Having plenty of time to arrive at the Sydney Opera House, we walked from the Pyrmont Bridge through the centre of Sydney, through the Pitt Street Mall where buskers plied their craft and down to Circular Quay. We never tire of the walk between Darling Harbour and Circular Quay, preferring to wander down whichever street takes our fancy, going in the general direction of our destination. Nor do we get bored in the area around Circular Quay, there is so much to see and people to watch. Great place for finding a seat and a drink and people watching.
The advertising by Lastix of cheap tickets to go a performance of The Beetles’ White Album peaked our interest. We were not all that familiar with the names of the performers, not The White Album, but purchased the tickets because there would be 21.singers and musicians performing songs of The Beetles at a cheap price, and therefore would probably enjoy the concert. Whilst our seats towards the back of the auditorium, it made no difference to our enjoyment of the performance.
This 2018 tour celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Beetles’ “The White Album” by Chris Cheney, Phil Jamieson, Tim Rogers and Josh Pyke is the third tour, following sold-out tours in 2009 and 2014.
A great and thoroughly entertaining performance by all, but the highlight for us was Chris (The Living End) Cheney’s musicianship. He made his guitar S I N G. It was fantastic to hear. Just so very glad we went.
It’s not just the water here that is perpetually moving. Building and redevelopment works seem constant. Dominating the prime waterfront position is the ICC Sydney – Australia’s largest entertainment, events and conference facility and opened December 2016. There is on foot a proposal to redevelopment the adjacent Harbourside Shopping Centre. In front of these major buildings, alongside the existing wide paved walkways, on the water, is presently in construction another walkway.
We looked over the harbour from Pyrmont Bridge to see preparations in place with floating pontoons for the upcoming Boat Show. Picked out a nice little boat with a top deck Jacuzzi, but had to let it go as we can’t tow it. Shame.
Whilst on Pyrmont Bridge, the operation of a section of it turning to allow vessels more than 7.metres high, through took place. The first Pyrmont Bridge opened in 1857 with the new electric swingspan Pyrmont Bridge opening in 1902 making it one of the world’s oldest surviving electrically operated swingspan bridges.
It was amazing to watch the completion of the opening to 83.degrees in just (approx.) 60.seconds.
Took the train from Penrith to Darling Harbour to view the James Cameron Exhibition “Challenging the Deep” at the Australian National Maritime Museum.
We have viewed the Museum on several occasions over the years to see various exhibitions and the Museum itself. It is well worth the visit, inside as well as outside – to look at the submarine and other vessels.
The replica “Endeavour” is of special interest to us. It’s construction started in Fremantle, Western Australia in 1988 and it was launched in 1993. On her first leg of a world voyage from Fremantle to London via Mauritius, Reunion Island, Durban and Cape Town, she took with her commemorative mail that would be posted from London.
In 1996 we were in Sydney on a business trip and used two of these specially produced commemorative letters and envelopes to write letters to our two sons, David (then aged nearly 6.years) and Stephen (nearly 5.years) and whom were at the time, back home in Perth. They were then posted to Fremantle in time to sail on the Endeavour when it departed for London and eventually, the letters arrived at our home. David and Stephen were taken on board the Endeavour when it was on display years later in Fremantle, but they did not receive their letters until they had both turned 21 and opened their time capsules together. A family event fondly remembered.
However, back to James Cameron. The Exhibition surprised us with the photos and information about the very, very young James Cameron – inventor – building his own version of a scaled down submersible and pleased that following his testing of the submersible, spoiler alert! – the mouse survived. Impressive and informative displays, with films, of his scientific ability, experiences with exploration (of course including the most famous – Titanic) widened our knowledge of this movie-maker/explorer as being someone far more complex, skilled and adventurous than we ever imagined.
For those unfamiliar with the “Endeavour”: https://www.captaincooksociety.com/home/cook-s-ships/the-australian-endeavour-replica
It is close to two years since we first walked ‘our section’ of The Great River Walk along the Nepean River. Two years ago, the metal walkway over a creek feeding into the river had water under and all around it. Now, the same area is dry and overgrown, in the middle of winter.
At Emu Ford the difference between two years ago and now is obvious, where previously water rushed over it bringing large branches of trees and now we watch as the level ever so gradually, sinks below the overflow. This is just one result of the massive drought New South Wales is experiencing and news of which fills our television screens.
This is a far cry from the Nepean flooding the area to the extent where the original wooden Victoria Bridge was taken out not once, but twice in the space of three years – 1857 and 1860. The area was subject to flooding. In 1900 and 1914 the flood waters extended into the middle of town.
From the river level, the walk uphill takes us to a marker by the path, near the top of the valley, indicating the height of the devastating flooding in 1867. Emu Plains, Castlereagh and the lower parts of Penrith were under flood with immense losses. Many houses were carried into the river by landslides.
It is hard from the above photo to appreciate the depth from the path down to the river, the width and length of the valley and it all being under water. But to stand at that location, trying to imagine the height of the marker as an additional layer of water across the valley is mind-blowing. Even if there is ever an end to the drought conditions and yearly rainfall increases, it is very doubtful a flood of the same magnitude could ever occur again since the Warragamba Dam built in 1960, significantly reduced flooding across the Nepean and Hawkesbury River valleys.
Prior to 1850, the Nepean River was often crossed at a low point that became known as Emu Ford. The crossing was dangerous and later punts and then bridges provided a safer crossing. In 1902 a sandbag weir was constructed to provide a water supply to Penrith and in 1908 it was replaced by the concrete weir seen in the photos.
On the Penrith side of the weir is a fishway that provides fish access past the concrete weir for their journey upstream. The entrance for the fish is seen at the left of the photo (below). Next to the fall of water in the concrete, a tall ‘slot’ where the fish enter and then negotiate graduated levels under a pathway next to the fencing, and then into the weir.
The hill between the river and up to Weir Reserve provides lots of fun for youngsters who bring cardboard to slide down it. The reserve is an expansive, flat area for picnics and a great place for weddings at the Gazebo.
At the far end of the reserve, a Japanese garden acknowledges the relationship between the Sister Cities of Penrith and Fujieda, Japan. Some tree planting conducted on 13.July 2005 commemorates the 20th Anniversary of the Sister City relationship.
The Great River Walk and parkland areas at Penrith/Emu Plains along the Nepean River is a bird-lovers paradise. There is a huge variety of birds, many so well camouflaged it is frustrating to hear and not see them. One of these is the Eastern Whipbird. It’s call featured at the beginning of the theme song for the television show “Skippy the Bush Kangaroo”. We have often heard the loud, whip-cracking sounds they make all through the section of the Walk we travel the most, but have yet to see one. Interposed with their calls, are the frequent, bell-like ‘tink’ calls of the many Bell Miners (Bellbirds) who hide very successfully in the eucalyptus trees.
Under the trees, many chittering wrens, wagtails and other small birds dart about, picking up unseen tit-bits and flying into the air to snatch small insects. In and about the Nepean River are the water birds.
At the moment, birds are gathering materials to make nests.
The Walk is the perfect place to take a break from the hectic pace of life, close one’s eyes and listen to the amazing Bird Symphony, the Overture provided by the Bell Miners and punctuated from time to time by the presto pizzicato music of birds protecting their nests.
Forewarning: The following slide shows are for serious bird-lovers only!
Photos were taken during only two visits. There is an abundance of birds here.
A short walk from where we stay while in Penrith, is the start of “The Great River Walk” at the end of Cassola Place.
A pathway parallel to the Nepean River leads through park areas, down to the level of the river, past Emu Ford and between the Weir and Weir Reserve, past the Nepean Rowing Club and up to the train and motor vehicle bridges. From there is access to the Bridge to Bridge Loop. The scenery is beautiful along the walk.
In this photo, the bridge on round supports (1907) for trains is closest and hiding The Nepean Bridge (Victoria Bridge) and the construction of the new walk/cycle bridge.
Originally a punt service operated at this point in the river. A timber bridge was constructed but was only used briefly before it was destroyed by floods in 1857, rebuilt, withstood the flood of February 1860 but destroyed in May 1860 by flood. Victoria Bridge was originally shared with trains. The wrought iron box girder Victoria Bridge took nearly three years to construct and opened in 1867. Heritage listed, it was considered ‘cutting edge technology’ back in the 1860’s and has the largest span of any metal girder bridge in NSW, a length of 250.metres.
The new pedestrian/cycle bridge currently under construction and estimated to cost $49.million, is planned to open late 2018.
New Pedestrian/Cyclist bridge being constructed, The Nepean Bridge (Victoria Bridge) behind it.
All up, The Great River Walk and around the Bridges is approximately 8.km of marvellous scenery and wildlife.
There will be a separate post on the wonderful bird life in this area. Keep to the pathways, especially in the warmer weather when we have seen snakes.
It has been an enjoyable (if somewhat exhausting) day at Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park and much more to see and do here than what can be accomplished in one day.
As we make our way back from West End Lookout, we stopped briefly at yet another picnic area, at the start of another walking trial and drove the scenic route to see Akuna Bay Marina and on to Cottage Point.
It is still over a month until spring but there are a few wildflowers already starting to bloom. All through the park are beautiful eucalyptus trees.
At Akuna Bay was yet another marina full of pleasure craft. There may have been views at Cottage Point however think they were only visible from the homes that were either side of the dead-end road.
We were preparing to leave the West Head Lookout when Lee saw the sign marking the steps down an army track to the WWII Military Battery below. Mike glanced at the sign and took off down the steps straight away – until Lee called him back to have another look at the detail on the sign:
Lee had already seen the first set of stone steps Mike had gone down! Her concern? How she would negotiate the unknown values of the last three above mentioned details. She could no doubt go down, but could she make it back up again? And before the park closed? Visions of being stranded on stone steps overnight, having passed out from exhaustion, flooded her mind. The EverReady Bunny could do it easily, but wouldn’t be able to piggy-back her to the top!
Well of course, you the reader, will have guessed the answer.
The sign wasn’t wrong. The stone steps continued in very steep descent from the top of this “huge, towering mountain” with very little break from the continuing winding and steep descent, down to a metal constructed look-out point, from where there were two ladders leading down to more stone steps and the abandoned battery buildings. By the end of the descent, Lee’s legs were like jelly and the dread had set in on how to survive the ascent.
Once near the water, we were able to explore the old battery buildings and store room. From inside the buildings we could experience the views seen by army personnel of WWII in their watch to defend any enemy invasion from the ocean.
And then it was time for the return journey….. not helped by the fact that the EverReady Bunny had his batteries fully charged! He would run up sections and then wait for Lee. Someone passed by Mike while they were descending, reached Lee, and asked her if ERB was trying to avoid a parking ticket. Lee eventually made it back to the top, the experience well worth the effort.
To reach West Head Lookout we needed to leave the National Park, drive through some suburbs and enter again via Terrey Hills to reach West Head Road which passes numerous walking tracks, and ends at the Lookout. It was a sunny, clear day when we were there and the views of the Hawkesbury River and across out to sea, magnificent.