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Published February 8th 2016
Walk or Cycle Manly's Dam
If you've enjoyed those sandy stretches along Manly Beach, a more remote walk, ensconced in bushland and along the still waters of a nearby dam, awaits. It's a 7-kilometre circuit, easily finished in 3 hours. The trail is bicycle-friendly too, with the occasional steep incline. The only downside is the risk of stray golf balls flying from sliced tee shots hit from one of the 4 golf courses surrounding the dam.
Manly Dam Wall (by CamV8 at Wikipedia)
From Manly Wharf, board the 135 or 142 bus to Warringah Mall, walking south down Condamine St then left onto King St. If driving, you can also park at the end of King St, near the walk's start-point. You can begin your circle from this southern tip in either direction but walking anti-clockwise around the dam means you'll delve into the area's flora much sooner before abruptly turning southward to the string of picnic areas along the water's edge, leaving you a short post-lunch walk to the finish line.
Spotted Pardalote (by Patrick_K59 at Flickr)
Keeping the water at your left shoulder, head north. You'll be almost immediately confronted by a 35-metre-high dam wall, a solid rock construction, strangely lacking graffiti. The sandy beach softens the effect of the looming stone wall, withstanding the pressure of waters flowing from Curl Curl Creek for over 100 years. By the 1930s, the thirsty locals outgrew this dam, tapping into Pymble's dam to quench their thirsts.
Box-leaf Wax-flower (by John Tann at Wikipedia)
As the path returns to the water's edge, note the subtle pinks of box-leaf wax-flowers and the otherworldly purple and green bonnet orchids, vying for your attention as they bloom in the warmer seasons. As the path turns west, you'll step onto a beach shared with Spotted Pardalotes and Willie Wagtails, fluttering over the clear surface to peck at insects. Forge northwest, past the fork in the trail leading to a short 30-minute circle on Heath Track. As you near the northern tip of the dam, another fork will lead you to the slightly longer loop of Eva's Track. Leave 45 minutes to complete it if you're keen. After rounding the northern tip of the dam, you'll be offered 2 new choices, the first on your right taking you to the short Curl Curl Track, allow at least 30 minutes to enjoy it. The second leads directly to Wakehurst Parkway. If you stay on the path along the dam's edge, you'll venture south with a slight easterly bent.
Willie wagtail (by Clinton1550 at Wikipedia)
Reaching the 3-quarter mark of your hike, listen for shouts of "Fore!" wafting through the trees from Wakehurst Golf Course. At this point, you'll step along the Aboriginal Grinding Grooves. Local hunters used these embedded stones to fashion and sharpen hand weapons and tools. The grooves represent thousands of repeated strokes of stone and wood against the rock, eroding the surface with heat and friction. They also engraved the stone above the grooves, recording the the wildlife they hunted for sustenance along the creek.
A black swan family (by Sergio Valle Duarte at Wikipedia)
Black swans, inspiring an Oscar-winning performance by Natalie Portman and a best-selling book from Nassim Nicholas Taleb, gracefully idle on the waters as gravity-defying Climbing Galaxias swim upstream, sliding over rocks and leaping above waterfalls. As you near the opening holes of the golf course, you can relax at picnic areas with toilet facilities. You can also take the diversion to the Wildflower Walk, winding around the golf course, along Manning St and out onto Wakehurst Parkway.
Climbing Galaxia (by Blueether at Wikipedia)
Nearing the end of the walk, you'll finish with the War Memorial, a peaceful place to reflect on the sacrifices and losses during World War I and II. Returning east onto King St, spend a few minutes watching the trickling waters falling into the Mermaid Pool, named after the female swimmers enjoying these waters in the 1930s.