Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Travelling Pathetically - Now With Extra Canine

If there are two things that my colleagues at work can count on it is that firstly I will bore them to tears with stories of my supposed heroics on the bush walking track and secondly if any of them still possess some faint trace of a will to live then the Persian Princess will regale them with stories about how gorgeous, loveable and generally desirable to have her little dog is.  She normally does this just before enquiring with more than a hint of desperation whether anyone would like to dog sit for a while.  The end result of the pair of us sharing a workplace is that our fellow employees have mental lacerations beyond the capacity of HR to document.  It was only a matter of time before the two of us would combine to produce a perfect storm that will tear at the increasingly frayed fabric of our workmates sanity. 

We decided to combine obsessions by taking her dog for a walk.  I suggested the Bay Run, a seven kilometre running/biking/strolling/dog walking track which circled around a couple of coves lurking to one side of the Parramatta River.  The princess hesitated, apparently seven kilometres might be a bit much for her darling's small paws to handle.  The she realised that if we started at Haberfield Rowers Club then a walk of a few kilometres would see us arrive at Birkenhead Point Outlet Centre.  With visions of shopping dancing before her eyes she announced that her dog could certainly make it that far.  I suspected it would make it that far if she had to drag its exhausted corpse the last few hundred metres.

I checked out Haberfield Rowers Club and found to my delight that it was only a few minutes walk from Hawthorne light rail station.  Truly the light rail is a gift that keeps on giving.  Hawthorne light rail station is named for the Hawthorne Canal which flows or at least oozes towards the river at this point.  I doubt if the river is particularly pleased at the meeting.  

The day was cool and grey, perfect for a gentle stroll around some of the more water adjacent parts of my home city.  I hopped off the light rail, walked past the off leash dog park which fringes the canal (for some reason the significance of this place didn't register at the time) and ducked under a low flying motorway to reach the Bay Run and more specifically Haberfield Rowers Club.

Where Hawthorn Canal hits the bay

The Bay Run is a popular exercise route.  I know this because about half the population of Sydney appeared to be pounding along it at speeds varying from "trample you under foot" to "I will trample you under foot".  I seemed to be moving against the flow of humanity as I headed towards the rowing club which kindly provided me with coffee while I waited for the appearance of the princess and an accompanying canine who henceforth shall be known as Ruby mainly because that's her name.  I was a little early and right on time the princess arrived accompanied by her dog, husband and six year old daughter.  The princess and Ruby alighted from their conveyance at which point her husband burned rubber in an attempt to flee the scene as quickly as possible.

Ok, honesty compels me to admit that Ruby is terribly cute, she's an adolescent cavoodle who greeted me with every mark of affection and delight.  The princess spoiled it a little by pointing out that Ruby greets absolutely everybody the same way and is, in fact, a bit of a tart.  With my ego thus reduced to manageable levels we commenced our walk.  Pretty much the first thing we walked past was the path to Hawthorne station and I mentioned there was an off leash dog park there.  It was only then that I realised my companion might have been able to make use of that information a little earlier.  As it was she was committed to Birkenhead Point and indeed had already made arrangements for her husband to pick her up from there.  So on we went leaving the delights of the dog park behind.  Since one of the dog parks delights was an unfenced canal and Ruby wasn't known for her common sense I'm not entirely sure avoiding it was a bad idea.

The scene on our left.  The scene on the right was far less impressive

The princess strode ahead while Ruby and I weaved from side to side.  I weaved to avoid tripping over a dog every thirty seconds and Ruby weaved because, well that's what she does.  Unlike my other walks I couldn't even pretend that I was was walking through unspoiled nature.  Any unspoiled nature was sealed beneath layers of concrete and tarmacadam.  The other strange thing was the number of people.  Normally if you see this many people on the move in the same direction its an indication that a war is happening just to their rear but in this case it was apparently exercise.  I reflected on the folly of mankind (war is bad too) and pretended to concentrate on what the princess was saying while actually concentrating on not inadvertently tripping over her dog

Pretty much the closest we came to wilderness.  Check out the small dog.

Since I've mentioned Ruby and given her top billing in the title of the blog it is only right that I include a couple of photos which don't really do her justice because I took them close to the beginning of the walk when she was still so eager that standing still for any appreciable period of time (like three seconds) wasn't an option.

Ruby plus feet

A brief second when she acknowledged that the princess was speaking to her before ignoring her

Yes ok Ruby is as cute AF

With some less than impressive dog photos under my belt we headed off again skirting Leichhardt Aquatic Centre (for some reason they chose to build an aquatic centre right next to a large amount of naturally occurring water).  Out on the water the surface was marred by the appearance of a small island with even smaller buildings on it.  This was Rodd Island and despite the buildings is apparently uninhabited.  I know this because I looked it up when the princess pointed out the buildings.

Ignore the buildings and the moored boat.  Rodd Island is definitely uninhabited, apparently

We climbed a small hill and then descended always skirting the waterfront until Iron Cove bridge loomed in front of us in all its magnificence.  By now Ruby wasn't frisky but was doggedly (get it; doggedly, thank you, I'm here all week) putting one paw in front of another as she (and by extension we) neared our goal.  Across the bridge and we abandoned the Bay Run and made our way along the waterfront to Birkenhead Point.  Here the princess rather foolishly left Ruby in my care while she popped into a store.  Fortunately her husband arrived before anything terrible happened.

Now that we were at Birkenhead Point the princess indicated her intention of going shopping.  Out of what I can only assume was an excess of good manners she invited me to join them.  I politely indicated that I would sooner scoop my eyeballs out with a teaspoon.  We parted ways there with the princess helpfully pointing the way to the exit since I had managed to get lost inside the shopping centre.  Now alone I decided to complete the Bay Run since I had come halfway and the light rail station that would take me home was at my starting point.

The second part of the walk took me along the other side of the cove me had walked along and was a slight improvement on the first part.  This was due to the fact that whether by accident or design some tiny shreds of mangrove had survived and provided something vaguely green to look at (as long as you looked in the right direction).

About as close to nature as I would get

You couldn't actually walk through the mangroves, for starters if they had put in a path there would have been no room left for the mangroves but you could at least gaze on them from a distance.

Baby mangroves, not as cute as Ruby but possessed of a certain charm

The local council seems terribly proud of their mangroves and has erected signs every few feet pointing out that these are indeed mangroves and how important they are to the natural environment.  Given the scarcity of mangroves its probably a good thing we destroyed the natural environment because otherwise it would be in trouble.  In between the placards of mangrove praise there was the occasional outraged sign announcing that mangroves had been vandalised.  I mean the natural environment is all well and good but if you pay top dollar for water views you're going to be a little pissed off if some scrubby tree is in the way aren't you.

Still the presence of the mangroves even in an apparently vandalised state allowed me to take a few bird photos.

Humans are also allowed to use the amenities

One of the few occasions I've seen two gulls and they're not fighting over a chip

And here are ibis doing what ibis did before the invention of rubbish bins

Eventually the mangroves gave up and I crossed Iron Cove Creek about which I will only say that it makes Hawthorne Canal look clean and healthy by comparison and wound up back at the Rowers Club.  Since I was there and so was it I had another cup of coffee and headed back to Hawthorne light rail station.

And once I got there I had a fit of absolute insanity and walked most of the way back home.  Most of it was tedious slogging through suburbs and absolutely not worth mentioning but I did get to walk along the greenway they're creating alongside the Hawthorne Canal.  When it's finished it will apparently go all the way from Dulwich Hill to Hawthorne.  At present its dimensions are much more modest but still a pleasant bit to walk along.

By comparison with the Bay Run this is untamed wilderness

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