Bushwalking Through the Lens: Australian Style.

When you think of bush walking, you immediately think of feet, terrain and perhaps how many kilometres you’ve covered…especially if you’re the pedometer type.

However, isn’t bush walking more about what you see and experience and chance along the way rather than just reaching your destination. That is, if you indeed, had a destination.

We simply had two adults and two kids we’d just picked up from Grandma, a car and the camera. I should also mention that our daughter was wearing these roller shoe things which are sneakers with roller skates in them and from my thinking, ranked alongside high heels in terms of bush walking attire but she proved me wrong.

Who doesn't love to climb a tree?

Who doesn’t love to climb a tree?

With dreadfully cold, stormy and no doubt rainy conditions forecast at least for the next few days, Geoff thought we should make the most of the sunny blue skies and warmth while it lasted and see what we could find.

Even though it’s Winter, spotting some wildflowers came to mind and also taking in some of the scenic coastal views.

In awe of the soaring gum trees.

In awe of the soaring gum trees.

However, even though the kids do Scouts, it’s been awhile since we’ve bush walked and needing an easy trail, we were a bit stumped. I remembered seeing good views and wildflowers over on the road to Patonga. That was our general direction and we pulled over at the water tank on the way with very faded memories of a bush trail.

We were walking in the hills above Pearl Beach on the way to Patonga. We are across the water from Sydney's Palm Beach and about 2 hour's drive North of  the Sydney CBD.

We were walking in the hills above Pearl Beach on the way to Patonga. We are across the water from Sydney’s Palm Beach and about 2 hour’s drive North of the Sydney CBD.

Forgive us Father, we have sinned. It has been at least 11 years since we have done this bush walk and when we see the spectacular views and what we chanced across, it is indeed a sin not to be making the most of the incredibly stunning places right on our doorstep. We don’t have to spend a cent to get there. Well, just the petrol but it’s nothing like an International flight, is it? So easy to hanker after somewhere else and totally miss the treasures parked right under your very own nose.

Geoff

Geoff

Our bush walk begins at a huge old water tower parked on top of Mt Ettalong, about an hour North of Sydney and perched over Pearl Beach. It’s not a long walk and it has a clear designated path, not without it’s hazards and two official lookouts and various meanderings along the way. To be honest, we found it virtually impossible to stick to the trail as we were drawn off-track by wildflowers, views and incredible surprises. No, we didn’t see any kangaroos or koalas but there were other “personalities” to be found.

Wildflower

Wildflower

We’re perched on top of quite a hill and the gum trees with their undulating, twisting branches form a towering canopy overhead and I feel about the size of an ant as my footsteps crunch the leaf-litter underfoot and a musty eucalyptus scent fills the air. We heard the distant crashing of the waves down below and although we can’t see the Rainbow Lorrikeets, we can certainly hear them all the way from Pearl Beach. They’re having a very animated conversation.

What a breathtaking view: Pearl Beach & Lion Island.

What a breathtaking view: Pearl Beach & Lion Island.

We wander off the trail to a cliff lookout and I remember why we haven’t been hear for around 11 years. This is not the sort of place you bring young kids who love to run off and potentially over-explore the view. Too many cliffs, in other words.

Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree. They might look cute and sound hilarious but they have the last laugh once they've snatched the snags off your BBQ!

Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree. They might look cute and sound hilarious but they have the last laugh once they’ve snatched the snags off your BBQ!

Although we thought we might find a few wildflowers and of course the birds, we didn’t have great expectations about seeing anything out of the ordinary. While there are some wild kangaroos or wallabies in the area, you very rarely see them and there aren’t any koalas around as far as I know but after what we saw yesterday, I might have to revise that.

What's that hiding in the undergrowth???

What’s that hiding in the undergrowth???

We found echidnas on our walk. I am 45 years old and I’ve seen a bit of Australia and the Australian bush and I’m pretty sure the only other time I’ve ever seen echidnas was on a trip to Tasmania in 2005. That’s ten years ago.

Mister bravely patting a wild echidna. Watch out for those spines!

Mister bravely patting a wild echidna. Watch out for those spines!

So, you can forgive me for my skepticism when one or both of the kids shots out that they’ve seen an echidna. It’s like saying they’ve found fairies but much to my surprise, they were right. We ended up finding 3-5 echidnas all up. While we did see one scuttling through the bush after the camera battery had gone flat, they’d actually curled up under a bush with their spines sticking out like some wacky spiky plant and we were able to pat them. Wow. Talk about amazing. That sort of experience, being a real live David Attenborough, makes your heart pitter-patter!!

What a pin cushion!!!!!!!!!! OUCH!!

What a pin cushion!!!!!!!!!!
OUCH!!

However, after a whale hoax, I was again sceptical when Mister called out that he’d found a lyrebird. these aren’ exactly rare but I’ve never seen one of them before although we have heard one.

“Lyrebird Albert f 20091125 flash” by Peter Ellis – english wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lyrebird_Albert_f_20091125_flash.JPG. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – /File:Lyrebird_Albert_f_20091125_flash.JPG

Wildflower known as “egg & bacon”.

We also had a bit of humour when we found a gumtree “bleeding” thick, red sap. When Geoff was a kid, he covered himself with the red sap and like so many Aussie kids, said he’s “cut himself”…a great prank!

Bleeding bark on a gum tree.

Bleeding bark on a gum tree.

Ha! “Bleeding Finger”.

Peering through the bush, we also spotted the home front and it was quite intriguing to see “our beach” from this new and fairly elevated perspective. We have a huge Norfolk Pine tree in our front yard and we did try to pick it out in the distance without success.

Looking towards Umina Beach, NSW.

Looking towards Umina Beach, NSW.

Almost sunset. Time to go home.

Almost sunset. Time to go home.

Can you guess you fancied me for dinner? Found in groaning with terrible tummy ache on the bathroom floor. Thought it needed a bit of a make-over for publication!

Can you guess you fancied me for dinner? Found it groaning with terrible tummy ache on the bathroom floor. Thought it needed a bit of a make-over for publication!

So, after stumbling upon so much beauty, the four explorers headed home determine to undertake further journeys to see what other surprises are right on our doorstep.

Have you explored your local area? What have been some of your favourite finds and please share a post or two about your adventures!
xx Rowena

29 thoughts on “Bushwalking Through the Lens: Australian Style.

  1. Deborah the Closet Monster

    With my two boys being fairly young still, we keep to the milder ones. We like going to one coastal and one slightly more inland flat areas when the exploring bug hits us. We’ll definitely expand that as the boys grow!

    Your bushwalk sounds/looks lovely. 🙂

  2. merrildsmith

    It looks like you had an incredible hike–wonderful photos. (I was wondering why you mentioned bushwalking in a comment to me. ) So many of the things you mention are unique to Australia. It’s fascinating. 🙂

    We haven’t done this type of hiking. My husband and I have been doing urban walking instead. Yesterday we went to “Bastille Day” event at Eastern State Penitentiary (an old prison in Philadelphia that is now a museum). I wrote about it last year. It’s totally silly with singing, dancing, jokes about local events, and “Marie Antoinette throwing TastyKakes at the “mob.”

  3. vanbytheriver

    Lovely post. But I have to stop speed- reading. I saw that you found echidnas, and read it at first as “enchiladas” on the trail. It caused me to slow down ! ☺

  4. Barbara In Caneyhead

    I’ve always been in favor of doing local activities as opposed to venturing far from home. Sounds like a great family outing! Your echidna reminds me very much of our porcupine. Though in reality they only have the spines in common. I adore the little eggs & bacon flowers!

  5. New Journey

    What a lovely walk….we live only 15 miles from the coast….I put a picture on my post yesterday of Bodega Bay, we went out and had a nice lunch…beaches packed with surfers and loads of children running in the waves…we also live very close to the redwoods another on of my favorite weekend drives…I agree there are so many beautiful places in all our own back yards…thanks for sharing it….I am not sure if you do Facebook but I have lots of pictures on my home page of a lot of our trips…Kathy Gent Meyer….be happy to share them with you…keep posting pictures, love your pictures….and really love the gum trees….kat

  6. TanGental

    Those are fab photos. We managed t see an echidna on Kangaroo Island when we were there. Boy were the kids excited. We didn’t realise then quite how lucky we had been until later.

  7. Minuscule Moments

    After all the bush walks we did living on the Central Coast and we did many Rowena i only had the pleasure of meeting an Echidna when we moved down south. They walk across the front yard like they own the joint. But like you on our first encounter we were in awe. I still get a kick out of seeing them. The lyre bird is a gem to spot, they are so shy that I have never been able to catch one on my camera but consider it a special gift if I see one. You have inspired me to get the kids out and go on a walk when this bad weather is over, there is a national park near by that apparently the blue wrens sit and eat your picnic with you, my kind of heaven. Where you live there are so many wonderful walks and my second date with Pete (hubs) we did a national park walk which ended at a small beach. We witnessed an eagle swooping down to the water and scooping up a large fish, never forget moments like these. Beautiful post, we will be enjoying the last day of the holidays indoors until this weather passes.

  8. roweeee Post author

    Kath, I loved your reply. Just beautiful.
    A friend of our works at the Reptile Park and apparently when it hits mating season, all the male echidna’s head out in a great long line nose to tail looking for a female and then she gets to choose. Have you ever seen or heard of that before? Will have to do a Google search and will let you know if I find anything.
    I love the sound of your park with the blue wrens. They are so pretty. Well, at least the boys are and I just soak up those close encounters with nature. I went to Monkey Mia many years ago and had hoped to swim with the dolphins but unexpectedly ended up swimming with a big turtle and it felt like we were in our own universe. Sounds like your experience with the eagle. How amazing to have that happen on a second date. I don’t know whether you considered it a good omen at the time but in retrospect it takes on that significance.
    The sun is back out here again today and it’s not so chilly. Ettalong Beach has had really severe erosion and they’ve closed The Esplanade around the point and they’ve had work crews on the beach and huge dozers trying to stabilise the dunes. The road is looking rather threatened! xx Rowena

  9. roweeee Post author

    You did well seeing an echidna on a holiday trip. I’m sure most Australians never seen one in a lifetime. As you know, though, Kangaroo Island is a pretty magical place. I loved going spotting fairy penguins at night. xx Rowena

  10. roweeee Post author

    IT is a beautiful place with fabulous food. If you get there, I’ll put you onto the inimitable Trevor, Geoff’s cousin. He’ll give you a local tour with a difference. They used to be on a farm and his daughter took me down a very steep hill in the ute and there were no car doors. They make them tough down there. By the way, I still remember the scallop mornay pie I had there. Scrumptious.
    Don’t know if you watch Escape to The Country but they went to Cornwall last night and I found myself staying up way too late dazzled by the incredible architecture.

  11. roweeee Post author

    How funny. The spell checker also thought an echidna was an enchilada, which is quite comic given they’re so different and from opposite sides of the globe.

  12. roweeee Post author

    That sounds fabulous. I was in Paris for Bastille Day back in 1992, which was a much anticipated experience but turned out a bit mixed with so much noise around what with low flying military aircraft etc. Do remember seeing the Eiffel Tower lit up and I photographed the tricoleur under the Arc de Triomphe. Sounds fabulously exciting in retrospect!

  13. TanGental

    Beautiful county with a unique culture and topography. People are a bit touched mind you! And thanks for the tour guide promise.

  14. Pingback: National Tree Planting Day: Meeting Taronga’s Zoomobile! | beyondtheflow

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