I’ve had my eye on this walk for some time. A Sphinx in Sydney? I had to see that! OneSight’s GO2020 initiative has provided the incentive to get out and do some longer walks and I have committed to doing 100km of tracks and trails!
I’d felt quite rough the last few days so I almost put off the walk, but I was itching to get started walking for OneSight so I just planned some bail out points. There was a bus that leaves from the Sphinx, cabs could be called, my wife could pick me up from bobbin Head if I really needed it; there were a lot of options.
I left the house at 5am well before sunrise and was walking on the trail from Mount Kuringai station around 6am. Dawn had just begun lighting up the horizon but it was really too dark to start walking. I pulled out my headlamp and decided to give it a go. Cue battery failure! I was already well on the track so I lit the way with my iphone. I noticed a trail heading off to the right and looking at the map it looked like an informal lookout. Sure enough, it was, so I decided to sit a while and watch the sunrise! Got to take advantage of an opportunity when one comes up! It was lovely. When there was enough light I started walking again. I always love the moment of true sunrise, its like someone has flicked a light switch, or turned up a dimmer switch really quickly.
I headed along the track down to Cowan Creek and was greeted by swirling mists streaming off the surface of the water. If I had come down a few hours later I would not have seen this! There was already a kayaker out and about and I envied them somewhat as I can only imagine what it would be like to paddle through those morning wisps. Very peaceful.
I was then greeted by a scratching sound up ahead and saw a lyrebird out hunting for its morning grubs! I’d never been so close to one before! Why wasn’t it afraid? Was I just really quiet? Was it more hungry than afraid? Was it used to people? Or did I , dressed in dark trousers and a bright green puffer jacket, look like a tree?!! I wandered on by and it moved up into the rise beside the trail.
Pretty soon I entered Apple Tree Bay. There were a number of boats and kayaks preparing to launch. These folks understood how magical a winter morning could be. I used the facilities but didn’t linger. There were two ways to walk to Bobbin head, one along a road and the other a mix of road walk and steep trail. I decided on the road walk as it was basically flat. It would be a bit sketchier when busy but for now it was fine.
At bobbin head I had a choice to walk the Gibberagong track or the warimoo track first. My decision was based on coffee. None of the coffee shops were open but the empire bay marina had an excellent coffee shop that would be open by the time returned, and the warimoo track passed right by it. So, Gibberagong track first!
I’ve been along the start of this track many times with my kids so I’m delighted to be able to finally include it in my blog. There is a boardwalk that passes through some mangroves and when the tide is low there are often hundreds of baby crabs to be seen scuttling about (I’ve included an old photo from low tide of a crab below). The kids love it. Today though the tide was high and I kept moving.
After winding through the mangroves the walk climbed up some rocky steps and provided some lovely filtered views over the creek. Walking on, I soon passed an aboriginal rock carving and an area where the aboriginal inhabitants had once sharpened their axes.
This would have been a great place to live as an aboriginal before the land was taken from them. Plenty of fish, shellfish, rock overhangs for shelter, brush turkeys and lyrebirds and a huge variety of vegetation. It would have been a lovely life on the face of it.
Further along, the track split. Left would take me to a rainforest remnant and right would carry on along the Gibberagong track. I had never seen the rainforest bit so I decided to scope it out as a place to take the kids next time we were here. It was only a 500m diversion but you really noticed the difference in temperature and vegetation type. The walk ended at a creek with cool moss covered rocks. It was peaceful and had lots of opportunities for exploring to I will definitely haul the kids out here.
I rejoined the Gibberagong track and I have to say that there was so much pretty on this track that it was impossible to photograph it all! I couldn’t capture at all the soaring cliffs that I was walking alongside. I’ll let the images below try to show you at least some of what I experienced. I highly recommend a visit. The temperature fluctuated quite a bit along this track. Where the rocks were shaded and moss covered the temperature dropped to almost freezing (well, you could see my breath and I had to zip up my jacket). Elsewhere in full sun I was considering taking my jacket off. There were quite a lot of people along this track and a couple of groups I expect were training for the Oxfam trailwalker event.
Soon enough I reached an intersection and took the uphill route toward the Sphinx Memorial. The climb out was more of a struggle than it should have been and I was coughing and spluttering like crazy. Yeah I still wasn’t well and the concoction of medicines I took this morning were starting to wear off. Hmm. I tag teamed a couple up the way up. They had stopped for a bite to eat so I stopped and downed my grapes. Pretty soon I was at the top of the climb and there was a short road walk before I arrived at the Sphinx Memorial. It did not disappoint!
The memorial was built by an ex soldier whom was resident at the nearby hospital. Before the war he had been a stonemason but plurasy, senility and turburculosis robbed him of his ability to carry on his previous occupation. As occupational therapy it was suggested that he construct the Sphinx Memorial for his fallen comrades. He worked on it a few hours a day and his health grew weaker. There is a wonderful article here that is well worth a read and it may even leave you a little teary eyed, as it did me.
I sat and ate more fruit and watched as person after person completely ignored the Sphinx and it’s history as they carried on down the track. Not one person stopped to at least wonder at its origin. That made me sad for those people. Even if I were a local I would have still have given it some regard.
I just want to give a shout out here to wildernesswear.com.au whom had provided me with a merino fusion baselayer to try out. I’m actually very happy with it – it kept me dry when it was warm and warm when it was cold. I recommend it highly and I would consider this company when purchasing for myself in the future.
The return journey to Bobbin head was quite quick. It was a quick descent down the Sphinx track to join up to the Warrimoo track. Just a very pretty walk along Cowan Creek. I passed one of the groups of young-uns that had ignored the Sphinx earlier and had took off making quite a ruckus, and found they were out on some sort of photography mission taking pics of the plants along the track. I’d made the mistake of judging folks again.
The awesome thing about this walk is that it ends at empire marina where I not only picked up the coffee I had been craving but grabbed an awesome burger too!
The final part of the walk took me back along the road to apple Tree bay then up to Mount Kuringai station. With more light available I noticed that all the wildflowers were starting to bloom! The Aussie bush is quite subtle when it comes to wildflowers but the more you look the more you see! It will be an awesome year for wildflowers I think and I’ll have to schedule a visit to Muogamurra Reserve which is only open 6 weeks per year to the public and is famous for its wildflowers. This would make a great OneSight walk I think!
Although I was very tired and ended up being quite unwell the next few days I am thrilled that I knocked off 27km of my 100km goal to raise money for OneSight! Please donate, I’d love to see a surge of $1 donations from my readers. Every little bit counts and it is headed somewhere worthwhile. Click here. Thank you in advance!
The Walk notes I used are here, though I added some km’s as I started and ended at Mt Kuringai Station: Bobbin Head loop(WildWalks)
Thank you for reading!