I’m back on the track again, picking up my epic journey around the water. I went to the zoo, walking the 11.7km of coastline between the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Taronga. Along the way, I met some famous artists.
The leafy lower North Shore gazes smugly across the harbour at the city skyline. Most of the shore is lined with apartment blocks, and with a few exceptions the houses are not particularly grand. But the exceptions – Admiralty House, residence of the Australian Governor General Quentin Bryce, and the neighbouring Kirribilli House, the Prime Minister’s Sydney pied-a-terre – outgrand the lot.
I pushed on into Neutral Bay, where I was made to feel more welcome. Nutcote, the former home of Australian artist and children’s author May Gibbs, is open to the public. In the late 1980s a number of us children’s authors were involved in a campaign to save the house and convert it into a centre for children’s literature.
I’m pleased to see that it’s still a successful shrine, run by a dedicated band of volunteers, where a steady stream of visitors comes to pay homage to Ms Gibbs and her work.The stories in her best known book, The Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, seem cloyingly twee by modern children’s literary standards.
However, her cute gumnut babies have become instantly recognisable Australian icons and big bad Banksia Men have terrified several generations of Aussie kids, including me.
For most of my early life I was too scared to open the book.
We walkers should express our gratitude to Mosman Council for keeping a lovely walking path around Cremorne Point open to the public. It’s well-maintained and surfaced, with gardens tended with care by the locals.
Near the Mosman ferry wharf a sign told me I was at the start of the ‘Curlew Camp Artists Walk’. Australian artists including Arthur Streeton, Julian Ashton and Tom Roberts used the foreshore here as a temporary home from the late 1880s until 1912. You can still see what inspired them.
Distance this stage – 11.7km
Distance travelled so far – 147.2km
Distance still to go (officially, though I have my doubts now that I’ve failed to go all the way up the Parramatta and Lane Cove Rivers) – 169.8km.
Coming up next – Taronga to Balmoral Beach.