Manly to North Head Sanctuary: A Bloody Long Training Walk

Such an awesome day! As regular readers will know I have recently signed up to do the Bloody Long Walk, a 35km fundraising walk, with my brother, sister, niece and a friend of the family. Today was our first training walk!

As the event walk ends at Manly we decided to walk from Manly to the North Head Sanctuary and back, over ground we wouldn’t cover on the day.

I met my sister, Chelle, and her friend Tess at Manly wharf and after a much needed morning coffee we headed out.

Manly ferry
Manly street art

Rain had been forecast but it seemed to be holding out at sea quite nicely.

After a short walk through the streets we descended using a short track down to a little beach. I had spotted a small waterfall at one end but the ladies didn’t see it until we were right on top of it. I didn’t say it would be Niagra falls!

Waterfall

As we climbed back out we crossed over the little creek that formed the waterfall. We then passed through an old military barracks. There was a lot of military buildings and the remains of installations on the headland and we stopped to read some of the interpretive signage but for the most part kept pushing on. We walked through an area of ferns and thick bushes until we reached our first lookout. The view was amazing! We could see across to south head and all the way back to the city.

Barracks

First lookout

We passed the old quarantine station which had tended to sick new arrivals in Sydney’s early history, but a proper visit was out of the question. There’s a lot of history on this headland and it’s hard to do it justice in a quick walk. The station needs a dedicated visit. That said, a little further along we stumbled across an old cemetery. Well at first we thought it was another lookout with an interesting marker but the signage said that it was an archeological site and was actually one of the quarantine stations graveyards. There were efforts underway to identify the remains and there were over 200 people buried in this spot alone. A gentleman whom had been taking in the view with a cup of coffee, began speaking to us about the cemetery. It turned out that he was a volunteer at the quarantine station and was visiting the graves on his break. He told us a story of how a nurse tended to a young soldier who had returned from the war. He died and unfortunately she also fell ill. She begged for last rites to be performed but it was not possible since the area was under quarantine and no one was allowed in or out so no one could perform the ritual. She died, and was buried next the the soldier. To this day she has fresh flowers on her grave and someone as wonderful as the volunteer to care enough to tell her story.

Cemetery

I really had to pay close attention to the map as there were a lot of little pathways that led elsewhere but I steered us toward a memorial walkway which featured the names of those who had served in the various wars, written on each brick. It was comfy walking and my sister said she wished there was more path like this. I pointed out that we want it to be shorter as it was paved in the dead! It became apparent around this time that Tess had forgotten to bring water so rather than add her name to the walkway I offered her my emergency apple (I always carry one!) to get her through.

The next lookout was as spectacular as the first and we passed many rocky cliffs with views out to sea. There was a light smattering of rain but that’s all we had for the entire walk.

We looped back through the old barracks and headed down a trail that took us to an amazing swamp filled with croaking frogs. I couldn’t actually see the frogs but could definitely hear them. It was amazing to find the swamp here – you don’t think of swamps when you think of visiting Sydney!

As we carried on along the track and began descending, the track became much rougher. Tess’s ankle began to make itself known and my sisters back squeaked a few times. So I think training walks on rough terrain should be avoided so my home area of Berowra won’t do. It we stick to the coast or riverside then we should have similar terrain to what we will get on the event day. No point in injuring ourselves on terrain that we won’t experience on the day.

There was a large pool that looked quite inviting, but we just powered on past it as we were eager to get to the end of the walk. We descended to Shelly beach and grabbed some water then pushed through to our finish line at Manly Beach.

After a team hug we sat down for some fish and chips and a beer, with some rather tired, glazed over looks on our faces! We then headed back to the wharf for the ferry ride to the city.

It was a really enjoyable walk and great to be walking with other people for a change!

Our next training walk will hopefully have the full team on board and we have planned some interesting routes.

As you know we are walking for charity and your donation is very much appreciated.

Thanks for reading.

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