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

William Ernest Morrison (1884 – 1951)

My grandfather William Ernest (Ernie) Morrison died when I was four years old and I had never met him because he and my grandmother had separated when my father was only twelve years old. Family members have indicated that he was a gentlemanly type who was generally well liked but because of such an early estrangement, little of the real details is known about him and his life. What we do know has been pieced together from oral history of family members and online records as more become available. My most recent discovery was a most exciting one, but before I get to that I will give a broad outline of his history.

William Ernest Morrison

We know he was born on the Isle of Man in 1884 and his father had become a gardener on the large estate of Kentraugh and then at Government House (see my previous post for John Morrison). The 1901 census shows the family living at Kentraugh: John and his wife Margaret (nee Christian) and children John James, William Ernest, Lydia Christian, Edith May and Thomas Henry. Ernie, aged 16 years was shown as also working as a gardener. The next record of Ernie was when he married my grandmother Elizabeth Caroline Marian Thomasina (Briscoe) Ramsden, known as Carrie, in 1912 at Campsie, New South Wales. How and when he arrived in Australia had always been unknown until this latest discovery.

Following the marriage the couple initially lived with Carrie’s widowed mother on her 13 acre farm at East Hill, near Bankstown some 20 kilometres southwest of Sydney. Ernie apparently worked on the property for a while, since his occupation was given as farmer when he married. There, the couple had two children, firstly Lydia Emily Christian and then my father Alfred Ernest, but shortly before his mother-in-law, Elizabeth Briscoe, died in 1917, the extended family had moved into town at Leonard Street, Bankstown. When Alfred was born Ernie was recorded as being a stonemason.

By the early 1920s the family had moved again to a larger house in nearby Restwell Street, called Ellan Vannin but known as “The Ranch”. The large block included a tennis court where family and friends played and socialised. Also in this period Ernie established a fuel and produce business near the railway station in Bankstown with a succession of partners over several years, and there are a number of photographs of him and his delivery wagon. The business wasn’t to last more than a few years however and it has been suggested that Ernie was not a hard enough businessman, but somewhat of a “soft touch” in those difficult post-WW1 times, incurring too many bad debts to sustain the business. Whether this was a contributing factor is not known, but within a few years his marriage had failed and he had left Bankstown.

Produce Store in Bankstown, 1923

Ernie tried to meet and stay in contact with his children but this seems to have been denied by Carrie unbeknown to Lydia and Alfred although one remaining letter makes it clear that he missed his children but did not want to return to Bankstown.

Since that separation little is known of Ernie’s life except he worked at Sydney’s Central railway station as a “grill cook” until heart problems forced him to retire at the age of 61 years. It appears that he lived alone, renting a room in Riley Street, Sydney. in 1951 at the age of 67 his heart problems ended his life. His cremation was apparently attended only by his landlady and a small memorial plaque can be found at the Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park.

Nowadays among the advice given to researchers includes: revisiting sources periodically, and especially online resources which are continually be added to. Also to break through a brick wall in the family tree it can help to “go around the wall” by researching other family members such as siblings. My discovery resulted from following these bits of advice.

By researching his older brother I found a John James Morrison who in 1902 he had enlisted in the Manchester Regiment. His home address was shown and Kentraugh, his next of kin were parents John and Maggie Morrison, and was also his brother “Earnest”. This was definitely our John James. The surprise was that next the Ernie’s name was “Royal Marines”.

The next step was the records from the UK National Archives where I found a page about William Ernest Morrison. He had enlisted in the Royal Marine Light Infantry, Portsmouth Division, in September 1901 only a couple of months after his seventeenth birthday. The records showed that he served seven years on a number of ships. Firstly, there was the HMS Majestic, a battleship stationed mainly in the Mediterranean Sea, next was the sister ship HMS Caesar which was the flagship of the Channel Fleet, and lastly the cruiser HMS Powerful. The most exciting news was that Powerful became the flagship of the Australia Station (prior to the formation of the Royal Australian Navy in 1911), stationed in Sydney.

HMS Powerful (circa 1905)

This reasons for him deciding to stay in Sydney when he was discharged from service  in 1908 will never be known, but he must have seen a future for himself there. His life was not a very happy one, however the fact of his military service and how he came to Australia contributes greatly towards to our knowledge of my grandfather.