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Lifestyle : Sydney, The Harbour City 2011
1HERSA1 S004 Above and beyond . . . (left to right) parasa 4 Friday, October 7, 2011 The Sydney M The walk of the town Take in the history, grab a cuppa and soak up the vistas during a waterside wander, writes Steve Meacham. The highlight . . . is the views, particularly from Georges Head lookout. Beaut route . . . a stroll along a section of Manly’s walking track reveals stunning scenery. Photo: Hamilton Lund F rom our magnificent view of the tossing, turbulent waters that divide North from South Head and provide a grand entrance to the world’s most beautiful harbour, we watch in awe as a tugboat guides a bright-red ship to its temporary mooring. We’re a motley crew, those of us gathered on this bright spring Monday morning at Georges Head, perched 65 metres above the crashing waves so allowing us a 270-degree view from Manly through to Darling Point. There are two or three couples out walking their dogs, a mother with her children, a pair of particularly well- briefed tourists and your contented correspondent, allocated the task of ‘‘road-testing’’ one of the relatively new sections of walking trails that now stretch more than 200 kilometres from Watsons Bay to Manly by way of Parramatta. This morning’s gentle stroll begins at the eastern shore of Chowder Bay. All these heritage buildings and the land on which they stand – straddling the ridge line along Middle Head Peninsula – used to be off limits. It was the preserve of our defence forces, which were granted land to run an Aboriginal farm here in 1815 by Governor Lachlan Macquarie. Before that, the land belonged to the Aboriginal ancestors of Bungaree. Now the buildings are part of Headland Park – created by the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust – one of the jewels in a growing necklace of heritage sites around the harbour that can be experienced at walking pace. Master boat builder Simon Sadubin welcomes passing walkers ‘‘popping their heads in to watch us at work’’ in the boatshed now operated by Sydney Harbour Wooden Boats. The complex at Chowder Bay, built in the 1890s to counter the perceived threat from enemy submarines, was home to the Submarine Miners’ Corps, an army unit responsible for laying and maintaining the mines attached to underwater cables across the harbour, protecting the city. Neighbours at Chowder Bay include Plunge Diving (which also rents out kayaks), the upmarket Ripples restaurant, the Sydney Institute of Marine Science (which will eventually include a visitors display) and Bacino cafe – an indication of the various uses heritage buildings can be put to. A steep, signposted track – possibly walked by Bungaree and his fellow Aborigines – leads up through native bushland to Georges Heights and the collection of former army huts that was once nicknamed ‘‘the Hospital on the Hill’’. From 1916 until 1921, the 21st Australian Auxiliary Hospital treated wounded veterans returning from World War I. Today, those same refurbished buildings host a range of modern enterprises and creative workshops. Of course, the highlight of this walk is the views, particularly from Georges Head lookout. At Middle Head Road, the pedestrian has two options. Continue to Balmoral beach via the steep signposted track, or turn right and follow the road to Middle Head, part of the longer-established Sydney Harbour National Park. I pause for lunch at Burnt Orange, the cafe-restaurant-gift shop that now occupies the pre-war Mosman Golf Club, before looping back to my starting point via gentle Chowder Bay Road, passing Obelisk beach en route. Obelisk is known as one of Sydney’s finest nudist beaches. Military history, gourmet food, wonderful scenery and the chance to go skinny dipping – walking around Sydney Harbour certainly isn’t short on experiences. On the right track A GROUP of enthusiasts working with government agencies, Walking Volunteers, has produced an excellent series of maps detailing harbour walks. Copies can be downloaded at walkingcoastalsydney.com.au. Here are four of our favourites: Neilson Park to Rose Bay Shark Bay, one of Sydney’s most popular harbour beaches, is the start of a clearly marked bush track that takes you past historic Strickland House and some of the most expensive real estate in Australia. The final section is along New South Head Road — but the views are gorgeous and you are walking down Heartbreak Hill. Allow 90 minutes. Manly ferry wharf to Spit Bridge This popular trail begins gently alongside Manly Cove and continues past Manly Art Gallery and Museum to North Harbour Reserve. At Forty Baskets Beach, you enter Sydney Harbour National Park, where the track becomes more difficult. Savour the lovely bays and viewpoints, including Reef Beach, Dobroyd Head, Grotto Point and Clontarf Beach before arriving at Spit Bridge. Allow three hours. Birchgrove Wharf to Woolwich Wharf Each wharf is a starting point for the Parramatta River walk but can be combined as a separate walk connected by public transport. Start at Louisa Road and follow the southern harbour shore past Dawn Fraser Pool to Iron Cove Bridge and Birkenhead Point. Cross Gladesville Bridge and Tarban Creek Bridge, then turn east to Hunters Hill. At Kelly’s Bush, the path again hugs the shoreline, via Clarkes Point and historic Woolwich Dock, finishing at Valentina Street Wharf. Allow three hours. Greenwich Wharf to Milsons Point Head west from the wharf, then pick up the track around Gore Cove, Berry Island, Balls Head Bay and Berrys Bay to Blues Point and Lavender Bay before finishing at Luna Park, beneath the bridge. Allow three hours. SPECIAL REPORT Saturday 8th & Sunday 9th October 2011 9am 4.30pm Saturday 9am 3.30pm Sunday A finale to the interna onally renowned Leura Gardens Fes val during the first two weeks of October 150 street stalls and street entertainment New a rac ons including the Leura Village Ar st Walk Sunday 1pm: Leuras Best in Show - the most entertaining dog show in Australia Saturday - Family entertainment - The Dodadums perform on Saturday 8th at 1.30pm, 2.30pm and 3.30pm For further informa on visit www.leuravillage.com.au Proudly presented by the Leura Village Associa on Artwork:JaneCanfield Views from above give a natural high Melinda Ham explores three ways to gain a superior perspective of the city. ailors get high; a climber tackles a tall ship; the view from a seaplane. Climbingtothetopofatall- ship mast, gliding beside the Opera House in a seaplane or parasailing with a 360-degree view – that’s how thrill seekers like to experience the magic of the harbour. Up in the air Before we board the little eight-seater De Havilland Beaver seaplane at Rose Bay, we buckle a life-jacket pouch around our waist. Let’s hope we don’t need it. My excitement rises as I get to sit in the co-pilot seat, put on my earphones and watch all the dials, knobs and switches on the dash. The propeller starts to whir and our Alaskan-born pilot, Andy, skims us along the water’s surface to a seemingly effortless takeoff. After a salute to the Opera House and Harbour Bridge to our left, we head past Middle Harbour and through the Heads making a dramatic exit to the open ocean. As we head up Sydney’s northern beaches, the three- dimensional splendour of the golden sandstone cliffs and the opal- coloured clear water below, dotted with tiny surfers, is beautiful. In what seems like no time at all, the whale-tale-shaped peninsula of Palm Beach and Barrenjoey lighthouse loom ahead. Before that, we glide over Scotland Island and the forest of yacht masts in Pittwater and then head over the gum trees of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and the snaking Hawkesbury River. After a U-turn, we scoot down the beaches again – just part of Sydney’s 100 kilometres of coastline – and loop back into the harbour. This time, Andy dips one of our wings low and we do a spectacular turn past the Opera House sails, the sun glistening off the roof, and then back into Rose Bay, where we ease onto the water. I didn’t want it to end. See seaplanes.com.au or phone 1300 732 752. Flights start at $185. Up the mast Imagine the awe-inspiring sight experienced by the crew of the first nine tall ships sailing cautiously into what became known as Sydney Harbour on January 26, 1788. Now you can relive what it was like to be aboard one of those ships, steering the massive wheel at the helm and, in true Pirates of the Caribbean style, climb the mast. Just launched this week, Sydney Harbour Tall Ships offers the chance to step into a full-body harness and climb, hand over fist, up the rigging to the crow’s nest and then to the top of the 22-metre mast while the ship sways and the wind blows. No need to worry if your foot or hand slips, climbers are totally safe. It’s just like abseiling; there’s no distress, just the feeling of being a huge spider dangling in the air. And the view from the top is spectacular. With the wind caressing your hair, it’s magic to sail under the steel struts of the Harbour Bridge and past the Opera House aboard the 90-year-old Southern Swan. You can also help haul the ropes that raise the sails and then enjoy a peaceful hour-long glide back down the harbour powered only by the wind. See sydneytallships.com.au or phone 1300 664 410. Prices begin at $79. Up in a parachute It’s almost the opposite of skydiving. But parasailing on Sydney Harbour is a gentle thrill. We couldn’t experience this ourselves but the owners of Sydney Harbour Parasailing, Linda and Phil Bird, say the sensation as the boat accelerates and you’re slowly lifted by a diesel-powered winch is like floating weightless 140 metres in the air. Getting used to the floating sensation takes a minute and then you just hang there and enjoy the view, which stretches across the harbour from Manly Cove to Watsons Bay, and wish you never had to come down. Phil, who always drives the boat, dips each parasailor down to tickle their toes in the water for a bit of excitement. ‘‘When people come back from that, they usually have pretty big smiles on their faces,’’ Linda says. The parasail boat leaves from Manly Wharf. Each session lasts about an hour, including a 10-minute ride for each parasailor. And because you go out with about five other people, you get to whizz around in the boat and enjoy the view while the others have a go. You can also choose to do a tandem flight with a mate. It’s just like hanging out on the swings in the park, only higher. See parasail.net or phone 9977 6781. A single is $85; tandem is $139. Melinda Ham was a guest of both Sydney Harbour Tall Ships and Sydney Seaplanes. Morning Herald Friday, October 7, 2011 5 Where to find more thrills On a kayak See sydneyharbourkayaks.com.au or phone 9969 4590. A weekend- morning eco-tour of Middle Harbour costs $99 a person. The roller coaster at Luna Park An unlimited-rides pass starts at $44.95. In a helicopter See blueskyhelicopters.com or phone 9700 7888. Flights start at $129. SPECIAL REPORT
My Health - 2011
Party Planning 2011