Outdoors over indoors, adventure over routine. Life is an excellent place.
Published January 19th 2014
A short hike with nature, views, and a pub at the end
As the beach-goers pack up their days activities and the heat from the sun dies in the late afternoon, there's one more adventure that Pearl Beach on the Central Coast offers to those with energy left to burn; the walk from Pearl Beach to the end-of-the-road town of Patonga. The walk skirts the Pearl Beach arboretum, sending walkers on a fire trail over the hill dividing the suburbs, bringing them down to the northern end of Patonga beach.
It's about half five when we start on my way up Crystal Drive towards the arboretum. Turning left onto the fire trail, marked by a small metal gate, the whitewash noise of cicadas calling crashes over us in waves. The sound is so concentrated we can almost see it crashing through the trees towards us, assaulting our senses. Close to covering my ears with each fresh aural attack we push on up the hill, chasing the waning sun as it too makes it way over the rise.
Leaving at this time has its advantages, the trail can be a hot walk, better done with some respite from the summer sun, and it's during these hours before dusk that most animals are out and active. Before we are fifteen minutes into the walk, a small roo crosses the path in front of us, pausing for a second to check what we are up to. A runner coming from the opposite directions spooks it back into the brush.
The walk is complimented by a number of viewpoints and lookouts of Pearl Beach, Patonga, over the Pittwater Inlet and of the surrounding bush. A few steps off the trail on any side and it feels like you are alone, surrounded by nature and so disconnected from the towns below it's almost unbelievable that it only takes half an hour to return.
Looking back towards Pearl Beach from the fire trail.
At around the midway and highest point of the walk is a Warrah Lookout, perched on a natural rock outcrop but with fences installed for safety. I remember the first time I came across this sight, a muggy summer's afternoon, fresh afternoon rain sleeting across the inlet, I watched as birds flew for the trees, boaters hauled out their covers, and the rain danced patterns in the wind.
Past the lookout the walking gets more adventurous. The trail thins out to one person at a time, there are bigger steps, and there is a constant threat of a half spun spider web invoking the traditional arachnophobic they're-in-my-hair dance, passed down through generations. Lagging behind my group to avoid such encounters I'm lucky enough to spot two birds running through the undergrowth. Long tails streaking behind them, I'm satisfied to see something asides from the local bush turkey sharing the trail with us.
Coming down the final sets of stairs to Patonga Beach, only a few metres off the path a wallaby sits chewing its dinner. Pausing to appreciate the scene I remember something very important; I've been walking for an hour and there's a pub not far ahead. Leaving the small iconic animal in peace we continue to our goal, a pub by the water with cold beer on tap.
The walk takes between one and two hours, and is fine for children. Wearing shoes is a good idea, though I have been up and down many times in thongs.