Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Travelling Pathetically - Beside the Seaside Edition

Weather having interrupted my last few attempts at bushwalking I seized on an unexpectedly dry Saturday to make at least a token attempt at fitness before my trip.  My handy walking app having delivered the opinion that the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk would deliver a certain amount of needed up and down plus views I set off towards the the sand and surf Mecca that is Bondi Beach.  According to the app the walk was about twelve kilometres which seemed like an appropriate distance.

I should state at the beginning that I have absolutely no interest in sand and surf and having arrived at Bondi Beach my first instinct was to leave it as soon as possible.  Leave I did, heading along the coastal walk that would in the fullness of time deliver me to Coogee another beach location I had no interest in.  

My progress was certainly not setting any speed records and my predilection for pausing to take photographs was only part of the reason.  The main reason was that half the population of Australia also appeared to be doing the walk and with the exception of a handful of joggers they were all doing it extremely slowly.  I was a little more schizophrenic, I would pull out to overtake a group of slow moving walkers, stride ahead, spot something I wanted to photograph and pause while said slow walkers continued past me.  I overtook some groups of people four times.

As can be seen from the photographs above Bondi becomes more appealing when you put some distance between yourself and it.  Having started at a beach naturally the first thing I had to do was climb up from it.  Once on the clifftop I turned my back on Bondi and towards the path ahead.

It was hardly splendid isolation

So there I was, all alone just me and half a million other people.  We lurched and shambled forward, bumping into scenery and trampling the slowest underfoot.  It was like a badly dressed zombie apocalypse.  Along the way there was a look out where one could watch for whales.  I stared out for a little and my patience was rewarded when absolutely no whales presented themselves for my entertainment.  To take my mind off the lack of whales and the spectacular over abundance of humans I took pictures of the more photogenic parts of the coastline.

Photogenic coastline picture #1

Photogenic coastline picture #2

In all fairness there was a decent amount of photogenic coastline to photograph.  I took quite a few pictures if only because where the rocks met the sea was the only place free of people.  A little further on even that would be denied to me as various rock fishermen diced with death in the hopes of dragging a small piece of sea life out of the ocean with a nylon cord.  At that point their catch would become a small piece of sea death.  I could imagine that the fish were all hoping for a really big wave.

The coastline became less rocky and more sandy announcing the arrival of another beach.  There are quite a number of these and I'm not going to bother pretending I remember their names or the order in which they come.  I started at Bondi and finished at Maroubra, fill the intervening beaches in as you wish.

OK so I'm reasonably sure this one is Tamarama

The one good thing about being so far on the beaten path was that helpful people hung around selling coffee at pretty regular intervals.  With my body awash with caffeine I continued on my way.  I took a photo of a small and unexceptional bird because I suspected it might be my only opportunity.  Also I've finally figured out how to use my camera.

Not unexceptional at all really.  Sorry bird.

Once past the beach it was back to photos of the shoreline again.  I wasn't disappointed, the sea put on a lovely display of colours for me (that's right for me, not for the six hundred and eighty seven thousand other people walking along that day) so it seemed only appropriate to take a few pictures.

Water colours

I turned my gaze inland briefly as I wandered past Waverly Cemetery proof if proof were needed that overcrowding issues don't stop once you're dead.  One of the great things about being dead is that you don't have to answer the door when people visit.  Which doesn't seem to stop people visiting.  One of the prevailing characteristics of the human race is our inability to take a hint.

Dropping in on dead folk

And for no reason at all, a small flower

I continued on my walk, essentially just going through the motions.  While the crowds that had attended the beginning of the walk had started to thin I could still hardly claim to be alone.  To justify the presence of my camera I took a series of photos of a small and rather hyperactive bird.  None of them turned out particularly well because the irritating little bastard couldn't stand still for more than a second.

The best of a bad bunch of bird photos

Fortunately my day was about to improve.  Not only were there fewer and fewer people to get in my way but the scenery was improving as well.  I took a photo of a boat rack (like a gun rack but for boats) in a little bay and even managed to photograph the Clare McIntyre memorial fungus clinging to a fallen tree branch along the way.

Boat rack

The bay the boat rack was in

And the Clare McIntyre Memorial Fungus - the day is looking up

I arrived in Coogee supposedly the end of my walk to find I had travelled a meagre seven kilometres when the walk promised twelve.  I realised that I was supposed to turn around and retrace my steps and immediately decided against it.  Instead I headed further down the coast deciding I could put more kilometres under my belt by carrying on to Maroubra instead.  It was an excellent decision.

Just out of Coogee I came to a point where the sealed path I had been walking on intersected with a dirt track leading off into the bush and immediately took it.  I knew I wasn't going to get far, there was a cliff and the sea not too far ahead but at last I felt like I was doing a bushwalk rather than simply walking down the street.  My decision was rewarded when I walked past a burnt tree stump.  I had actually walked past it before I realised it wasn't a burnt tree stump but a thoroughly unburnt tree with a large black cockatoo sitting on it.  I took a photo and then I took about a hundred more.

I'm not even going to apologies for all the black cockatoo photos

Dizzy and glutted with cockatoo photos I moved on about ten metres and almost ran into another black cockatoo sitting on a fence.  More photos ensued.

Another one

After that an asteroid could have hit the path and I would still have been happy.  I moved on to the South Coogee Wetlands which is a narrow strip of soggy land between the cliff and the houses.  It is apparently a peat bog and careful maintenance over the last decade or two is helping to eradicate the worst evidence of absolute abuse the place has suffered for the previous two centuries.  They even have a raised platform for people to walk along so the precious bog is not sullied with human tread.


More wet, less land

Very wet land

I padded along to the end of the walkway where I encountered an elderly Asian couple harvesting what I hope was non-endangered vegetable material for tonight's soup.  After that it was sadly back to sealed footpaths again.  I was coming towards the end of my walk, for more reasons than one, but there was just time for another bird orgy, this time involving rainbow lorikeets (I think) who dined photogenically on the local foliage.

I spent quite a bit of time here

With my cup officially running over I set out on the last lap to Maroubra.  Here I have to admit that I skimped on my preparations.  Normally I wear a constrictive bandage on my knee as I'm prone to what I suspect is arthritis.  Today I forgot it and ten kilometres in I was in a considerable amount of pain.  I winced and hobbled along pausing only to take one final bird photo.  It wasn't as big as the cockatoos or as brightly coloured as the lorikeets but I think you will agree that it surrenders nothing in pugnacious attitude.

You looking at me?

Now my main goal was to get somewhere with a big enough road to arrange transport to my home.  According to my trail app the path made its way to the waters edge and then along towards Maroubra.  That wasn't quite true, the path made its way to the waters edge and then stopped.  You were supposed to look at the sea slicked rocks and make your own way from then on.  Somewhat nervously and with an uneasy awareness that my speed and mobility were now significantly reduced I did so.  I paused for photos partially because of the scenery but mainly to give my knee a brief rest before continuing on.

This is apparently a path

I think the tide may have been coming in

With much wincing and self pitying moans I hobbled along and greeted the presence of Maroubra with such gratitude that Maroubra was rightly suspicious.  Eleven and a half kilometres is hardly a lengthy walk but I was semi crippled by this stage and limped and whimpered my way home, pausing only for another cup of coffee along the way.

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