Sixteen happy walkers alighted from the train at Otford eager to start the walk.

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The friendly station master commented ‘your first challenge is ahead of you’ and he was correct. The steep climb from the station to Lady Wakehurst Drive was a challenge! As we approached the top we were met by a smiling Anne G. Our group was now complete and following a short walk along the road we arrived at Otford Lookout and the start of the Coast Track.

Setting off in perfect weather the views northward along the Royal’s rugged coastline and to the south as far as Port Kemble were superb. Continuing along the Coast Track for about fifty minutes we stopped for morning tea with views to the south and Werrong Beach below.                                                                                                          

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Passing through Palm Jungle and along a newly constructed (to us) steel mesh walkway we had magnificent coastal views and a glimpse of the Figure Eight Pools.

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Arriving at Burning Palms Beach for lunch the leaders found a lunch spot with an overhanging rock protecting us from the heat of the day. We could have lingered longer watching the waves roll in but there was a ridge to climb and a train to catch.

                                                                  Approaching Burning Palms Beach

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                                                                  and emerging from the track onto Burning Palms Beach

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                                                                        Our protected lunch spot from the heat of the day      

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                                                                                  Burning Palms Beach

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We ascended the steep Burgh Track following the Garawarra Ridge stopping along the way for much needed drink stops. 

                                                                  Climbing up the Burgh Track after lunch

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Once at the top we followed the Cliff Track back to Otford Lookout arriving at 2.35pm.                                                 

                                                     Kurt contemplates the next stage......the Cliff Track

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Could we catch the 2.53pm train? We took off and when we realised it was a possibility the pace quickened. As we were carefully negotiating the steep track down to the station we saw the train pulling in. Walkers ran down the stairs, up the stairs, across the bridge and down the other side to the waiting train with seconds to spare. The driver very kindly held the train up as the final walkers ran across the bridge jumped onto the train much to the relief of all especially the leaders! A very big ‘thank you’ was given to the driver when we changed trains at Helensburgh. Did HVB walkers cause the network to be thrown into chaos with train delays?

Another great day out with HVB!

          Not long ago these were really 'Burning Palms'                                     Drumsticks Isopogon anemonifolius

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   Basking in the sunshine

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                                                             Crimson Bottlebrush Callistemon citrinus

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                                                                  Between a rock and.......a rock

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Along the track we passed a sign with an old photo of the famous NSW conservationist Myles Dunphy , together with Bert Gallop.
In 1934 , Myles Dunphy, one of the first bushwalkers to explore the area, convinced the then government to add 520 ha around Garawarra area to the Royal National Park. According to some accounts, Myles Dunphy was camping amongst the cabbage tree palms in 1913. When night fell, he lit some dead leaves and, it’s not clear quite why, hoisted them above his head. To his surprise, some campers further north, saw the flame and let a flare in reply. Hence the name 'Burning Palms'. Well ... that's one story! (From Sue S)

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 After lunch we walked up through some old Coastal Cabins. These state heritage listed Coastal Cabins were built in the depression up and down the coast. Burning palms is located in the area known as the Garawarra. This name is a combination of Garie and Illawarra. There were many cabins built in this area. (From Sue S)

Deidre and Sue S led fifteen walkers Helen A, Clive, Chris B, Wendy C, Susan C, Polly, Anne G, Celia, Kas, Sheila, Guenter, Kurt, Vreni and two visitors.

Words by Deidre

Photos by Sue S (1, 2, 11, 13, 16) Deidre (3, 5, 7, 8, 10) Sheila (4) Susan C (6, 9, 15, 17) Wendy C (12, 14, 18, 19)