A free-spirit studying psychology at the University of Sydney.
Published August 8th 2019
The Curious Path to a Sparkling Oatley Oasis
Wandering the Oatley road less travelled (by me - it's in the middle of suburbia but shh!), I stumbled upon the lush cove of Oatley Pleasure Grounds. Okay, not exactly. More like intentionally followed Google Maps in search of this tucked-away local gem I recently found to exist. It nonetheless was an enchanting find, and true to the name, a pleasure wandering into this pretty little pocket of forest-meets-river.
The Oatley Pleasure Grounds sits on 28423 square metres of land, that came to be what it is today piece by piece. It's a bushland park on the foreshore of the Georges River.
Before 1788, the location was home to Indigenous people. Camping in the general area, this spot, in particular, was used for fishing and oyster harvesting. It's humbling to hear about how all needs were met straight through the land and water, including the use of a specific plant to produce an insect-repelling scent while they slept. Talk about a natural Aerogard.
In 1861, the Oatley Bay Boatshed was founded. Since, the boatshed has passed hands and has seen the venue entertain tea rooms, licensed bars, and a swimming club. With an unrivalled outlook, it has maintained a social culture throughout the council's gradual acquisition of the private land, and today continues to draw folks here for leisure.
This is a very brief overview. If you're interested in the history and social developments of the Oatley Pleasure Grounds check out this detailed timeline that's the impressive result of many interviews and examined materials.
Discovering Oatley Pleasure Grounds
Exploring new forests is by far one of my favourite and most soulful pastimes. So I was excited when I reached the Annette Street entrance to Oatley Pleasure Grounds, which presented as a curious path descending down through a tunnel of trees - tones of rustic wood, earthy rock faces, and a palette of greens; from eucalyptus leaves to grasses, moss, ferns and tree ferns.
A little on the steep side, the path invited me down into the forest, serenaded by lulls of serenity and bursts of birdsong. A bridge and a couple of twists and turns later, I was whisked away from the suburban roadside. A few feet into the forest and a sparkle of blue caught my eye through the branches and leaves that sat in a twine of patterns. I couldn't wait to meet the river I was catching glamorous glimpses of.
Through the forest, I emerged into a grassy clearing hugging what is now the Oatley Bay Baths; a little cove on a quaint part of the Georges River foreshore. A sandy bank met the grassy foothills, with deep green mangrove pockets and shady trees on one side, a boat ramp on the other. I sat in the sun, right on the water's edge upon the ramp. The warm winter sun on my skin and toes dipped in the refreshing coolness of the river sparkling before me. It was bliss. A pleasure indeed.
After savouring the scene for some time, I took the bush trail up to the Russell Street entrance. The authentic dirt trail snakes through wood and leaf, hues of brown and canopies of green. I savoured a stroll along the creek bed, and a climb through rock faces before finding my way out of wonderland to be reunited with suburbia. A pleasure it was.
Find a playground to entertain the children and the big kids at heart. Find benches offering varying outlooks on the bay, and/or an abundance of space on the grass for a picnic. Find public amenities. Find a swimming net in the river - the perfect area for a wade or refreshing dip when high tide. Low tides see a very sandy bank you can walk across. I saw a couple who parked their kayaks here, and were enjoying a lovely picnic on the water's edge.
I hope you too find the grounds a pleasure. Whether you're driving or coming by public transport, this spot is easily accessible. If your option is the latter, it's a 15 minute walk from the train station. This isn't the only beautiful spot on offer around here either.
While in the area, here are some other Oatley POI's, especially for the nature lovers:
- Moore Reserve & Oatley Bay Memorial Boardwalk- sitting on a larger foreshore of Oatley Bay, find this sprawling park and wetland reserve a 5 minute drive or 15 minute walk from Pleasure Grounds.
- Oatley Point Lookout - 2 minute drive or 15 minute walk from Pleasure Grounds.
- Myles Dunphy Reserve - get lost in this bushland pocket a stone's throw from the train line (1 minute walk from Oatley Station)
- Simpson Reserve - park with playground kids will like (Yarran Rd, Oatley)
- Como Pleasure Grounds - popular 30 minute walk over river from Oatley Station (set to re-open late November 2019).