The Admiral is fond of saying that if it wasn't for the Australian Military, the just about pristine bushland around our harbour would of been lost last century.
The Army and Navy have in fact looked after and preserved great tracks of land since settlement and I often say this to great shock but seriously, think about it! Look at the rest of say, Balmoral and Mosman, that my friends is what places like Middle Harbour and Georges Heights would look like today if the the Navy and the Army had not of had their installations there!
I'm not saying it's been a perfect relationship AT ALL, but I would rather have most of the bushland preserved than leveled.
I am so lucky as I've already had over 25 years of access to these places but now the Military has given giving back most areas to public access via the Harbour Foreshore Trust and rest assured that though they still hold smaller areas, it is cared for with incredible dedication to preserving the environment.
I remember 20 plus years ago attending Ships Balls and staying overnight at HMAS Penguin and being an early riser, creeping out to wander about the scrub while watching the sunrise with my sketchbook and drawing the banksia, the lemon bottle brush, fuchsia heath and delighting in the chatter of the black cockatoos and whip bird chorus.
Sometimes a wallably would be finding it's way home, stopping by the mess for the fruit left out by the cook and would regard me I suppose as curious in my civvies.
All this wild nature right in the middle of Australia's busiest and biggest city.
(Black Cockatoos this weekend!)
On weekends we would often bring our young children to 'The Base' and then go for bush walks and picnics. Alone, no Rangers, no one to share the trails and tracks. We would sit up high on the cliff tops overlooking The Sydney Harbour Heads, watching the spinnakers and dolphins for hours.
The kids loved exploring the old Forts and we still do today. I feel like I'm in an episode of the Walking Dead at times as I walk within the corridoors of sandstone and concrete, of bars and rusty metal, not wanting to look around the bend!
Nature has taken over and silenced the area as many buildings and shapes seem to have become modern day lost temples within the bush.
We often return there now and did so this weekend. Now, open to the Public, we share the area with young families and tourists, with locals out jogging or enjoying the fresh air. It's more accessible in so many ways with marked tracks and information boards, but still the Admiral spins his warries about diving in the areas below and shares with me, and anyone who shares our trail!, the history and the fun facts about the area.
This weekend we met a Ranger. The Admiral and I are still arguing about his name! I think it is Phil, he thinks it's Dave! We shall find out next time. He was very helpful in sharing with me areas of flowering Wildflowers and it was interesting to see which plants had been selected for regeneration in a few sections. He had also unearthed.... CANNON BALLS! The Admiral was in blokey heaven :)
We got an invitation to come back with Ranger Awesome to his office to see the Cannon Balls from 1850 and the tin box that they where found in.
A few of the Flowers I Found:
The Guardian of the Rock
This Flower was so powerful and zinging as the photo reveled.
GUESS! (yes it's a trick question!)
TO GET THERE: