the end of the bush part of the bushwalk. Ahead of me lay a kilometre or two of walking through well sculpted shoreline parks until finally I reached my destination. The most common sight along that last stretch were signs everywhere telling people to keep their dogs on a lead to help protect the penguins. I looked quite closely but I didn't see a single penguin. I suppose it's possible the last one was savaged to death by a dog yesterday. Once I arrived in Manly there was nothing else to do except buy coffee and catch a ferry home. I could have joined friends who were apparently in a bar about a hundred metres from where I turned up but I didn't find that out until I got home by at which point I wasn't going to turn around and go back.