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.

 

 

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.

Windsor: Riverwalk

windsor

  • Distance: 2 km/ 2850 steps
  • Time: 25 min
  • Summary: A nice short walk by the Hawkesbury river in the historic town of Windsor. Suitable for wheels.

Park by the Scout Hall in Johnson street.  Walk down to the river and you will see the paved pathway.  Go right and walk through the Howe park reserve until you run out of path.  You are now at the rugby union ground and you could extend the walk by looping around the field.  Walk back the way you came and continue on the path as it meanders along the river.  There is a nice, solidly built look-out but unfortunately the view of the river has now been mostly obscured by trees and foliage.

The path ends at the bridge (by Bridge street!).  Turn around and you can either just walk back the way you came, or, to explore a bit more of Windsor, take the first left up Baker street. This takes you past the Hawkesbury Regional Museum and up to the pedestrian mall on George street with a number of quirky shops and cafes.  Turn right and walk down George street until you get to Johnson street, turn right again, and shortly thereafter you will be back at the Scout Hall.

Windsor is the third-oldest place of British settlement on the Australian continent with settlement at the location first established around 1791. The local tourist office offers a map for a heritage walk for those that are interested in more detailed history of Windsor and its buildings.

Map of Windsor Riverwalk

Lismore: Rocky Creek Dam walks

rocky creek dam_2

  • Distance: ~4km / 5714 steps
  • Time: 1 hour+
  • Summary: A collection of short walks that can be easily combined to experience different aspects of the rain forest reserve and the dam. Great set up with well maintained paths, boardwalks, bridges and signage.  We went in early afternoon and did not see any wildlife but at dusk or dawn you could be lucky and perhaps catch a glimpse of a platypus in the creek! Not suitable for wheels.

The Rocky Creek dam is located about 20km north of Lismore in Far North New South Wales. Follow signs to  the village of Dunoon, past impressive fields and fields of Macadamia trees, and then you will see Rocky Creek dam signposted.  There is ample parking.

There are a number of paths and we combined three of them to make it into about a 4km walk, covering most of the different areas within the reserve.  First we went down the hill towards the dam wall.  This is also a popular wedding spot and being a Saturday afternoon there was in fact a wedding ceremony happening as we walked past! Just before we got onto the dam wall we took a sharp left and walked up some steep steps to a playground and picnic area.

Walk across and to the right and you will see two paths.  We went onto the “platypus walk” to the right which quickly turns into a boardwalk, including a bridge across the creek. Being a bright sunny afternoon we did not see a platypus in the creek but it was covered in beautiful water lilies.  Once the boardwalk ends, the path continues through the forest and it is lovely and shady.  At the end you can either turn right and walk up to a look-out before going back on the dam wall or you can do what we did and walk onto the concrete dam spill way.

Across the spill way another path commences; the Cedar walk, which takes you through the forest and into areas of rainforest regeneration. Check out the Rocky creek dam information sheet at the Rous water reserve web page for more information on the extensive work that has been done within the reserve This walk does not have a bridge so you need to cross the creek by jumping across the rocks.  It is a steady climb back up to the picnic area where you started the platypus walk.

Retrace your steps down the stairs and this time head out on the dam wall.  This is apparently a favourite spot for water dragons and whip snakes to sunbake.  Once you have admired the view and the engineering ingenuity of the wall, head back up the hill to the parking lot.

rocky creek dam_1

Mornington Peninsula: Coppins Track walk

MP_coppins track

  • Distance: 4.5km / 6429 steps
  • Time: 1hour +
  • Summary: A walk on the Mornington peninsula (south of Melbourne) with spectacular coastal scenery and views out to the Bass strait. Not suitable for wheels as it is all on sandy paths along steep cliffs and also a couple of detours down steep steps to the beach.

Park by Sorrento Ocean beach.  The walk is signposted and you have to back-track up the road fro 200m before the actual walk starts.  There are numbered markers along the path and Parks Victoria information Centre has produced an informative leaflet with explanation of sights for each number. The walk meanders along the top of the cliffs with great views out to sea and also down on coves and beaches.  It is easy to imagine the numerous shipwrecks that have occurred along this coastline, as well as the infamous drowning of the Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt in 1967.

St. Paul’s beach is well worth the detour and steep descent down the wooden steps.  There’s an arch at one end and the beach continues on the other side – just be wary of the tide coming in!

MP_st pauls beachFrom St. Paul’s beach to Diamond beach the track goes inland through the bush for a bit and you get fairly close to Sorrento’s housing. We ended the walk at Diamond beach and returned the same way but you can continue along the coastline with a total of 30km of marked coastal track.  The Mornington peninsula has an abundance of other great walks also, as well as being home to the colourful beach huts and a number of great cafes and restaurants, well worth a visit!

mp_beach huts

Hawks Nest: Yacaaba headland walk

Hawks nest beach

  • Distance: 8km / 11,429 steps
  • Time: 2 hrs
  • Summary: A nice coastal walk with both a flat beach section and a fairly steep climb up through the bush at the headland.  Not at all suitable for wheels and the climb requires a certain level of fitness.

Park by the surf club at Bennets beach, Hawks Nest.

Go down to the beach and turn right.  You can see the Yacaaba headland in front of you and it is about 2.5km until you get there.  Fishing seems to be popular at this section of beach and several eagles were spotted circling around, perhaps also looking for fish.

When you get to the headland you’ll head up the sign-posted path.  The ground is uneven and appropriate footwear is required.  The path climbs upwards and winds it way through the bush past some  excellent climbing trees and busy birdlife.  After the roar of the crashing waves on the beach it feels quite peaceful and serene.  After 1 km you will get to a viewpoint which provides excellent overview back across the beach you walked along, as well as the neighbouring Jimmy’s beach.  This is by far the best viewpoint on this walk.

The next 500m section up to the top is very steep and challenging, and when you finally get to the top it is so overgrown that it is hard to really see much of the view!  It is a good extension of the walk from a fitness point of view, but unfortunately not worth the effort for any scenic view….Going down can be quite treacherous, particularly if its a bit wet.

You have to return the way you came, back through the bush and along the beach.  Before you get too far back along the beach it is worth doing a short detour up on the sand dunes where you get a nice view of the Tomaree headland, Shoal bay and Nelson bay.

For more information, please check out the National parks website

yakaaba 2