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Places to walk or hike

A clifftop path beside the sea, Cornwall. Don’t get too close to that unfenced edge …

Walking is the only form of exercise I actually enjoy. And there are so many places to walk! From mountains to beaches, urban to outback, there’s a walk for everyone.

Old cemeteries can be fascinating places to walk. This is Kensal Green Cemetery, London.

A patch of bush in North Sydney.

A mountain meadow near Wengen, Switzerland.

Nothing like getting your feet wet in the surf! (Not to mention your shorts, if you’re not paying attention. I speak from experience.) Umina Beach, Australia.

Trekking in Bolivia. Granted, not something you’d do on a normal weekend!

Don’t forget your local park! Hyde Park is near my employer’s office, and on the days when I’m forced to go in (hiss boo!), I often walk here.

Hyde Park, Sydney.

CBWC: Places to walk or hike

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A walk around Scotland

The island is hard to distinguish, what with all these trees. Come in maybe 15% from each side and you should see a difference between foreground island and background forest.

Scotland Island, that is! It’s one of Sydney’s “hidden gems”; so hidden, in fact, that many residents have never even heard of it.

Where to find the island.

The island is accessible only with your own boat, or this rather cute ferry.

I stayed overnight at a B&B on the island recently. Once settled in, I headed off to walk around the island. It’s only about 1km in diameter, and the road that runs around the island is about 3km long. Don’t be fooled by the street names on this map; there isn’t a single street sign on the island!

The road is more like a bush track, but it made for good walking.

One thing that struck me is how close together the houses are.

You’d want to be on good terms with your neighbours, living so close to them!

Another thing I noticed is all the ****ed trees blocking the views! A glimpse of a view here and there, but mostly you’re looking at trees. I felt quite hemmed in.

Some of the houses nearest the water would have clear views, but not the ones higher up, tucked among the trees.

For example, this is the view from my room at the B&B: nice trees.

Considering all those trees, and how close together the buildings are, fire is a real concern. I spotted a number of these little fire service depots along the road, plus there is a real station.

A reassuring sight.

I think the only real vehicles belong to the fire service, but I did see a number of golf carts as transport.

This cart has seen better days!

Every house has a water tank or two. According to my hosts, the tanks are the main water supply on the island: no rain equals no water, in which case it must be brought from the mainland. In my best city-dweller manner (and remembering the glasses I’d guzzled in my room), I exclaimed, aghast, “You don’t drink it, surely?” They filter it, both with something mechanical and also with a laser filter (“like they have in hospitals and kindergartens”, she said; I’d never heard of such a thing) — oh well, I’m still here to tell the tale, and I must say the water had a nice taste!

This house needs some attention! Yet you can see the TV antenna and the electricity wire, so presumably it was occupied fairly recently.

Quite a contrast to other houses, prices for which exceed $1m.

I laughed when I spotted this street library housed in a old fridge.

More books are available at this ferry wharf.

Whatever was being given away here seems to have been popular.

If you keep an eye out, you’ll spot a number of curious objects along the way.

Another glimpse of a view, blocked by more trees.

Flowers everywhere!

These people are ready for winter with their stockpile of firewood.

A variety of house number styles.

And here we are at the highest point on Scotland Island, some 100m above sea level. There are some very steep roads on this island. 😦

A lovely, peaceful spot — from which to admire the trees.

Linked to Jo’s Monday Walk.


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Riverside Walk

Monday was a public holiday here, and the weather was marvellous for the long weekend! On Sunday I headed to Sydney’s northwest, to Lane Cove National Park (you can see the location in the last image, if you’re curious).

Off we go! Downhill, I approve of that.

A 5km walk follows the west bank of the Lane Cove River, and in some places you’re close enough to see the water.

Small flowers could be spotted beside the trail.

No danger of getting lost!

The temperature was about 30C, with barely a breeze, so the shady sections were welcome.

No shade here, but the ferns are pretty.

Messing about in boats!

At the end of the section of the walk that I did, I was puzzled by signs with numbers and names. They couldn’t be distances, surely. I finally realised that they were official picnic areas, and they were certainly popular on the day. They can be reserved in advance.

I’ve blurred the people’s name on this Reserved sign.

Once off the trail, it was no place for a pedestrian. You really are expected to drive or cycle to the trail. I often had to walk along the bush’s edge when a car came along.

Pedestrians beware!

And here’s the location of the park.


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I’m also including this walk in Lens Artists ‘A Photo Walk‘ challenge

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Familiar but strange

This is a photo I never thought I would ever take! There is usually a mass of people walking here, with waiters dashing back and forth across the flow from the restaurants on the right to the outside seating beyond the pillars on the left.

On Sunday I ventured out of my immediate neighbourhood for the first time in weeks. I took the ferry from my local wharf (I’ve never seen more than a handful of people of that route, so social distancing was absurdly easy) to Circular Quay, where I stepped into an alternative universe: the buildings were all there, but the vast majority of people had been stripped away. My goal was the botanic garden (still open in the lockdown, although all its buildings and cafes are closed) and the easiest route is to walk along the quay and past the opera house. All so unthinkingly familiar — but this time, also so very strange.

I generally scurry along this stretch, dodging dawdlers and tourists. No need for that now.

Where are the hundreds of restaurant tables?

The next shock was the forlorn, stripped-down Opera Bar. This place I avoid like the plague — so noisy, so crowded!

Opera Bar — no tables, no chairs, no bar, certainly no people.

Looking back at Opera Bar from the other end. I’ve never taken a photo with all the people; the one on the right, below, is from https://www.sydney.com.au/images/circular-quay-restaurants1.jpg.

I then walked around the opera house, rather than crossing in front. At the harbour end, I encountered one other person; there are usually dozens here.

At the harbour end of the opera house.

It was time to head for the gardens. My ferry is only hourly, and this eerie ghost town with its memories of happier times was not somewhere I wanted to have to kill time if I carelessly missed my return. I took one look at the hordes on the main path that runs along the water and chose another route.

And indeed, away from the harbour, the gardens were fairly deserted, and as lovely as ever.

Bridge and birds of paradise.

Something bushy sticking through a fence.

Bonus points if you spotted the man up the tree!

This is the approach to the cafe. A lovely spot, with good food (and it’s licensed).

These chairs and tables are usually spread all over this area, full of people.

This looks like a painting, doesn’t it? The reflections give everything an undefined look.

More reflections.

Clumps of plants, backlit by the low autumn sun.

The various little buildings where you might sit with a group are closed.

But the benches are still open! I sat here for a while.

This protea caught my eye while I was sitting. Protea Cyanoides ‘Little Prince’, according to its sign.

Usually, after a stroll around the gardens I’d finish off with a glass of bubbly at Portside, another venue at the opera house but much quieter and more civilised than Opera Bar.

No bubbly at Portside this time, alas. Certainly quiet, however!

So it was back on the ferry and home again.

Heading home.

Posted as part of Jo’s Monday Walk. (I see she has a cheese fest this week, oh yes!)


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A parched walk in the Blue Mountains

Blue sky! That’s not cloud on the horizon, however — it’s bushfire smoke.

In October, I walked a portion of the Prince Henry Cliff Walk from Echo Point to a track junction that leads to Merriwa St in Katoomba. Then, the rain was unceasing and the temperature was about 10deg C (50deg F) (see “A soggy walk in the Blue Mountains“). Since then, bushfires have raged in the Blue Mountains and the entire national park (some 2,690 sq km / 1,040 sq miles) was closed due to fire danger. On 31 December, when I walked again, only one track was open — the Prince Henry Cliff Walk. So I followed it in the reverse direction this time, and from Gordon Falls Lookout in Leura to Echo Point in Katoomba. (Map source)

This easily accessed walk was the only open trail.

I was very lucky with the smoke — the morning was clear, the first blue sky for quite a while, I was told. Not so lucky with the temperature, though: it was 30deg C (85deg F) when I began walking, and 35deg C (95deg F) when I stopped. That’s really not ideal for the ups and downs and sometimes rough terrain of such a walk!

A potion of the trail, very dry.

Even this trail, skirting the towns of Katoomba and Leura, is not safe from fire. Some, inexplicably, are deliberately lit by arsonists.

Recently burned area beside the trail.

Recently burned area beside the trail.

Recently burned area beside the trail.

In this view from a lookout, the burnt areas are clear. Again, that’s smoke on the horizon.

View from Olympian Rock lookout — the orange patches are burnt forest.

Finally, I got to Echo Point. This walk is only about 7km but I deliberately went slowly and rested often. The heat did not make for pleasant walking, and I hadn’t taken enough water so I was feeling about as parched as the forest! The blue sky of my start had, 2.5 hours later, mostly given way to murky, opaque smoke.

Contrast the photo below of visitors at Echo Point with one from October of the same spot.

Admiring the view, Echo Point.

The views from Echo Point are extensive. Sadly, this time the views include spot fires and smoke.

Spot fires visible from Echo Point.

Spot fires visible from Echo Point.

No ice cream or cake at the end of this walk, something more substantial was called for. 😉

An icy cold glass of Tooheys Old beer.

Posted as part of Jo’s Monday Walk.

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A soggy walk in the Blue Mountains

A splash of red in a foggy monotone, Echo Point.

In October, I went to the Blue Mountains (west of Sydney) for the weekend. My plan was to see the various gardens in the Leura Garden Festival on the Sunday, and get in a walk on the Saturday. I’ve been to this region a number of times, but always in summer, so this exposure to spring was quite an eye-opener. The temperature struggled to get over 10deg C (50deg F) and for most of Saturday it rained. But I had my waterproof boots, a showerproof jacket and an umbrella, so was determined to have my walk. I decided on the section of the Prince Henry Cliff Walk from Echo Point to where the path brushes against Merriwa Street in Katoomba, at which point I would walk back to my hotel. In all, about 4km. After laughing at the people admiring the view of the fog, I headed off.

This first path section is wheelchair and stroller accessible, and is usually teeming with visitors.

Here’s the real path. Jump the puddles, or go around?

This way to Lady Carrington lookout.

The view from Lady Carrington lookout.

No, the skies did not miraculously clear! I just wanted to show you the view from Lady Carrington lookout in good weather.

Looking back to the lookout through the fog.

Raindrops keep falling on my head — and on everything else!

There were many more photo opportunities of rain and mist and fog and puddles, and some quite impressively gushing waterfalls, but keeping the camera dry and shooting one handed (holding the umbrella with the other) was just too difficult. On the entire walk, I encountered only two other people, a couple, and they looked bedraggled and unhappy. By the time I reached Katoomba town centre, I was cold and wet, and well deserved the trio of hot chocolate.

Posted as part of Jo’s Monday Walks.


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The Walk to Work

No, this is not where I live! But I do pass this grand Victorian residence, protecting its privacy behind exuberant growth, and try to imagine a life that includes living in something like that.

In August I moved from ocean-side Bondi Beach to harbour-side Double Bay (both Sydney suburbs), which has brought me closer to where I work — so close (4km) that I can walk it in 55 minutes, door to door.

These magnificent jacarandas dominate this curve in the road.

It’s a very up and down route, and Google Maps has a nifty feature that shows just how much.

Up and down and up and down …

This church (St Mark’s, built 1848 to 1880) sits at the highest spot on the map above, just after “home”. With no tall buildings, there must have been vast views when it was built — but on the other hand, there wasn’t much to look at in 1880s’ Sydney!

I always pause here and marvel that so many people have this view. The horizon looks murky due to smoke from bush fires.

Time to head down from the lofty heights of the church to almost sea level. This road is, fittingly, called Loftus Road. I first encountered it walking home from work so had to slog UP it — after that, I changed the route home. 😉

Down, down, down. Hard on the knees.

Not only jacarandas are in bloom now — so is jasmine, and it’s everywhere. The scent hangs on the air.

Of course, there’s more to life than jasmine!

Red bougainvillea against a white wall.

At the bottom of the “hill from hell” sits Rushcutters Bay and the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia. The CYC was established in 1944 and hosts the annual Sydney to Hobart yacht race that begins on Boxing Day (26 December).

This is the expansive park beside Rushcutters Bay. At this time of the day, it’s full of joggers, walkers, exercise groups, and dogs (though it looks empty in this shot!). See that tower (like a yellow blob on a stick) on the horizon? That’s two blocks from my destination.

A lovely cafe, but no time to stop. (Sorry Jo, no cake on this walk!)

The Beast of Bodmin Moor? The Hound of the Baskervilles? No, just an elderly Newfoundland dog with his summer haircut. I see him most days.

Anyone for cricket?

I almost didn’t include this photo, as it’s hardly attractive. But it’s part of the walk, and the start of the long uphill stretch to King’s Cross.

Still heading up, but beside a more attractive street. This area is King’s Cross.

This pavement sign is hard to read even when you’re standing beside it. The whole text says “August 1929 Kellett St | Riot | Sly Grog Traders | Kate Leigh vs Tilly Devine | Rival Gangs in Violent Stoush | Razors Guns Bottles Stones | Wounded Do Not Identify Attackers to Police”. (Read about these two fascinating (if scary!) women.)

King’s Cross is gentrifying these days, but it still has its areas of sleaze, crime and violence.

The heart of “The Cross”.

I don’t like this alley (I usually have to flatten myself against the wall as cars go past) but it’s convenient.

I don’t know if this street is officially in King’s Cross or Woolloomooloo, but its character is very different to the streets where the walk starts and ends.

Now we’re definitely in Woolloomooloo — the signs say so! Originally home to dock workers, the area still has an air of non-prosperity despite being only 1.5km from the Sydney Central Business District.

More of those jacarandas. I can’t help smiling at such shameless flamboyance as I walk under the gentle drift of petals. And there’s that tower again …

You can see more photos of the jacarandas of Woolloomooloo here.

Yet more jasmine!

If you’ve read any of my other walk posts, you’ll know I hate stairs. However, this being the city not the bush, there’s a lift here too. 🙂 The stairs/lift take you up to a walkway over six lanes of busy commuter traffic.

The tower is visible again, closer now! And that’s the train I catch when I don’t walk. From the angle of the colourful wall, you can tell I’m going up, again.

Past the art gallery.

Another appealing cafe to march straight past.

This is The Domain, where you could graze your animals back when that was a thing.

Through the grounds of Sydney Hospital and Sydney Eye Hospital.

Stepping through the gates beside the hospital, you leave the world of the suburbs behind.

At the top of Martin Place. It’s all downhill from here!

I often top up my travel card and buy my (losing) lottery tickets at this little kiosk.

Past the cenotaph.

Trams are running on George St — at last! Still in ‘testing’, but at least the years of wretched construction are over. This tram is just about in front of my office building.

Last glimpse of that tower, from in front of my building.

And here’s the end of the walk, in the lobby of my building.

I hope you managed with all these photos! It’s a varied walk and I wanted to capture the different areas along the way.

Posted as part of Jo’s Monday Walks.


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Stratford Walk 2: history and houses

Like my Stratford Walk 1: the lake, this walk begins at the County Court House. It was built in the Queen Anne Revival style in the late 1880s. The same architect was responsible for the nearby Stratford Jail — or Gaol, as it appears on the building itself.

Still serving its original purpose as a jail.

Between the court house and river lie the Shakespearean Gardens (I posted about them here). The gardens are dominated by the chimney of a mill destroyed by fire in 1910; the ornate chimney top is a giant bird house with 24 dwellings (“des res” indeed!). In the background is the spire of St Joseph’s church across the river.

St Joseph’s church and Dufton Mill chimney.

Still on the theme of tall pointy buildings, this is the City Hall peeking above the trees. Doesn’t it just radiate civic pride?

This is Stratford’s second City Hall, built in 1900. The first ws destroyed by fire.

The street in front of the court house and gardens leads to the Huron Street bridge (the feature image at top), which is the only double-arched aqueduct road bridge in North America still used for vehicle traffic. It gives a good view west along the river to part of the Shakespearean Gardens and an island linked with a bridge.

Turn west once you’ve crossed the bridge and meander along the bank for a different view of the Gardens.

Shakespearean Gardens

Farther along the river, a rail bridge appears between trees. “CN” stands for Canadian National [Railways].

“CN” is easier to see in the reflection.

Turn around and come back east, passing the stone bridge. From the river bank you can see the island bridge framed by an arch of the stone bridge.

Wander a bit farther and you’ll come to this white pergola at the west end of Lake Victoria (the lake was created by damming the river). The first pergola on this site was built in the early 1930s, and was swept away in 1937 when the Avon and Thames Rivers flooded. I think this one was built as recently as 2010.

Just past the pergola you can glimpse a sign telling you the lake path is “unavailable” at this point.

You are not welcome beyond this point.

Near the pergola is this plaque detailing the history of the city.

Much younger than its namesake in England, but with a solid Canadian history.

Time to cross the river again, past the court house and down the residential streets. It may seem strange to find a railway running behind the houses, but as you read in the founding plaque, the railways played an important part in Stratford’s economy and growth. They are less prominent now but you can still hear the long echoing note of an engine’s horn as the trains wind their ways past houses and across streets. I always get the train between Toronto and Stratford.

You’d never know this was the middle of a city of 30,000 people.

I have always loved old houses. To me, they have so much more character and charm than modern buildings. The notable houses in streets to the southwest of the court house were built in the second half of the 1800s, in a range of styles such as Queen Anne, Italianate, Gothic — even Ontario and something called Neo‐Classical Salt Box House. I followed two self-guided walks downloaded from the city’s tourism website (the source of my descriptions), and stood in front of houses trying to spot details such as “bay window with a neo‐classical pediment on the porch” and “stained glass transom window and sandstone lintels”, bargeboards and corbels and pilasters. Many of these beautiful houses are designated Heritage Homes.

Verandahs are a common feature, and these ones all look like lovely spots to while away an hour or two.


Doors and gateways offer glimpses of hidden gardens.

Statues are popular.

The sad-looking building below is known locally as the White House. In my younger years it was rundown and faded yet nonetheless retained traces of its former glory. Then a few years ago when I visited I was amazed to find it restored and gorgeous, operating as possibly a B&B. According to the walk notes, “Built in 1866 as a Regency Cottage; the second storey was added, as was the large portico, by the Walsh family. It remained in the family for several generations and was recently restored.” The text must date from the few years the building enjoyed its restoration, because it looks pretty grim right now.

A beautiful building in desperate need of love.

This Gothic triple‐gabled house (now a duplex) is clearly loved and well cared for. It dates to 1867.

And finally, an 1892 Queen Anne building made in buff brick.

No ice cream to finish off this walk, I’m afraid!

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


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Stratford Walk 1: the lake

Perth County Court House in Stratford

The walk begins at the Perth County Court House in Stratford

Are you confused? Do these photos look nothing like the Stratford you know, that lovely medieval English market town that gave the world William Shakespeare? That’s because this Stratford — and this Avon River — are in Canada, 130 km (80 miles) west of Toronto. And it also has a strong Shakespeare connection, which we’ll get to.

From the court house, the path around the lake is about 5km. I like to do this walk when I visit Stratford. My maternal grandparents moved to the town in the 1970s, and my parents in the 1990s, so I’ve made quite a few visits since I was a teenager.

This is a pretty, leafy, landscaped walk with not a hill in sight.

If you don’t fancy walking, there are watery alternatives.

Art in the Park has been a feature for years.

Amusing garbage cans, though I’m confused by the bee theme.

This lovely bridge has been the spot for many, many photos over the years.

Approaching the bridge

Looking back at the bridge

Here is the Shakespeare connection I mentioned. In the early 1950s, Stratford local Tom Patterson drove the establishment of a theatre festival dedicated to the works of William Shakespeare. On July 13, 1953, English actor Alec Guinness spoke the first lines of the first play produced by the festival, a production of Richard III: “Now is the winter of our discontent / Made glorious summer by this son of York.” For the first four seasons, performances took place in a concrete amphitheatre covered by a giant canvas tent on the banks of the River Avon. The permanent theatre that followed (photo below) deliberately echoed the look of a tent. (source)

The Festival Theatre

The festival now runs from April to October and in addition to Shakespeare it presents a variety of theatre including musicals and contemporary drama, in four theatres. (My mother and I saw “The Music Man” in August last year, when I took these photos.) Famous actors who appeared at Stratford include Maggie Smith (1976 to 1980) and William Shatner (seasons 2, 3 and 4). (This short interview with Shatner has some interesting photos of the festival’s early days).

This statue of Shakespeare is in the garden behind the theatre.

Back to the path now. Near the theatre is where you’ll find the largest numbers of swans and geese. They definitely have right of way.

At the east end of the lake you can look back to see the spire of the court house over the trees.

Time to cross over and head back on the other side. There are some inviting spots here for just sitting and watching the world or having a picnic.

This is the path opposite the theatre.

William Hutt was described as “Canada’s great classical actor” when he died in 2007. I remember seeing him as Falstaff in the Merry Wives of Windsor, 40 years ago. (I can’t believe I’m old enough to say that, but according to a review in the NY Times it was indeed 1978.) That’s more of the court house peeping over the trees, and you can see a number of bright orange pedalos on the lake by the shore (something else I remember from 40 years ago!).

At this point, you must walk across the bridge because the path that continues around the west end of the lake has been closed.

Here you can see why it’s “unavailable”: rich people not wanting riff raff walking in front of their houses. I certainly remember walking there in the past. Time for some “reclaim the ancient rights of way!” agitation by the people, I think!

I know Jo likes cake at the end of her walks, but as much as I like cake I do gravitate towards ice cream after a walk. 😉

Stratford Walk 2: history and houses” is now live.

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


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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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