Georges River National Park Walk

Boy, did I luck out today for my walk through the George River National Park – a brilliant sunny winter’s day. Although I have walked the Ridge Track section before (many years ago now) I learned of the latter part of today’s walk when I bumped into another walker on the Yeramba Loop Track a few weeks ago. With other activities are on the back-burner because of the Corona virus it was a good opportunity to go for it.

This walk is part of the longer 15.8 km route from East Hills railway station to Padstow railway station, allowing for recovery after the journey. A detailed description of the route plus maps and transport options is available on the internet.

I confined my shorter trek from the The Shop at Picnic Point to the Elatte Cafe at Padstow Heights making it possible to have a delicious coffee at either end.

The walk can be broken up into a number of different sections.

Yeramba Loop Track

Yeramba Lagoon

Wattle starting to bloom

From The Shop in Picnic Point Road I headed down the nearby Samoa Avenue into the Georges River National Park to pick up the eastern half of the Yeramba Loop Track down to Henry Lawson Drive. This is probably my favourite short walk which goes around the lagoon (see my post of 8 April 2020) and I was delighted to see one of the first wattles coming into bloom.

Ridge Track

Crossing the Drive I headed up to the top of the rocky climb to join the Ridge Track. The track generally follows the Georges River which is way below and peaking through some majestic eucalyptus trees. The track is well formed and appears well used but it can be somewhat difficult in parts getting around and over rocky outcrops and boulders.

Climbing up to the Ridge Track

The Ridge Track ends just inside the entrance to the NP at The River Road intersection. Having walked at a steady pace it had taken me an hour this far.

Henry Lawson Drive

Like some other sections of the longer East Hills-Padstow walk, this section is on road, and unfortunately it is Henry Lawson Drive without a footpath, so care needs to be taken. This section is about 500 metres long including a crossing of Little Salt Pan Creek before again heading into the Park to the river.

Mickeys Point Beach

This section starts with a service trail paralleling the Creek to reach the River at Mickeys Point and the start of the sandy beach which runs some 600 metres to the Alfords Point Bridge. Late on this sunny morning there were only three other sets of footprints along the sand – two human and one dog.

Mickeys Beach

Alfords point Bridge

Padstow Heights

Passing under the bridge a short section passes through the river flats to the track that climbs the fire ravaged Beauty Point Reserve to Playford Road, Dilke Road and the Elatte Cafe. Here I was enjoying my flat white less than two hours after setting out.

Spooning

What did you do during the 2020 Covid-19 lock down, Pa?

Well Dear, as you know many of us had more spare time during our isolation, so it gave us the opportunity to do more of our favourite things and try new activities. For me, I was able to spend time in the work shed and emerged with my first carved wooden spoon.

Starting with a piece of wood (probable white beech) I searched for spoon designs online and watched numerous YouTube demonstrations of carving tools and techniques. In the end I was winging it with a pencilled layout and available implements including a coping saw, an old bench chisel inherited from my carpenter father, an inexpensive carving gouge, a carving knife and various grades of sandpaper.

It proved to be an enjoyable learning experience, appreciating the need to properly sharpen the chisels to ensure clean cuts without tearing the wood, understanding the grain of the timber and exercising patience.

Achieving what appears to be a reasonable aesthetic shape and after removing most of my mistakes with the sandpaper, I am more than happy with my first spoon. Then, with a fine coating of food grade mineral oil, it is ready to use, although I may keep it for posterity.

I am sure this will not be my last spoon, maybe I am hooked already. I guess the next question could be “where is the fork”?

Picnic Point – Yeramba Loop Track Walk

Sometimes a bush walk can be just what a person needs to clear the mind and appreciate the good ole Aussie bush. But getting to the ‘”bush” can be trek in itself.

In you happen to be around the Picnic Point area, I have a walk that you may be interested in. A stroll alongside the calming Georges River, a relatively easy bush track through the Georges River National Park and a delicious coffee at the end. If you are interested, read on.

A good place to start is at The Shop on the corner of Picnic Point Road and Doris Street. Here are the directions for the walk.

Picnic Point Road to Lambeth Reserve

  • From The Shop, proceed down Picnic Point Road to the roundabout and cross Henry Lawson Drive.
  • Turn right along the Drive and enter Lambeth Reserve via a track and stone steps immediately past the last house.

    Arriving at Lambeth Reserve in the afternoon

  • Here you will find playground, exercise and toilet facilities and the start of the Georges River Boardwalk. There is also a carpark here as an alternate start point.

Lambeth Reserve to Carinya Road

  • Initially a boardwalk takes you along the Georges River around a wide sweeping bend.
  • Where the boardwalk ends the path opens up to formed crushed gravel path continuing along the river. This section experienced some damage during he recent Georges River flooding in February but has been restored.
  • This section is very peaceful in the early morning when the river can be like a mirror.

Carinya Road to Fitzpatrick Park

  • Now follow the shady roadway next to the Alan Ashton Foreshore Reserve (named after the former Bankstown City Councillor and MLA for East Hills).

    Carinya Road

  • You will pass the old boat ramp and site of the former boat shed.
  • Houses along this section are also quite susceptible to flooding as the river narrows between the rocky hills either side.
  • Personal history – my grandfather moored a launch at Picnic Point in the 1920s taking the family for Sunday trips up and down the river.

Fitzpatrick Park to Yeramba Lagoon

  • At the end of the roadway is Fitzpatrick Park, a former Council reserve taken over years ago by the State Government as part of the Georges River National Park.
  • There are toilet facilities here also.
  • This reserve is an under-utilised resource these days with limited access. It can be quite damp underfoot in places after rain (and flooding).
  • Following the sea-wall takes you to another wide bend in the river with high rocky face with lively colours in the afternoon sun. It is a popular fishing spot.
  • Take the footbridge over the outlet of Yeramba Lagoon, go to the end of the clearing and cross the busy Henry Lawson Drive to the Lagoon. Be careful.

Yeramba Lagoon

  • You are now in George River National Park, proper.
  • A bit of history – Yeramba Lagoon, as it is today, is a man-made body of water retained by a weir built in conjunction with the extension of Henry Lawson Drive in 1963.
  • The lagoon, known locally as the “duck pond,” has environmental benefits offset partly by the constant need to clear noxious and vigorous exotic weeds that invade to clog the entire surface.
  • Clearing operations are again currently in progress.

Yeramba Loop Track

  • The Yeramba Loop Track is a sign-posted bush track the circles the Lagoon,  We will only be travelling along the eastern side.
  • This is my favourite part of the whole walk though a pleasant bush setting.
  • Once across Henry Lawson Drive bear to the right. The first thirty metres are often unmaintained if lagoon clearing is in progress.
  • The track skirts the lagoon and takes you through some undulating rocky terrain but it is not difficult walking. Although there can be some background noise from Henry Lawson Drive it is peaceful, and more often than not you will have it all to yourself (good for self-isolation).
  • Eventually however you will get back to civilisation at Amberdale Reserve.

Amberdale Avenue

Amberdale Avenue, The Shop and Coffee

  • The track brings you to Amberdale Reserve at the bottom of the cul-de-sacs of Amberdale and Karen Avenues.
  • Taken to left road, Amberdale Avenue, up a short rise to Picnic Point Road near The Shop.
  • The Shop provides good coffee and has  meals at breakfast and lunch. If you are arriving later in the afternoon it will be closed, so morning walks are recommended if you want to have this reward.

    The Shop