Go west, old man, go west. That’s what I was doing today.
I was zooming in on a lovely c-shaped hike along surfaced bicycle trails in western Sydney, which would take me alongside Prospect Reservoir. Well, it had before but it was not to be today as you will see later.
Early ferry 6.35am to town and here I am at Circular Quay train station 7.10am or so waiting for the train to take me into western Sydney’s heartland.
Great views from Circular Quay train station.
My stop was Guildford and after exiting the train I saw this very old fashioned and sparsely documented map of Western Sydney cycleways, which I was due to follow. Luckily, I brought my own map.
The initial stretch of the Cycleway goes alongside the water supply pipelines bringing water to the adjacent suburbs from Prospect Reservoir.
Hmm… Interesting perhaps but maybe not that beautiful.
Just follow the signs towards Guildford West, at least initially.
Now, this was a new and innovative way of providing “cycle paths”…
After a while, you get to remnants of Prospect Canal (the water pipes are now buried and run alongside the old canal where the water used to run free, directed by gravity).
Map of Lower Prospect Canal Reserve.
Sometimes, the canal had been filled in and sometimes not, obviously not when the canal crossed underneath road bridges.
Time for a first break an hour or so into the hike. Yes, there were a few punters here and there, with dogs or cycling or walking, but most of the time I was pretty much by myself. Nice!
This construction is called Boothtown Aqueduct and was used to transport the water across a small valley.
And this is how Boothtown Aqueduct looks from the side today. Nature is taking over all around it.
A signboard explaining Boothtown Aqueduct.
The Boothtown Aqueduct from the western or other side from where I came from.
At times, you walk down down there somewhere and not being able to see very much makes for an interesting experience.
Then, problem. This sign was not a good omen. I didn’t know about it but the cycleways and the picnic area along the Prospect Reservoir were closed for an upgrade… And will be so for the rest of this year.
Yep, I could see across the road where the Cycleway would have continued that it was now out of bounds. Bummer.
The sign pointed to an alternative cycleway during the work which was… Down here. Hmm… Not sexy.
Well, to their credit they had set up signs to indicate the diversion, but still…
Apart from now walking through suburbia and industrial areas, the diversion took me alongside a T-way, a designated bus only road for rapid transport of people, presumably workers to the major centers such as Parramatta. No, definitely not sexy.
Fast forward even after walking a stretch along Horsley Drive, a very busy road, I arrived at the main entrance to the Pimella Picnic Area which forms part of Western Sydney Regional Park. This was better.
Lunch at Pimella Picnic Area in Western Sydney Regional Park. A most pleasant place for a lunch break. Yep, I am a big fan of having a couple of cans of tuna for lunch, now that you can get them in a variety of different flavours (my favourite is tuna in lime and black pepper, yummy!)
After lunch, I crossed another water supply channel originating from the Prospect Reservoir, this one going south from the dam.
This funny looking maintained grassy track belongs to Sydney International Equestrian Centre which is also housed within the Western Sydney Regional Park. I assume that the train with the horses along this circuit.
Now going south and towards Fairfield City Farm…
…which seemed to be known as Calmsley Hill these days. The farm is a city kids destination where the kids can get a country experience within a reasonable distance from home and school. I saw sheep out and about today and I have seen alpacas there on earlier occasions.
I was then heading east again and through suburbia for a while until I reached Stockdale Reserve, a lovely piece of green land with two ponds to catch water run offs in times of heavy rain. Nice work here.
A signboard that told the story of Stockdale Reserve.
I assume that the pond water came from Orphan School Creek (or is it the other way around?) which I soon started to follow and would follow for the rest of the hike.
This colourful construct appeared a couple of times along the cycleway, but there was no signs or information of what it meant. I assumed that it was some kind of logo for the cycleway which was relatively recently completed (2004) and continued for the remaining 10km or so that I would walk today to Canley Vale train station and even beyond that according to my map.
At one point in Greenfield Park, the cycle path went alongside a school. The kids were clearly not in recess today as I have passed here before during recess and it had been LOUD.
Hmm… An all too common look around here unfortunately.
The cycleway passes just north of the Fairfield Showgrounds and there were horses there. This guy was clearly used to people passing by as he immediately walked up to me. He did look a bit sad and I didn’t have anything to feed him with. We chatted for a while…
There was a brand spanking new path being constructed in Canley Heights, on the southern side of Orphan School Creek where only a path on the northern side was marked on my map.
Of course, the new path had to be road tested and I took a punt that it would merge with the other side of the creek later on so I would come right again. Yes, it did.
More revegetation work was happening here next to one of the road underpasses. They do spend a bit of money for recreational purposes here.
Well, I arrived at Canley Vale station around 3pm and was lucky enough to get onto a city train within a couple of minutes (but not so lucky at Circular Quay and the connecting ferry back to Manly, that is almost symptomatic).
All in all though, a very pleasant walk despite that I couldn’t get to the Prospect Reservoir but it definitely feels like a day out. All good!