Friday, April 30, 2010

Observatory Hill

Looking across to North Sydney from Observatory Hill

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Blue mountains

Having seen the Blue Mountains in the distance yesterday while cycling in the Olympic Park I felt the urge to go and have a closer look. So a train ride to Katoomba was in order.

The train travels up into the mountains

There just was one change of train involved and I arrived soon after 11am.

Knowing that I had some significant walking ahead I topped up my reserves with a lovely coffee and some raison toast. The raison toast was extra fruity and rather rich but it was providing fuel for the walk.

Once I got going it was a 25 minutes walk to the information centre at Echo Point. Here it is.

View from Echo Point of The Three Sisters

Can you see the blue haze coming off the trees. It is eucalyptus oil and gives rise to the name Blue Mountains.

I had done a bit of research the previous evening and saw that there was a really nice looking walk with the big snag that it started with a 900 step descent down the side of a sheer cliff. I am bad with heights and get vertigo 5 feet up a ladder. It was a shame but I could not do this walk.
I went into the information office to get a free map of local walks with the intention of coming out, sitting in the sunshine and selecting an interesting walk. In practice they said there were no free maps and they suggested the giant stairway route, so moments later I had parted with $3 for a map and committed to the scary walk. What is wrong with my personality to allow this to happen ?
The entrance to the Giants Stairway.

Some time later (I lost all sense of time and reality) I emerged at the bottom of the staircase, dripping with sweat, and legs like jelly. My quadriceps were so tired that I could not have made a longer descent. I just remember horrifying drops and bits of metal stairway with see-through steps tacked onto sheer rockfaces. The stairway often traversed around corners and there always seemed to be another more frightening aspect around it.
At the bottom of the stairway.

I sat on a wooden bench to recover and drink water. Luckily there had not been many others on the stairway so I had been able to go at my own slow pace. After 20 minutes I had cooled down a little although my hair was still soaking wet. I set off towards the scenic railway. My quads were still feeling like jelly and did so for the rest of the day. This made climbing and descending steps a bit slow.

As I made my way along the mountainside trail there were occasional glimpses across the canyon.

The track itself was not challenging and was enjoyable.

Here is a Turpentine tree.

Eventually I arrived at the scenic railway. This is a train of small cage covered seats that goes up to the top of the canyon in about 60 seconds. I managed a photo on the way.

The view from the top

The route took me along the Prince Henry Cliff walk. I was able to look back and see the Skyway. I definitely would not go on that.

Along the cliff walk there are various lookouts and it is the best part of the walk for stunning views in the afternoon sunshine.

I arrived back at Echo Point and enquired about bus services to the station at Katoomba. I had just missed one. So another 25 minute walk ensued. I took this photo on the station.

At 4:12pm the train to Sydney Central pulled onto the platform. It has lovely views along the way and the trip took two hours. It had been an exhausting but exhilarating day. They say that to keep fit, you should do something scary each day. I certainly felt that this day was going to do something for my fitness.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Olympic cycle ride

Nice day for a bike ride.
OK so the day looks like it is going to be bright and sunny so a little cycling would be good. There are some good cycle routes in around the Sydney Olympic Park site. Some of these routes are through bush and wetlands, whilst others are in the stadium area. I could do a bit of both.

After a train ride (34 minutes) to Concord West it was coffee time so I went to a nearby cafe for a coffee and a muffin

I expect there are a million calories in that muffin but I was going to burn them off hopefully.

Next I set off on a walk through parkland to the bike hire place. Here it was a simple process to organise a modern hybrid bike, helmet and lock. Being in Australia I put the helmet on over my cap. It may look daft but I did not want a sunburnt scalp. I set off and cycled past the Badu Mangroves and the Waterbird Refuge before going onto an actual road for a few hundred metres that took me to the Archery Centre.

A bit further and I was on the wetland cycle route. We came to a hill that soon found me in 1st gear and at the top it was time for a rest and to get my heartrate down a bit. So with the great 360 degree viewing point I took a few photos.

Me and my bike

The Blue Mountains in the distance

I followed various paths without much actual planning and ended up by the Parramatta River. There is a lovely cycle track the runs alongside the river that after a while arrived at Newington Armoury. This is an interesting spot with cafes, activities and historic sites. Still full of chocolate muffin I just took a few photos and continued.

Cranes alongside the Newington Armoury wharf

I left here and ended up on roads (although with no traffic). I passed a new looking prison with high fences and razor wire. I referred to my map and found a way to the Olympic Park although I did miss out at least half of the wetland track that I had intended to cycle.

Before long stadiums were in sight

I cycled and walked extensively around these interesting area.
This is the ANZ stadium but I guess it is obvious.

In the end my appetite was returning and I had a rare event, a big mac meal. As on previous occassions I soon felt sick.

Feeling sick whilst watching people running the gauntlet with a fountain system.

I resumed my ride around the stadiums and finally headed back to the parklands to return my bike.

Hire a bike here.

After the walk back to the station, I had covered a total of 20 Kms by cycle and on foot. The weather had been excellent, the views superb, I had taken loads of photos and even got a bit of exercise. A great day.

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Berry Island

Yesterday the weather was a bit on the wet side so my daughter and I visited the NSW art gallery and then had lunch nearby. Today normal service has been resumed as far as the weather goes and it is the Anzac public holiday here so some places will be busy.
I decided to take a short local walk to Berry Island. It is not actually an island, more of a headland really.

A stroll through the local al fresco cafe area to start, hang a left up Mitchell St. and I was soon on my way down to the coastal path leading to Waverton Park.
The historic ferries seem to congregate at this boatyard.

At the park I cut across the playing fields and take a shortcut towards HMAS Waterhen. I am just bypassing Balls Head that I visited recently. When I reach Wollstonecraft Bay I can see some tugs getting ready to guide an oil tanker leaving the Manns Point terminal at Greenwich. It is hardly a tourist spot but the scenery is still good and there are no crowds.

In Wollstonecraft Bay you can see the old gas works.

The walk goes through a reserve and I chose a path taking you to Berry Island via a beach. As I left the rock strewn beach there was just a large well maintained lawn area to cross before reaching the Berry Island reserve. It is a really pleasant walk along a bush path to the tip of the Island where there is a good viewing point.

Time to relax, scramble around the rocks, read up on the area's history and have lunch. This place seems to be a mecca for Spurs fans. I am not one of them.
After enjoying my packed lunch it was a fairly relentless uphill walk to Wollstonecraft station where I caught the train back to North Sydney.

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Queens Beach view

Looking back towards Sydney on a walk from Rose Bay to Vaucluse Bay.

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Ice cream boat

Just as you are resting on a beach and thinking that to make for a perfect day, all you would need would be an ice cream.
Then along comes the ice cream boat.


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Friday, April 23, 2010


A small marina near Birchgrove


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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hawkesbury River

I was given a tip that the River Postman cruise trip on the Hawkesbury was a good day out so I thought that I would give it a try.
I travelled by train from North Sydney with one change at Hornsby.
The Hawkesbury River station is just a few metres away from the boat wharf.

Here are some pictures





Dangar Island wharf

Returning to the Hawkesbury wharf

The station

Looking back from the train

There was a Probus group also on the boat trip. I met quite a few expats and even someone who had lived in the same area as me (Ruislip)and had gone to the same college (Southall). Needless to say that the weather and temperatures were just perfect.

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