MONTHLY RECAP – JULY AND AUGUST, 2021
A recap of my adventures in the months of July and August, 2021
Well this is a first. A complete two month travel recap that occurred entirely in LOCKDOWN! Its hard to do up to date travel content on a travel blog when you’re in lockdown! Well luckily I live in a beautiful part of Sydney, Australia – The Northern Beaches. The only outings we were (are – lockdown is still going as I type this) allowed was outdoor exercise. So I made it my weekly goal to get out and explore some beautiful walking tracks in my local area!
Read on for some very local adventures…
UPPER GLEDHILLS FALLS – Ku-Ring-Gai Chase NP
On the drive to West Head or down to McCarrs Creek is Upper and Lower Gledhills falls. There is parking for about 2 cars on the side of the road and an unoffical track leads you to the falls. The day I explored was quite muddy and I didn’t fancy climbing over the rocks to the lower falls so I explored the upper falls and rockpools as they go under McCarrs Creek rd.
McCarrs Creek, with Banskias
There are unofficial paths that follow the river’s edge
The start of the upper falls
Looking down at the pool below the falls, this is a popular swimming spot in Summer
McCarrs Creek road bridge
CHALLENGER TRACK – Ku-ring-Gai Chase NP
A good friend has a National Parks pass so we use it together to go for bushwalks inside the incredible Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park. The lockdown rules means we are only allowed to exercise outdoors in our Local Government Area. So happy then that Ku-Ring-Gai NP, on the northern fringe of Sydney is inside our LGA, as well as Garigal NP. With school holidays upon us, we decided to do the Challenger Track with her 3 kids. At about 3km return, with a view at the end, its perfect for little people aged 11, 7 and 5. Last year during lockdown number 1 we did the popular America Bay track. Read about that here.
The start of the Challenger Track, marked by a simple gate.
Off road parking on West Head Road
We stopped at a flat rock off to the side of the track to have lunch
Most of the track is a nice, flat, wide fire trail
About half way along is this large rock and outlook. This would have been a more scenic stop for lunch!
At the end of the track you are rewarded with views of Broken Bay, all the way to Patonga and Brooklyn.
Looking across to Broken Bay.
You could probably climb all the way down to the water’s edge from the end of the track. Not for us though!
CHURCH POINT AND BOTHAMS BEACH
I regularly walk from Bayview to Church point and back along the boardwalk next to Pittwater. My aunty and I completed the track and decided to go a bit further, where we found a track that wound away from Church Point Marina to a tiny beach called Bothams Beach, where McCarrs Creek joins Pittwater. This area was explored back in the 1800s by Governor Phillip and John Hunter, read an article on the history here. Bothams Beach is only visible at low tide and allows you to walk along the beach’s edge.
The view of Pittwater as you walk towards Church Point
The ferry wharf, at Church Point
The obelisk erected at Church Point that honors the early explorers of the McCarrs Creek area.
Looking out over the wattle trees at the marina
The path that takes you from above the marina down into a reserve behind some houses towards the water
The view down to Bothams Beach
You could probably paddle here at low tide, great for children
Beautiful Bothams Beach – a new find!
ANGOPHORA RESERVE – Avalon
Staying in my local area, I headed up to Avalon to do the 3km bushwalk at Angophora Reserve, a headland nestled in amongst the houses of Avalon. It’s definitely a ‘locals only’ place to walk, you have to drive up some windy bends and find street parking next to the entrance, a sort of blink and you’ll miss it stone archway.
The entry to Angophora Reserve
The beginning of the track takes you through rainforest
You gradually make your way up the headland
At the top of the ridge, with an outlook over Avalon
Rainforest ferns give way to temperate forest
On the way I saw lots of cockatoos and king parrots
The end, or other entrance to the reserve
The reserve was declared in the 1930s
One of the oldest and largest Angophora trees was inside the reserve at the time.
That tree has since died, but the trunk remains
Being a Saturday there were a few people on the track
Along the top ridge of the track you can catch glimpses of Pittwater through the houses
For my second Covid Vaccination I had to head into the CBD one Wednesday Afternoon. I could not believe how deserted and quiet the city was! It just felt weird. Without the traffic and people, I noticed things I hadn’t noticed before; clock towers, architectural features, fountains, gardens. It really is a lovely city and I ached to see it so bare. I can’t wait for lockdown to be over!
I have never seen Martin Place so empty. Usually this pedestrian mall is a hive of activity
I had never noticed the gothic tower on top of this bulding before
The new light rail is complete, with no one to use it!
Not much going on, on a random Wednesday afteroon in the CBD.
WILKINS TRACK – Ku-Ring-Gai Chase NP
In between my work and home is another section of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park that backs onto Terrey Hills and Duffy’s Forest. The 7km Perimeter Trail runs around both suburbs and off this fire trail are many short walks. After work one day I decided to do a 5.5km return trip down the Perimeter Trail and Wilkins Track. I mostly had the trail to myself, passing a few horse riders and mountain bikers. The fire trail isn’t that exciting, but Wilkins track lead to a lookout over the waterways of Cowan River. I had the whole lookout to myself!
The start of Perimeter Prack – its just a fire trail
Spring flowers were everywhere!
After about 2 km you turn off the Perimeter Trail onto Wilkins Track
At the end you are blessed with views over Cowan Creek
BAIRNE LOOKOUT – Ku-Ring-Gai Chase NP
My friend and her kids and I headed back into the National Park to walk the Bairne track to one of the lookouts. I had been given a hot tip that this lookout was one of the best and it turned out to be true! The trail isn’t too exciting, mostly flat along the ridge. There are two lookouts to chose from, with Bairne lookout having a better outlook over Pittwater. It was definitely worth the long and hot hike! What an amazing place to stop and eat lunch after a long walk.
At the start of the Bairne Track, off West Head rd
You follow the wide fire trail for about 3 km
The fire trail isn’t that exciting, except we saw lots of wild flowers
At the end of the track there is a fork, we took the right path to Bairne lookout
And what a view waiting for us at the end!
A simply stunning view over Pittwater, looking back to Church Point and Scotland Island
INGLESIDE CHASE RESERVE
I saw a hot tip on my local facebook page about a walk through Ingleside Reserve and decided (as you do in lockdown) to check it out one Tuesday afternoon. I knew it wound up behind a Catholic School and would take me around to Irrawong Falls. I meandered up a big hill, popped out in rural suburbia, then had to somehow figure out (and ask some locals) how to get back into the reserve and down to the waterfall. I barely saw anyone the whole time. It was a beautiful, peaceful track and I even spotted three wallabies! What a treat.
The start of the walk took me through a valley of ferns
Soon it began climbing up the hill through gums and past huge boulders
After coming out of the reserve on a road, I had to then find the entry back in.
Soon after I entered the gate I saw a wallaby!
You cross the ridge for a while before descending down to the falls
I saw another two wallabies on the way down
I knew I was close to the bottom as I re-entered the land of ferns!
The bottom of the walk lead to Irrawong Waterfall, which I usually access from the other end. I came out of the reserve past the falls and had to walk back along the road and through the interconnecting walking paths to the car. A nice 4km that started with a good incline. I don’t mind starting with incline, nothing worse than going up on the way back!
DUFFY’S WHARF – Ku-Rin-Gai Chase NP
Now what was I saying about not liking going uphill on the way back? Say hello to the Duffy’s Wharf walking track. I headed back to Duffy’s Forest again after work and headed down the Duffy’s Wharf and Duffy’s Lookout track. I must say, the 1.2km downhill trek had me worried… I knew I would have to come back up this way going back and I was not looking forward to it! Luckily it was a fantastic find at the bottom of the climb. These square stone stepping stones led me out to a section of the Cowan River and it was simply glorious, at the end of the day, peaceful and still. I didn’t see a soul on the whole trip.
The trail started out flat enough
Lovely late afternoon light
After a km going down I was at the bottom of the hill
There were these fantastic square stepping stones crossing the creek
I had made it to the bottom, where the creek meets Cowan River
It was high tide, so these stepping stones led the way
In some high tides you can come down here and the stones are under water
Then you pop out at the river. Gorgeous!
Then I thought I saw (and had read about) a makeshift track that would take me up the hill from where I was at the bottom to the lookout. I decide to tackle this direction, surely it would be quicker than the 1.2m fire trail back up to the ridge. I was going really well until the track sort of disappeared on me. I decided I was too far along to turn back, so I pressed on.
In retrospective, it may not have been the best idea, to ‘bush bash’ up a random hill, with dangers of snakes and injuries all alone at 5pm on a weekday. It was difficult, but I still think I prefer it to the track! Finally after many scratches I made it to the lookout, just in time to see the sunsetting over Bobbin Head in the distance. Luckily it was a flat and quick walk back to the car. This was definitely one of my favourite walks, but I’m not sure I will do it again!
Contemplating which path to take back to the top
The view as I decided to tackle the cliff back up
About a quarter of the way up
Is this a path? I thought it was, but it wasn’t
See, no path
Made it to the lookout at the top! There were some carvings in the rocks, not sure if they are legitimate Aboriginal engravings
The view to Bobbin Head Marina
KAYAKING ON NARRABEEN LAKE
As the weather warmed up, outdoor exercise turned from walking into kayaking and paddling. My local friend and I took her kids out on kayaks and stand up paddle boards and spent a lovely Sunday kayaking around Narrabeen Lake and exploring some of the uninhabitated islands in the middle. Lots of people were out on the water enjoying the day. It’s been a long hard lockdown so families are getting outside any chance they can.
I really enjoy kayaking, I should do it more often
I started in the double kayak, ended up in the single
We pulled into an inland island for snacks
Exploring the little island and jumping into the cold water
Along with all those new and exciting places I walked in July and August, I revisited some of my old favourites. We had such good weather for walking so I checked out some of the best scenic walking tracks on the Northern Beaches.
Walking through the wetlands on the boardwalk
Always lots of birdlife here
The wetlands are always so green and peaceful
Hard to believe this is nestled in amongst suburbia
Ancient palms and gum trees
It was a grey afternoon, not crowded at all
After walking through the wetlands I always walk out to Irrawong Falls. After such little rain its only a trickle
Irrawong Falls and pool
The waters cascade down from the bushland above
Can’t visit the falls without getting an arty shot!
The large rocky overhang at the falls
Mona Vale Beach
Rugged up for a winter walk along the beach
Looking back at North Mona Vale Headland
North Mona Vale to Bungan Beach
Walking up North Mona Vale Headland, looking back at Mona Vale Basin
In Summer, this is my favouirte place to swim
Just the perfect amount of small waves
If I’m doing a short walk, I’ll make sure there is some incline
Looking North to Bungan and Newport Beaches
Narrabeen Lagoon and Pool
A short walk along the lagoon out to North Narrabeen Rock Pool
Walking between the pool and the rock shelf
Narrabeen Lake Walk and Sunset
I park at Wimbeldon Park on the lake’s northshore and walk south
Always a popular spot for fishing and kayaking
The lake is usually protected from winds
Walking south along the boardwalk
I did a 4km return trip as the sun was setting
Beautiful seeing the sun set over the lake
Bilgola Beach and Pool
My partner swims in the middle of winter, I chose to walk around to the pool
Bilgola Rockpool, one of my favourites
Too cold for me to go swimming in August!
But why are there always the best kind of waves in Winter?
Well that turned out to be a big post, despite two whole months in lockdown! I guess the forced stay at home orders made me more determined to get out and explore my local area and find some new places to walk and enjoy nature!
Let’s see what the next monthly recap involves, September will be another complete month of lockdown, but will we get freedom in October? Time will tell!
In the meantime, let me know something more exciting you got up to in July or August!