Hunter Valley Walks: Abernethy & Kitchener

abernethy

  • Distance: 2-7 km
  • Time: 1 hour+
  • Summary: Two interesting walks that take you to abandoned coal mining sites with remaining equipment providing an insight into some of the history of mining in the area. Generally uneven terrain following trails through the bush

Start by driving to Abernethy (near Cessnock) and park at the end of Ferguson street just past the (impressive) Abernethy Hotel which must have been strategically built just there to cater for thirsty miners on their way home from work!

There are no signs for a walk or the abandoned site but just follow the trail that goes straight ahead. Go past the first turn-off to your left but take the second one. This is a trail that may be suitable for a 4 wheel drive but not after wet weather, and it looks to be frequented by trail bikes. Walking downwards you’ll soon spot the tall chimney, but first you will reach the old winding house for the Aberdare South Colliery which was in operation between 1913 and 1927. Half the roof is missing and it has been neglected, but the brickwork is still impressive and you get an impression of previous grandeur. Go to the right and follow a trail around and once it loops back you will get to the site of the old shaft which has been appropriately covered and cemented. Continue on to the chimney which looks to have a few cracks in it and may not be standing for many more years.

Then walk down towards the dam and walk around it with the dam on your left. It is quite idyllic with ducks swimming and lots of birds in the bush. On the other side you need to turn right and then walk back up to the main trail which is the first intersection you walked past on the way in. Turn right again and you’ll be back at the car (this walk is about 2km long)

abernethy with dam

Next, drive down to Kitchener which is sign posted from Ferguson street (left turn) – it is less than 4 km and will take you about 5 minutes. The Poppet head Reserve is fairly obvious with its restored Poppet head (i.e. winding tower above the mine shaft) dominating the park. This belonged to the Aberdare Central Colliery which was in operation between 1914-1961. The poppet head and the surrounding park with facilities were restored by local enthusiasts in the 1990s. With the poppet head at KItchener and the winding house and chimney at Abernethy you get a good feel for how a mine site was set up and operated in the last century. There is an excellent playground and barbecue facilities in the park and extensive coverage of the restoration project is displayed.

kitchener

There are two walking trails at the Poppet head Reserve; a short one (1.5km) around the adjoining dam, again teeming with ducks and birdlife, and a longer one (5km) that goes through the bushland.

Map of Abernethy walk and Map of short Poppet head walk

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Inverell Walks: Goonoowigall Reserve and Riverwalk

Inverell_boulder

  • Distance: 3-6 km / 4300-8600 steps
  • Time:   30 min – 2 hours
  • Summary:  Inverell is a lovely country town in North-western NSW. There is a nice pedestrian pathway along the riverfront which can be combined with town heritage walks. In addition, there are State conservation areas and bushland reserves nearby which offer more rugged bushwalks, one of which is described below.

For the town walk, it is easy to find parking by the Inverell Visitors centre. The pedestrian walk and river is right next to the centre and you can go in either direction and loop back through town or by crossing one of the bridges. The river is apparently home to platypus although they are of course notoriously difficult to spot being nocturnal and shy. The Visitors centre also have maps for both town walks and for bushwalks in the surrounding area.

 Inverell_riverwalk

The Goonoowigall bushland reserve is located only 5 km from Inverell town centre to the south on Tingha road. There is a parking area with picnic tables and maps of the area.

It is fairly hilly country with large granite boulders and ironbark and gum trees. There is abundant wildlife with over 100 species of birds, wallabies and numerous species of reptiles. A large lizard was spotted as well as numerous birds.

The signs from the parking lot relate to the short (2km) Nhunta Karra Kara track but as you start walking to your left you will find the track called Thunderbolt track (4km) – it is worth having a map from the Inverell Vistors centre so you don’t get lost! This track winds its way through the forest and then starts climbing quite steeply up to a look-out with good views back to Inverell.

Inverell_view

As you continue along the top there is a link-track to the Middle Creek walk in the valley below. 150 years ago this valley was mined by Chinese miners and remains of the settlements and mining activity can be seen on this walk. I stayed on the Thunderbolt track but did the short detour to Thunderbolts look-out (200m each way). This takes you to some spectacular balancing boulders and nice views over Middle Creek valley below.

Further down from the hills there is another link-track to the Middle Creek walk and I did go down here to reach “the Slot” (600m each way). The Slot is an area of wide rock slabs that once were the base for a dam. Water flowing here once operated a water –wheel that was used for the mining works and you can see some large iron spikes that held the water-wheel.

Inverell_slot

Back up on the Thunderbolt track it is a fairly flat walk through the bushland back to the parking area.

 

 

Newcastle Walk #5: Ash Island – Scott’s Point

ash island_1

  • Distance: 5.1 km / 7134 steps
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Summary: Explore the Hunter Kooragang wetlands on Ash island! There are multiple walking tracks and a teeming birdlife, as well as an abundance of frogs and butterflies. This walk has essentially no elevation and would be good on a bike also.

This walk starts at the National Park Visitors Centre (Schoolmasters House) on Ash island, part of the Kooragang wetlands. When going on Pacific Highway to Newcastle from Maitland there is a turn off on your left. Go across the bridge and then right at the first intersection onto Schoolhouse road and the turn-off to the old Schoolmasters House is on your right shortly thereafter.

Around the back of the house there is a path that takes you to a boardwalk. Turn right and follow it along the mangroves and above mudflats, with interpretive signs along the way. When you get back to the road, cross over and look for the path through the forest. This meanders through the rainforest before joining up with the gravel road along the waterfront.

Keep walking on the gravel road, past a house and a gate. Eventually you will get to Scott’s point which offers views across the Hunter River to the industrial area on Kooragang island. This is also a favourite spot for fishing.

ash island_2

Keep walking around the point and continue until you get to the Riverside park. Turn right and walk down the gravel road to the main road (Milham road). Turn right again and be careful walking along the side of the road as there is not much room and the few cars that venture out here typically drive quite fast.

You will pass a couple of silos and a parking area from where there is a path through the rain forest, which will take you back to the gravel road towards Scott’s point. This path is not suitable for wheels and tend to be a bit wet after rain periods, but may be worth the effort as it goes across some wetlands often full of birdlife. If you choose to take this path and then work your way back to the Schoolhouse it will add 900m to the walk.

Otherwise, stay on the main road as it turns left, walk past the model aeroplane field, and then the road turns right before you get back to the Schoolhouse parking lot. Please click here for Map of Ash Island – Scott’s point walk

ash island_3

 

 

Maitland walk # 22: Wallalong

phascogale

  • Distance: 4.8 km / 6886 steps
  • Time: ~50 min
  • Summary: Wallalong is a quiet, rural community that is very intent on staying that way. Signs with “Keep Wallalong Rural” are posted everywhere and it certainly feels like you’re a long way away from the city. The walk can be done on wheels but with no footpaths it means walking/cycling etc alongside the road which is narrow at times.

Go to Morpeth, take a left across the river and then right onto Hinton road. Stay on this until after the river crossing, take first left up High Street towards Wallalong. Go left at Morpeth road and park at Bowthorne Reserve.

Walk back on Morpeth road and turn left up High Street. This takes you through the centre of Wallalong. Walk past the first right turn into Rosebank Drive and continue until you reach the second entrance. This is an 80km zone so walk carefully as there is not much room alongside the road, thankfully there is not much traffic. Go right and stay on Rosebank drive as it winds its way around the suburb.

This is a lovely quiet neighbourhood and also home to the Phascogale. The Phascogale is a little-known native animal that belongs to a group of marsupials called the “dasyurids” which also includes better-known species like the Tasmanian devil and the quolls. It is a threatened species and therefore cats are completely prohibited and dogs must be kept under control at all times in this area. The Phascogale is a shy creature and only venture out at night so unfortunately you’re unlikely to see one.

 

When you get back onto High street, turn left and walk back until you see Market street on your right. Walk down here to the T-junction and then left down Scott street. Take the first right down Morpeth View road and look for the path on your right which will take you to the back of the reserve. Walk across and back to your car. Map of Wallalong walk

wallalong

Maitland walk #21: Windella

windella_1

  • Distance: 4.2km / 6043 steps
  • Time: ~ 45 min
  • Summary: A lovely walk around a developing suburb at the outskirts of Maitland. Walk along nice, tree lined streets along some impressive properties, as well as through the more established area facing the airstrip. Start and finish is at a lovely viewpoint above the valley, perfect for a picnic after the walk.

Take New England highway towards Lochinvar, turn right up River road just after the Maitland Aerodrome in Rutherford. Go left at Lerra road and then second left up Malia close and drive to the end of the cul-de-sac where you can park on the grass by the playground at Cecily Reserve.

Walk back up Malia close and down Lerra road. Turn left down River road and then first right down Sandstone drive which is signposted as the entrance to Windella Rise. Stay on this until almost the end where you’ll see a road to your right; Lomandra place and go down here. It seemingly ends in a cul-de-sac but although you cannot drive, you can easily walk through the gate to Beacon Hill road. As you walk along here you get a good view of the airstrip, watch out for skydivers and perhaps some aerial acrobatics!

windella_2

When you get back to River road turn left and take first right up Pennparc drive. There is some building activity here but still a number of vacant lots for sale so this area will change substantially in the next few years Take the first right down Swift crescent and as the road goes uphill, look for a footpath on your right. This will take you back up to the playground at Cecily reserve, allowing for lovely views across to Lochinvar and beyond. Map of Windella walk

windella_3

Canberra walk: Lake Burley Griffin

Canberra 1

  • Distance: 5km / 7143 steps
  • Time 1 hr+
  • Summary: Canberra is a great place to go walking with lots of well-maintained pathways and nice open spaces with good views. This walk is a perfect way to see many of the sights of Canberra and is ideal for wheels.

This walk starts at the public car park for Commonwealth park accessed from Albert street and Birannie drive.  This is near Commonwealth avenue bridge, which connects South Canberra with Capital Hill.

Go down to the path hugging the lake and walk to the left underneath the bridge.  There is a pathway all around the lake which is a total of 28km, however it can be divided into three loops and this walk is the middle or “central” loop.  Initially the path takes you past Commonwealth park and Nerang pool, an aquarium pond full of birdlife and surrounded by lovely flowers and shady trees.

Continue on and you’ll walk past a statue of R G Menzies, the longest serving prime minister of Australia with 18 years in total over two periods.  The stretch of path between Commonwealth Avenue bridge and Kings Avenue bridge is also called the RG Menzies walk and recognizes his role in establishing and developing Canberra as “ a worthy capital of Australia”.

Canberra 2

Just before you reach the bridge by Kings Avenue there’s a monument honouring the merchant navy on your left and then you’ll see a small island on your right.  This is Aspen Island and it is worth a detour.  Walk across the footbridge, named after John Gordon who was appointed the first Canberra carillonist.  The bell tower on the island was a gift to the people of Australia from the Government of the United Kingdom to celebrate 50 years of Federal Government in Canberra and was presented by Queen Elizabeth in 1970. With its 55 bells is it still in use and it is a lovely setting.

Canberra 3

Shortly thereafter you need to get up to the Kings Avenue bridge and walk across.  On the other side you’ll see a path leading off the bridge to your right and then walk towards the lake again. You’ll walk along the back of the National Art Gallery with its sculpture garden, including the Angel of the North statue.  This is a small replica of the giant original placed on a hillside outside Gateshead in Northern England, and this life-sized model was given to the museum by the British Government.

Canberra 4

Continue along the lake past various government buildings, including the High Court of Australia.  When you get to the Commonwealth Avenue bridge, follow the path onto the bridge, cross over to the other side and you’re back where you started.

Newcastle Walk #4: King Edward park

bather's way 1

  • Distance: 5.9km / 8430 steps
  • Time: 70 min
  • Summary: A fairly strenuous walk but with lovely views of Newcastle city and the coastline.  It explores some historical areas of Newcastle and is well worth the effort.  Not suitable for wheels as it involves a few steep pathways with steps.

As for the Newcastle walk #3 around Bar beach and the Hill, this walk starts by the No. 2 sportsground at the National Park sport complex in Smith street, Newcastle CBD.  Ample parking available but payment is required during the day.

Turn right out of the parking lot and go down to Parry street and turn right again walking past the bottom end of the rugby field and sportsground No. 1.  Continue all the way down to the T- junction with Brook street and turn left. Walk past Nesca park on your right and turn up Nesca parade. Take first left onto Kitchener parade and then first right up the steep hill of Anzac parade.  Keep right and walk up High street until you get to Cliff street and you can glimpse the sea in front of you. The cliff across the road by the parking lot appears to be a popular spot for hang-gliding.

Turn left and walk past the Newcastle Marine Rescue Service and you will see remains of the old defensive fort of Shepherd’s Hill.  This is where Newcastle’s coastal defences during World War II were coordinated from and the site is now heritage listed.  The path that goes down the hill from here is part of “Bathers way” and also “the Great Northern Walk”.  Follow the path and admire the views back towards the city and Newcastle beach, as well as out to sea where there are usually large tankers waiting to enter Newcastle port.

garside gardens

The path takes you along King Edward park and once you get down to Shortland esplanade, turn left up the hill. Once you reach the top end of Garside Gardens, follow the path around and then up to the left and cross over Reserve road.  Enter the Obelisk Hill reserve and walk up the steps to the Obelisk.  This marks the site of the first water source for Newcastle and subsequent sources of water supply are also indicated with plaques on the ground. The views from here are spectacular.

Walk down on the other side, turn right down Wolfe street and walk down to Tyrrell street.  Turn left and you will walk past Newcastle East Public school on your right and a Leading Light Tower on your left.  This is one of two towers that were constructed in 1866 to allow safe navigation into what was then quite a treacherous harbour.  Continue down the hill, cross over Darby street and walk down Laman street.  You will pass the Newcastle Art Gallery, numerous churches and the Civic park. When you get to Corlette street, turn left and walk down to Parry street where you will see the rugby fields again. Turn right and walk back to where you parked your car.

obelisk

Map of King Edward Park walk