By John Jamieson
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away I hiked for days and days in wild mountains in fabulous foreign places. Then I had my wings clipped somewhat with the arrival of my two kids and then the world imploded in a viral induced pandemic! Thus followed a period of imposed ‘quality family time’ with two kids under two and two parents quickly running out of entertainment ideas and patience! If you’ve found yourself in a similar predicament fear not there is light at the end of the tunnel. As covid restrictions start easing there are lots of mini adventures close by to get the whole family outside and hiking again. Here’s a few my little family have tried and tested over the last few weeks. Strap on the offspring, pack the snacks and try out these local tracks with your little ones!
South Head – Hornby Lighthouse Circuit from Watson Bay 3-4km 2hrs Easy
Treat your little treasures to a trip on the ferry from Circular Quay to Watson Bay to start this stunning beach and cliff top wander. From the ferry wharf head along historic Marine Parade with fabulous glimpse of the city skyline. Walking along Cove and then Pacific Street towards Camp Cove gives you ample time for some good old house perving. At Camp Cove you can walk along the beach or take the road alternative along Victoria Street to the delightful Camp Cove Kiosk for a quick caffeine hit and a babyccino for the tot. From here join the South Head Heritage Trail towards Hornby Lighthouse passing Lady Bay Beach and its birthday-suited sun worshippers. The easy loop track takes you around the lighthouse and offers stunning views of North Head and the wider harbour making it a great whale spotting spot in season. Once circumnavigated retrace your steps to the ferry wharf with the added option of going via the Gap if little legs still permit.
Gore Creek Reserve – Lane Cove Bushland Park 3km 1- 1.5 hrs Moderate
Exploring a hidden gem of bushland this trail starts at Wollstonecraft station before zig zagging through the leafy streets of Greenwich west towards Gore Creek Reserve. From here a track follows the creek up through stands of towering tree ferns to Lilly Pilly Waterfall. Once a popular picnic and swimming hole prior to development the falls are still a charming spot for a break. Taking care to cross River Road continue uphill before entering Lane Cove Bushland Park and its delightful pockets of rainforest and abundant fungi. Take the right fork at the track intersection emerging onto Ronald Avenue before cutting through Ronald Park and climbing up to Pacific Highway. From here regular buses run to the city or to North Sydney to catch the train.
Smoothey Park – Gore Cove - Berry Island – Badangi Reserve 4.5km 2hrs – 3hrs Challenging
Starting and ending at Wollstonecraft station this circular walk goes through some of the best pockets of remnant bush in lower north shore. Just metres from suburban streets you could be forgiven thinking you are in the wilds of the Wollemi with a little imagination. Following Berry Creek down towards the harbour the track through Smoothey Park to Gove Cove can be challenging with uneven steps but it eventually brings you out at beautiful section of mangrove forest. At the terminus with Shirley Road turn right down to Berry Island Reserve. Grab a quick spin and swing on the playground and continue on the Berry Island circuit for some awesome harbour side views. Once your young-un is tuckered out head back up hill on Shirley road before taking the first track on the right through Bagangi Reserve. Be sure to keep a lookout for the majestic Powerful Owl as you climb up through the impressive Red Gums. The track terminates at Bridge End Road leaving a 5 min walk via Belmont Avenue back to the train station.