Muogamarra Nature Reserve in Early Spring

Muogamarra Nature Reserve in Early Spring

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Muogamarra Nature Reserve in Early Spring

For just 6 weekends each year, Muogamarra Nature Reserve opens its gates to allow the public to enjoy a brilliant display of colour when wildflowers come into bloom. This Aboriginal cultural heritage site helps protect the fragile ecosystem of the Hawkesbury Sandstone environment and is situated in the northern edge of Sydney between the suburb of Cowan to the south and the Hawkesbury River to the North, just 30 minutes from Gosford. While there, you can enjoy scenic views of Milson and Spectacle islands, Hawkesbury River, Bar and Berowra Creek.

How to get there

Coming in via the Pacific Highway approximately 3.2 kilometres north of Cowan on the left of the northbound dual carriageway, slow your vehicle down a little or you may miss the sign outside announcing the entrance gate to the reserve. Be prepared for a narrow slow-going 3-kilometre-long gravel road with only a few places here and there to allow traffic past from the opposite direction.

On arrival, volunteers will guide your vehicle to an available car spot just outside the main entrance where an entry fee of $25 per person is taken. There is a small grassy area with picnic tables available at this point, along with ramp access to toilets.

Accessibility

Rob and I enjoyed a wonderful day here on the second weekend of opening in 2019 and decided to walk the Point Loop which is a short, flat 2 kilometre walk from the visitor centre/main entrance. This was an easy ramble for us with only a little bit of navigation over uneven ground and rocks, and gentle ascent to be had when we got to the optional viewpoint off-track overlooking Peats Crater and the Hawkesbury River.

If you are a little unsteady on your feet then you can skip this point and continue on the loop path and, while there is still a few areas to be careful on the trail at that point, I think most people with some mobility issues would manage as would fat wheeled electric wheelchairs with a little assistance. Having not had to use a wheelchair though, it may be better to contact the reserve beforehand to assess whether they think this is viable according to the current conditions or the J D Tipper Loop may be more appropriate.

Choose Your Ramble

There are a few other rambles to be had in the reserve which all start from the main information centre, these being:

  • J D Tipper Loop – A short mostly flat 1-kilometre walk to the lookout named after the founder of Muogamarra Nature Reserve.
  • Lloyd Trig – A generally flat 4-kilometre walk on an old road built by convicts to Lloyd Trig Point, with views overlooking the Hawkesbury River area.
  • Deerubbin Lookover – A 6-kilometre walk with a 110-metre descent and a similar ascent along the old Peats Ferry convict road to a rock shelter which provides amazing views over the Hawkesbury River.
  • Peats Crater – A 10-kilometre walk with a 200-metre descent and matching ascent which follows a convict road to the site of George Peat’s farm at Peats Crater.
  • Bird Gully Swamp – A trail around the edge of a ‘hanging swamp’ containing unique plant habitat. Continue the ramble up to the top of a lovely waterfall and occupation sites of aboriginal Gu-ring-gai people.

What to See

If you choose to join in one of the volunteer guided discovery tours, you will get the chance to see Aboriginal rock engravings and learn about the area’s Aboriginal significance but, if like Rob and I, you choose to go at your own pace, then there is still a lot to take in and learn on your own.

Here are just a few captures of the brilliant displays of colour that greeted us on the day and if you look carefully, a few photographs show how healthy this reserve is with very busy bees enjoying pesticide free native wildflowers such as waratahs, angophoras, old-man banksias, pink boronias and orchids.

We Will Be Back Next Year!

The air was filled with fragrance and birdsong (birdwatchers may glimpse a lyrebird or wedge-tail eagle) and I felt really blessed to be able to enjoy our time. We will be back next year to try out the other trails but will aim to get there much earlier in the day…. If you live with a photographer, you soon learn to take any ramble at a snail’s pace!

Dates for 2019 general visits run from 10th August – 15th September 2019

Cootamundra – It’s Not Just Cricket!

Cootamundra – It’s Not Just Cricket!

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Cootamundra is a picturesque country town in the Riverina, NSW, Australia. Although set within a natural environment and full of country charm, don’t believe that that means its sleepy and boring; there is certainly plenty to do and the locals are brimming full of warmth and friendliness.

Just a scenic road trip from Sydney or Melbourne and only two hours’ drive northwest of Canberra, it’s the perfect base to explore the Riverina. Its name, it is believed, was derived from the Wiradjuri word guudamang for ‘turtle’, as the town is around a low-lying marshland, the perfect turtle habitat.

Visit the Migurra Reserve in Cootamundra in July and August and you will be greeted with a sunny sea of golden yellow blooms of the Cootamundra Wattles which are native to the region. If that doesn’t satisfy your nature loving taste buds, you can enjoy rambling along one of the birdwatching trails and nature walks, visit Gardiner’s Lookout viewing place and picnic area and take the obelisk loop track at Pioneer Park; a beautiful 30 minute walk full of vegetation and, if you are lucky, you may even see some of the other locals; goannas, wombats and wallabys!

This photo of Cootamundra is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Places to Visit in and around Cootamundra

If you’re a cricket fan, then you will be delighted to know that the world’s greatest cricketer was born in Cootamundra in 1908. The cottage where Sir Donald Bradman was born is now a museum containing the batsman’s cricket memorabilia and if you venture to Jubilee Park and take the Captains Walk, you can see 42 bronze sculptures of Australian Test Cricket captains along with Unaarimim, the leading Aboriginal cricketer in the first Australian cricket team tour of England in 1868.


This photo of Cootamundra is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Cootamundra is also the former home of another Test Captain, Bill Murdoch. Entry to the museum is $3.00 for adults and children under 16 are free.

Paying tribute to some of the nation’s finest high-quality award-winning wheat crops, Cootamundra is home to beautiful fibre optic lit Milestones Sculptures which were opened in 1997 by the then Governor General William Deane. The sculptures are made from cast concrete and use patterns that represent wheat stalks cut from compressed fibrous cement and painted in a soft wheat colour. They are based in two locations – Mackay Park at Wallendbeen and in Parker Street.

A traditional agricultural show, the ‘Cootamundra Show’ is held every third weekend of October.

If the Milestones Sculptures have whetted your appetite for more heritage, culture and arts, then you are in for a treat.

Image courtesy of VisitNSW

Cootamundra Heritage Centre

Located in the former Railway Barracks and Rest House which were built in 1927, Cootamundra Heritage Centre houses a permanent collection of objects relating to Cootamundra housed in theme rooms on topics such as the history of the Cootamundra Aboriginal Girls Training Home; Railway Barracks, Horse and Harness; Home and Hearth and displays about Cootamundra’s transport history, the RAAF and aviation. Entry is by gold coin donation.


This photo of Cootamundra is courtesy of TripAdvisor

The Arts Centre

Thoughtfully restored by volunteers over the last 15 years, the old woolstore has been converted into a state-of-the-art facility for art and culture for the whole community to enjoy. The centre attracts artists in residence on a regular basis and offers workshops, performances and activities across many of the arts including music, theatre, sculpture, painting, pottery and stained glass.

Cootamundra Railway Station

Cootamundra Railway Station was first built, as a temporary structure, in 1877 comprising of a station building, goods shed and Station Master’s Residence, built to meet the rail line which had been extended from Harden. It was rebuilt in 1888 in a grand Victorian Italianate style and is still a working station today. It is considered an excellent and unusual example of a first-class station and demonstrates the importance attributed to this location during the late nineteenth century. Railway enthusiasts will also love the displays at the Cootamundra Heritage Centre as mentioned above.

Eating Out & Getting About

You are spoilt for choice in Cootamundra with plenty of tasty bakeries, cafes, coffee roasters, clubs, pubs and restaurants to choose from.

Cootamundra also has access to all the other necessities you may require with supermarkets, banks and chemists and there is a wide range of accommodation options from hotels, motels and inns to Cootamundra Caravan Park or Wallendbeen Park Farm.


This photo of Cootamundra is courtesy of TripAdvisor

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West Head Lookout – Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park

West Head Lookout – Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park

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Lookout Sydney -Breathtaking Scenery & Easy Access

You really can’t go wrong with taking a long meandering drive through Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park to get to the West Head Lookout. With just $12 per car entry, it’s a very affordable day out.  Gates to the park close at specific times depending on the time of the year, so it’s worth factoring that in if you visit late in the day.

It can get quite busy during the summer months but, when we took our trip on a beautiful sunny and warm day in April, we found a parking spot next to the path leading to the sandstone viewing area and there is plenty more parking very closely situated at the Resolute Picnic Area; just take the short Red Hands Track.

West Head Lookout

Drink in a perfectly elevated view of Sydney’s waterways, with 270-degree panoramic views of Pittwater, Broken Bay, Lion Island, Barrenjoey Headland, Palm Bay and the Central Coast.

There is plenty of bench seating available as well as a low stone wall to perch yourself upon as you soak up the views and history of the area.

Lion Island

It’s thought that Lion Island, an 8-hectare nature reserve, was named so because of its resemblance to the Sphinx which guards the Pyramids in Egypt. As there are no feral animals there such as foxes or cats as well as being banned for public access, it’s an important haven for numerous migratory birds and native animals.

Barrenjoey Headland

The Barrenjoey Lighthouse that sits on Barrenjoey Headland is built from headland sandstone and has been in operation since 1881. Views of the Northern Beaches, Central Coast and Broken Bay can be enjoyed from the top of the headland which can be accessed by a convict-built walking trail.

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Enjoy a glimpse of Dawn Over Parramatta River, Sydney shot from Simmons Point

Top 3 Things To See in Sydney on a Day of Rambling

Top 3 Things To See in Sydney on a Day of Rambling

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Glittering Harbour, Pearly Sails, and a Bonza Bondi – Top 3 Things to See in Sydney

What better subject to write about for my first post than my top 3 things to see in Sydney.

I was born on the North Shore of Sydney and, although I have lived for many years in the UK (and picked up a Scottish twang along the way), I will forever call Sydney home.

To me, the natural beauty of the harbour and the wonderful beaches along the shore line can never fade into the background of the man-made landscape that has risen all around them; some structures of which, of course, are iconic landmarks of their own. After all, you would be hard pressed to find someone who couldn’t recognise the majestic sails of the Opera House?

So yes, it’s kinda cliche to start with this but I’m not going to ask for forgiveness because I love my birth city and it’s worth rambling about my top 3 things to see in Sydney.

Opera House

Probably the most photographed site in Sydney, The Opera House began construction in 1959.

It’s worth taking a guided tour: either a one hour tour or a two-hour backstage tour that includes breakfast (starting at 7am)

Opened by the Queen in 1973, the Opera House became an immediate icon for Australia’s new-found cultural independence.

Darling Harbour

The largest of Sydney’s modern developments, Darling Harbour is a tourists collection of shops and restaurants.

Visit the Maritime Museum, Aquarium, Exhibition Centre and Chinese Gardens along the way and this part of the City alone can be a full day out.

In the 1800s, Darling Harbour was known as the “back door” to Sydney, where most trading ships docked.

Bondi Beach

Bondi is undoubtedly the most famous of Sydney’s eastern beaches and is only a short bus or taxi ride from Paddington.

This really is a golden beach and a must-visit in the Summer months. The Bondi Pavilion opens up, selling ice creams and souvenirs.

If swimming in a pool is preferable to tackling the waves, then try out Bondi Icebergs Pool.

If you are in town on a Sunday, the Bondi Markets are worth a visit. Many young designers have been ‘discovered’ while selling their creations here.

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Video Timelapse

Enjoy a glimpse of Dawn Over Parramatta River, Sydney shot from Simmons Point

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