Kiama Coast Walk in Numbers

By Vita Forest

Gerringong

Werri Lagoon, near Gerringong

Another post hand-written while on holidays…

By Vita Forest

2 walkers – Saskia and Vita.

1 stop on the train – Kiama to Gerringong. $4 for my train ticket (because I left my opal card at home… $2 for Saskia, she remembered hers).

2 legs of the Kiama Coast Walk – Gerringong to Loves Bay and Loves Bay to Blowhole Point.

14km walk from start to finish.

3km walk from Gerringong station to the start of the walk at Werri Lagoon.

2 pairs of wooden dream poles covered with local indigenous symbols, at either end of the Gerringong to Loves Bay leg.

Dream poles, Kiama coast walk

Dream poles, Kiama coast walk

1 herd of black and white cows huddled together in an adjoining paddock.

Millions of golden dandelions covering the hills.

Dandelion covered hills, Kiama Coast walk

Dandelion covered hills, Kiama Coast walk

1 woman using the hillls over Werri Lagoon as an outdoor gym – interval training, jogging up and down the steep hill and stopping at the top to do push-ups or squats…

Millions of hidden insects in the swaying grasses, chirping and clicking.

Thousands of visible bugs in the vegetation – butterflies, crickets, flies hitching rides on the back of our backpacks.

2 girls overtook us on the walk.

1 train line disappearing into dark caverns beneath the hills.

1 handful of delicious, wild, sun-ripened blackberries picked from the bushes along the path.

Blackberries

Blackberries

Thousands of purple wildflowers tumbling down the steep escarpments.

Wildflowers on Kiama Coast walk

Wildflowers on Kiama Coast walk

4 sea kayakers passing below the cliffs as we walked in the opposite direction, 2 with tiny sails to take advantage of the sea.

8 pelicans flying in formation.

Pelicans on the Kiama Coast Walk

Pelicans on the Kiama Coast Walk

1 electric blue fairy wren balancing delicately on the barbed wire fence beside the path.

4 patrolled beaches along the route (Werri, Easts, Kendalls and Surf).

Near Easts Beach

Near Easts Beach

3 caravan parks.

1 stile over a dry stone wall near Easts Beach.

1 heron that stood silent and still before launching off over the cliffs at Easts Beach when I ventured too close.

1 amazingly refreshing swim at Kendalls beach.

Storm approaching, Kendalls Beach

Storm approaching, Kendalls Beach

Several rumbles of thunder and flashes of lightening as we neared the Surf Beach.

1 downpour just as we neared our holiday flat.

1 blister on the bottom of my right big toe.

29 degrees C in the middle of the day, 22 degrees after the storm.

2 tired but happy explorers sitting on the balcony with a cup of tea watching the rain.

Kiama

Surf Beach

 

This week

By Vita Forest

Kiama

Surf Beach, Kiama

This week I have been

READING The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George (I’m afraid I would not recommend it. Saskia lent it to me to see if I would feel the same way she did about it. And I did. Thanks Saskia!!)

WRITING with a sharp lead pencil in my notebook as I’ve been –

VISITING Kiama and its surrounds on holiday with Betty and Saskia

SWIMMING in the glorious glittering ocean and in the beautiful Blowhole Point rock pool.

WATCHING dolphins swim around the rock pool at Blowhole Point!

WALKING around the coast at Kiama, two legs of the Kiama Coast Walk, the track at Minnamurra Rainforest.

CHATTING with Betty and Saskia.

PLANNING lots of writing.

LISTENING to Opera in the Domain in Sydney with some lovely work colleagues.

WAITING to get somewhere to write up and publish these posts! (working on the iPhone did not prove easy – any tips?)

Beware of wand thieves and sunburn

By Vita Forest

On the way to Shelly Beach

On the way to Shelly Beach

Last weekend, Lucy and I met some of my old high school friends and some of their children for a day out.  Heather, Venetia, Gemma and I (the adults) were keen to do a big walk somewhere beautiful.  The children (Ava, Jasper, Bob and Lucy) were not so keen on the walking part, but came anyway with the promise of icecream.  We settled on the Manly to North Head walk and met at Circular Quay to catch the Manly ferry.

When we arrived, we walked through Manly to the surf beach.  It was a beautiful Spring day and the beach was busy.  Before walking to Shelly Beach, we checked the sunscreen situation.  Bob was prevailed upon to apply some more (he hates it so much that he has been known to wear long sleeves in Summer just to avoid it).  The females admired the ocean waves, the surfers and the clear blue sky, while Jasper and Bob turned away from the beach and admired the real estate.  I pointed out to Lucy the small child-height statues dotted along the rocky wall that she used to toddle between as a two-year old.

Sculpture of a snorkeler, Shelly Beach

Sculpture of a snorkeler, Shelly Beach

We climbed higher and looked out over the ocean (making a slight detour when a water dragon appeared in our path, cocking its head and waiting to see whether it had to run.  It did not).  There was some confusion as to whether we could walk through the bush, Venetia’s instructions were via the streets, so through the streets we went.  (Apparently you can walk through the bush, but it was not well sign-posted). Up the hills we went and  entered the Sydney Harbour National Park at North Head.  We didn’t see any bandicoots but we did see this sign.

We didn't see any bandicoots, they are nocturnal after all.

We didn’t see any bandicoots, they are nocturnal after all.

The bush there is thick, dense scrub.  You can’t see far into the distance on the track, but all at once you feel a cool breeze, and the vegetation suddenly breaks open and you are standing looking along the cliff line.  There are some old military sites to explore, including observation posts cliffs facing out to sea.

Ava collected a good solid stick that she swished about as a wand (she had just watched Harry Potter).  At one lookout, another child came over.  She held it out to him to inspect and to her astonishment, he snatched it and ran off!  Luckily there were plenty more wands to be had.  After that, we were on the lookout for wand thieves.

The view North

The view North

Signs indicating the distant existence of a café pricked the interest of the girls, who were deflated to learn we had brought our own lunch.  They chewed on snacks as we stepped along the mesh path over the Hanging Swamp.  The spring flowers were putting on a fine display – flannel flowers, grevilleas and bottlebrush.  Ava wanted some spells for her new wand, preferably one that would help us fly and so avoid the walk in the hot sun.  She asked Lucy if she knew any.  (“Not Avada kedavra,” I instructed. “Or Sectumsempra!”)  The girls settled on Wingardium levisoa and Obliviate.  Ava tested this last one by giving her Mum a small punch and then using the Obliviate spell to see if Gemma would forget her naughtiness.  Unfortunately for Ava it did not work…

The

The Path through the Hanging Swamp

After stopping for lunch (outside the cafe), we visited the Quarantine station cemetery.  It was was brimming with wild flowers which dwarfed the crumbling monuments that stood on the hill looking back towards the city.  Heather even found one grave for a Edward Kelly (a not so famous one we presume).  We continued past  the Quarantine Station (“Ghost tours!” said Jasper) and on to the lovely Collins Beach, into penguin territory.  After a brief paddle it was back to the ferry wharf where we were herded on to a ferry back to Circular Quay.

Wildflowers in the cemetery

Wildflowers in the cemetery

Lucy and Ava waved to the passengers on passing boats, and Gemma reminisced about doing the same with her sister on car trips when they were children.  If anyone waved back, they were “allowed” to come to their birthday parties!  Gemma always collected more waves than her sister.  Jasper closed his eyes but opened them a crack when Ava gleefully announced that her brother was asleep.  By this point, we were all grateful to be sitting down.

At Circular Quay, we all indulged in the long-awaited reward of gelato before Lucy and I had to say farewell and rush off to try and make the kids’ 5pm handover.

We all slept well that night.

 

In Praise of walking

By Vita Forest

Boardwalk in Merimbula

Boardwalk in Merimbula

Last weekend a bunch of us did a big walk from Manly to North Head and back.  I’ll write another post about it soon, but chatting with my old high school friends reminded me of some reasons why I love to walk.

  • It is invigorating.  While at high school, some of us used to walk to and from school each day, despite the existence of perfectly adequate school buses.  While our friends would arrive at the school gates woolly-headed after a night of study, we would be alert and awake after our forty-five minute walk.  Walking helped us to lighten up, particularly as you could catch a long silver slide down a hill as part of the route.   Usually while singing show tunes.
  • It’s slow.  In this fast, fast world, how lovely it is to slow down and smell the roses (something I literally did last night as I walked past someone’s garden – it was a white bloom hanging over the fence and bouncing in the breeze).
  • It’s free!  One of my high school friends walks as her main form of exercise.  No gym fees for her.  This is part of our heritage from those school days (possibly more so than what we learned in the classroom).
  • It’s how you learn about a place.  It’s so easy when walking to take detours, to connect the dots, to see how one place fits with another.  A few weeks back, Saskia and I plotted out Broadway, Chippendale and Surry Hills, all on foot.
  • You usually don’t need to shower after it.  Which made it a good way to break up the day when I used to be an office worker.  I would head out at lunch with (I’m seeing a trend here) some high school friends and we would walk through the Botanical Gardens before heading back to our workplaces with merely a light glow on our faces.
  • It’s a good way to relieve stress.  A few years ago when my life was in turmoil and I had to make some hard decisions, I became a true power walker.  I strode up and down hills, over bush tracks, along city streets.  Along the way I clarified what I needed to do.  I remember thinking that this was a crossroads – I could either walk out my troubles or turn to drink or drugs.  I chose to use those two things at the end of my legs.

So walking remains an important part of life.  Hopefully our children might feel the same way someday…

Have you ever had a walking adventure?

This week

By Vita Forest

 

A cat friend for my nephew

A cat friend for my nephew

This week I have been

  • READING The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton
  • WRITING
  • MAKING a cat soft toy for my nephew.  (He is One today!)
  • VISITING Manly by ferry with some lovely old school friends and some of our kids.  We did a BIG walk (sore, tired legs now).
  • WATCHING Saving Mr Banks and Rear Window with my kids.  Their first Alfred Hitchcock experience…

 

This week

By Vita Forest

Walking through the Blue Mountains

Walking through the Blue Mountains

This week I have been

  • READING Mr Wigg by Inga Simpson (lovely) and The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chambon (so good so far).
  • WRITING
  • MAKING two owls for Lucy (Hedwig and Pigwidgeon) based on Ann Wood’s wonderful patterns.
  • VISITING the Blue Mountains.
  • WATCHING Howl’s Moving Castle and Spirited Away with the kids (our own mini Studio Ghibli festival).

 

Making good on the candy promise

By Vita Forest

IMG_2925[1]

We have just returned from a short trip to the Blue Mountains.  As I explained to one of my work colleagues a few weeks back, there were

“3 Mums, 6 children, 1 dog, 1 holiday house…”

She looked frightened, “It sounds like a horror movie,” she said.

But it didn’t turn out that way.

The Dream and the Reality

The Dream and the Reality

The Blue Mountains…when I was quite small, I had been excited about going on a trip to the Blue Mountains, the thing that had struck me was the word “blue”.  I had imagined blue trees, blue grass, blue people… I had even drawn a picture of my expectations which my Mum has kept somewhere (no doubt to have a good laugh over when they feel the need).  You can imagine my disappointment at my actual visit, but I do not feel like that now.

It was quite an operation for Vastra, Saskia and I to find a suitable date that suited our children, us, our exes (and probably our exes’ new wives and partners and THEIR exes.  Life is very complicated.)  At last we came up with a three day window of opportunity and Vastra found us a big five bedroom holiday house in Katoomba.  We walked, played cards, read, cooked and talked.  The children walked, played cards, fought, complained, ate, chased each other and SHOUTED.  During one of their games (all of which produced blood-curdling screams as they raced around outside), the girl-next-door Katie popped her head over the fence to see if someone was in fact being murdered, or if it was all in fun.  She was invited to join them and agreed.  Katie mentioned that earlier in the day, her Dad had been rushed to hospital as he had cut his arm with a chainsaw…  But he was OK.  We had missed that excitement.

We had been out walking.  The deal was that we would go on a walk in the morning, and in the afternoon we would go to Leura to The Candy Store, a shop infamous to children everywhere.  And so we had walked along the cliff top tracks to Echo Point, getting lost a couple of times on the way (but seeing scarlet and green king parrots and a waratah bush in full bloom – who would want to miss that? Us! shouted the kids).  We had seen the waterfall at Katoomba Falls, the Three Sisters, and misty views over the valley due to the rain that fell at times (but did not sway us from our purpose, much to the children’s annoyance).

Katoomba Falls

Katoomba Falls

We returned to the house for lunch, and then it was time to make good on the whole candy promise.  The kids were outraged to find we intended to walk to Leura too (one walk a day is more than enough apparently).  Grudgingly they trailed along, lured by the promise of pocket money to spend at the other end.

We saw more king parrots, blossom trees, rhododendrons and magnolia flowers.  We walked up and down some large hills, past some pretty weatherboard houses, through a shady gully and up another steep hill, before arriving on the main strip at Leura.  When they recognised their surroundings, the kids raced ahead like a pack of hounds catching the scent of a fox.  It took a great deal of time and discussion before their final purchases were made and we were able to move on.  Vastra looked up the train timetable and discovered there was not going to be time to go to the candle shop and make the next train.  Howls of indignation were heard from some of the younger members of the party at the audacity of the adults wanting to look at a shop too.  How dare we?!

The adults decided that we would walk back through the pleasant hilly streets.  We WOULD NOT wait an hour for the three minute train trip.  The kids quickly conferenced and decided they WOULD.

And so it was that we came to spend a peaceful hour having a delightful walk, even stopping to admire a specimen of white waratah that we had failed to notice previously due to the distractions of various bickering siblings.

Blossoms of the Katoomba / Leura region

A good time was had by all.