Castlecrag Community

Articles from The Crag

Sailors Bay Track
The Crag No. 165, October 2007


Watergate Reserve, the largest Reserve in the Griffin subdivision has a new track linking The Barbette and The Redoubt via Sailors Bay Creek with The Outpost in Northbridge. Recent signs erected by Willoughby City Council have dubbed it the Sailors Bay Track. They also link it with the Griffin Federation Track at Keep Reserve in The Rampart. The new track was funded by the NSW Government and Willoughby Council.

I read an article recently about Marion Mahony Griffin wife of Walter in which she is quoted as saying to artist Bernard Hesling when looking across to Northbridge from Castlecrag: ‘it’s hoorabul, horrabul. Wahlter an’ I wanna keep the Crag voigin bush’. She was also, in the words of residents, known to get around the rocky terrain of Castlecrag ‘like a mountain goat’. The new track beautifully constructed is steep and rough, so whilst you don’t need to walk like a billygoat it isn’t a track for everyone, it does however provide splendid opportunities to immerse yourself in the Griffin vision, have a sense of ‘voigin’ bush and enjoy views across to Northbridge.

To access the new track, go to the end of either The Redoubt or The Barbette and follow the signs. The bush at the top is a delightful mix of Christmas Bush and Angophoras. Council’s bush regenerators have been doing a lot of work throughout Watergate Reserve and the new track has facilitated these works. It would be great if the community could help via learning about Bush Regeneration via Council and help to manage the interface between bushland and their residences. The track then descends steeply to Sailor’s Bay Creek and a large tranquil forest of Coachwood Trees, a cousin of Christmas Bush, and a once important timber for the construction of coaches and the butts of 303 rifles. From the creek the track can be followed east to Sailors Bay before continuing west along the creek to The Outpost.


Sailors Bay Creek
just below The Palisade.
Photo: Matthew Keighery

Ian Rannard in his excellent history of Willoughby’s Market Gardens says that his father, himself a market gardener of the land across Eastern Valley Way, always said that the track along the Creek was an old aboriginal track. Whilst you often see Easter Water Dragons and eels along the creek, Ian also remembers Long Neck Turtles in the Creek. With development impending at The Market Gardens and also Northbridge Plaza, there is considerable scope to improve the health of the Creek. With community support for these outcomes perhaps it will once again support the Long Neck. Another delight as you head up the Creek is to commonly see Blue Wrens which are so conspicuously absent closer to our houses.

The new track was identified as a desired outcome in the 1996 Willoughby City Council Griffin Reserves Plan of Management (POM). This POM has resulted in action plans being drawn up and work undertaken in many of our reserves. These plans are the result of direct community consultation under the guidance of The Griffin Reserves Advisory Group. This group consists of a Council officer, a Councillor and residents including myself who live adjacent to Reserves, and we meet four times a year with additional site inspections between meetings. A public forum on the Griffin Reserves and Walkways is being planned for March 2008. It should be a great opportunity for all residents to express their wishes in regard to the Griffin Reserves, the road islands and pathways. In the meantime walk the Sailors Bay Track and enjoy the “voigin” bush.

Reference: Beyond Architecture, Marion Mahony and Walter Burley Griffin, Powerhouse Publishing, 1998.
Matthew Keighery

Sailors Bay Track




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