We’re still floating around this beautiful waterway – Broken Bay, just 16 nautical miles north of Sydney. It’s a huge harbour, full of long, wide arms (called creeks), with snug little coves and quiet anchorages off each of them. This is the Hawkesbury region, one of Australia’s earliest settled places after Port Jackson. It was the food bowl for the fledgling colony, and droughts or floods here meant starvation for the rest. Now it’s a paradise for yachties, and for people who can afford the real estate prices on shore. Most of the bays we moored in are within Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park.
The sides of most of the creeks are so steep they could be called gorges. Not much walking to do here from a boat unless you’re a serious climber. The rocks are amazing, weathered and gouged like something out of Middle Earth… Trees find footholds right down to the water’s edge – never expected to see Eucalypts with their toes in the salt water.
The waterfall here is in Refuge Bay, quite a sight when there’s been heavy rain. It was full of swimmers and small boats when we visited, with just a trickle of water to shower under. Few fish anywhere, much to Lex’s despair – we’re told the fishing is pretty sad down here now. Hope the Top End fishery never gets this depleted.
Little Lovett Bay is up the southern end of Pittwater, near Church Point. When we picked up our mooring here, I thought this is the kind of place I could live in, and write! It’s already been home to several writers, most notably Dorothea MacKellar, who built a house called “Tarrangaua” on next door Lovett Bay 90 years ago. Another writer, Susan Duncan, now lives in the house so the writing tradition goes on.
As we sailed out of Sydney Harbour and along the coast heading north, I could see Queenscliff on the headland at the north end of Manly Beach. This was the location in Ronan’s Echo of Bridie O’Malley/Ronan’s house. I think the appearance would be vastly improved if we could see that lovely old house instead of what’s there now…!