Walkers: Athena (leading), Bruce (writing this report), Wendy, Michael, and for a short while Gabriel.
We all met up at Bondi beach (except Gabriel who would join us at Coogee) and set off about 4.30pm to follow the Coast more or less to Malabar Beach. The walk requires only one diversion via a street bash where it is not possible to completely follow the shoreline or cliff top, and that is just south of Coogee Beach.
So we weaved our way along the scenic track to the first beach, Tamarama, which at this time of day had only a few people swimming there. It’s also interesting to note the variety of plants that can grow so close to the sea edge – including Native Pigface (don’t know how it got that name). There were a couple of Cormorants sitting on the rock shelves by the water.
From Tamarama we remained on the bath to Bronte Beach, and made our way through the pleasant park there for a water stop. It was there I realised that I must have left my water bottle at home! So I relied on a water fountain for a refill, and intended to buy some water when we reached Coogee.
After that we made our way to Bronte Baths at the south end of the beach and the path seems to come to a dead end. Not so! Athena showed us the way up the cliff (fairly steep but relatively short and with good hand and footholds) until reaching the top. We found ourselves at the top of the deep cutting which took the former Bronte tramline to the beach (before the clowns of the NSW Labor Government of the 1950’s closed the line), but is now Calga Place. It is quite a steep cutting and has actually been heritage listed. I provide a link to a photo of it at the end of this report.
From there we continued along the cliff top (which is not actually a formed track because it is not easy to access) and then reached the board walk at the edge of Waverley Cemetery. It is not possible to follow this boardwalk its whole length as a long section is under repair due to storm damage in 2015. So a diversion through part of the Cemetery is needed. Noted the head stones of people who nowadays would be regarded as dying before their time (in their late 50’s or 60’s) but common back 100 years ago. That was when people smoked like chimneys and got early heart attacks, or succumbed to diseases like TB or Polio which are rare nowadays thanks to vaccines and antibiotics.
So after that sobering experience of the Cemetery, we continued along the coast to Clovelly Beach, a favourite of Athena’s. It is a good beach for families with children as it is rather protected from big waves. There were more people swimming there. At this point we realised we were a bit behind time, so Athena called Gabriel, who would be waiting for us at Coogee, to advise him we could be 20 minutes late. We crossed the sands and continued following the coast along a circuitous route which took us around Gordon’s Bay and eventually we reached Coogee Beach about 6.30pm and found Gabriel. Coogee was break time and we went up the street to buy take-aways from an Indian shop (and I got some water). Then back to the beach to eat our food. Then Athena, Wendy and Michael went to get some ice creams.
We spent almost an hour at Coogee, including our “shopping”. So far the walk had been overcast but no sign of rain. When I checked the weather radar however, there was rain approaching from the south west and had come as far as The Shire and Botany Bay. We decided to be prepared form rain – just in caes, but it turned out that the rain stopped in The Shire and we didn’t get any. Even so it got cool enough for Athena to put on her jumper.
It was 7.30 by the time we left Coogee which gave us just 15 minutes to sunset, and then another 30 minutes (about 8.15pm) to dusk, the end of twilight (or “Civil twilight” as it is called – more about that later). Gabriel expressed some concern about having to walk in the dark, and decided not to continue on. At the southern end of the beach the track starts to rise, and the girls took advantage of the last loo stop available util Maroubra. Just as we started to continue, Athena spotted a rat drinking from the runoff of a tap in the bushes (hard to see in the failing light). There was something unusual about this rat; it was not long and slim like a Common Black rat, and also had a short tail. It fitted the description of the Australian Native Rat. It didn’t hang round however for further inspection. Just a bit further south we walked through the South Coogee Wetlands and we could hear the croaking of several frogs (Wendy observed how unusual it was to have frogs so close to a city). And it is the normal habitat of native rats… The track continues along the cliff tops until Bunya Parade where it passes through a narrow passageway between house to Cuzco Street. This is where the street bash starts as the cliff line can’t be followed here. So it was up to Malabar Road, then down to the end of Liguria Street where there is another narrow passageway between houses than some steps down to the rock shelf at Lurline Bay. There is no path here at all, you just walk along the rock shelf (I’m not sure you can do it at high tide; on our night it was almost low tide). By then it was dusk and Wendy got out her torch to see her way. There was just barely light enough to make out the way across the rocks. Suddenly a concrete path occurs and that eventually takes to the north end of Maroubra Beach. (I would point out for those people who seem to rely on Google Maps and GPS systems, that it doesn’t know about Lurline Bay. Type it in, and you won’t find it! This is why you shouldn’t rely entirely on a GPS). At this point I realised that I had a bit less than 10 minutes to get the last bus from Maroubra Beach that would connect up with my hourly train service at Central. I had advised Athena earlier that I might have to bail out at Maroubra Beach at this time,otherwise I wouldn’t get home until after midnight. So I said goodbye to Athena, Wendy and Michael there, who continued on to Malabar. I got the 8.54 bus to Maroubra (formerly Maroubra Junction) and changed to a Railway bus there. Back in the days when I went to UNSW the 393/395 were the “Cinderella” bus routes along Anzac Parade to Central. But now, it it well patronised even at that time of night. Anyway the bus got me to Central with 15 minutes to spare before my train left. Along the way I noticed just how well advanced is the progress of construction on the Light Rail tramline from Kingsford.
There’s no photos as the overcast weather and the lack of light were not conducive to scenic photography. Here is an article and photo of the Bronte tramway cutting today, shows how deep it is, and helps to explain why walking along the clifftop as we did is safer than using the road: http://thebeast.com.au/news/bronte-cutting-stonewalled/
What is “Civil twilight”? It is the period between sunset and dusk when it is still possible to do outdoor activities without artificial light. In most of Australia it is only about 30 minutes, which can be a surprise to some of our Northern Hemisphere students who can have up to 2 hours of twilight in their country. Need to keep that in mind on bushwalks that end late.
There were no “no shows” by the way.
Thanks to Athena for an interesting walk.
Besides being a life-long Sydneysider I saw things that were new to me.