Travelling from interstate, Lorraine revisited her childhood playground. Walking the coast of the Hughes electorate. Hughes has the longest coast line of any Sydney Electorate. I grew up in a two-bedroom fibro cottage on the ‘Cook’ side of Port Hacking, but it was ‘the Royal’ and its coastal villages that was my family's playground.
Weekends were usually in a boat of some sort or other. A gentle sortie in a canoe to drag oysters out of the sand along one of the creeks that trickle into South West Arm. A noisy swoosh in the tinnie across to Maianbar (my sister and I thought it was an island) to buy an ice cream, pump nippers and catch a flathead for dinner. Or a loud yee-ha as Dad got the sailing boat up on one hull as we scooted across the waves in front of Jibbon.
If we weren’t on the water, it was into the car with our towels and thongs as we headed for one of the many walks that drop down from the roads that snake through the ‘Royal’ and onto the legendary beaches, Wattamolla, Marley, Garie. It was a wonderful way to grow up and it gave me life-long love for nature.
It’s been a while, and I wanted to go back. With a couple of pals I set off along the Coast Track from Bundeena into a gale-force southerly to see if the Royal was as spectacular as I remembered, and it did not disappoint. Spring time flowers, majestic cliffs, stunningly special places where the Dharawal people cared for country, their families and their people.
I walked the track that my Dad walked 65 years ago as a Boy Scout and 45 years ago with my Mum, my sister and I. The Coast Track in the Royal National Park, this place is beyond majestic.
I thank everyone who has cared and continues to care for these places, the Dharawal people, the environmental activists that first established the park, the politicians who saved it from the squattocracy and those politicians who continue to value nature and argue for it to be properly protected and funded, park managers and field officers and the increasing numbers of people who live, visit and play in the park. I have promised my Dad that we will check it out again, together, at least one more time.