A Self-Guided Walk in Taren Point
On my way to the Sydney suburb of Taren Point, I meet a friend at the station. He tells me that he used to sail south of Sydney near Taren Point at the St George Sailing club. My plan is to check out the sailing club and then to walk across Captain Cook Bridge, around Taren Point and a bit of Sylvania Waters.
Coming from Dangar Island, the northernmost part of Sydney, it will take me two hours to get there. First, I’ll hop on a train to Kogarah, then take the 477 bus down busy Rocky Point Road to the last stop before Captain Cook Bridge (at Fontainebleau Street).
This must be the week for hard rubbish collection. The sidewalk is littered with unwanted goods, including some toys in good condition.
The St George Sailing Club is waking up. Young boys prepare the rigging on their yachts for the Saturday morning regatta.
Captain Cook Bridge
A dual cycle/pedestrian path leads onto the Captain Cook Bridge. The bridge joins Rocky Point Road in San Souci to Taren Point Road in Taren Point. Opened in May 1965, the bridge is made up of seven spans. Three bridges cross the Georges River. Captain Cook Bridge is the easternmost. The others are Tom Uglys Bridge (opened in 1929) and Alfords Point Bridge (opened in1973).
The narrow path is busy with cyclists and I step aside to let them pass. Cars and trucks rumble past causing the bridge to shudder beneath my feet. In the distance planes come in one after the other to land at Sydney Airport. Down below, power boats leave trails in the water and three jet skis meet in a huddle to determine their route for the day.
Taren Point – Dharawal Country
At the end of the bridge, a sign indicates that Taren Point is Dharawal country and part of the Sutherland shire. The cycle path takes me away from busy Taren Point Road onto a suburban street. Here, most of the modern homes are double storey. The gardens are neat and the driveways paved. Only one or two simple single storey homes remain. The Australian flag flies proudly outside a few houses.
Taren Point Shorebird Reserve
It’s low tide at Taren Point Shorebird Reserve. This reserve aims to protect migratory birds such as the Red-necked Stint and Bar-tailed Godwit. The birds arrive in spring and leave again in autumn when they fly thousands of kilometres non-stop to their breeding ground in the northern hemisphere.
On the shoreline, a man pumps for yabbies. The sludge whooshes onto the wet sand. Although he says that he’s not having much luck, he tosses one or two into his bucket to use as bait.
After passing the bird hide, I follow a road with mangroves lining one side and a retirement village the other. At the end of the road is the St George and Sutherland Shire Anglers Club with its clubhouse, boat ramp and area for cleaning fish. There is no-one around today.
Woolooware Bay Shared Pathway
The final link of the Woolooware Bay shared pathway is barricaded off with cyclone fencing. This new path will open soon. I retrace my steps past the well cared for gardens of the Anglicare Retirement Village. A Kookaburra watches me from a balcony railing, while Lorikeets chatter away in a tall flowering white callistemon.
Industrial Area of Taren Point
This is the industrial and commercial area of Taren Point. While most of the buildings are shut for the weekend, there are a few surprises. The doors to a huge warehouse belonging to Visy Recycling are open. Huge jumbles of tied up paper and plastic line one side of the warehouse. I can’t help but think about the recent ABC documentary “The War on Waste” and wonder if this paper and plastic really will be recycled.
There is a fibreglass boat repair shop, and a trailer manufacturer. Berts Soft Drinks is an interesting one. Established in Taren Point in 1968 they are one of the few remaining independent soft drink manufacturers in Sydney.
The mini zoo outside Shire’s Family Removals certainly achieves their goal of gaining attention. Two large plastic but not quite life-size zebras and a giraffe are chained to a fence. Perhaps the movers took ownership when their client no longer had space for them.
Nearby Ace Props and Events also has parked one of their props in their car park. It is a bright red “Noddy” type car.
Three women in uniform walk past with a couple of dogs on leads. A nearby sign points to the Sutherland Shire Animal Shelter. The dogs must be rescue dogs. I hope they find a home soon.
Along Atkinson Road cars jostle for parking outside Shire Foods. This is a wholesale outlet for meat, seafood and party goods. A quick peak in at the door reveals shelves laden with disposable plates and cups and large meat display cabinets.
At the end of the road is the other fenced off end of the Woolooware Bay pathway. I could slip through the fence, but the 24-hour video surveillance sign puts me off.
Apollo Motorhome Holidays is not the caravan park I expected. Rather, it is a campervan hire place. A couple in their newly hired vehicle passes me not once, not twice, but three times, the woman in the passenger seat looking more and more anxious. Finally, they stop to peruse a map on a phone and then drive off. She is biting her nails.
The only way to cross the six lanes of Taren Point Road is at the traffic lights. The Flower Power Nursery with its colourful display of flowers is busy. Next door, a sign points to the Giants Baseball Club. I wonder how many Baseball Clubs there are in Sydney.
At the Taren Point Bowling club, women in brightly coloured sporting attire get their bowls ready for play. Here the sign announces that I am about to enter Sylvania Waters.
Australians will remember the reality TV show, Sylvania Waters, about a family who lived in Macintyre Crescent. Some streets in Sylvania Waters are named after rivers to reflect the proximity the suburb has to water. As I live on the Hawkesbury River, I plan to walk along Hawkesbury Esplanade which is just around the corner.
Several cars wait at a roundabout. An annoyed driver presses his horn impatiently. The line moves slowly forward and the driver lets off a stream of profanities through his open window.
Feeling Out of Place
The streets are empty of people. I am rather out of place, a solo woman walking. Here, people don’t walk.
The houses are large and expensive looking. The gardens are mostly manicured with close cropped lawns. I bend down to check one lawn. As I suspected, it is fake. So is another one nearby.
A woman rummages in the back of her BMW hatchback. She looks at me suspiciously, says something to her partner and then turns to look at me again. I smile and walk on.
Artificial Islands of Sylvania Waters
In order to see the waterways, I turn into Barcoo Island, one of three artificial islands created in Sylvania Waters in 1967. The other islands are Murray, created in 1964, and James Cook created in the 1970’s. More than eight kilometres of retaining wall keep the sea at bay in this tidal zone. From the bridge that leads to Barcoo Island, the waterways are clearly visible with many large cruisers moored out the front of homes.
The Hawkesbury Esplanade Jetty provides a boat ramp for those not fortunate enough to live on the water. My route has brought me full circle, and I am now walking back to the Captain Cook Bridge, back on the cycle path again. Three long beaked speckled birds forage in the sand at Taren Point Reserve. They look like one of those breeds that are fattening themselves up for the long flight north.
Taren Point in Summary
Taren Point has is a small, fascinating suburb, divided by Taren Point Road into more or less a commercial side and a residential side. Now at least I know a bit more about this southern suburb of Sydney. And when the traffic report mentions Captain Cook Bridge or Taren Point Road, I’ll be able to picture it in my mind.