I timed the ferry as it came across Sydney Harbour from Woolwich to collect me at the Greenwich wharf – 113 seconds. Trekking the circuitous overland route between the two points took me over four hours, and it wasn’t all as picturesque as the above photo suggests.
Heritage houses are all very well, but they tend to have been there a long time, since the days when people could buy cheap land along the waterfront and stop the riff-raff from the hoi polloi walking along in front of it.
There was some initial encouragement from knowing that I was on the early stage of the Great North Walk, the hiking route leading from Sydney’s Circular Quay to Newcastle, about 250km to the north.
You’d expect the route setters to pick a scenic path through the Sydney suburbs, and indeed they have.
Hunters Hill is one of the more salubrious areas of the city, with hundreds of sandstone buildings trimmed with wrought iron lacework. From the 1850s this area was known as French Village, since familles with noms like Joubert, Jeanneret and Fesq erected elegant maisons overlooking the harbour.
I paused to read the plaques set in the pavement outside a few houses, then realised that if I stopped for them all it would take the rest of the week to get around to Longueville.
Longueville isn’t French at all. It was given that name by real estate developers who wanted to lift the image of the area at a time when its most salient feature was a soap and candle factory. (Thanks again, Graham Spindler for the information).
I tramped quickly around the enormous grounds of St Ignatius College Riverview, the school that counts Federal Opposition leader Tony Abbott as an old boy, and dropped down the the bushland around Tambourine Bay.
There was only one road I could use in and out of the next point, Northwood, so it was quick in and back to the Lloyd Rees Park on the tip.
Greenwich is rather better served with public bushland, in the form of the Gore Creek Reserve, named after early landowner William Gore. He has quite a story too, according to Mr Spindler…
As Provost Marshall to Governor William Bligh, Gore was arrested, along with the Governor, in the Rum Rebellion of 1808 and spent the subsequent three years on a chain gang.
Reinstated when Governor Macquarie arrived, he received a large land grant at Artarmon in 1813, became a leading citizen and one of the first Directors of the new Bank of NSW in 1817.
However, he was punished for misappropriating court funds in 1819, and then was back in gaol again after shooting and wounding a soldier from the Woodford Bay stockade who was trespassing on his land and stealing grass. He died in 1845, deeply in debt, and his land was subsequently subdivided.
Talk about riches to rags to riches and back to rags again.
Yes, it’s a long way around. A quick look at the map shows it’s shorter by water, though less of an achievement.
This stage: 17.4km
Total travelled to date: 123.2km
Total still to go: 193.7km
Coming up: Greenwich to Milson’s Point.