We had a great time on the SIMS Harbour Hike on Father's Day - 2nd September 2012.
The day started out well, with both of our sons (hereafter collectively known as "the boys") arriving bang on the time we agreed, at the registration point for the walk - Bradfield Plaza under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Son No 1 (far right of photo) lives in Pyrmont and decided to just run across the bridge to the meeting point. He picked up Son No 2 along the way when he found him waiting for a bus. Big smiles and "Happy Father's Day" we're cautioned about the hug....sweaty backs and wet T-shirts!
We don our registration bibs and are each issued with a Harbour Hike Passport. We stop at checkpoint 1, which is here in the plaza, and have a go at answering the question. We circle our answer on our passport and head off. We're doing well for time and are on our way by 9 am.
The first section of our walk takes us through the streets of Kirribilli. The organisers have marshalls along the way to make sure everyone makes the right turns or takes the safest path and our first is a Policeman who indicates which way to go at the traffic lights. We walk past shops and restaurants and cafes that look enticing for a leisurely Sunday brekkie on this glorious spring day. We couldn't have hoped for nicer weather and it's a relief as yesterday was much colder and windy.
Checkpoint two is at Anderson Park, just along the road a bit from one of our favourite restaurants - Bayly's downstairs at the Ensemble Theatre. Actually finding the link to attach I notice that Baylys' scores 8.8 /10 on Eatability, so clearly we're not the only ones who think Bayly's is hard to beat for quality/price/location. It's only open at times when performances are on though, so that's something to bear in mind.
Having the checkpoints is great as it makes you feel like you're getting somewhere, and it's fun collectively deciding the answer to the questions the organisers have come up with to match the harbour theme.
Along the way, a couple of enterprising kids have set up a table with baked goods for sale, raising money for charity. $2 a piece or three for $5. Son 1 is being good, but I grab a brownie, hubby a cup cake and Son 2 a biscuit and soon we're on our way. The whole atmosphere of the walk and the people we pass along the way is so cheerful and fun. We're having a great time.
The early part of the walk is cutting across through nice, upmarket, surburban streets. Checkpoint three is located at a typically "Sydney" harbour foreshore park. Nice flat grassy picnic area, beaut playground for the kids and a nice safe harbour beach. Idyllic.
Walking on we're heading around Cremorne Point. A scattering of yachts moored at buoys in the cove present a pretty picture.
Around Cremorne Point the harbour foreshore reserve is landscaped like a pretty park, not so much the native bushland. Here and there I am delayed by stopping to read interesting interpretive signage.
I've never craved mega wealth.. never wanted to live hemmed in by city on all sides and no escape out west to the plains... well... until I come to the gorgeous Federation Arts and Crafts House. I won't post a photo of it. Come do the walk and see it in situ. It's a significant enough building to feature on it's own information board. I could live in that... bugger the extra time escaping the city!
I turn around and capture the view looking out from this wonderful mansion. Gee. It doesn't get much better than that. What a lovely little bay.
I'm so captivated by the house and the views, Son 2 is concerned. "Mum! You're missing the birds!" Two rainbow lorikeets are sitting closeby to where I'm standing. Not too fussed at humans in close proximity. They've got a nesting hollow. Cool.
Mosman Rowers club has set up a barbie and are selling brekkie to walkers passing. Smells great.
Down the slopes we go to another great playground and pleasant walk around the bay past the Ferry Terminal. We stop while I do some leg stretches. We have a drink from the backpack and some fruit. I can think of worse ways to while away an afternoon than just sitting on the park benches looking back across to the Rower's club. My goodness. How privileged we are to live in such a beautiful city.
Back up the hill to cut across to Sirius Cove Reserve, there's a few ups and downs along the way, some flights of stairs too. We're past half way and those of us with dickie knees are starting to feel it. The stretch stops I've been taking have kept my other issues under control, but I've neglected the ones that would do the knee. Doh.
Sirius Cove Reserve is yet another gorgeous harbourside picnic ground. Much like the others we've passed. Great playground. Beautiful flat grassy area just screaming for kids with a ball to kick around. These harbourside reserves make me think of my dad and his relatives. They so epitomise the lifestyle of my paternal forebears. Barbies by the water. Swimming. Boating. Snorkelling and spear fishing. Whole clans gathered to enjoy the beauty of the north shore.
Here's a photo of my Grandfather, his parents and lots of siblings and their partners and kids, on one such outing. Don't they look like they're having an absolute ball? My guess is that this is sometime around the early-mid 1920's. Ah. I wonder what the poor people are doing today?
Sydney siders are kind of tribal really. I guess it's probably obvious I'm a northern sydney girl. Grew up on the northern beaches, but dad's family was all from the lower north shore. Generation after generation based around the North Sydney/St Leonards/Naremburn sort of area. I guess then it's natural that I think that the north side of Sydney is FAR nicer than the Eastern Suburbs or the Shire ... or ... well... anywhere else really. Only down side is it's harder to get out of town than out on the outskirts where I live. It's very beautiful over here, but I do like to hit the open road... and of course it's also hideously expensive to buy property there too. But I digress...
We're alerted that we're passing the zoo by the tall walls with barbed wire at the top. Pretty soon we're at Athol Wharf and my doesn't the zoo look enticing. The lower entrance is looking great after it's refurbishment.
Up hill again and now we're entering Sydney Harbour National Park. More natural bushland and lots of lovely Sydney red gums (angophera costata). This one has the most gnarly branches!
The views along this section are typically gorgeous, and in this case look back towards the bridge and the Opera House. Even the sky is smiling!
Through the national park in places the track gets quite rustic. It gives a nice contrast to the other sections of the walk. We've had some nice variety along the way.
We arrive at Clifton Gardens and head over to sign ourselves out, so they know we've arrived safely. There's a lovely festival atmosphere. Food markets and tables with umbrellas set up. A stage with a band playing. Sons comment that the band was to make sure that people didn't hang around. They're quite good, but they're playing mainly 1950s -70s classics. Cover bands of this sort clearly not really their thing.... I enjoyed it mostly, but really... A Long Way to the Top.. seriously, what were they thinking. A bit like Rolf Harris's Stairway to Heaven.
We grab ourselves some lunch from the stalls and head back beyond the bandstand to a picnic table. There's heaps of kookaburras here. They clearly see humans as a handy source of food. Kookaburras nicking food reminds me of Dad and his family too. Always kookas waiting for an opportunity to pinch a snag off the barbie. I guess it makes sense. After all, that's what they do in bush fires isn't it. Wait for the lizards and snakes to come through fleeing the flames and snatch! There's lunch.
Daughter 1 and her hubby are redeeming their high tea freebie they got when they got married at the Gunner's Barracks a couple of years ago. Gunner's Barracks is just along a bit from here. Short walk, but frankly I've done all the walking I plan to today! They've driven over in our new car and will give us a lift home. We want to get the special ferry though and finish with the boys at Kirribilli, so a quick look at the tents with aquariums set up to show various interesting creatures; a quick stop by the nice upmarket toilet facilities; and we're heading over to join the boys on the ferry.
Another lucky break. When I was getting my lunch the guy standing next to me pointed out someone to me. "I reckon that bloke likes his food! I've seen him at every food stand!" "He's probably with a group and is running the food erands for everyone. ... Hang on... I think I know him!" I don't get a chance to catch him there, but here he is again on the Ferry. We last met in France earlier this year. He and his dad (also on the ferry) were with the same tour company we were. Different cars during the day, but we all met up in the evenings for dinner at the Hotel Beatus in Cambrai. Awesome! I still can't quite believe his elderly father did the whole walk! He was keen because he knows the guy who started the Harbour Hike off. Good effort. All ages have been represented on this walk. We've seen babes in back packs. Little kids. Elderly people with canes and one with a ski pole! ;o)
We get an update on the fellow who fell and badly broke his leg at the railway embankment dugouts. He's heading back to France for Anzac Day in 2013. He was flown home business class. It's been great catching up, but we need to rejoin the boys, it being father's day and all!
It's a slow ferry ride back to Kirribilli. Very slow. A very pleasant way to end the hike.
We part company. The boys have places to be.. afternoons naps a high priority. Hubby and I cool our heels sitting on a park bench looking out over the harbour. The sun warm on our backs.
Daughter and SIL are a while. They trusted the satnav in our new car. Oops. The Honda Satnav sucks really. Why they don't just licence tomtom for their cars is beyond me. Tomtom is so much better. Honda Satnav got them trapped onto the Cahill Expressway. Oops.
Still, sucky satnav isn't enough to damp our enthusiasm for our new Honda. It's lovely to ride home with Daughter 1 and SIL, to join Daughter 2 and her partner for a beautiful dinner. A brilliant walk. A brilliant day.