I walked every street in Woy Woy

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Walk #36 - Dogs, Ducks & A Kick In The Head

(Walked 22nd of July 2005)

Went down to the foreshore today. The long flat grassed foreshore that stretches from the Mountain to Brick Wharf then round the point there and along to the ferry.

Last time I was down there I could see a bushfire on Killcare Heights. No fires today. But plenty of that glorious warm sun again. Lots of people walking their dogs.

Blackwall Foreshore I
(Big version

A crowd of ducks were waiting for the next bucket of bread scraps at some Dear Old Thing's place just back from the foreshore. Her elderly kelpie leaning against the fence with a blissful expression as I scratched it. She told me she feeds about 200 ducks every morning at 7AM. Bet the neighbours love that.

A cat perched on a fence miaowing for attention as I went past. It sniffed my doggy hand cautiously and decided I was good for an ear massage no matter what I smelt like.

Blackwall Foreshore III
(Big version Panorama)

There's a tiny islet of sand opposite the end of Burge Road. When I say tiny I mean maybe 10 metres (32.81 feet) across. Last time I saw it was a couple of years ago. It had a low mangrove bush on it then I think. Today it had a couple of tiny bare trees and a low bush at one end. There seemed to be some grass on it too. I wondered if it'd still be there after some of the big winds we’ve had in the last year or so. But with all that growing on it I think it's here to stay. Fascinating to see it in the early stages of its evolution.

It was of course covered in pelicans. There were also two groups of pelicans nearby in the water. They were milling round in a circle, dipping their beaks into the water. Must've been milling round a school of fish. After about 15 minutes they started to drift off.

A small kid was standing on the rock wall that runs along Blackwall foreshore. She was trickling breadcrumbs down onto the mud in the mangroves for the ducks to eat. There was a few ducks but they buggered off when the cockatoos moved in. They were the white cockatoos with a tinge of pink and no crests. They stalk about on their big feet muttering to each other and picking seeds out of the grass or, in this case, breadcrumbs out of the mud.

It was half tide. The kid was standing at the end of a bunch of mangrove trees. Behind her and me was a small stand of pine trees. No sound from them. The breeze was too weak. In one tree a couple of cockatoos were cooing and billing. With the winter sun so warm lots of birds are displaying mating behaviour. The male was jerking himself about trying to work out how to mount the female. Eventually he raised a foot and accidently kicked her in the head. She squawked and knocked him off the branch and shat on him as he fluttered down and away. It's the other end you want, mate, and few of them regard a kick in the head as foreplay. In my experience anyways.

I enjoyed the view for a few more minutes. To my right was the curve of the foreshore park going to the foot of Blackwall Mountain. The trees along it were a mix of pines and gums and the private jetties were painted white or unpainted wood greyed by the sun. The houses were from the twenties or earlier through to the eighties and one nineties house with a boxy look softened by unpainted wooden slats shading the windows.

One of my favourite houses on the Peninsula was there. A small white wooden house with a closed-in veranda. Maybe from the twenties, maybe earlier. With a big old pine at one corner. Must be heaven to lie in bed in that house listening to the wind rushing and whispering in that pine and the waves lapping against the bank of the river.

At the end of the foreshore was Blackwall Mountain and Spit Bridge off the tail of it going across to Daleys Point. Most of St. Huberts was obscured by the two nameless mangrove islets then Rileys Island was beside and behind them. Rileys is a mangrove island too but bigger and has some tallish pines in the middle of it. Behind Rileys was the hill of Saratoga and behind that the ridge of Koolewong or Tascott. The mangrove trees where the kid had been obscured the rest of the view to my left.

Directly in front of me was a big old mangrove tree. A smaller one beside it had been the victim of a midnight chainsaw raid. It was laying in pieces in the mud, opening up a clearer view for the house immediately behind me.

A few metres to the right a shag was sunning itself on the prow of a small white wooden boat. That was tied up to an unpainted jetty. Past that a fisherman was dozing in a dingy with his line drooping in the water. You can't chuck a rock on the Peninsula without hitting a dozen guys with fishing rods. It's hobby fishing heaven.

A couple of motor boats buzzed past out near the islets and the cockatoos exhausted the supply of breadcrumbs. My bum was getting cold so I went.

Walked a couple more streets. One with the world's most boring set of units across the road from a smart white fifties house with perky blue trim. There was a rather pleasing set of units in the next street. Brand new, built of squarish sandstone-coloured bricks, soft grey roofs and trim. Very nice. There was also a beautiful reno of a twenties or thirties house. (Took a photo. Which you'll get to see next week some time.) There's also a pleasant little white wooden church on Blackwall Road. Very simple. Windows with small panes of coloured glass rather stained glass windows. I've had a gander inside and it's dead boring. Pity. But the outside is everything you could want in a little wooden church.

There's another, even smaller one a few blocks down. No idea what its inside was like. It's an environment centre or something now.

Demographics

Along the foreshores is the biggest shift. Used to be mostly Dear Old Things who'd been here since God knows when and bought land on the foreshore when it cost ten pounds an acre. Now there's a few of those Dear Old Things left, a few of their grandchildren living in the DOT's house while they sell the backyard, and rich bastards living in whacking great houses or flash apartments.

In the side streets there's less change. Another generation of retirees is moving in to replace the Dear Old Things as they drop off their perches. So that's yuppy commuters and soon-to-be DOTs and a few young families. The architecture's changing but that's mostly along the foreshores where it always changes first (see: rich bastards). The architecture in the side streets and along the main roads is turning away from the horrors and excesses of the seventies and eighties and back to the gentler outlines of Federation revival and sympathetic restoration.

Another Dear Old Thing in Kmart when I went to get this week's photos. Poor dear couldn't put the last number of his PIN into the machine. He kept bunging three numbers in then pressing 'OK'. But it was mildly entertaining and distracted the rest of us from the smell of his trousers.

There was a terrible crowd at the photo counter. A tangle of technical incompetents who couldn't get the SIM card or whatever out of their camera and into the printer machine then back out of the machine and back into their camera. But I got my photos and clambered back out over the tangle.

Next walk

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