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La Perouse Headland Walk

This walk in the area around La Perouse (a southern suburb of Sydney) starts in the Botany Bay National Park. (If you’ve ever flown in or out of Sydney, you’ll know Botany Bay — it’s the large body of water that the runways jut into.) The walk is only about 5km long, and not difficult. I think you could call it a stroll, in fact. It begins in typical forest in the national park.

According to the signpost, I’m headed in the right direction for Henry Head and Cape Banks. That’s reassuring. 🙂

On track

At Henry Head there is an old artillery battery. “Constructed between 1892 and 1895 with two BL 6-inch Mk V disappearing guns, the fort operated until 1910, when it became obsolete. The battery along with two 6-in gun emplacements and observation posts was re-utilised during World War II to defend the approaches to Botany Bay. During WWII, it was armed with two 18-pounder Mk IV field guns and two QF 3-pounder Hotchkiss guns. The underground bunker and tunnel complex consisted of vaulted ammunition storage rooms with double walls and ceilings. The doubling up of walls and ceilings was a preventative measure meant to stop the walls from collapsing in the event of a direct hit.” (source)

Covered with graffiti now (of course) they still reveal how strategic their position was, covering the entrance to Botany Bay.

There were hundreds of birds, huge flocks of them darting swiftly in the sky and keeping up a constant chorus of tweets and chirps. In the first photo, the black-and-white bird at bottom right is a New Holland Honeyeater. The other bird, a sort of brown with striking yellow, I’d never seen before, which surprised me given their sheer numbers here.

Is a bird in hand really worth two in a bush?

An online search revealed that the mystery bird might be a Yellow-faced Honeyeater. Here’s another one, with a definite yellow face.

Yellow-faced Honeyeater?

Lunch with a view!

Water, orange, egg sandwich — and a view.

Henry Head was as far as I’d intended to go, as I wanted to visit the La Perouse Museum and I knew it closed at 4pm. But sitting here having my lunch, I thought how enticing that path snaking out towards the far cape was … so off I went.

Who could resist?

Follow the path.

I know we’re not “doing” benches any more, but I had to snap this one. It’s made of the same heavy metal mesh as the walkway! (And is not especially comfortable.)

No place to linger.

If you’ve read my previous walks, you’ll know I’m not a fan of stairs. However, I hate sand even more. Especially going uphill in sand.

Sandy path, uphill.

And now for something completely different! You round a corner and suddenly there’s a golf course.

She is NOT a walker.

This is hole 6 (par 3) of the New South Wales Golf Course, officially opened in 1928. According to its website, “Golf Digest currently ranks the NSW Golf Club as the No. 9 golf course outside the United States and the No.1 golf course outside the United States and the UK.” Click this photo to see a larger version of hole 6 with the tees marked — the men’s, the ladies’, and what I’ve dubbed the maniacs’ tee.

Hole 6, NSW Golf Club.

This is the same hole, looking at the flag (circled) from the maniacs’ tee. They must lose an awful lot of balls in the sea here!

You’d better have a spare ball or three for this hole.

Sound advice on this sign, especially given that the golfer is in mid-swing.

Fore!

This footbridge (you can just make it out in the first photo of the sixth hole, and more clearly in the larger photo) leads to Cape Banks, presumably named after (Sir) Joseph Banks, the botanist/naturalist on Captain James Cook’s voyage of 1768-1771. They landed at Botany Bay on 29 April 1770; Cook writes that he named it so due to “The great quantity of plants Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander found in this place”. (source)

Footbridge to Cape Banks.

No more time for dawdling, that 4pm museum closing time was looming, so I hot-footed back along the trail. I paused at Congwong beach to take a photo looking back at where I’d been. The circled white dot on the headland is the white tower visible in the gun emplacements photos farther up this page.

Looking back.

I know what you’re thinking. What is this “La Perouse” I keep referring to?? Why would anywhere in Australia have a French name? The area is named after Jean-François de Galaup, comte [count] de Lapérouse, who commanded a convoy of two French ships that sailed into Botany Bay in January 1788, only days after the English First Fleet had arrived to establish the penal colony that became Sydney. After leaving Botany Bay six weeks later, La Perouse and his ships were never seen again. (What happened to the French ships? In 1826 evidence was found indicating they foundered on reefs in the Solomon Islands. Some survivors were killed by local inhabitants; some built a ship from the wreckage and sailed away, but their fate is unknown.) (source)

This monument was erected in the area where the French camped. It’s the focal point for gatherings by French expats on Bastille Day.

And here’s the museum! It features displays and artefacts about the area and the early visits from the French and English visits, heavily weighted towards the La Perouse expedition naturally. The museum is housed in the historic Cable Station building, completed in 1882. When telegraph operations transferred elsewhere in 1913, the building was subsequently used for telegraph company staff accommodation quarters, a nurses’ home, soldier accommodation, and a Salvation Army Refuge.

La Perouse museum

This improbable looking construction is the Macquarie Watchtower, also known as the Barrack Tower, built around 1821. Originally a military station, it later became a customs post and housed a schoolroom. It subsequently fell into disrepair, was mostly destroyed by fire in 1957 and restored from 1961.

Watchtower

No luscious ice cream to finish off this walk, I’m afraid. Maybe next time!

For more walks from all around the world, head to Jo’s Monday Walks.


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15 thoughts on “La Perouse Headland Walk

  1. This looks very interesting. The family have moved to south Sydney (South Hurstville) so probably not too far from here. A different region for me to explore on my next visit. Can you get to the area by bus?

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    • In a direct line, it’s about 14km — on the other side of Botany Bay. 18km by road. You certainly “can” get there by bus — I did, from Bondi Beach — but it’s a hell of a trip. I just ran your trip through our public transport journey planner: 1.75 hours via two buses and one train, 2 hrs via four buses (!!). And that assumes perfect connections. 😦 A ferry across Botany Bay would help but there isn’t one. It’s a shame because it is quite interesting. A different option might be Captain Cook’s landing place, also interesting, followed by a walk in the national park nearby. I’ve done that but not posted about it (I think). From Hurstville (not south), a train to Cronulla then a bus to Kurnell would take just over an hour. I’ve made a rough map showing positions: https://elizabethkrallphotos.files.wordpress.com/2018/04/map.jpg

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      • That does seem excessive! I shall have to get a lift there then! I see that there is a lot of greenery to the south of them, so maybe some other walking trails are accessible. Thanks for the map. I have saved it. That sounds very doable. Who knows where they will be by the time I get there, I’m not sure if this is a temporary lease or a long one.

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        • I lived in Brighton-le-Sands for 1.5 years (and hated it, I am totally not a suburbs person!) which is when I did the landing place walk and got more familiar with Botany Bay, where I’d never been, having always lived in (and returned to!) the Bondi area. I’m sure you’ll find lots of places to explore (with some transport help).

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  2. A lovely bit of coastline, Karen. 🙂 🙂 I’ve been out in the garden much of the afternoon, enjoying the last of our mini heatwave. I had some Magnums in the freezer so I managed nicely, thank you. I thoroughly enjoyed stretching my legs with you and the history too.

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    • Ooh, YOU had the luscious ice cream! I’m glad one of us managed. 😉 I’ve heard about the temps, a friend in London said it’s the hottest April for 70 years. I’ll bet by August (when I’m there) they’ll be having a mini ice age. 😦

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