Narrabeen is far from my home. It will take me 2 hours, 2 trains and 2 buses to reach the beachside suburb for today’s exploratory walk. I am comfortable catching trains, less so when it comes to busses and I watch anxiously out of the window to ensure I don’t miss my stop.
The bus stops next to the old Narrabeen tram shed which protected tram commuters from 1903 to 1939. This is when the tramway system between Narrabeen and Manly ceased operation. Today it serves as a bus shelter and there’s a coffee kiosk on one side.
Building work associated with the soon to be B-line bus service is well underway with much of the area behind the tram shed is fenced off. Walking between the fencing, a picturesque sight of the lagoon greets me. Large ducks (or are they geese?) waddle towards me, obviously used to people feeding them.
I am looking forward to a decent walk of about 8km around the lagoon. With me are dog walkers (on leads as is required in this environmentally sensitive area) mums with prams and cyclists, all enjoying a beautiful day. People relax on park benches while two paddle boarders dig deep to propel themselves across the calm water.
There is the fresh aroma of salt air. Two men wash down their kayak outside the Manly Warringah Kayak club. The houses on my left give way to low rise unit blocks. What a lovely place to live, looking out onto the lagoon and peaceful parkland. A photo is required and I walk carefully to the edge of the lagoon. There, a surprise awaits. Nestled in the damp sea grass are three eggs, one apart from the other two. A nearby duck quacks but doesn’t seem concerned by my presence.
The track passes a coffee shop and a place to hire kayaks. A shout waterside attracts my attention. A coach is calling out instructions to her rowing team from a motorised boat. Further on, a heron pokes around in the shallows and a black swan’s long neck curls out of the water where it has been foraging for food. There is an abundance of bird life here.
The path leads to an open area where men sit in a line of camp chairs a little back from the shore. Members of the Maritime Model Club of NSW, they are focussed on their model yachts racing out on the water. Nearby, an older man is preparing to launch his model cargo boat. He tells me that it took him over two years to build the miniature 1936 model designed by Peterson, adding that he much prefers building the boats to sailing them. Then he tests his radio, dons his gumboots and pulls the boat to the water on a little trailer. My attention is drawn back to the other men when one groans and shouts out “Aaaah bugger it. I had a starboard thrown at me”.
I leave the men to their race. The track is no longer bitumen, but a dirt path, and the surroundings are more like a rain forest. Birds rustle in the bushes, and the scent has changed to one of damp earth. Plenty of people use this track. They run, walk or cycle. Some greet me. Others don’t. Testing whether it depends on me making the first move, I try smiling as people pass in the opposite direction. Mostly that gets a response.
The characteristic call of a whip bird pierces the air. A Swedish nanny pushes a little girl in a stroller. We are going in the same direction and she starts chatting. I recognise her need for adult conversation. We pass signs which relate the story of Australia’s military history. Today, enjoying the pleasant peaceful setting, I am disinclined to read about the horror of war. I’ll leave that for another day.
Now, there’s a golf course on my left. A golfer has got himself into a difficult position. His ball is very close to the fence and his club strikes the fence as he tries to get out of trouble. Then there’s a high ropes course (part of the Sydney Academy of Sport and Recreation) and their boatshed. This must be where the rowers in training launch their craft.
My tummy is rumbling, but there is still a way to go. There are picnic facilities here, but the cafés seem to be concentrated where I started my walk – at Berry Reserve. This is definitely not my favourite section of the loop as it’s very close to The Wakehurst Parkway and the noise from the constant stream of traffic interferes with the peaceful nature of the bush and the lagoon. However, spending a few minutes watching black swans feeding in the water and a spoonbill almost frenetically poking around in the shallows distracts me from the traffic.
Back at Berry Reserve, I cross Pittwater road and head for the beach. While Ocean Street is separated from the sand and surf by a row of houses and unit blocks, short cross streets provide entry to the beach. There are a few surfers trying their luck on the northern end, a fisherman and some walkers. A small aircraft is doing acrobatics in the sky, spinning, dropping from a height and flying loops. One fun fact is that Narrabeen beach is mentioned in the Beach Boys song “Surfin’ U.S.A.”. Listen for it next time you hear the song.
A little coffee shop called Zubi, at the Northern end of Ocean street is ideal for lunch. My muesli and yoghurt is beautifully presented and fills the spot perfectly. A beach walk (albeit difficult on the soft sand) back to the bus stop, is a great way to end to my day in Narrabeen. The two hour each way trip to explore the beach side suburb has been well worth it. A lovely walk around Narrabeen Lagoon and a beach walk. I could come here again perhaps for a night as there’s plenty to do this side of Sydney.
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Next stop: Pyrmont
Click here to plan your trip.
Sometimes you have to go. I use any or all of the following: pubs or hotels, train stations (not always open or clean) and I always use the facilities when I have lunch. This map may be of use. There are regular toilet and bubbler facilities on the Narrabeen Lagoon loop. See map.
Click here for a pdf of the Narrabeen Lagoon loop.
And a map to assist you: Note that the walking track takes you along the lagoon shoreline from Pipeclay Point to South Creek Bridge, but Google did not allow me to show this. (If you would like a pdf of the map, email me via the contact page, and I will send one to you).
(NOTE that the time indicated on the map does not allow for any stops. I take an average of 4-5 hours when I explore):