Ihlara Valley hike (Cappadocia, Turkey)

I have read mixed reviews about the Ihlara Valley hike in Cappadocia. Some say that it is full of tourists and rubbish. Others say it is beautiful. There are more knockers than supporters. But as I leave Aksaray I see a brown tourist sign pointing in the direction of Ihlara. I decide to turn off the highway and see the valley for myself.

The road to the valley is sparse and golden; a continuation of yesterday’s drive. The volcano I drove past stands as a blue silhouette against the yellow grass. I never seem to get closer to or further from it. It just stays put as though it might be some sort of mirage. All the while, I just follow the signs.

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I decide to start my hike from Belisirma. It seems logical from what I’ve read and it’s the second entry to the valley that I pass. I throw some food and water in my pack, download some geocache coordinates and set off on my adventure. The entry fee is 10TL ($AU5), which seems a bit steep for a valley hike but this is one of the most famous hikes in Turkey and I have learned that in many countries everything costs money (and I figure it pays wages for the people who work here). I’m glad I paid the entry fee because I enjoy a glorious day in some wonderful natural and cultural surrounds.

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There’s a geocache hidden not far from the Belisirma entrance to the valley. It requires me to follow some feint tracks up the side of the valley to the cliffs above. It’s quite a fascinating place with huge boulders created by the cliffs breaking away, caves that have been carved into the cliffs and stunning views of the valley.

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The Belisirma village spire seems to fit into this landscape perfectly. It’s an ironic reality here in Turkey where many popular tourist sites are old Christian churches and monasteries. In this valley, there are many old churches where Christians hid from the Romans.

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From the outside, the churches and dwellings are fascinating. They look like normal doorways but cut into the sides of the cliff.

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Some have these really cool holes cut up to the second or third level. I wonder whether they were used as steps at some point in history. And whether they were part of the original churches or whether people have lived in these caves and churches subsequent to their original establishment. For example, did people live here in the 1600s or 1800s or even 1900s?

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It’s not just the exterior of the cave churches and dwellings that amaze me. Many contain the remains of gorgeous frescoes depicting various biblical stories or religious personalities and saints. While many have been defaced or damaged over the years; the fact that they exist at all after all this time is something of a miracle. I love art and spend some time appreciating the workmanship put into these pieces.

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Like all the other historic sites I’ve been to in Turkey, you can just walk around inside the cave churches as much as you want. There’s little stopping you from climbing up the internal stairs to the second level of a cave church and I’m more than certain the odd brave soul has climbed the external hand holds too. I explore inside the caves. One or two have stunning views into the valley through upper level windows.

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I spend hours meandering up one side of the valley to the stairs where the tour buses spew out their passengers about 3.5km (2 miles) from Belisirma. From here I follow the path first up one side of the valley for another 800m (1/2 mile) to a couple more churches then back to the stairs and another 1km to a couple more churches on the other side of the valley. It’s easy to just while away hours up here. By the time I get back to the stairs it’s gone lunch time and I am famished. So I relax on one of the many park benches and eat lunch watching the tour bus passengers go about their experience. So far I haven’t really met too many of these groups on the trail because I was too early walking up from Belisirma and then went further up towards Ihlara village where the tour buses don’t walk.

Sitting in the valley watching the bus loads of German, Korean and Japanese tour groups following their guides is fascinating. The guides speak fluently in the language of their guests. I have to say, hearing fluent Korean coming from the mouth of a non-Korean person is amazing; it’s such a challenging language. Each nationality has its own style. The Koreans are in a hurry. They are armed with selfie sticks, fashionable travel attire and cling to every word their guide says. The Japanese prefer big digital SLR cameras. They are fashionably dressed in street wear for the younger guests and smart casual for the over forties. They are in less of a hurry; preferring to take a little time with posed photos of their fellow travelers on rocks in the middle of the creek or on the more adventurous looking sections of the path. And then there’s the German guests who sort of swarm in a throng, stopping frequently to discuss whether or not they feel like climbing up the stairs to yet another historic church. And then there’s the lone hipster with his red beard, cycling cap and obligatory hipster “I’m too cool for this” scowl. I can’t help but wonder how he ended up on a tour bus populated by Japanese people.

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Despite the bus loads of people coming down the stairs, I never feel as though the valley experience is being spoiled for me. They all walk down towards Belisirma on the path along which I have come. But I am heading back on a small trail that follows the other side of the creek. About half-way to Belisirma they all stop at a gorgeous cafe that has sitting areas literally in the middle of the creek around which ducks swim and goats wander. Ladies in traditional garb harvest potatoes in a nearby field and huge pumpkins sit in the sunshine still on the vine. It’s this amazing rural scene in the middle of a heavily touristed valley. Some tour guests are sitting at the cafe drinking Nescafe (not to be confused with coffee, which here is Turkish coffee) and cay(tea). But they add to the atmosphere, rather than detract from it. Besides, these tour guests probably contribute more to the well being of the Turkish economy than I do because each bus requires the employment of a driver, a guide who is fluent in a foreign language and all the background people who work in the marketing, advertising, sales, maintenance and administrative support necessary for the success of the tour operations. Me – I don’t really create many economic opportunities for Turkey beyond renting a car, paying for camping or cheap hotels, buying groceries from markets and shops, and occasionally buying a cheap meal. For my month here, I probably will spend about $AU1,500. Each of those people on the tour bus will probably spend that in a week. And their activities are fairly limited to specific regions so the environmental impact is able to be controlled (imagine if all those people just walked wherever they wanted to … the damage would be far greater than having them walk on a single mostly board-walked track without any real deviation).
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I thoroughly enjoy my hike in the valley and am glad I didn’t pay too much attention to the critics. The valley is peaceful and pretty. It’s full of historic churches and fascinating cave houses. There are miles of trails to explore; including many away from the main tourist route. But that area does have the most churches. I end up walking about 12km return. It takes me about five hours because I spent time searching for geocaches, wandering through the churches, eating lunch and generally taking in the atmosphere rather than rushing myself. A two hour drive takes me to camp in Goreme and a well earned hot shower.

Cokertme to Kargicik Buku (Agean, Turkey)

My parents are reading so I decide to head ashore to explore Cokertme a little. It’s handy being moored to a jetty because there’s no need to swim or row. So I make the most of it.

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There’s some cute straw umbrellas outside one of the other restaurants. I guess you can use them if that’s where you are moored. Because each restaurant has its own beach chair set up happening.

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There’s also this gorgeous stone house that looks like it has been renovated and restored. The new windows are tucked back on the inside of the wall’s thickness, hiding this modern touch from the old exterior.

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And a rusty old anchor completes the maritime theme that naturally occurs here in this seaside hamlet.

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There’s a path at the end of the beach. I find it because I am looking for a geocache hidden in a rock wall. Without the geocache I probably wouldn’t have thought to come walking here. The path takes me past some old olive trees on my right and clear water on my left. Shale dots the trail where it passes near the old rock wall.

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At the end of the walk I come to this gorgeous bay. I rowed to this same bay the first time I was here in Cokertme but it was different then. I wasn’t yet used to Turkey and being on the water. But now I am and I am seeing things more. It’s always this way in a new place. The first few days everything is new and you miss the subtle. But then you start to find the paths and the nooks and the interesting places.

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We’ve been eating so well on the boat. Today’s for breakfast I make yoghurt with honey, mint, half an orange and some toasted museli. It’s absolutely delicious and I must remember to make it at home because we grow mint in a terrarium.

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We potter to a nearby bay. I work inside while my parents sail the boat. We arrive and anchor before swimming ashore to the stony beach.

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When the shore is pebbly like this the water seems even more clear and crisp. The wooden gulets anchored further up the beach make it feel like I am a long way from home. Tourists snorkel and swim along the rock wall at the far end of the beach.

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Again I go for a walk. My parents are sitting on the rocks enjoying the sunshine and view. But I need to stretch my legs. I am definitely a land person; though I am enjoying being on and near the sea. But I need to walk and get some exercise. So I do. The rocks here are pretty.

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At the end of the beach there is a marked trail. We have seen a group of people walking towards this point and can see a rock building at the top of a nearby knoll. So that’s where I go. I think we will become used to trail way marking like this next week when we walk some sections of the Lycian Way.

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There’s an old ruined building at the beginning of the climb to the knoll. I don’t know whether it’s ancient or just left over from busier days in recent centuries. Perhaps I will never know. But there are many of these rocky buildings in all sorts of state of disrepair that have long been overgrown by nature. Many have big ancient-looking wild olive trees nearby.

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The views from the walking trail are magnificent. That’s our yacht there in the distance – the white one farthest out to sea.

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Walking back to the beach I pass through a large olive grove. It’s such a pretty sight. Unfortunately, olives are one fruit that you cannot just pick and eat. So I cannot sample some of them as I walk (not that I advocate stealing of farmers’ produce).

I make the long swim back to the boat where Mum and Dad are waiting for me. We have some biscuits for morning tea and set off again. This time I manage to fall asleep in a shady spot in the cockpit. It wasn’t my intention but just happens. The boat is rolling gently, there’s nothing for me to do and the passing scenery lulls me into such relaxation that my eyes fall closed. Next thing I know I am being woken up to prepare to take the lines ashore.

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After securing the lines I row down the rocky beach towards a spot where I’ve seen some steps cut into the rocks. I figure there is probably a walking path there. And I am correct. I think it will just be short so I only wear my board shorts and boat shoes. Next thing I know, I’m out hiking for an hour.

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The sweet scent of pine fills the air. I am used to tall proud triangular pines but here they are windswept and rugged from growing in rock. They are definitely not as boring as our pine trees growing in plantations at home. Nor as grand as the Norfolk Pines that grow across the road from our house at Scarborough Beach. These pines have distinct character. Each an individual in its own right.

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There are lots of pretty lookouts along the way because the path crosses a few headlands that open views to the gulf and other bays.

The path follows a ridge that takes me above a resort where disco music is playing loudly. Tour boats are all moored in the bay and speed boats are taking people water skiing and tubing behind it. This must be where the Contiki and other similar youth tour operators come. Not my scene but the guests sound like they are having fun because I can hear them from the ridge.

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The trail also takes me past old rock ruins including walls and buildings. The afternoon sun has coloured them a golden brown. Piles of shale make the walking challenging around the ruins so there must have been much larger structures here at some point in the past. It’s interesting to see these rock walls that are held together as a puzzle of correctly sized pieces, rather than with concrete or mortar. I wonder how long they have been there.

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Finally the path leads me to a village. White blocky buildings are becoming more familiar to my eye. I am starting to like the way they look dotted between the green pines. It’s pretty.

I turn around and walk back to where I left the dingy, row back to the boat and relax for the night with my parents. The weather has turned again and the night sky is clear so I can once again sleep on deck after two nights indoors. It’s heavenly.

Tokyo-Narita to Kuala Lumpur

I wake up early and ready to fly home. I’ve enjoyed Japan but there always comes that moment just before departure when you are ready to see those you love. I don’t sleep well because my missed flight from Chiang Mai is still firmly fixed in my memory. But I wake up on time, load the final two pannier bags on the bike and set off for the Tokyo Narita International Airport. It’s only supposed to be a 9km ride from the hostel but I fail to pay attention and cycle about 2km in the wrong direction resulting in a 2km ride back to where I was. The total ride is 13km but I’ve left myself plenty of time so it’s no problem.  photo IMG_20150512_055723_zpsk1uagrmp.jpg

Just before the airport I find one last geocache in Japan. I think I found five here in total. But I needed to find this one because I’ve been carrying a travel bug for over two months that I have been trying to find a cache large enough to place it in. I had seen this cache was a “regular” so knew it would be big enough. It’s a travel bug hotel so I drop the one I’ve been carrying and collect three from the cache. There are about ten travel bugs in the cache and many have been there for a while so I figure it will be okay to take a few and send them on their way.  photo IMG_20150512_075310_zpscgyerefo.jpg

You can ride all the way to the airport along a cycleway. But once at the airport itself, finding the entry is a challenge. The security guards at the entrance to the driveway force me onto a walkway but then the only way to the actual airport entrance is either down some stairs or through a carpark and then into a lift. I take the latter option. I just walk the bike right up to where the Air Asia gate is signed, remove the box from the back rack and pack everything. The box needs to be cut down because it’s far too big but I manage and even can fit it in without removing the rear wheel or rack. I could have put the whole bike in complete but thought that might be a bit cheeky. And yes, I did cycle to the airport with that big wide box sat on the rear rack like that … it was fine.

The Air Asia check in was not so fine. You are not allowed trolleys at the baggage drop which means people have to struggle with their luggage, especially sporting equipment. I slide the bike box along the floor and am not the only one who is having difficulty. To add insult to annoyance there are two check-in areas for Air Asia. One is Air Asia Thailand and the other is Air Asia X. The distinction isn’t signed. So I struggle and wait in one queue only to be sent to another counter, which requires more struggling with my gear. Oh, and the Air Asia counters are in an alcove in an area between the two terminal entrance doors – not inside the terminal itself.

The next joy was discovering that my luggage could not be checked through. The lady said that I should have booked the flight as a through-flight on a single booking. In fact, I had done this but Air Asia decided to cancel my connecting flight from Kuala Lumpur to the Gold Coast so now I have to clear customs with my luggage and recheck it in tomorrow morning from Kuala Lumpur. I will also have to pay for my own hotel in Kuala Lumpur or sleep on the airport floor. I emailed Air Asia to query this and they said that “flight schedules are subject to change at any time” and that Air Asia will not be liable for any loss incurred by passengers due to the airline changing flight schedules. Let’s just say that I am monitoring the flight cancellation situation by Air Asia compared with other airlines that I fly because so far I have had a number of flights cancelled (Kuala Lumpur to Gold Coast leg of my through flight home from Thailand but for some reason they did put me up in a hotel that time, my return flights between Kuala Lumpur and Narita were canceled and I was re-routed to Osaka, this flight home has been cancelled and Paul’s flight from Gold Coast to Kuala Lumpur was also cancelled and he was placed on a later flight). Yes, they put you on another flight but I am starting to get annoyed with the cancellations.  photo 20150512_092826_zpsxdigfkrb.jpg

But perhaps this is why the airline is canceling so many flights. This is my flight from Narita to Kuala Lumpur after all the passengers have boarded. I would estimate that the flight was about 25% booked and the rest of the seats were vacant. Everyone on the flight got a whole row of seats to themselves and still there were plenty of extra spaces. It was a quiet flight with lights dimmed and window shades down throughout the plane despite it being a daytime flight. I guess if we passengers can lie down to sleep we all will.  photo 20150512_165215_zpsbl3zcvih.jpg

The flight itself was a little bumpy due to monsoon season in this part of Asia. But the pilot flew very high (41,000 feet … the limit of this aircraft’s legal altitude) probably to fly over the worst of the weather. Once the seat belt sign was off I just turned on a movie and dozed. Oh, the silhouette in the window is Tozzie my travel companion. He was a gift from a friend to Paul and me. We are taking him traveling with us and he has his own Facebook page so I took a photo of him for that page and it turned out to be the better of my in-flight photos.  photo 20150512_191704_zpspo3r7o3z.jpg

 photo 20150512_191804_zpsb9dlyf48.jpgFlight successfully completed I decided not to sleep on the airport floor. For MYR100 ($AU35) for 12 hours I could get a capsule in the airport container hotel. It included luggage storage (including the bike), showers, sitting area, international power point and fast wifi. I only have 17 days to be with my loved ones so why turn up home tomorrow night tired when I can have a good sleep now and depart refreshed in the morning. The capsule is really comfortable and much better than a hostel dorm. And I don’t need much more space than this to write a blog post or two, watch a movie on my laptop and have a refreshing sleep.

Paddling the mouth of the Pine River (Brisbane, Australia)

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It’s late afternoon and the tide has almost run out. The mouth of the Pine River always looks fantastic at low tide in the golden colours of the late afternoon sun. People stand on the long sandbars to fish while their dogs play in the water. On the days when I ride home from work across the Ted Smout Bridge and look west to this view I feel happy. Today I have a chance to join them. But not to fish; I am going to packraft up the river in search of a geocache.
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It’s been too long since I used my packraft. I seem to have been caught up in the hum drum of day-to-day life. You know that stuff: work, university study, laziness. The former is probably the least of my excuses and the latter the most relevant. As soon as I sit in the boat I feel at ease. I paddle up the river against the last of the outgoing tide with the wind at my back. I have just under three hours until dark but already the sun is sitting low on the horizon, creating beautiful light reflections off the water and wet sand.
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I’m in no hurry so I take the time to pull up on the river’s banks. When the tide is high the water covers this entire area and creates a swampy mangrove habitat. But at low tide the sand is hard enough to walk on and there are even a few patches of soft beach sand a little higher up the banks. Those small patches quickly give way to mangrove swamp behind them but they do look pretty all the same.
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It’s easy to dismiss Brisbane’s mangrove-lined waterways as ugly, smelly and muddy. But I have come to appreciate them as a symbol of home. I grew up having running races through thigh-deep mangrove mud with my sisters and learning how to walk between the trees’ breathing tubes without them stabbing my foot (they don’t cut but they still hurt when you stand on them). I recently read that mangrove-lined waterways are the breeding ground for over 70% of the fish we eat here in Australia so they are very important despite their bad wrap. That aside, I like the versatility of the mangrove trees and the way they look, both when standing dry at low tide and when submerged with only their leaves showing through the water.
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I paddle for an hour until I reach the geocache location. It’s cleverly hidden. I sign the log, replace the cache and log the find online. Then I head back towards my start point. The tide is just about to turn and the wind has picked up, creating small waves to paddle into. I bounce over them as I make my way down the river towards the sandbanks where I started. My shadow starts to grow longer in the water ahead of me and the roar of the commuter traffic on the Ted Smout Bridge starts to fill my ears over the blowing of the wind. By the time I get back the sun has sunk low enough for a sunset photo before I head home.

Redcliffe days

I’m currently back home in Redcliffe, a coastal peninsula north of Brisbane. Here’s some of what I’ve been up to for the past week.
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I’ve enjoyed fish and chips on the beach across the road from our home.
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I’ve been running training because I’ve entered the Gold Coast Marathon, which is being run on 5 July. I entered because I need a fitness goal. I’m not a great runner but hopefully I can complete the event within the 6:40 cut off by run/walking the whole course.
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As part of my training I have been running up and down these stairs that lead to a small beach that gets inundated at high tide. It makes stair training quite pleasant when the view is like this.
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I’ve been combining geocaching with my running training. The geocaching gives me something to aim for on my running outings. It also ends up with me seeing some interesting things, like these twisted and gnarled trees that are in a park near the Morgans fish shop in Scarborough.
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It’s also taken me down to the Gayundah Shipwreck, which I’ve been to before but never tire of.
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We’ve been walking 5km almost every night; sometimes as late at 11pm. The full moon this week has been stunning. But the winner of most beautiful night photo for this trip so far goes to the Ted Smout Bridge, which we walked across on a windy night. I like the way the lights reflect on the waters where Moreton Bay meets the Pine River.
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We’ve been hitting the gym and pool most days the past fortnight doing boxing classes and swimming laps. It’s part of our desire to continue to get fit. It’s led to my body returning to its old rhythm of early starts, which has led to me watching the sun rise from the beach a few times.

While I am loving being home, I find myself getting restless to explore the world some more. I particularly need to get back out into nature so will be resuming my travels from 31 March when I go to Malaysia and Japan. On my return from those trips I will be doing some more long trips here in Australia. So it means that I want to enjoy my next 19 days in Redcliffe before I spend some months away again.

Getting back into geocaching (Windsor, Sydney)

I got into the geocaching game about five years ago on a whim when I borrowed a GPS device off my parents. That was in the days before smart phones and the Geocaching.com app. You still had to manually enter the cache coordinates into a GPS device and, often, to translate them between the different coordinate formats to suit your device. How things have changed. Today geocaching is as simple as downloading the app onto your phone and watching as your blue dot nears the green marker on your smart phone screen that denotes the location of the cache.

I spent most of the day traveling by train from Newcastle to Windsor in Sydney’s far western suburbs. The ride took over four hours so it was good to stretch my legs when I got off the train. It was a 3.5km (2 mile) walk to my sister’s friends’ place where I was staying. So I did a spot of geocaching along the way.
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And what should I find but a whole heap of Australiana and history.
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First I went to the Windsor war memorial. Every Australian town and most suburbs have a war memorial. Some are simple while others are beautiful gardens like the one in Windsor.
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Not far from the war memorial there was an old traditional cricket pitch complete with manicured lawn, white picket fence and small spectator stand. This is old school Australiana; the kind of thing you see in local made for television movies and mini series. I can just see men wearing whites playing mini test match cricket every weekend.
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Across the road is a stunning old building dating to the early 1800s. This is old by Australian standards because Europeans first started living in Australia in 1788 when they set up a penal colony. So this building would be one of the oldest standing buildings in Australia.
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Just around the corner is St Matthews’ Anglican Church where the graves of some First Fleeters are located. The First Fleet is what the first sailing fleet of convicts and their guards who were sent to set up a penal colony in Sydney. I later learned that the area around Windsor was one of the first areas to be farmed by the British; hence the history in the area.

If I hadn’t got back into geocaching I wouldn’t have gone on this little history tour of Windsor.

Manly to Fishermans Beach walk (Sydney)

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The skies are grey and threatening as we set off from Manly to walk as far north as our legs will take us in a day. A few spits of rain fall from the sky and there’s a bit of wind blowing. We carry raincoats in our packs just in case we are going to spend the day wet but hope we don’t need to use them.
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We make our way along Manly Beach and up onto Queenscliffe Headland. Mum observes that Sydney is all layers; the houses don’t stop on one level but are stacked behind each other all the way up the hillsides with streets and lanes running along every level. The headland provides fantastic views and my first insight into the type of living the Northern Beaches are famous for: expansive ocean views and big old houses, some of which have sandstone facades. Rounding Queenscliffe Head we come to our first northern view of the walk. Freshwater Beach lies below. It’s still overcast but that isn’t stopping the surfing culture from going full steam ahead below.
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Down across at the northern end of Freshwater Beach I take a look back and admire the almost foreign looking scene. Crystal clear water is backed by tall sandstone cliffs that are iced with apartments and houses.
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We hike up the next headland. The views are amazing, as is the boardwalk that leads in to Curl Curl Beach. Waves crash against the cliffs and then the backwash crashes into the next waves that are hurtling towards the cliffs. It’s an explosion of sights and sounds.
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The path to Curl Curl Beach is lined with gorgeous yellow flowers that contrast sharply with the violence of the waves below.
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Curl Curl Beach is pretty but we don’t want to walk in the soft sand, preferring the path that runs through a park behind the dunes. This also gives me an opportunity to indulge in some geocaching. I’ve been out of the geocaching game for a little while but put the app on my new phone last week and decided to get back into it. Geocaching is a game where you use a GPS to locate containers (lunch boxes, Eclipse mint tins and old Gatorade jars) that have been hidden all over the world. Once you find the container you sign the log book, hide it again and set off on your merry way. You also log your find online so that you can keep track of how many caches you have found. The game is free to play (though the official app costs about $12 – I used to have a free version on my old phone but could only find the official version on the iTunes app store). It’s still cheap family fun if you are into the outdoors. I am fortunate that my mum is patient enough to wait for me to find caches along the way.
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After Curl Curl Beach the path climbs up Dee Why Headland. This massive headland makes for spectacular walking. The southern end is open and covered in low shrubs in which birds sing. You can watch the surfers in the sea below as they catch almost see-through waves to the shore.
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As we round the head we find ourselves standing atop steep cliffs that plummet a long way into the sea. Caves have formed in places where the rock has eroded away, leaving precarious overhangs. It looks amazing!
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Native plants and flowers surround the narrow walking path. These banksia flowers felt like plastic but are actually real.
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These delicate yellow petals smiled up at us as we walked, announcing that the grey skies had gone.
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I love this sort of walking where the views are expansive and the spaces wide. Sure, there are houses all along the coast, some close to the trail. But the landscape is so wild that it dominates.
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We reach Dee Why Beach around lunchtime and the seawater pool is too inviting to resist. Mum dives in quickly while I faff about complaining that it is cold. That’s my style though – I am more a stand in the water or paddle on it kinda guy than a swimmer. But eventually I get in too and it’s refreshing after the long hot walk. We munch on a picnic lunch as we watch the surfers who are surfing just outside the rock pool. They are close to rocks but don’t seem too bothered. Maybe this is their lunchtime ritual.
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We now have a choice: to walk along the beach or to follow a path past the Dee Why Lagoon. It’s hot in the now shining sun so we opt for the Lagoon. Whip birds call out to each other from the trees as we walk past and the ocean roars on the other side of the dunes. I am fascinated by the array of landscapes we’ve walked through today. It’s magnificent.
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At the end of the lagoon we have to walk a short distance along the beach to get to Long Reef Point. That’s our arbitrary goal for the day. A class of school kids are being taught to surf. I feel a twinge of jealousy that my school didn’t offer surfing classes (mind you, my school was about two hours from the nearest surf beach). The kids are clearly not locals because they have little idea about the sea or surfing. But they look to be having fun and which teenager wouldn’t love a day at the beach instead of sitting in class.
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Long Reef Point headland is a magnificent final lookout. The headland has been landscaped by the local paragliding and hang gliding club. And boy is it a lovely place to sit and contemplate life.
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The views looking north (above) and south were pretty amazing. There were headlands and beaches for miles in either direction. Each headland separating the next surf beach like a barrier separating different worlds.
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And then we were done. We reached Fisherman’s Beach just north of Long Reef Point Headland and decided it was time to catch a bus back to Manly. All up we walked about 16km (10 miles) of spectacular coastal trails. To end on a quiet beach protected from the waves by a headland and reef seemed fitting after enjoying the sight of surf waves crashing into sand and rock all day. It just added one final landscape to an already diverse experience.
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We did work up quite an appetite though, with all that walking and geocaching. Fortunately, Manly has some fantastic modern restaurants with spectacular harbour views. We shared a meal of snapper, curly fries and a fresh light take on coleslaw while recounting our day and discussing that how we are likely to come back to Sydney more often now that we have realised just how fantastic it is for outdoor adventures.