[SUBW] Trip Report - Halloween walk, Bondi - South Head, 30-10-17

Bruce Stafford bstaffor at med.usyd.edu.au
Fri Nov 3 17:49:23 AEDT 2017

SUBW Trip Report - Halloween walk, Bondi - South Head, 30-10-17.

Party: Bruce, Eliza (both co-leading), Cathie, Elodie.

Originally 8 people signed up but 4 dropped out, with one person not  
giving a reason.

So I first met Cathie at Bondi Junction Station and as it was early we  
spent some time in the air-conditioned comfort of David Jones' coffee  
shop on that hot day. Then on the bus to the meeting place at Bondi  

Eliza and Elodie met us at Bondi beach and we set off on the walk.

Up til then it had been a hot day at the beach, about 34 degrees with  
heaps of people on the beach and in the water. Yet the very minute we  
set off on our walk, the strong southerly change hit, with strong  
winds and the temperature dropped to about 22 degrees almost  
instantly. The beach emptied out quickly, with sand whipped up by the  
wind feeling like sandpaper on our skin. We were glad to leave the  
area as we headed up Military Road.

First stop though was Eliza's favourite fruit shop at North Bondi.  
then we continued along Military Road north for a while, as Eliza had  
new shoes and was concerned about betting heel blisters, so she walked  
barefoot. Unfortunately on her first step without shoes, she trod on  
that scourge of summer lawns, the Bindii (Soliva sessilis). This nasty  
little lawn weed had sharp seeds to catch unwary feet. (It is an  
import from South America - it is not native).

So instead of Eliza's normal deviation via Raleigh Reserve we stayed  
on Military Road until Lancaster Road. (For architecture students this  
is an interesting walk).
At the end of this street a track runs above the cliff edge for some  
distance until reaching Diamond Bay Reserve.
There was another reason for sticking to Military road: the weather  
forecast had been for late rain showers, and the clouds had started to  
look threatening. Indeed we saw a couple of lightning flashes out to  
sea. Also the wind had picked up and was very strong.
As Eliza had dressed lightly, expecting the afternoon to have remained  
hot, we made a detour to a friend's place to pick up an umbrella and a  
jumper. Then we continued through Diamond Bay Reserve, battling the  
strong wind and noticing a few rain drops - but nothing worth putting  
on rain cover.

Another 250 metre road bash then took us to Clarke Reserve and then  
Christison Park. Within this park Macquarie lighthouse is located as  
well as a few World War 2 bunkers and old gun emplacements (once  
accessible but now locked).
Still buffeted by the strong wind, we continued along the path which  
skirts the cliff top until reaching Gap Park. Here Cathie spotted the  
monument to the late Don Ritchie, a local resident who would come out  
to comfort people considering jumping off The Gap (it has that  
unfortunate reputation). See photo - I would have missed it if Cathie  
hadn't pointed it out.

Until now nearly all the tracks had been street bashes, board walks or  
paved paths. Suddenly now, a true bush track starts. Well not exactly  
a true bush track - the railway ballast underfoot betrays its origin.  
It is in fact the path of the former Watson's Bay tramline which ran  
here until the dunces and fools of the Cahill NSW Government  
dismantled Sydney's tram system. The last tram to Watson's Bay ran in  
This track is not well known and runs for almost half a kilometre  
through bushland, with a cliff on one side and a steep fall-off on the  
other (see photos). It comes out at The Gap lookout and Watson's Bay  

At Watson's Bay we had a break for some refreshments, then continued  
along Gap Bluff Road (not a public road and locked at this time, which  
was almost sunset). From there we went down a very short but rough  
bush track to get to Camp Cove. Here we admired the sunset at Camp  
Cove Beach.

Here the South Head Heritage track starts which does a loop via the  
Lighthouse keeper's cottage and Hornby Light. On the way we stopped to  
look at an 1872 cannon in an emplacement built - like most Harbour  
defenses - to keep out the Russians. I volunteered to climb up and  
Cathie took the photos! Then at the cottage Eliza recalled seeing a  
ghostly fire inside on a past walk here. We had a look at the cottage,  
although all the doors and windows are firmly shuttered. No ghosts  
this time.
Meanwhile, a cruise ship was passing out through the Heads and we took  
to the old Searchlight Centre nearby (as a few more spots of rain were  
felt) and we watched the ship pass by. It would have been nice to have  
been on it.
(Historical note: the Searchlight Shelter was built in 1938 and during  
WW2 housed a searchlight to look out for enemy ships. It proved  
useless spotting the 2 midget Japanese submarines that got into the  
Harbour in 1942, and German ships kept well away from the Heads,  
waiting until getting to Broken Bay to lay mines).

Nearby is another historic 19th Century gun emplacement - minus guns  
(again built to keep out the Russians), which was explored, and the  
nearby Hornby Light, built in 1858 and still in use.
At this point, the wind picked up again and with it came a very brief  
but heavy rain shower. It was the only time we needed a rain cover.
Then it was back via a loop track to Camp Cove Beach where the girls  
sat in a shelter looking into their mobile phones while phoning  
restaurants and taxis. The eerie glow on their faces from the phones  
scared a child who had come onto the beach with its parent, who  
thought they were ghosts (well, it was almost Halloween).
After several phone calls to restaurants trying to find one still open  
or not full (nearby Doyle's was closing in 20 minutes), we eventually  
got an Uber taxi to Bondi for an Indian meal at Namaste on Hall  
Street. There was a bit of "fun" when the Uber driver suddenly decided  
he was a private car dropping friends off when we spotted a rather  
inebriated group trying to hail it.

After a very nice meal at Namaste Eliza got an ice cream at a local  
spot, and then I hailed a taxi to take Elodie first home to Woollahra  
and then Cathie and myself to Central Railway.
This was an interesting walk with great sunset views of the Harbour  
and the City, and even the weather was mostly kind. Despite  
threatening rain, there was only one brief rain shower almost at the  
end of the walk. Unfortunately the continuous strong wind put out of  
the question the wearing of witches hats.
There were no "no shows".

Link to my photos of the walk:  

Bruce Stafford.

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