Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Manly Scenic Walk

We were sitting in the middle of nowhere, tired and getting thirstier with each step. Are we lost? Not really. After 5km of walking, we are at a point when turning back would mean walking the same distance as forging ahead. Unsure of our decision, we had to make one soon - the sun is directly over our heads and my water bottle is nearly empty. I cannot wait to get home.

Sydney is heaven for those who love the great outdoors. Everything is within driving distance - the beach/sea, the mountains, the walking trails, the nature parks etc. Not far from Sydney city is Manly, a suburb known for its walking trails. One of its walking attraction is Manly Scenic Walk. This walk has two routes - Manly to Spit Bridge (10km) and Manly to North Head (9.5km). 

Wanting to take advantage of these perks (being close to nature & Manly) and also to commemorate our one year anniversary, Mr. H suggested we walk this route. "Horror" stories of the walk being 10km long or it will take a reasonably fit person 4 to 4.5 hours to complete or even potential bad weather did not deter him. He was determined to do this.

Being the supportive wife that I am,  I downloaded a map from and studied the route prior to our walk. After some deliberation, we decided to start our journey at Spit Bridge towards Manly and moving on to North Head before heading back to Manly to catch our ride back to the city. This is of course before we knew that we would be walking both routes instead of one. In fact, it is only at point of writing I realised that this walk has two routes for us to choose from. Hahaha.

On Sunday morning, we made our way to Manly. Approximately $8 worth of bus rides later (per person), we arrived at Spit Bridge. Eager to start our walk we referred to the map, saw the words "Walkway Under Bridge" and proceeded to head towards that direction. This led us promptly to Plonk!, a nice little cafe by the bridge. This must have been a sign for us to plonk ourselves there for breakfast, so we did. The prices on the menu is a bit steep for our budget tastes. As the saying goes - Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper. And we did (the queen apparently does not eat). Since it was also the morning of our anniversary, we decided it was alright to splurge.

After our tasty meal (I had sauteed mushroom with bread and goat cheese spread, Mr. H had scrambled eggs and toast), we were ready to go. The waiter, noticing our map commented that the weather was a bit warm for a walk but nevertheless wished us luck.

Sunblock applied, cap on head and sunnies on, we made our way across Spit Bridge to the start of the trail. It was 10:30am. The trail itself is well marked and easy to follow - chances of getting lost is hardly there unless you try really hard. You will also find that this trail is able to cater to various needs for different people - the tourists (like us), health freaks (runners, joggers, walkers etc), families & friends (catch up sessions), pet owners with their pet dogs* and even couples on dates! Having said this, it is not suitable for families with young children or strollers. You will be walking on wooden platforms, sand paths, gravel paths, steps cut out of stones, the beach, pavement and even lanes through the houses in the suburbs.

*some routes are off limits for dogs. Alternative routes are available.

After the first few kilometers, you would have thought you had seen it all and the landscape scenery to be the same throughout the whole walk. Be prepared for pleasant surprises along the way because there will be instances that will prove you wrong such as the rows of yachts docked at the marina or strong waves breaking against the rock wall.

The route has at least 20 points of interest. Out of these, we had to veer off the main path for 2 of them - Aboriginal Engraving Site and Arabanoo Lookout.

Like the name suggests, the Aboriginal Engraving Site has a collection of engraved drawings by the Aboriginal people for viewing. Sadly for me, I was not able to make out most of it except for the fish. This despite having signboards to help me out.

There's a fish in there somewhere. Can you see it?

Can you see the engravings on the stone as per the sign? Neither can I :p

I had a better experience at the Arabanoo Lookout. Thankfully, there were no engravings for me to look out for. Only scenery. To think I nearly gave this a miss due to the confusion I had minutes earlier - I was NOT expecting to be greeted by 2 teams of grown men playing football at the park. Just as I was about to make a u-turn, I spotted the location of the lookout. Phew! However, our arrival kind off ruined a couple's first date (such a nice romantic place to be on a date too). Based on their bits and pieces of conversation though, there will be more dates to come.

There were some parts I was confused but it didn't matter to me. The view alone is enough.

Some of the other attractions are more of historical information like the beach where Prince Alfred was shot and other things. I did not really bother to stop long at these spots and just continued walking. 

Fast forward to the present situation - to turn back or to carry on? According to the map (thankfully we printed one), a few picnic areas would be along the way. This is great news because from previous experiences, we know picnic areas are normally equipped with water for drinking and washing. With renewed vigor, we were back on track. Yippee! The first picnic area seemed forever to appear but we eventually got there. After quenching our thirst and refilling, we continued towards the finishing line. By this time, we had decided to end our walk at Manly Wharf. The second part of the leg (Manly to North Head and back) will have to wait for another day. 

About 1km to go, we found out that Manly is also home to the endangered Little Penguins and it is the only mainland breeding colony in New South Wales. This explains these cute little signs on the pathway. 
We didn't see any penguins :(

Unfortunately, I didn't see any penguins despite going out of my way looking for them :p Finally at the wharf, we made our way home on the next ferry.

Looking back, it was a great day. We not only completed 10km, we did it in 3.5 hours which is 1 hour faster that the estimated time. I am sure we lost some calories while at it too. Hahaha.. No doubt we shall be back for part 2.

This backdrop is one of the many that made the walk memorable.

If you're thinking of going on this walk, here's a few tips that will make the walk easier and comfortable:

  • wear walking/sport shoes or comfortable footwear
  • bring ample of water (recommended 1 liter per person)
  • don't forget to apply sunblock, bring a cap/hat and sunglasses
  • bring along light snacks
  • carry along a raincoat/poncho. Umbrella might not be suitable at certain areas.
  • don't forget your camera.
  • leave only footsteps, take only pictures.

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