On Thursday, James (another Pommie) at work asked if Mat and I would be interested in getting up early Saturday morning and going somewhere nice to watch the sun rise for Winter Solstice. I was previously not aware that he was a fellow Pagan so it was nice to discover. He explained that when he was back in England he always used to spend Summer Solstice at Avebury and wanted to at least do something to acknowledge the Sabbat even if there are no standing stones here in Australia.
We asked a few people in the office of suitable places and one suggestion was made by Hayley of West Head. This is within Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and there was a bit of debate as to whether the gates would be shut or not that early in the morning so we discussed a few other places and left it at that.
When I got home I relayed the discussions to Mat and we decided we would go out, there and then, on a reconnoitre. Here is another map from Google Earth that I have annotated slightly to show where we went:
As you can see it faces East and overlooks Barrenjoey Head. It took us about half an hour to get there which isn’t much longer than the time it takes to get to Palm Beach. It was pitch black and raining as we drove through the bush. We came across an empty toll booth at the beginning of West Head Road which presumably only operates during the day and then further on down the road we came across a council gate with a sign saying it was closed at 6pm. As it was getting on for 7pm and still open we carried on and just hoped nobody would shut it behind us before we could leave.
Eventually we got to the end of the track where it goes round in a one way circle and back again. We parked up, armed ourselves with torches and went to investigate. There was a path with steps that led to West Head Beach so we decided to follow it. After about ten minutes of continuous steps downward we began to wonder if we had chosen the right path but continued anyway, picking our way carefully amongst the wet and dripping foliage and avoiding the large worms that Mat had previously had a bad squirting experience with.
As we got closer and closer to our destination we could hear the sea gradually getting louder and ten minutes later we finally arrived at the beach. It is a shame it was so dark as I couldn’t take any pictures. It was only a small beach, a little cove really, but was very peaceful and gave a great view of Barrenjoey Head and the lighthouse.
After about five minutes of looking around we began the climb back up to the car. Oh my goodness, it made me realise how unfit I have become just sitting in the office all day. I had to have a good few rests and felt completely drained by the time we got back. It appears all my hard work I did back in the UK, walking up Leckhampton Hill regularly to get fit, has been undone by the recent months of slothfulness.
Anyway, all in all, by the time we got home the whole trip had taken us two hours so we were a bit dubious as to whether it would be a good spot for watching the sun rise on Winter Solstice. Plus, on going to the bathroom on our return I was a bit grossed out by a leech I suddenly noticed casually crawling across the tiles. It must have fallen off my clothing and Mat and I promptly had a strip down inspection of each other to make sure there were no more of the little buggers latching on anywhere they shouldn’t be; fortunately there weren’t!
When I got to work the next morning I gave Hayley an account of our adventure and then queried where she took her photos as they looked a lot more elevated than the view we had from the beach. Doh, what an idiot! I discovered that for the real views we shouldn’t have gone to the beach at all. We had, in the dark, completely missed the viewing point a short walk to the north which gives brilliant panoramic views over the trees. Apparently there are benches there and everything – oops.