I feared this longish section of my trek around Sydney Harbour could be relatively dull. All those burbs, and limited public access to the water’s edge. Best to get it over and done with asap. Take the bike and my friend Luke for company.
First may I remind those who think cycling on this trip is cheating, that Luke and I had to ride the bikes to the start of the stage, thus adding a few kilometres to the journey, with consequent burning of calories.
We began at Birkenhead Point, until recently not an attractive part of town. In 1844 it was a salting and boiling down works. From 1900 to 1977 it was a rubber tyre factory, then the old building was imaginatively converted to a shopping precinct.
I should pause here to acknowledge the source of this interesting information. Thanks, Graham Spindler ‘walking volunteer’ for the excellent website www.walkingcoastalsydney.com.au.
Now apartments have taken over Birkenhead Point and most shops are factory outlet stores. I’m very happy with one of them in particular. My favourite outdoor store Kathmandu has a large discount centre here.
From Birkenhead we rode around the suburban streets of Drummoyne where much of the waterfront is unfortunately restricted by private property, and under the elegant Gladesville Bridge.
We could have ridden across – the bridge has cycling and walking paths on both sides, but I had a mission to travel every available bit of the Harbour. That meant ducking into Hen and Chicken Bay and Canada Bay.
We were forced to make our way inland for some distance here, before we emerged at the extraordinary Cabarita. All white and gleaming, new and perfect like the houses in The Truman Show. The bike path is perfect too, however, so what are we whingeing about?
Approaching Concord Hospital, the scenery suddenly changed. There were horses in paddocks, and the very attractive buildings of Dame Edith Walker Hospital. Hard to believe we were still only a few kilometres from the centre of town.
There’d been a sad absence of cafés around the Cabarita waterfront, so in desperation we ducked into Concord Hospital itself for a life-restoring cappuccino in Medicos Café.
With the pulse rate quickened we were ready to tackle the Kokoda Track. There it was, in replica, outside Rhodes Station.
The legendary World War 2 campaign is well known to Australians. In 1942-43 Australian and American forces, helped by the ‘fuzzy wuzzy angels’ (local New Guineans) retreated across Papua-New Guinea’s Owen Stanley Range, fighting a bitter battle in appalling conditions, slowing and eventually halting the advance of the Japanese Imperial Army towards Australia.
The Kokoda Track Memorial celebrates the battle with an 800 metre walkway and interpretive photos and commentary. It’s worth a separate post on its own, and I’ll give it one soon.
Humbled by the diggers’ example, our own day’s achievement put into perspective, we rolled the bikes into the lift to the Rhodes Station concourse, and took the train home.
Distance this stage: 27.8km
Distance travelled to date: 89.7km
Distance still to go: 227.3km
Coming up next: The road to Gladesville and Hunters Hill.