I walked every street in Woy Woy

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Walk #33 - Governor Phillip

(Walked 15th of July 2005)

Halfway through today's walk I was up on the Rip Bridge. I could see rain falling in the distance from there. There was a cold wind blowing up there and my nose was cold.

View From The Rip Bridge Looking North
(Big version)

Great views though. Across the Blackwall foreshore and the northern end of the Peninsula out to West Gosford and Somersby and maybe as far as Mangrove Mountain. (Yep, mangroves don't grow on mountains so your guess is as good as mine.)

View From The Rip Bridge
(Big version)

Looking the other way there was Fishermans Bay close to the other end of the bridge, then Hardys Bay straight ahead and Booker Bay off to the right a bit. Above Hardys was Killcare Heights. Beyond Killcare Heights is Maitland Bay and the Tasman sea but I couldn't actually see that.

Fisherman's Bay From Gov. Phillip Memorial
(Big version)

There was a swathe of dead-leaved trees in the Bouddhi along the top of Killcare Heights. That's where that fire was a few weeks ago. Couldn't see the regeneration from where I was. The gums recover fast. It's true some species will germinate after a good roasting from a bushfire.

Hardy's Bay From Gov. Phillip Memorial cropped
(Big version)

I could see most of the same view from the memorial 25 metres behind me. I'd just been there. It's marked as the "Governor Phillip Memorial" on all my local maps but it's not actually a memorial as far as I could see. It commemorates the first landing by white people on the Central Coast. As far as I'm concerned a memorial is for a dead person rather than an event. There's a square sandstone obelisk with three plaques on it. They read:

Exploration and discovery North Arm of Broken Bay March 3, 1788

We entered a very extensive branch from the ebb tide came out so strong
that the boats could not row against it in the stream
Gov. A. Phillip RN

Monday 3rd At daylight went into the No. branch
We found set out so strong that we could not pull ahead through between two projecting points, on which we landed in a cove adjacent: here we were met by several natives, men & women who all came freely about us
Lieut. Wm. Bradley 1788

"RN" is the Royal Navy. There was only the British navy then, no RAN (Royal Australian Navy). Had a good long look at the tide going under the bridge and I'm thinking the "two projecting points" are the unnamed points connected by the Spit Bridge and the "cove adjacent" is Booker Bay, which is directly below the memorial.

The Supply, the first ship of the First Fleet, arrived at Botany Bay (where Sydney airport is now) on the 18th of January 1788. All the four ships of the first fleet were in Botany Bay by the 26th. (So it's the 26th white Australians celebrate as Australia Day. Aboriginal people celebrate it as Survival Day and more power to them.)

Commemoration Plaque
(Big version)

Between the obelisk and the plinth with the map on it, there was a bit of bare rock. There was a small painted iron marker in to rock. It read "State Survey Mark Do Not Disturb 53643 NSW"

Took a bit of detective work and some undignified scrabbling up hillsides to get to the memorial thingy. Public access is not clearly marked on any of my maps, not even the 2005 one.

I set out from Ettalong. I was there last week and the streets I walked there today were the same mix of forties and seventies with fifties and some from the eighties to now.

Walked a couple of streets named after fish then across the park and along Hood. Hood must be a cold dark street. At eleven in the morning the shadow from the mountain was already on the front fences of the houses. They must have their lights on by lunchtime in winter. Sat there at the end of Hood for a minute looking at the beautiful cream and tawny gold of the cut rock of the underpass and searching the map for access to the memorial.

At the end of Hood there's the overpass of the Rip Bridge ramp. The underpass that goes under the overpass is Booker Bay Road. According to all my maps the Governor Phillip memorial thingy is accessible from Booker Bay Road on the Hood Street side of the ramp underpass. But all I found there was an almost vertical hillside and a private staircase up to someone's backyard. Hmm. On the other side of the underpass there was a street going up onto the hill. This'll be the access, I thought. But no. It was a cul-de-sac. Marked it off and had a chat with a couple of Dear Old Things about the lovely winter sunshine, drought and the fact that we'll all be drinking recycled wee in few years.

When I got to the top of the cul-de-sac I could see the memorial. The cul-de-sac was on the spine of Blackwall Mountain. The Spit Bridge end of the mountain is its tail. The bridge ramp was in a cut through the tip of the tail and across the ramp was the memorial. But I still couldn't see where the bloody access was. The Dear Old Things hadn't known. One of them, the back of whose house looked directly at the memorial said, "What memorial?"

But there was a carpark at the sodding memorial so there had to be a sodding access road somewhere. I studied the map and studied the memorial and studied the map. Bugger it, I said to a magpie, I can scramble up the slope beside the road there and get to the bastard that way. So back down to the underpass, then up a rough slippery track to the bridge ramp, along the edge of the ramp and another undignified scramble up a rough track to the memorial. Eureka!

Of course, as soon as I was up there I could see where the access road was. But hey, I was there at last and a cold wind had sprung up to cool me off from the scrambling. And the views were well worth it. Beautiful little bays, the untouched bush of the Bouddhi National Park from Daleys Point to Killcare Heights. The water blue where the sun was on it and a pleasing green in the shadow of Daleys Point. Booker Bay and Hardys Bay were fringed with private jetties. There was an oyster farm at Rocky Point and another one disappearing round into Rileys Bay.

It wasn't too quiet at the memorial. Behind me the traffic on the ramp and the bridge thrummed like powerlines in the wind. The Spit Bridge is a major thoroughfare for cars and light commercial traffic. But the views were peaceful.

Had a bit of a sitdown and a think about what the place looked like when Governor Phillip rowed into it in 1788. Not too much different from the view from there today. The houses are the big difference of course. Blank them out and the bridge and that's pretty much it.

(Big version)

The sun went behind the clouds again and the warmth from walking started to wear off. Got back on my feet and started off down the acess road. There was a house on it for sale. Lovely house. Soft grey weatherboard, a couple of Federation repro details. Had a look at the For Sale sign. “Deightful…million dollar views…fully fitted granny flat below”.

Had a glance down from the second carport. There was a short wooden staircase down beside the carport and I was expecting it to end at the granny flat. But to my delight it ended at a tiny fenced platform with a sign on it saying “Ensure gate is fully closed”. The platform was the car of a little private funicular. It was just big enough for two very close friends and a small dog. The rail stretched down the hillside at about forty five degrees and must’ve finished on a balcony. Couldn’t see the other end without falling down the hillside. How cool would it be having your own private railway? A little windy in that fenced platform thingy on windy evenings but we all gotta make sacrifices.

Private Mangrove Forest
(Big version)

The access road curved down under the bridge in a horseshoe shape. Under the bridge it was quiet. The thrumming of the traffic was a whisper and a gentle clop as the cars went over the rain drain at the end. The was a short steep slope down to the water. The slope was covered in pine needles and the water lapped quietly. A couple of kids puttered past in a tinny (aluminium dingy) and a duck quacked somewhere nearby. Very soothing.

View From Under The Rip Bridge Looking North
(Big version)

Round the corner was a tiny street only two or three houses long. At the end of it there was public access to the water. A tiny patch of grass, five tea trees and an electrical substation. It was maybe a hundred yards from the bridge. An interesting flag flew from someone’s jetty. Red and white stripes along the bottom, a silhouette of the Opera House and the Southern Cross in the top corner. Under the bridge a kayaker was paddling slowly but hard against the tide. Directly across the water at Daley’s Point was a three storey house. It had big balconies and a wide terrace above its jetty. But no garden. Not even a single pot plant. Boring. But perhaps they’ve got a secret shady conservatory behind one of those big windows.

To the left of Daley’s Point was St. Hubert’s Island with the hills of Saratoga and Davistown, some more distant hills, maybe at Gosford, then the north end of the Peninsula with Spion Kop with the TV repeater on top. Another pleasant view.

I was on the quiet side of the mountain now. Most of the traffic goes round the other side on Memorial Avenue. Wandered along, sussing out the forties houses on the mountain side and the seventies to noughties houses on the water side. On the water side there were a couple of building sites and a fugly seventies house that’s now a bed & breakfast. There’s a few short streets up the mountain side there and one that most of the way up to the lookout but I left them for another day.

Went down a short street on the other side of the road. There was a very pleasant white cottage with an enclosed veranda halfway along it. At the end there was a great find. A small house with shingles on it. You don’t see shingles often. They’re usually only on churches now. These ones were in good nick so they may’ve been replaced some time in the last few decades. Hard to say. The whole house looked in good nick. The sandstone foundation was dark with age, verging on brown but other than that the house looked good.

Not so the yard. First there was the two shipping containers rusting in the forecourt. Then there was the fugly seventies brick boatshed partly obscuring the view, the long grass and weeds and the rusting tractor and bits of crap. Then there was the new wall. Concrete blocks with sandstone faces being built into a retaining wall. Someone was planning to divide the yard into two levels. Good idea. But they might want to clear away all that crap first.

Back up onto the road round the mountain. From Blackwall Point to Blackwall Road it was dark and damp. Even the lantana didn’t do well there. The pole houses on the mountainside got enough light but the backyards opposite were sunless. Some had bamboo and waterlillies but many of the owners had obviously given up gardening. One backyard had a neglected pool in it. Grass growing right up to one end and the water murky green and opaque. No telling what was in there.

From the corner of the mountian I caught the bus home. I was finished for the day but it was a good walk.

Been feeling a bit crook (sick) and tired this last couple of weeks and I tend to hunch over a bit when I'm tired. But I notice walking reminds me to stand up straight and I feel much better after today's nice long walk.

Next walk


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