750 metres loop, 40 minutes
It was a sunny winter morning when we decided to stop by Wollstonecraft to explore the Gadyan Track in Berry Island. Berry Island used to be a stand alone island until it was connected to the mainland in the 1960’s through a man-made isthmus of rocks and mud, making the flat picnic area enjoyed by many today. The island contains rock engravings, stone grinding grooves, and middens made by the original occupants of the North Sydney region, the Cammeraygal. To the east of the island lies an Australian Navy establishment and to the west lies a fuel import and storage facility.
I knew there was a playground in the island so during the car trip, I drilled my kids with our very simple itinerary of “bushwalk first before playground”. I probably didn’t have to do this because when we got to the Reserve, the kids were immediately drawn to the water and the lone cormorant performing perfect dives.
Keeping the water to our left, we followed a father and son walking on the rocks right after where the green fence stopped. After a few falls, we quickly learned that the green rocks were slippery with moss and so we stuck with stepping on the brown ones.
Andrew and I were not entirely sure how safe it was to continue walking the perimeter of the island via the rocks so we followed a steep stairway leading away from the beach that linked to the Gadyan track.
Andrew and our son soon took the lead. Having visited the Australian Museum the day before, our son was really keen to find some dinosaur bones and giant crocodiles. Andrew played along with the hunt while taking photos of winter-flowering plants.
My daughter busied herself climbing up and sliding down boulders along the path. I waited for her while peering through the clear waters amazed at how many oysters clung to rocks.
Lessons from the previous week’s NAIDOC celebrations were still fresh in my daughter’s memory as she picked up some twigs and pretended they were clapping sticks. As she and her brother sat down to scribble on the ground, my daughter continued explaining that she learned that Aboriginal people passed on their stories by talking and sometimes by drawing on rocks and bark.
The theme of the conversation could not have been more apt and as soon as we moved on from scribbling on the ground, we came across rock engravings and grinding grooves. Unfortunately, our photos do not do these significant art/cultural engravings justice so here is the information sign we found. We hope you can find the time go to see these very accessible engravings for yourself one day:
We came across many families walking the flat and wide track, many with pre-schoolers and with their dogs. We also came across common shorebirds like masked lapwings, cormorants, and seagulls. I have to admit, it was hard to feel like we were in the bush with the giant silos, busy waterways, multi-million dollar houses and apartments, and towering commercial buildings dominating the view around the island.
With the supposedly 40-minute walk starting to reach over an hour and everyone getting hungry, I provided incentive for the kids to finish faster by repeatedly calling out “The faster we walk, the faster we’ll get to the playground!” And they did walk faster before excitedly jumping their way all the way down to the bottom of the stairs leading to the playground.
We spent a few minutes at the playground before making our way back to the picnic area to enjoy our hummus, cheese, ham, bread and corn chips lunch.
After lunch, I had a nap and my daughter and Andrew used me as a giant pillow while they supervised my son playing near the fence. I woke up drool-faced thirty minutes later then packed the remains of our lunch while Andrew and the kids played tackles.
For such a short track, the kids ended up falling asleep for four hours afterwards. A big win…until bedtime that night.