Lockdown Walk No 4 – A track less worn by Colleen Keating

 

A track less worn

on Wyrrabalong country
where the forest meets the sea
the hidden way winds along the headland
its overgrown track thick with the Banksia‘s
scrawly shapes like an old fashioned world
of funny creatures
Old man Banksia stares down
like they do in May Gibbs
Snugglepot and Cuddlepie to scare children

in this old xerlerphyll remnant of forest
grass trees too with their thick
green grug-like head of hair
are our guard of honour
they sway around us as we file
singularly through this other worldly place.

wattles and a few winter wildflowers
catch our attention
eucalypts  spotted gums  scribbles
river red gums and underfoot
leaf litter absorbs our steps
as if we are not  really there

and the ocean
with its shots of blue
like projected slides
each a new view through the trees
plays a gentle call in the background
like a beloved whisper
–breathe me  . . .my healing air is yours

its glide  roll  lap of silence
a breathed rhythm of in and out
the space between breaths
the tension between life and death

and twice we clamber out
to a headland lookout
and watch the waves below

the only other sound
wrens butcher birds
distant magpies and
the eratic scratch of brush turkeys

I felt a lightness of being
walking this quiet way
the air fresh
aromas of salty sea, eucalypt
acacia and a woody balm

They say to argue on the side
of happiness
and even though back in reality the news
is full of fragmentation and distress
here for this time is beauty
to feed the soul
and I eat and drink every piece of nature
on the menu.

Lockdown Walk No 3 Crackneck Lookout to Shelley Beach by Colleen Keating

Crackneck Lookout to Shelley Beach 

 

Whenever we  are out walking especially in the areas of beauty around our place on the Central Coast we pay tribute to the Awabakal and Darkinjung peoples and this makes us a little more aware  that we walk on sacred ground  and reminds us to pay attention and just ask and thank our entry into a place .   this of course is only a small section of the national Park which clings to the narrow line right along the coast. For us there are three main walks :

1    Crackneck  Lookout to Shelley Beach  and picked up at end  (north)  Ocean

2    Crackneck Lookout to the Trig station and back  (south)  Ocean

3    Magenta  ( lake side) to Canton Beach  north  (Lake )

Winter is  the perfect time for stepping out into our local Wyrrabalong National Park (gazetted in 1991) has the best of all worlds , the wonderful Australian Bush with its Red Gums, Blackbutts and Spotted Gums and  Scribbly Eucalyptus,  the lingering of wattle and other Acacias, Hakea, Myrtles,  Banksia  and the  promise of the odd siren of a red Waratah . (Good to know where they are so you won’t miss the October bloom.) This is backgrounded by the coastal bird life with the iconic crack of the Whip Bird and the spectacular glimpses of the blue reminding us we are walking in a rare piece of land where the bush meets the sea.

Michael gave the walking a miss today but drove me to Crackneck Lookout where we joined with many watching the wide blue sea for the whales travelling north. Excitement each time there was a blow of spray or the break of the water and a silver streak of a tail appeared. Of course they are very distant  and only those with binoculars and one woman I spoke to with a highly magnified camera. (So interesting as she is a poet and writes haiku and uses her photography and poetry together. 

Michael left me to walk down to Shelley Beach and he drove down set up the picnic and read his Kindle. The path has been newly upgraded.  In a way I preferred the old ramble of a track. And I was distressed at some damage along the sides where they haven’t worried about Grass trees and flannel flower plants and other small planting I have been aware of in the past. No doubt next time I come nature will have overcome the damage and be back to it s beauty. The blue glimpses and lookouts give a lovely touch to the walk as it clings to the coast as far as safely possible.

 

 Brush Turkeys    There was activity with the brush turkeys sometimes called scrub turkeys or bush turkeys. I observed three hens grouped and a bit lost, you could say. I walked on and saw the male rooster cocky as ever coming down off his huge mound of leaf litter, twigs and dirt, which I presume he built although who knows??? but just along the way he met a few more cocks all up tight . Were they fighting over the same mound I am not sure but they flew at each other and chased each other. They all landed on a tree and stalked each other trying to win the battle to be the main cock  . . so funny.  I was caught in this wonderful display.

One stalked the other not knowing he was looking down on him from on high. It was a marvellous bush experience to watch. Not having any understanding but still fascinating. The photos demonstrate some of the activity. Of course the noise as they clashed and fought cannot be captured.   Bush energy at its best.

Yes I know some of my friends shoo these scrub turkeys away and dislike the way they wreck their gardens  but they have wonderful things going for them for us to be aware of .

1. They are the most ancient member of their family dating back  30 million years so that should humble us. 2. They have a hard beginning because their parents don’t care for them after they are born . . .they have to defend for themselves 3. they make compost in the name of love as they rack the garden  into a mound so the heat can build up inside for the eggs and to attract the female for firstly they are built by the male to attract a mate.  And then the eggs follow.No wonder there was such a frenzy going on during my walk. 

Walking Quiet Ways No 1 Central Coast by Colleen Keating

First Tentative Steps out of Lockdown 

  1.   Crackneck Headland to Shelly Beach

Monday 1st June  was the first day it was legal to drive and stay away from your place of shelter.

As soon as we could, after that we tentatively set out. I say tentatively as we had not been out much at all and we had to watch the traffic and the increased  movement about. We also didn’t feel easy about buying takeaway food even coffee. I must say I have envied the young ones sitting on blankets in the sun enjoying boxes of crispy salty sea food and others sitting up to served food in the alfresco places I pass.

On our way to our beach retreat we stopped at the Crackneck Headland to do our first whale watching  and as I faced the sea it just took my breath away. It was a gorgeous day admittedly and many people sitting watching . There was a hush  all around.

 

The sea was vast. Vaster then I ever remembered it . . . spread out in its immensity with a sheer silken surface .  It was alive as its moved and wrinkled as if someone, maybe the goddess of the sea was moving under its cover . . .the horizon dividing the sea and sky like a fine line separating the two shades of blue.  As I looked out, the sea claimed even more, its aliveness as the waves  caterpillar across the ocean, pursuing each other, perpetually.  That sense of feel-good ran right through my body  like electricity. I guess it is the feel-good hormone running sparking my blood.   I felt alive invigorated.  The ocean renews me. 

Someone said whales were there but far out and I know Michael  and I can’t see that now but what joy to know the whales were there . It added to the sense of  amazement of this ocean like a goddess in all its presence  and not changed in our months of lock down and my absence.

Yes it makes me feel small, insignificant but as I become smaller my awe becomes greater.  It gives me all the meaning I need in life to see this . . well it is the meaning in a way.  and that makes me feel grand with meaning. 

From this came the idea i have the ocean in my heart  and so I had to write  a poem about it .

We decided I would walk from the Lookout to  meet Michael at Shelley Beach. The walk was about an hour  and goes through  Wyrrabalong National Park which it is more a coastal corridor  with some wonderful glimpses of the sea and some good stands of Banksia and Red  Gums and Palms. I have written it up before, but this time I felt it has been neglected and people have walked heavily thru it  and it is damaged. No rubbish but there its not the graceful respect we need in our precious forests.

Bush Walk: Wyrrabalong National Park North

Whenever we  are out walking especially in the areas of beauty around our place on the Central Coast we pay tribute to the Awabakal and Darkinjung peoples and this makes us a little more aware  that we walk on sacred ground  and reminds us to pay attention and just ask and thank our entry into a place .

Spring is for stepping out and our local Wyrrabalong National Park

( gazetted in 1991) has the best of all worlds , the wonderful Australian Bush with its Red Gums and  Scribbly Eucalyptus,  the lingering of wattle and other Acacias, Hakea, Myrtles,  Banksia  and the odd siren of a red Waratah. This is  backgrounded by the coastal bird life with the iconic crack of the Whip Bird and the spectacular glimpses of the blue remind ing us we are walking in a rare piece of land where the bush meets the sea in our walk today as it curls around Tuggerah Lake 

We parked our car at a small car park off the road not far  along from Magenta. The first sign told us fox poison was laid . . . I felt sad after the wonderfully wild fox we saw in the past few days in the settling pond off Ibis Road.  But then if they are taking the birds and wild life maybe it has to be done. It reminds me of another walk I do  at Normanhurst in Sydney  where  signs appeared that they had laid baits against the rabbits . ( that saddened me too as I loved their little furry ears popping up and watching me as I walked. But I think the rabbits had the last laugh as they moved down onto the grass near the railway line and I travelled past they were hopping about everywhere. 

 The Burrawang Walking Track was the beginning and we walked taking in the fresh, unwithered air and breathing deeply to find an inner calm. 

Very quickly a divide in the road with  an unsigned choice . 

It had us standing and pondering Robert Frost’s Poem

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same, . . . 

The trees were amazing (as the photos show) but no photo can do justice to the awe  and magestry of the tree all with their own characters and the ferns protected by the higher canopy  were full of veriditas as Hildegard would say.

When we came to the signed junction  Red Gum Trail or Lilly Pilly Loop Trail .We chose the Lilly Pilly track which took us to a Tuggerah Lake Lookout. We took this track as time and energy seemed to prefer the loop. and left the Red Gum Trail for another day . Even so we saw some wonderful Red Gums.

There was a deep quietness and I think made even more so as our footprints were cushioned by the sandy track and it gave a great sense of wellbeing with the trees and ferns and lake.

. There was a deep quietness and I think made even more so as our footprints were cushioned by the sandy track and it gave a great sense of wellbeing with the trees and ferns and lake.