Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter at Hornsby Lighthouse

Left: trailhead towards Hornsby. Middle: Lady Bay Beach. Right: Camp Cove Beach

Happy Easter Sunday hike! I have been saving a trip to Hornsby Lighthouse and Gap Park for a family visit or holiday and today was it. Slightly overcast but humid, we made our way down the well marked trail past camp cove beach and nudie Lady Bay Beach towards the south head lower light. Hornsby is an active lighthouse, and much of the peninsula is dedicated to the naval HMAS Watson.  The Lightkeeper's cottage c1858 offers stunning 360 views of Sydney Harbor, Manly Head, and the open Tasman ocean. Watson's Bay is the smallest of the three Sydney heads, making the trails more congested even on a holiday. There are public restrooms, and well kept trails, but several sets of steps to take your stroller up and down and no dogs allowed.

 In 1957, the Dunbar en route from England wrecked while attempting to enter Sydney Harbor in foul weather. All 122 people (minus one James Johnson) on board perished, and a lighthouse was planned to prevent future crashes. Construction didn't proceed quickly enough and in October of the same year, the Catherine Anderson also wrecked killing 21 passengers. In a twist of fate, James Johnson became the first lighthouse keeper and in 1945 the land was acquired by the commonwealth to be used for defense by the army. After several years of falling into disrepair, fast forward to 1996 when Hornsby received a much needed face lift bringing you close to the present day picture above.

The entire walk didn't take more than an hour at a very leisurely pace, and we decided to make a pit stop at Gap Park for Grandma. We had a nice seafood dinner at Doyles while watching the lighting roll in over Manly and eventually Watsons Bay.  It's easy to see why a visit to Watson's Bay is always listed as one of the top ten Sydney "must do" day trips. The cliffs, beaches, sand, and seafood are iconic Sydney and what I will always think of when reflecting on our time here.

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