We took the ‘travel here this year’ quite literally in 2020 and managed quite a few escapes in New South Wales- our home state thanks to Covid lockdowns. 

We were already keen to support small country towns having been inspired in late 2019 by campaigns like ‘Buy from the bush’ and ‘bring an empty esky’. The bush fires also contributed to us city dwellers wanting to show our support. 

Our whole family was travelling during the bush fires of 2019, and when you are physically overseas watching your own country on fire….. I have never felt anything like that, knowing that loved ones had lost property and their livelihood and just watching everyone rally behind raising funds to support our own. 

There were a lot of our rural areas that have done it tough due to drought, fire and flood.  

The travel world changed with borders closing in Australia due to the pandemic and although we were completely locked down at home for a brief time last year , once we were able to travel this created the perfect opportunity for us to jump in the car with a Spotify play list and hit the road for wide open spaces. Venturing through our own state of New South Wales for the past 12 months -we absolutely loved it. 

From chasing golden canola fields in the the south west of the state to attending workshops in Tenterfield in the north, visiting family and friends on the south coast at Mogo and Cobargo and celebrating one of my son’s 30th birthdays in the Hunter Valley.  So many reasons to be thankful for this travel bubble. 

As the year went on, we had already had 3 interstate trips cancelled and then postponed. Steve and I both have small business and although mine would shut for an annual two week Christmas break, Steve was unsure if his business would close or not.

So for the Christmas/New Year week, we decided not to risk flights being cancelled for the 4th time this year and found a sweet little ‘oyster shed’ accommodation, at Lovett Bay on Air BnB in Pittwater, just 20 minutes from home to relax and enjoy this beautiful area and explore our own backyard- peace and quiet, no phones ( or kids) just the sound of water and nature…… 

Insert big swear word here, because just before Christmas the Northern Beaches of Sydney went into a zoned lockdown!  We were now unable to cross the Narrabeen Bridge into the north zone and stay out our accommodation.

So we got over ourselves and re organised our plans to be at home for a 2 week staycation! 

As part of the lockdown rules, we were allowed to leave our homes for daily exercise and because we do live in an incredible part of the world, often referred to as ‘god’s country’ -surrounded by beautiful beaches, a lake with lots of National Parks we were still able to venture out within a radius of the Narrabeen Bridge to the Spit Bridge and enjoy our community.

 Throw in a couple of 1:1 outdoor PT sessions and boom! What a fabulous time we have had. 

Not only  have we holidayed in our own back yard, we also made sure to get out and exercise daily, somewhere we hadn’t been before or had not visited for a while.

Our first outing was to Long Reef Headland: It’s also our local park, where we take our dog Addie. However, this time thank you lockdown, the local public golf course was also closed due to restrictions and we were able to walk on this beautiful lush green golf course instead of the trail that goes around it! 

What a treat this was and having lived here all my life, I’ve never actually been a rebel and walked on the course, so we spent a good hour letting the dog swim in the ponds, watching other families have little picnics along the edge of the grass and the sun was out!

Our next walk along Dee Why beach to Curl Curl Headland: There were lots of small socially distanced little coffee catch ups happening along the beach front and we also sat for 10 minutes and had a coffee and a bacon and egg roll.  From the top of the ocean pool is a path that takes you along the  coastal cliff headland to Curl Curl beach.  A fun little rock hop, bush track.  The weather has mostly been dead set overcast and a little miserable, but guess what? The sun came out again for our hour of power walk, and we ended up at dog play area in the lagoon near the beach so Addie girl could have a swim! 

Mid way through the week, the weather got gloomier and gloomier. Drizzle rain which considering the lockdown was probably good. The weather meant we didn’t feel like we had missed anything!

Our beautiful coastline has some incredible walks that we were able to access in lockdown. 

A favourite walk this side of the Harbour is the famous Spit to Manly walk:  A 10 kilometre walk that is just divine. Bush tracks with stairs and railings that allow you to get close to the cliff or and down to the small little beach inlets along the coast that also form part of Sydney Harbour foreshore. 

The bush track is National Park part local council walking trails,  which means there is a $5500 fine for taking your dog in parts of this walk. But don’t worry- There is a fabulous dog friendly way to complete this walk, from Clontarf to forty baskets beach. You just get to check out the local real estate market for a few streets!

Tania Park at North Balgowlah is also dog friendly.  We had a quick off leash play here  along with a few photograph stops, before we headed down the hill to North Harbour Reserve  and on into Manly. All these walks form part of the Sydney Coastal walks.

The walk takes a few hours, and a reminder if you leave a car near Manly and then drive to Clontarf, make sure you have your car keys, or you need to go back and get the other car and your keys. 

  Yep this was me this week!  Ah well, we were on holidays and the drink o’clock beer that afternoon sure was nice!

As the weather got slightly worse, we decided to head a little more inland to Manly Dam, another walk that’s around 8 km’s depending on where you start your walk and if you take a what you think is a wrong turn and back track before realising you were heading in the right direction…… 

I’m not that good with an actual map, however I am good at knowing where the dam is!   

Map of the Heritage Walk from Northern beaches Council

A bonus was not just the walk but the bush area itself. Jess my daughter came with us and as we walked along the road from the carpark to start, had already stopped and taken 3 photos. Jess called out ‘I didn’t know this was a photography walk’! 

Jess- striding out.

Honey, It is always a photography walk and I always catch up so off you go get your heart rate going.

Some of the beautiful little waterfalls were flowing with all the drizzling rain we have had this past week, and the trees that have shed their red bark look amazing. Lots of flannel flowers and Christmas bush throughout this park circuit and lovely picnic areas, mountain bike trails that you sometimes need to share.

Jess and Steve walking the swamp boardwalk

Although dogs aren’t allowed in the picnic areas, roads or playground, and apart from when they are baiting foxes, dogs are allowed on the bush tracks. The trails are steep in some areas, muddy in others.

I forgot how much fun Manly Dam is and I don’t think I have ever walked completely all the way around the Heritage walk. 

There is a fabulous indigenous self-guided walk : Gulgadya Muru, Highlighting 5 different points of interest around the dam. Go check it out!

Beautiful stairs at the start of the Aboriginal Walk

I loved all the gnarly trees that were twisted and shedding bark or old man banksia tree with its blackened pods. Water lilies, ducks and the odd water ski boat all co-habitat the actual dam, and because the rain has been falling the weir and dam bridge were flowing!

We also did the coastal walk from Freshwater to Shelley Beach along the promenade in Manly, and Addie girl has a dip in the lagoon at Queenscliff and stole another puppies tennis ball!

Yesterday we ventured to North Head above Manly without the dog this time as I wanted to visit Collins Flat, a beach where the nesting Sydney penguins live.

No we didn’t see any penguins, however we did do a little beach combing, and because we did arrive on the motorbike, I couldn’t take home any drift wood….. just a couple of shells.

Officially we are now out of lockdown and can freely travel into greater Sydney. The northern end of the beaches towards Palm Beach and Avalon are still closed off to us. 

We are off to have breakfast at Collaroy, get Steve new thongs as he had a blow out last night and walk the part of the Lake on our side of the bridge. 

I hope you had a nice break and wish you a Happy safe New year. 

 What did you get up too? 

Mrs Wong x