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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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The Goods Line

Undated photo on a display board. Looking north to Darling Harbour.

Undated photo on a display board. Looking north to Darling Harbour. Hard to believe this is now an urban walking route and playground!

A chance reference to “The Goods Line” in a news article last week sent me straight to Google. What was this elevated railway-turned-pedestrian walkway in Sydney, and why had I not heard of it before?

Rather than rewriting what I’ve since learned, I’ll simply quote. “The first railway in New South Wales was laid on this route in 1855 to transport goods from the wharves of Darling Harbour to the railway goods yard at Redfern … Today the entire length of the re-invigorated rail corridor is only 500 metres – basically from Central Station’s Devonshire Tunnel under George Street to the southern boundary of the Powerhouse Museum. Yet this was once one of the most lucrative commercial arteries in the British Empire.” (source)

I somehow managed to miss the reference to the tunnel under George Street, so wandered around at street level until I finally found a map of the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) (which grew up around the original train line) and was able to join The Goods Line at the halfway point, where it crosses Ultimo Street.

The black and white photo below is part of an information display above the bridge. I was unable to match the angle of the old shot because, as you can see, there is quite a bit more traffic on Ultimo Street now! The only shared landmarks in these shots are the rail bridge and the tower behind. The tower is the restored bell tower of the Sydney Markets, now standing outside the Markets Library of the UTS; the bridge is the oldest iron bridge in Australia, built in 1879. What I find most striking about the old photo is the complete lack of trees.

The Goods Line rail bridge crossing Ultimo Street, then and now.

The Goods Line rail bridge crossing Ultimo Street, then and now.

Now that I’d found the line, doing only half the walk would have been cheating (not to mention absurdly short) so I headed back to the beginning. This is where the tunnel from Central Station, which I should have followed, spits you out.

The start of the walk, at the southern end.

The start of the walk, at the southern end.

If you go down the stairs and look over your left shoulder, you see this. Aren’t you itching to know what’s behind those locked gates?

Train track to ... where?

Train track to … where?

Looking north, you see the rail line, and the walk, stretching arrow-straight ahead of you. The last goods train left Darling Harbour on this line in 1984, and until redeveloped as a pedestrian link (at a reported cost of A$15 million) and opened last September, the land and infrastructure were unused (apart from the occasional steam train taking things to the museum).

Train tracks and walking route, straight ahead.

Train tracks and walking route, straight ahead.

I certainly hadn’t done anything requiring a rest, but there was no shortage of benches.

Bench after bench after bench ...

Bench after bench after bench …

This extraordinary structure sits at the corner of Ultimo Street and The Goods Line. It’s the first building in Australia designed by globally renowned architect Frank Gehry and belongs to the UTS.

The nature of the walk changes dramatically at the bridge, from concrete hemmed in by buildings in the south (below left), to meandering paths, greenery and play areas in the north (below right).

If you compare the view north now (above right) with the view in the undated b&w photo below (displayed above the bridge), the only common feature is the twin peaks of the roofline of the power station (now housing the Powerhouse Museum).

The red box indicates the power station / Powerhouse Museum building.

The red box indicates the power station / Powerhouse Museum building.

Strolling towards the museum, you’ll pass a number of diversions, such as ping pong areas (BYO paddles!):

Anyone for ping pong?

Anyone for ping pong?

… a child-sized interactive fountain …

… old railway objects …

… flowers and little gardens.

The Goods Line leads you to the Powerhouse Museum …


Powerhouse Museum

… where the walk ends abruptly, blockaded by a solid grey barrier.

A grey barricade marks the end of the walk.

A grey barricade marks the end of the walk.

Welcome to the pedestrian hell that is the Darling Quarter/convention centre construction site. Here’s a small sample of what’s going up:

Yet more Sydney construction.

Yet more Sydney construction.

The brave walker pushing on to Darling Harbour, as I was, must negotiate this blot on the landscape.

This was a very short walk (I walked at least as long trying to find the start!), but it revealed to me a part of Sydney’s history that I hadn’t known about. You can discover where other people have been walking on Jo’s Monday Walks.


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Sculpture by the Sea 2015

dust - Norton Flavel

dust – Norton Flavel

The annual outdoor display of sculptures is on again in Sydney. With artworks dotted for 2km along the coast from Tamarama Beach to Bondi Beach, this free two-week event is hugely popular.

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There are over 100 artworks on display — but don’t worry, I didn’t photograph every one. 😉

A few sculptures that caught my eye

ashes to ashes – Kim Perrier

bath – Vince Vozzo

bath - Vince Vozzo (detail)

bjf13 – Ben Fasham

city dreams – Gao Xiaowu

city dreams - Gao Xiaowu

fun! – Naidee Changmoh

fun!- - Naidee Changmoh

intervention – Mike Van Dam

intervention - Mike Van Dam

kakashi – Zilvinas Zempinas

kakashi - Zilvinas Zempinas

man on ball – Wang Shugang

listen time passes – Barbara Licha

listen time passes - Barbara Licha

tree spirit eggs – Mark Eliott

tree spirit eggs - Mark Eliott

undulation – Benjamin Storch

undulation - Benjamin Storch

quotidianity the brothers – Fabio Pietrantonio

quotidianity the brothers - Fabio Pietrantonio

These “sculptures” were created by Mother Nature — eroded sandstone.

A few other things that caught my eye

I deliberately took a day off work so I could avoid the crazy crowds on a weekend, but look at all the people on the path! I’ve put this post in my Strolls around Sydney category because, believe me, a strolling pace is as fast as it’s possible to move.

It’s important to stay hydrated and safe in the Sydney sun (when the sun actually shines, that is — it’s been very wet here for the past few days!). There was free water …

… and free sunscreen.

And someone has to keep the artworks looking clean!

Keeping it clean.

Keeping it clean.


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Travel Album: Philadelphia

30th Street Train Station

Now THIS is what a train station concourse should look like! What a glorious space. (30th Street Train Station)

Exploring Philadelphia on foot.

I arrived in Philadelphia by train from New York City, and was delighted by the marvellous vaulting space of 30th Street Train Station. The station was restored and renovated in a $75 million project completed in 1991. From the 90-foot ceilings to the marble columns to the gold leaf gilding, it looks fantastic. A great introduction to the city. I was in Philadelphia in late May for a conference, but managed to get in two walks — one on the way to a supermarket which revealed unexpected (to me) back streets that reminded me of English villages, and the other around the Old City area with its historical sites commemorating the push for independence from England.

The supermarket in question was the Whole Foods store on South Street, and my hotel was near City Hall, so I walked along South 12th Street. Although I was heading out for food supplies, I had my camera with me (of course!), and was soon snapping away at the lovely old tree-lined side streets.

City Hall is definitely worth a look! “At 548 ft (167 m), including the statue of city founder William Penn atop it, it was the tallest habitable building in the world from 1894 to 1908 … it was built between 1871 and 1901 at a cost of $24 million.” (source)

One morning, when the conference sessions were not relevant to my work, I took the train to 2nd Street station and followed a self-guided walking tour of old buildings and monuments.

Along the way I passed a lovely little park …

… more quaint side streets …

… Benjamin Franklin (one of the Founding Fathers of the United States) …

Benjamin Franklin bust

Benjamin Franklin bust

… and things cluttering up the sidewalk …

… and then I stopped for coffee and a muffin. I forget the name of the coffee shop, but I loved the interior lights!

Then it was on to Elfreth’s Alley. “Named for blacksmith and property-owner Jeremiah Elfreth, Elfreth’s Alley was home to the 18th century artisans and trades-people who were the backbone of colonial Philadelphia. … While a modern city has sprung up around it, the Alley preserves three centuries of evolution through its old-fashioned flower boxes, shutters, Flemish bond brickwork and other architectural details.” (source)

If you have enjoyed these walks in Philadelphia, check out Jo’s Monday Walk to see where other bloggers have been walking.


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Travel Album: New York City (2)

Maine Monument

The Maine Monument commemorates the 260 American sailors who died when the battleship Maine exploded in Havana harbour (Cuba) in 1898.

A walk in Central Park

On a lovely Saturday at the end of May, a friend and I strolled through the southern end of Central Park. We entered from Columbus Circle (where the Maine Monument is, above), heading loosely for the Shakespeare Garden because I wanted to take photos of the garden. (My Shakespeare Garden post is here.)

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I was pleasantly surprised at the many woodland retreats scattered around.

Woods and fence.

This is scene is more bucolic than I expected in New York City.

Woods and bench.

This bench seems to have grown out of the fence.

The Victorian Gardens Amusement Park were popular with children and adults alike.

A ride in a horse-drawn carriage is a very popular thing to do, though with prices starting at $50 for 20 minutes it didn’t seem like value for money. The poor horses seemed faintly embarrassed by their exuberant head gear.

Horse with red white feather.

Horse with red and white feather.

Bethesda Fountain is one of the best known fountains in the world — apparently. I have to confess that I did not recognise it, although it has appeared in a number of films. Interestingly, the statue at the top (“Angel of the Waters”) is the only sculpture in the park that was commissioned as part of the original design.

Bethesda Fountain - Angel of the Waters

Bethesda Fountain – Angel of the Waters

What’s a park without performers? And yes, he was singing a Simon & Garfunkel song when I took this.

Busker

The park opened in 1857, and some of its solid brick and stone architecture can still be seen.

More modern architecture is on display in the towers of Manhattan, viewed across the lake.

Office towers seen across the lake.

Skyscrapers seen across the lake.

Rhododendrons or azaleas? I’m not sure what the difference is, but they are pretty.

If you have enjoyed this walk in Central Park, check out Jo’s Monday Walk to see where other bloggers have been walking.


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Travel Album: Distillery District, Toronto

These barrels and the brick buildings are reminders of the area's past.

These barrels and the brick buildings are reminders of the area’s past.

Toronto’s Distillery District was initially the home of the Gooderham and Worts Distillery. By the 1850s the distillery was thriving, and in 1859 construction began on the current site. In the 1870s, Gooderham and Worts was the largest distillery in the world — by 1871, its annual whiskey and spirits production came to 2.1 million gallons. The distillery closed in 1990. In 2001 work began to turn the area and more than 40 buildings into a pedestrian-only village dedicated to arts, culture and entertainment: Distillery Historic District opened in May 2003. (source)

Some of the old machinery is displayed in the buildings.

The Distillery District is an appealing mix of old and new, and a walk around the area is a photographer’s delight. There are plenty of cafes, restaurants and bars for refreshment, plus interesting little shops where you can spend your holiday money.

Barrels on a wagon.

Barrels on a wagon.

If you enjoyed this walk, check out where other people have been walking with Jo’s Monday walk.


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Doors to eternal rest

These doors are from a few of the many family vaults in Waverley Cemetery, in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. I was intrigued by the variety of styles, materials and adornments.

I have posted other photographs about this cemetery:

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