Annual Visit to Kosciuszko National Park

Nineteen OFF members and friends stayed at Charlotte Pass for 3 – 7 days in January 2018. It was our third year in Pygmy Possum Lodge, which has stunning views and is convenient for walks on the Main Range. Also resident were three couples from Berowra who were very convivial and even bought an OFF calendar.

Wildflowers were colourful and abundant (thanks to a late snowfall in October from which many snow drifts remained) and much photographed.

The usual walks were completed, even a trek to Blue Lake in rain, hail and mist.

The less energetic enjoyed watching Flame Robins visit their nest on the lodge verandah, and reading, chatting and doing embroidery, word games and a jigsaw. Tim repaired a cassette radio that became welcome entertainment for Melina’s mother who was nursing a fractured arm.

Weather was changeable and there was a light dusting of snow on the peaks on the final Sunday morning.


Rivercat to Parramatta

Our last walk for 2017 was Sunday 26th November when 12 OFF members took the train to Circular Quay for a beautiful, relaxing morning ferry trip to Parramatta ( 1 1/2 hrs). You certainly see a different side of Sydney from the river.

From the Parramatta Ferry Terminal we walked alongside the Parramatta Rver in Queen’s Park stopping to read many markers providing information (including pictures) on the history of the area- wharves, mills, granary etc.

We also chanced upon a ceremony at the HMAS Parramatta Memorial being held to commemorate the anniversary of the sinking of The Parramatta II on 26th November 1941.

From there we proceded to the historical precinct of Hambden Cottage, Experimental Farm and Elizabeth Farm. We decided we must make a return visit in 2018 to do justice to these venues and see them properly.

We headed into the town centre via the Lancers’ Barracks which is still in operation and also contains a museum which is open on Sundays- well worth a visit.


Lunch was near the St Johns Cathedral which is on the site of the first church in Australia.

After our rest we headed to Parramatta Park to see Government House, a Boer War Memorial and a dairy house museum.

It was then a stroll back along the river and into the CBD to take the train back to Redfern Station.

We were all impressed by how much history there is to see in Parramatta and our day was really only a ‘taster’. So a return visit is definitely needed.

Walk Report by V Bolling



Thornleigh to Hornsby via the Benowie Track

This was an excellent walk, a little more strenuous than many OFF walks, but not too hard. The only downside is that many members missed out on some beautiful bush, resplendent with wildflowers, including an early flowering Waratah – a highlight of the day.

Just five lucky members made it, with some unable to make it due to illness, but where were the rest of our members? They missed a lovely day starting with a nice coffee at Thornleigh, following the train trip through the Chatswood to Epping tunnel (a first for us), then the walk past Zig-Zag Creek to Fishponds, and finishing with the stunning Blue Gum forest below Hornsby.

We lost count of the wildflowers on the way and spent much time admiring them.








One area we passed had obviously been burnt a year or two ago and was covered in flowering spear trees, including one with two inter-twined spears. Very eye-catching!

It was obvious that summer is on its way when a group of walkers in front of us disturbed a Diamond Python basking on the track.

Thanks to Adrian Buzo for another great walk.


Berowa Valley -Thornleigh to Hornsby 10 Sept

The Thornleigh to Hornsby section of the Great North Walk goes through a number of different bushland types, from heavy creek bush to elevated, open grassland as it meanders through the Berowra Valley.

Meet: Thornleigh Station, western side 10.30 (Oatley to Central 08.43 – 09.12; Central to Thornleigh 09.36 – 10.26.). You can also leave your car at the station and pick it up after the walk as we’ll be coming back down the Northern Line from Hornsby.

There are a couple of moderate climbs and one scrambly bit near the end, so it could be classified as moderately strenuous, especially with the final climb out up to Hornsby station. It should take about 3.0 hours, so we’ll take lunch on the trail. For a general idea of the walk’s attractions see the “wild walks” website, although we won’t be taking the exact route shown.


Sheldon Forest Walk – Turramurra

The Sheldon Forest walk started in cool damp weather so the six participants fortified themselves with a coffee in Turramurra before heading for the Reserve. On the upper North Shore deep shale soils support abundant plant growth and we passed tall blue gums and blackbutts growing in gardens and on the nature strip, demonstrating that shady native trees are valued in this part of Sydney.

Sheldon Forest contains one of the last remnants of Blue Gum High Forest community (BGHF) and Ku-ring-gai Council has undertaken weed removal, understorey revegetation and stream stabilisation to improve its biodiversity. These works were funded by a BioBanking Agreement with the NSW Government through the Linking Landscapes through Local Action grant program. Several Bushcare groups work in the reserve and a fox-baiting program was in operation at the time of our visit.

The generally smooth blue-grey trunks of the blue gums were patterned with squiggles formed by native red triangle slugs grazing on a film of algae. By contrast adjacent blackbutts had fibrous bark trunks and creamy-white branches (we spent some time learning to distinguish them). As we descended the forested valley, BGHF gave way to STIF (Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest) which also occurs in small pockets in Oatley.

Beside the track was a perfectly formed bower of a Satin Bowerbird, decorated with many items of blue plastic and some sulphur-yellow feathers from a cockatoo’s crest. Lower down the valley we found a great mound of decaying leaf litter – one of three Brush Turkey nests seen on the walk.

Although only 5.5 ha in area, Sheldon Forest contains a great diversity of vegetation. As the shale layer gave way to sandstone outcrops, angophoras she-oaks and grass trees appeared on dry west-facing hillsides.

But down on the shaded banks of Avondale Creek were warm temperate species including ‘black wattle’ (Callicoma serratifolia) and its relative, coachwood (Ceratopetalum apetalum). Despite being surrounded by suburbia, the narrow forest reserve was quiet and peaceful and we felt immersed in bushland.

The track was well-signposted and although there were many stone steps and a few narrow creek crossings, it was an easy track to follow. A sewer line follows the creek and where we emerged at the lower end of the reserve amongst backyards and stormwater outlets, we noticed a great abundance of weeds – most of them familiar to Bushcarers in Oatley.

We returned to Turramurra station via steep streets on the Pymble side of Sheldon Forest, admiring azaleas, camellias, rhododendrons and other spring blossoms in the gardens; then we crossed back through the reserve and followed the Pacific Highway for the last 500 metres – a rude return to city noise.

Thanks to Graham Lalchere for recording highlights of the walk in photos. See photo album

Coogee to Bondi Walk

Eight OFF members set out on Sunday, 30th July for a walk along the Coogee to Bondi cliff path. We picked a day with very disrupted transport arrangements but eventually arrived at Coogee desperate for a caffeine fix. Because it was such magnificent weather, we joined a cast of hundreds walking the path, although it was great to see so many people enjoying our beautiful coast. We passed the smaller beaches of Gordons Bay and Clovelly and looking southward the view along the coast was picture perfect.

After a little over an hour’s walk we arrived at the historic Waverley Cemetery. Here we visited the graves of many notables such as Lawrence Hargrave, Henry Lawson and Dorothea Mackellar among others. Our hero must surely be Sir James Martin (three times Premier and later Chief Justice of NSW) who was a founder of the League for the Prevention of Pollution of Air and Water (later the Sanitary Reform League) in 1880, possibly Australia’s first conservation group.

After a short lunch at Bronte beach we continued onto Bondi where a combination of beautiful weather and a festival at Bondi beach resulted in long bus queues to take us back to Bondi Junction. Unfortunately the group was split while boarding the bus so Graham L and Trevor decided it was quicker to walk back to Bondi Junction while the rest of us were kind enough to wait for them by having an outdoor coffee.

See more photos in webgallery

For free downloadable books and maps on graves search for Waverley Public Library, then Local Studies.

Report by walk leader Sue de Beuzeville

Centennial Park meander in the labyrinth & swamplands

On Friday 30th June 16 members of OFF took the train and bus to Centennial Park on a crisp, clear morning.
After morning coffee (with good use of Keep It Cups) and singing Happy Birthday to one of our group we set off for a gentle walk to the Lachlan Swamp.
Lachlan Swamp  is a magnificent paperbark swamp and home to a Flying Fox colony. We also observed a large flock of Little Corellas  and amongst them we spotted a few Long-billed Corellas. The Long-billed are normally found in Southern New South Wales.
From there we proceeded to the Labyrinth where many of us followed the path into its centre and out again. This sandstone labyrinth was completed in August 2014 having taken 5 months to build. It was based on the one in Chartres Cathedral in France.
After a picnic lunch on the lawns in the sun we walked back to Oxford St and caught a bus to the Reservoir Park in Paddington. This park is a re-purposing of the old water reservoir – a small gem easily overlooked. It also has a lovely example of a Wollemi Pine tree.
This completed our walk. We were very fortunate to have had such a sunny winter’s day as the forecast in the beginning of the week had been very different.

Jibbon Head

On Sunday 4th June, 15 OFF members and friends went on our annual “whale watching” walk. We arrived at Cronulla by train and car and then ferried across to Bundeena. It was a beautiful day and many people like us had decided to visit Royal National Park, consequently the ferry was quite crowded.

From Bundeena we followed the Jibbon Head track, there were plenty of wildflowers out including four species of banksia, acacias and plenty of pea flowers.

We had lunch in a lovely grassy spot overlooking the entrance into Port Hacking. It was a good spot for whale watching as well! We saw up to 10 whales, some were breaching creating spectacular splashes.   We returned to Bundeena via the aboriginal rock carvings, now protected by the construction of a viewing platform. We debated whether the two whales in the carvings were a humback and an orca and what was the significance of the two whales to the local aboriginals. Perhaps they had some cooperative arrangement with the orcas as used to occur with the whalers in Twofold Bay at Eden.

We then scarpered back in time to get the 3pm ferry which again was well crowded.We officially finished at Cronulla and satisfied that we had achieved our whale spotting goal and had a lovely walk in our great treasure, the Royal National Park.


Lime Kiln Bay Walk 20 May 2017

170520 LKB wetland OFF Guided walk-page-001

Malabar Headland National Park Walk

P1010787P1010793This was advertised as a generous walk – giving lots but demanding little. A glorious day welcomed 19 walkers to the Maroubra Beach Kiosk for coffee before we headed south to the bush-covered headland around AnP1010798zac Rifle Range – welcome to Sydney’s newest national park.

P1010814The walk along the coastline to Boora Point was punctuated by brilliant cliff and coast views and well as views of the city not far away. We paused at Magic Point where we learned about sharks from our youngest but perhaps most erudite walker, Wesley aged 11.

P1010816From there we headed past WWII pill boxes to Boora Point where aborigines once gathered for healing and shelter. This was the entrance to Long Bay. We looked out on the site of the wrecked MV Malabar (1931) which gave its name to this locality.

P1010833We enjoyed lunch on the rocks above the bay and learned about the name of the neighbouring suburb – Matraville, named after James Matra. Matra accompanied Cook aboard the Endeavour when on 29th April 1770*, almost exactly 247 years ago, Endeavour entered Botany Bay just to the south. Matra walked these coastal cliffs and hills with his friend Joseph Banks. We packed lunch away and headed back through fine coastal heath to Maroubra Beach feeling well satisfied.  CLICK HERE TO SEE PHOTO ALBUM

P1010836Field Day Report of Malabar Headland National Park 30th April by Walk Leader: Julian Sheen

* More accurately 28/04, Cook had no idea of the International Date Line