Stanwell Park to Helensburgh
A cool Sunday on 31st July provided the ideal conditions for a more arduous walk designed to go from Stanwell Park to Helensburgh.
After alighting from the train at Stanwell Park, 7 members of OFF ( one member having a train problem) were asked directions by 2 foreign tourists (from Italy and Israel) to the north side of the Royal National Park. Realising they would have a great distance to cover they instead opted to join our walk. As we had back packs and maps they thought we appeared to know what we were doing. We set off for the long abandoned Otford Railway tunnel. This runs for 1.82 km between Stanwell Park and Otford and at the time, 1888, it was the longest and steepest single line tunnel to be built.
Torches were required and we had to be careful where we trod as we skirted rubbish, abandoned machinery, the eroded floor and the water running through.We were impressed by the quality of the brick work which is still in excellent condition.
After a brief stop at the Otford cafe our leader unfortunately had to leave us due an injury. As we had good maps and there were many signs along the way (and another member had walked the track previously) we continued.
The ridge walk provided great views out to sea and down to Burning Palms. We saw some beautiful Angophoras and stringy barks as well as Gymea Lillies in flower. Epacris and a Correa reflexa were also seen. The Coast Track down to Burning Palms was wet in the gullies but the palm forest we passed through well made up for the wet track.
As we enjoyed a quick and well earned lunch on the beach the skies cleared and we enjoyed a beautiful vista of the surf.
The trek uphill to the Garawarra car park was quite steep and hot. There we were met by our member who had earlier had train problems.He had had an exciting walk of his own as he did some bushbashing to find the the Burgh Track. He agreed the walk back to Otford would be preferable to continuing on to Helensburgh as we may not make the train before dark.
The walk back to Otford along the Ridge Trail proved to be quicker and also a very pleasant walk through the beautiful angophoras. After a wait at Otford train station we were back on the train by 5.15pm. We were to find out later that there was one benefit to our leader having to leave us earlier; as he was making his way to Otford Station in the morning he came across a small brush fire which he and some others were able to put out and also alert the bush fire brigade.