It’s a sunny Saturday morning on the Northern Beaches in Sydney. It’s Anzac Day, in fact, so all the shops are closed and we decide spontaneously to make the most out of the warm and sunny weather. The Northern Beaches are still recovering from the recent storms at time of writing, so you can imagine how good it feels to have the sun tickle your nose and the tiny hair on your arms feel the soft breeze.
We stop our car at the Bilarong Reserve carpark right off the Wakehurst Parkway (which has seen so much flooding recently!). Bilarong is great by the way for families with kids, as the playground here is huge and full of surprises. Have a look with your kids next time when you are in the area, you won’t regret it! There are also BBQ facilities here, so a great destination for a fun day out with the family.
Our spontaneous plan includes the newly completed Narrabeen Lagoon Trail, a 10km loop around the Narrabeen Lakes, past some heritage items, lots of native bush and wildlife, and some really scenic views. The reason why I call it spontaneous is because we have not planned for this at all – we are lacking water, sun protection and even socks. But we figure we can toughen it out, all in the name of health and fitness.
The trail is extremely popular with the locals. There are lots of families with small kids on bikes, navigating the sandy surfaces and puddles, but there is a lot of mutual respect and we as walkers don’t feel threatened by the bike traffic. Joggers are equally happy to use this as their favourite track – the 10km distance is perfect for those who have a bit of experience to show for.
But we just start on a more relaxed pace which allows us to take in the sights and sounds of the beautiful native nature around us. We begin the trail anti-clockwise for no particular reason and soon lose ourselves in this stunning landscape. The photos in this post are showing some of the trail sights in pretty much the same order.
If you are following the same route, you will first follow the Wakehurst Parkway for a couple of minutes until the trail takes a turn to follow the shoreline. From here onwards you will shake off the noise of the traffic and feel more at peace. One interesting historic feature for example are the remains of the lime and cement works that used be here between 1933 and 1947. With the construction of the Wakehurst Parkway these cement works never reached their full potential, which is probably good given that the native bushland around us was eventually protected from further industrial development.
You will walk past the Middle Creek Reserve, a popular spot for boating fans who love to launch their boats here, and also great for hosting an outdoor BBQ with friends. A newly constructed purple steel footbridge crosses the Middle Creek and you will then walk across the grounds of the Sports Academy which allows you glimpses of their sophisticated sports equipment and training facilities.
Crossing another stunning purple footbridge and you are heading straight into Jamison Park. This is not a park in the most common sense, with rolling manicured lawns and lots of benches, but rather a nature reserve with marshland, swamp mahogany, palm trees, lots of birds, rock formations and of course the shoreline of the lake. You are very far away from the noise of the city here, and the idyllic views across the water invite to a stop and rest.
From the park you return to the urban areas of the Northern Beaches, and you will walk past houses and suburban streets until you arrive at the popular lakeside of the Narrabeen town centre. Here you can hire boats and watch the ducks, or you can have a rest in one of the cute little waterfront cafes that line the shore. On the other side, see the posh million dollar mansions that enjoy direct waterfront access. It’s a great spot to take a break, just about one kilometre from where you started.
We follow the trail across the lagoon one more time, sharing the bridge with the heavy traffic on Pittwater Road, then back to our starting point along the Wakehurst Parkway. Overall, the walk takes us just about 2 hours, but if you want to employ a more leisurely pace or if you plan a lunch or snack at one of the gorgeous little cafes like The Limani Seafood Restaurant or the H20 Cafe then you may need to take this extra time into account, in particular when purchasing a parking ticket at the reserve.
The Narrabeen Lagoon Trail is a fantastic addition to the Northern Beaches, offering great opportunities for physical activity – be it walking, riding a bike or jogging – in a wonderful stretch of native bush. It’s wonderful how the trail winds around the shore, providing different views every other minute, and crossing so many different landscapes. While it can get busy you will find that everybody is very cautious and helpful and that there is plenty of opportunity to take breaks and relax.
You don’t necessarily have to go the whole trail to enjoy this fantastic experience. If you want to take it easy, just try a stretch at a time. For further information and a map, check out this link here. And how did we survive the hardships resulting from our lack of planning? We counted two blisters and no sunburn, so overall not bad at all.