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The Three Beaches Walk

I’ve dubbed this The Three Beaches Walk because it covers Sydney’s three most northerly beaches: it begins at Palm Beach, takes in Whale Beach and ends at Avalon Beach, roughly 9km. (Scroll to the bottom of the post for a map.) I did it last weekend, and as the photos reveal, it was a beautiful spring day, 22C and sunny.

Looking back (north) along Palm Beach from the point I started walking, you can see the lighthouse on Barrenjoey Head.

Looking in the direction of the walk (south), this is where I was headed.

I had to get from sea level to the top of that hill, though. At the end of the beach are stairs. Lots of them.

Once at the top, you can look back to Palm Beach and beyond, and marvel how high you’ve come.

The houses along here are big, expensive, and face the sea. Only walls and roofs can be glimpsed from the road. (According to friends who grew up on Sydney’s North Shore, this is known — unflatteringly — as the Insular Pensinsula.)

Flowering plants aplently!

Here’s the next beach, Whale Beach.

I had a sinking feeling when I spotted that headland at the end of Whale Beach, but luckily didn’t have to scale it. However, I knew the headland beyond this one would have to be tackled.

It was a bit of a trek up the hill at the far end of the beach. In the bottom right you can see Whale Beach, and how tiny the people are.

This bench is hardly a stunning specimen, but it was sturdy and in the shade, so I sat for a bit. 🙂

This louvred door and shrub caught my eye. It looks as if they’re blocking access to something, but in a fun way.

Time to go off road! This is the beginning of the bushwalk at Bangalley Head.

“Relatively hard”. “Highest point”. hmmm

More stairs, of course …

Once at the top, and with my breathing back to normal and heartbeat no longer thumping in my ears, the walking was delightful. Sun-dappled paths through the trees, and glimpses to the right of yachts in secluded bays.

The end is in sight! That’s Avalon Beach in the distance. How to get off this headland, though??

I finally found the path down. More stairs (naturally) but easier to bounce down than up. When I turned a corner in the path and saw this perfectly framed sight, I actually exclaimed, “Wow.”

These cliff edge warning signs were dotted along the Bangalley Head walk. You can see how close the edge is.

Once off the headland and looking back, the height of the drop is all too apparent.

The path continues between cliff edge and front gardens. I hope these people have insurance, because that’s a pretty steep drop.

The end! Here is Avalon Beach.

Now, I’m not a great fan of ocean swimming — too much sand, too much surf, too much getting knocked over by waves. But the pool at the hotel I stayed at that night in Newport is much more my style!

Here’s a Google Maps shot of where the walk is, if you’re not sure of the relation to Sydney.

If you enjoyed this walk, be sure to check out other people’s offerings on Jo’s Monday Walks.

And if you’d like to see more about Palm Beach and the Barrenjoey lighthouse, Jude has a great post.

(A note about the photos. I didn’t want to lug my ‘real’ camera around for three days, so took a smaller ‘point and shoot’. The quality is not as good as I’d like, but that was the trade-off for less weight and bulk. Still, you get the idea!)


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Textures of the Great Barrier Reef

Coral is the most amazing stuff. It looks like rock, but it’s alive, and not rock at all but animal. The colonies are formed by millions of tiny soft-bodied polyps which have a hard outer skeleton that attaches to rock or to other (dead) coral skeletons. (More info about coral here.) And what a variety of corals there is! All the colours and textures that you can imagine, often growing around or on top of one another.

The ruffly yellow stuff looks rubbery, in contrast to the spikier coral behind it.

While snorkelling or diving around corals, it’s important to avoid touching them — not only can it damage the coral, but a person can get a nasty cut from those sharp edges.

What a mix of corals and textures here!

What IS that yellow stuff? It looks like spilled paint that has dried in wrinkles and folds.

I took some of these photos last week on the Great Barrier Reef near Port Douglas (with a GoPro I hired for the day), and some on the Great Barrier Reef near Cairns three years ago (with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT20 I bought for the trip, but it was second hand and died after one outing).

This is brain coral, I believe. I imagine that if you brush your finger along it, the little white knobs would feel plush. But I have no idea!

That white coral looks smooth, but I’d steer clear of the spiky stuff at lower right!

A texture contrast here of hard coral and smooth, slippery fish.

This is a Maori Wrasse dubbed “Frank”! He’s very friendly, as these divers are discovering. I don’t dive (only snorkel) so did not get to pat Frank and discover his texture.

There are so many warnings about the health of the reef and the damage we (and nature, in the form of destructive storms and voracious starfish) are causing, that I feel now is the time to see this astonishing feature — while it’s still there.