Suspension Bridge at Northbridge

Northbridge: A Pleasant and Interesting Sydney Walk

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A Self-Guided Walk in Northbridge

Download the Walking Map and Notes

My answer “Northbridge” to a friend’s question about where my walk will take me today brings a smile and the reply “Hilly!” As the bus descends steeply towards the bridge where my walk begins, I realise that my friend is right.

The Northbridge Bridge

The name “Bridge” painted on the timber bus stop refers to the suspension bridge around the corner.  Officially called “Long Gully Bridge”, this bridge has carried traffic into Northbridge from Cammeray since 1892. Privately built as a steel suspension bridge with sandstone turrets and timber decking, a concrete arch replaced the corroded suspension system in 1939.

Walking across Long Gully Bridge

Walking across the bridge

War Memorial Clock Northbridge

A simple Memorial

Crossing the bridge to the monotonous drone of cars streaming across the bridge in both directions, I observe the now sealed holes where the suspension cables passed through the sandstone towers.

The Gully

I stop and stand on tip toes to peer over the sandstone wall at the gully below. There’s a long drop down to the sandy coloured path running parallel to a broad stream.

On the 22nd of June 1923, the Sydney Morning Herald reported the discovery of the body of a schoolboy (16yrs) in the water underneath the suspension bridge. The report mentions that the drop is “about 150 feet”.

Wide views stretch across the bush below to Artarmon and Chatswood in the distance.

Chevron Window Feature

Chevron Feature

Brick Design

Noticing the Details

Across the bridge, a simple clock adorns a sandstone War Memorial. Originally dedicated in 1948 to those who died in WWII, a more recent plaque dated 2015 pays tribute to the men and women of Northbridge who contributed to war efforts at home and overseas.

Walking through Suburban Northbridge

Now the steep ascent starts towards Sailors Bay Road. The pavement peters out. With no particularly safe place to cross, I wait for a break in the traffic and cross at a run. Do people not walk in this suburb?

Multi-level houses hug the hillside on my left. Extensive views across the bush compensate for their location on a busy road. Closer to the shopping village, locally quarried sandstone walls and foundations feature on older homes.

Sailors Bay Road

Junk piled up on the sidewalk awaits an upcoming hard rubbish collection. I watch a woman inspect an old style wooden framed chair. She moves on to the next pile, perhaps making a mental note to return with her car.

Art Deco in Northbridge

Art Deco In Northbridge

Tudor Home in Northbridge

Tudor Detail

On Sailors Bay Road, cafés with pavement seating, a local bakery, a vet and a couple of real estate offices make up some of the shops lining Sailors Bay Road.

Houses here range widely in architectural style and age. A small brick art deco block of flats stands alongside a more modern apartment block. An early Edwardian home hides behind a tall hedge while a beautifully maintained Tudor-style house is similarly obscured.

Northbridge Heritage

A sandstone wall and entrance distinguish ‘Clavering’ from its neighbours. This Californian bungalow, owned by the Uniting Church since 1984, served as a kindergarten and school in the 1930s and 1940s.

Heritage home in Northbridge

Clavering

A semi in Northbridge

Some smaller Semis remain

The gate bearing the original name of the school (St Cairan’s), at St Philip Neri Church and Primary School has been removed. Perhaps, like the suspension bridge, it became corroded.

Six small blocks of flats, perhaps the first in Northbridge, share similar characteristics. Five of the six have decorative leadlight windows. Painted white, four have blue detailing while the last two have olive green shingle patterning above the windows.

Group of Heritage shops in Northbridge

A row of arches

Heritage Flats in Northbridge

Leadlight Windows Remain

Arches above a strip of shops characterise this as early 20th Century Commercial Architecture. Only the tile shop still has an original leadlight window. The first shop in Northbridge, a general store and real estate agency stood here on the corner of Woonoona Road.

Early Leadlight Window Feature

Leadlight Detail

Once a school

Old School House

Northbridge Golf Club

From Northbridge Park, I look through the smoky haze to Cremorne and Cammeray. Closer in, golfers sporting matching blue shirts walk past sand bunkers to a putting green. Further on another group, this time wearing purple, tee off.  And some say golf is a dying sport?

I wonder how many Northbridge residents know that from the 1960s until the late 1970s, there was a vineyard along the perimeter of the Northbridge Golf Course. The first vintage was bottled in 1978.

Golf Day in Northbridge

The Purple Team.

Sea Scout hall in Northbridge

Outdoor Seating

Aboriginal Heritage in Northbridge

A large flat rocky expanse reminds me of similar rock formations I’ve seen with Aboriginal carvings etched into their surface. As happened elsewhere in Sydney, the original inhabitants – the Cameraygal Clan, didn’t survive disease and displacement and no longer lived in this area after the 1850s.

Aboriginal Street Names

Northbridge has more Aboriginal street names than any other Sydney suburb. Apparently, Allen Taylor (after whom Taylor Square in Darlinghurst was named) decided on the street names, choosing relatively easily pronounceable words not necessarily related to Northbridge at all.

Today I’ve walked past Namoi (an Aboriginal word for breast or a species of acacia), Narooma (meaning sacred doctor stone or a magic stone), Neeworra (meaning star), Minimbah (from the Aboriginal minim – teacher or elder and bah – place) and Coorabin (curlew, barking lizard or spring constantly running).

Bike Skills Park Northbridge

Fun for Teenagers

Bond's Corner

A Cafe and Wine Shop

The Northbridge Bike Skills Park, alongside the War Memorial Reserve is a surprise. Instead of a bitumen surface with mini roads and traffic signs, it’s a dirt track with mounds and sharp turns. Young teenagers would have a lot of fun on their bikes here.

On to Clive Park

After passing Bond’s Corner (named after a real estate agent who commissioned the building in the early 1920s) I make my way past architect designed homes towards Clive Park. Relatively flat until now, Sailors Bay Road descends sharply.

Entering Clive Park via a bush track, I disturb a Brush Turkey scratching amongst fallen leaf litter. A Council Worker cleaning the BBQs in the picnic area grumbles “I got the BBQs this week. They’re not pretty”.

Picnic Table in Clive Park

Bright spot in Clive Park

Clive Park Tidal Pool

The Tidal Pool

Here too, as I walk through bush and rocky outcrops towards the tidal pool, I feel a strong presence of the Cameraygal people. It is quiet and peaceful with the water lapping the shore at the tidal pool.

A woman, having finished her yoga class in the yacht clubhouse smiles in greeting. She agrees with me that “it’s the best place for yoga” with floor to ceiling windows looking out on the bay. She adds “if you’re ever here on a Tuesday or Thurs morning” ….

Leaving Clive Park now, the burnt bush, (from earlier backburning) and smoky air, are a sober reminder of the fires currently raging across New South Wales and Queensland.

Grand Designs

Former Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, lived in this street and Harry Seidler designed two houses here. These multi-level houses, some with inclinators and indoor lifts have spectacular views of Sailors Bay.

House in Northbridge

Curved Features

Greek decor

Bougainvillea

It feels like I’m taking myself on a personal tour of homes that could easily feature in the show “Grand Designs”.  And I’ve seen more than a few high-end cars like Range Rovers, Mercedes Benz’ and even a Porsche and a Jaguar.

A builder rummages in the back of his ute, one of many tradie vehicles parked nose to tail in the street. The local resident leaving his garage tells me “It’s always like this. There’s always work going on”.

Northbridge Baths

Perhaps the smoke has kept people away from Northbridge Baths today. One or two sunbake on the decking surrounding the pool. Another swims laps. A regular visitor to the baths climbs out of the pool and stops to chat.

She recently saw an echidna near the road.  Behind her, a fish surprises me by jumping out of the water and landing with a splash. I don’t see an echidna, but I do see a water dragon nearly get squashed as it crosses the road.

Northbridge Baths

Northbridge Baths

Sailors Bay

The Outlook

Market Gardens

After an uneventful walk past the old bowling club and Warners Park, I climb the steep path to an area with an interesting history. Harden Avenue was once the site of a number of Market Gardens growing fruit and vegetables as well as flowers.

It is lunch time now, and workers enjoy their lunch break in King Park whose name honours market gardeners, brothers Bill, Norm and Noel King and notes the importance of market gardening in Northbridge in the 1930s and 1940s.

Eric Street Northbridge

The Sign Remains

Bowling Green

So Dry

After a quick walk through Northbridge Plaza and on to Eastern Valley Way (originally called Eric Street) I end up eating a pleasant lunch in the courtyard out the back of The Local before catching a bus to the station.

Thoughts on Northbridge

I so enjoyed today’s walk through Northbridge. Yes, at times it was hilly and I puffed up bit up some of the hills but walking across the suspension bridge for the first time and discovering a mix of heritage and new architecture and harbour pools made for a really pleasant day.

Enjoyed discovering the history, homes and views of Northbridge? Then you are sure to enjoy nearby Castlecrag and Hunters Hill
Next Stop: Kogarah

Useful information:

Northbridge is 7 kilometres north west of the Sydney CBD

Plan your trip at transportnsw.info.

My walk mostly followed the two historic walking routes (Routes 1&2) in the brochure produced by the Northbridge Progress Association. The comprehensive notes are slightly out of date (no gate to be found at St Philip Neri Church). The brochure also shows three bush tracks which did not make it into this walk.

Other places of interest not mentioned in my walk include:

• Fig Tree Point Fig Tree Point, (there was a home Hermitage with a zoo)
• Tunks Park (Brothers Avenue): barbecues, playing fields, boat ramp, gym equipment, playground, bush tracks, extensive parking.
• The Knoll (see number 37 on the Progress Association Map)

Walking Map and Notes

I used this map to plan my walk through Northbridge. You can download it here. Use the map together with these Day Notes. Please note that the time indicated on my map doesn’t allow for stopping and looking around.

Walking Map of Northbridge

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Comments

  1. The bridge is impressive and looks like the entrance to a castle. Lots of interesting architectural styles in Northbridge and I like that the intertwining streets have Aboriginal names. Thanks for an interesting post Jo.

    1. Author

      Thanks Bernadette. The bridge always fascinated me. Now I know more. And learning about the street Aboriginal names is another interesting find.

  2. You mentioned bob Hawkes place. You also would have wLked past Gladys house on harden avenue, she often does interviews in kings park around 7am

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