A Self-Guided Walk in Narrabeen
Narrabeen is far from my home and 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 buses and I watch anxiously out of the window to ensure I don’t miss my stop.
Narrabeen Tram Shed
The bus stops next to the old Narrabeen tram shed which provided shelter to 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 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.
Cyclists and Dog Walkers
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 where, a surprise awaits. Nestled in the damp sea grass are three eggs, one apart from the other two. Nearby, a duck quacks but doesn’t seem concerned by my presence.
Along the track as I pass 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.
Maritime Model Club
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”.
The Path Changes
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.
Close to nature
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.
Signs along the path 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.
Sydney Academy of Sport and Recreation
On the golf course to 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.
The Wakehurst Parkway
My tummy is rumbling, but there is still a way to go. While there are picnic facilities here, 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. Ocean Street is separated from the sand and surf by a row of houses and unit blocks but 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.
The Beach Boys
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 Beach Walk
Zubi, a little coffee shop at the Northern end of Ocean street, is ideal for lunch. My muesli and yoghurt is beautifully presented and fills the spot perfectly.
Walking along the beach (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. When I return, I may stay for a night as there’s plenty to do this side of Sydney.
For a different take on Narrabeen Lagoon: read from another Sydney Blogger (The Travelling Lindfields) about cycling around Narrabeen Lagoon.
Narrabeen, on the northern beaches of Sydney is 23km north east of the Sydney CBD
Plan your trip at transportnsw.info
There are regular toilet and bubbler facilities on the Narrabeen Lagoon loop.
(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):
I grew up at Narrabeen. The path around the lagoon didn’t exist when I was a child but I often return there now to cycle it. There is an extension you can take to Dee Why beach which makes it long enough to be worthwhile on a bike. You mention the wildlife. Together with the ducks (I am pretty sure they are ducks not geese) there are also other animals. We once saw a huge diamond python curled up in the fronds of a palm. He was there for a few weeks according to the locals and had become quite a tourist attraction.
I’m not really scared of snakes, Lyn but am not sure how I’d react to a big diamond python. I love how so many people use the path around the lagoon.
Hi Jo – my parents lived in Narrabeen for 12 years so I knew the track was here. Another incentive to move off Dangar as I love my bike!! It has saved my life!
Call in next time you are in the area! Come and have lunch at Gallipoli. No horrors of war – just people sharing and caring.
Regards from the little old lady from Narrabeena.
P.S. The beautiful diamond python lives under the wooden bridge. I always ring my bell on approach – just to say “Hi”.
Thanks for the inside info on the python. We’ll have to make a lunch date soon.
Hi, Jo, sorry we missed you when you came up – you walked right past our place! That walk is amazing – I do it first thing in the morning whenever I can and Ros cycles around it at least once every day.
Let us know when you are next in the area – or we can arrange a special visit and have lunch at The Dugout, the restaurant in the Village.
Yes. I was sorry to miss you too. But I did enjoy exploring your neck if the woods.Will be in touch.
You must have been exhausted after this day out, Jo! The walk around the lagoon is a commitment but combining it with two long train and bus rides each way makes for a huge day.
Yes Stephanie…it was a big day out. But then who knows when I’ll be back. I do hope it will be sooner Rather than later. Therefore so many great spots to return to.
Jo … your insightful words brought a perfect picture to mind. As a young person I spent much time in the vicinity but havent been for many years. You’ve bought it all back and I look forward to following your footsteps and getting to know this beautiful area of Sydney again. Thank you.
I’m pleased that this has brought back memories for you. I’m sure some gas changed and much is still the same. Jo
I love how you introduce me to so many new places. While on my coastal walk I sighted to lagoon and was going to walk around it as a detour I decided to keep moving along the beach to Collaroy beach where I finished up for that day’s walking. Will return though at some stage to explore this and other places I am by-passing!
Thanks, Albert. The lagoon would have been a rather long detour! You will enjoy it when you get there one day. Joanne