Hiking and motorcycle riding; what a brilliant combination. Sydney turned on a lovely spring day for riding my motorcycle along the Old Pacific Highway towards Brisbane Waters. Patonga, my destination for the day, has been one of my favourite small coastal villages for over a decade. Its placement on the river mouth offers the choice of an oceanfront or riverside experience.
Riding along the Old Pacific Highway, it felt good to be on paved roads again after the previous weekend dirt biking. The weather was ideal with dappled light streaming through the trees as I rode northwards. The route took a little over three hours, riding one section a second time it was so good, before pushing onto Woy Woy and eventually Patonga.
Arriving in time for lunch, the change that has come over the small fishing village since The Boathouse team took over the old pub is startling. On the one hand, the food is excellent, as is the decor and service. However, the crowds rival those of the most popular Bondi eatery with long lines to order food. Some of the peacefulness that drew me to Patonga has been ruptured. However, who can argue with eating good food by the water? I need to adjust to the new Patonga or go elsewhere.
Fueled up, I set off to join the track for the Great North Walk only five minutes from the jetty. The initial climb is steep, taxing any underutilised muscles with glimpses of the water beyond the trees increasing the higher you climb. It was very peaceful along the trail, away from the crowds at The Boathouse. There are dolphins in the water, goannas on the sunny rock ledges and a myriad of spring wildflowers in the undergrowth.
Throughout the walk, I stopped at various lookout points, savouring the views and calm surroundings. For me, it is vital to make the most of these moments. There is a time to rush, and there is a time to pause. And, if you are going to rest, the Great North Walk offers incredible vistas of the Barrenjoey Head Lighthouse and ocean beyond. I finished the hike by taking off my shoes and socks and walking along the water’s edge. This highly visceral experience rounded out a beautiful Sunday before saddling up for the ride home.