Angourie Coast Care president John Webber was spent; his exhaustion a symptom of coordinating last minute administrative and physical details so as to be ready for the official opening of the Angourie Heritage Walk on Friday last week.
Around 40 people gathered at Green Point, where the walk begins, to celebrate the achievements of a willing band of volunteers, who, along with Green Army workers, laboured to complete the 2.5 kilometre project.
“I remember my first trip to Angourie with my brothers; there was a myriad of tracks through the bush,” he recalls prior to the official proceedings. “Every time we set off for the beach it was an adventure … will we take this track or that track?”
It’s those kinds of memories that motivate people to reinstate nature after it has been waylaid by human carelessness; but the ultimate goal, he says, is to “enhance the experience of Angourie when people first arrive or visit again, and for those who live here, too”.
“There are views of the ocean, there’s a rainforest and swamp oak and paper bark forests – so the idea behind the heritage walk is to provide an enhanced experience of the reserve, to provide some historical background: both Aboriginal and the more recent European uses in the quarry and the railway.”
Green Point has significant cultural values for the Yaegl people and was a traditional meeting place when tribes visited from other areas.
The walk traces the route of the old train-line cutting, which extends through to Spooky Gully Nature Walk and on to its exit at the old stone quarry – these days known as the Blue and Green pools of Angourie.
The railway tracks were used to cart rocks to construct training walls in the Clarence River during the 1890s.
The walk continues west to the pools’ picnic area, formally camping grounds in the 1960s and ’70s, then onwards to Angourie Point and the tombolo that connects the ‘point’ to the mainland –“Protected within the sands of the tombolo are ‘shell middens’, evidence of past use by Aboriginal people. This is a recorded midden site and noted as a Place for Good Food.”
Four interpretive signs, “designed by coast-care volunteers and brought together by the Marine Discovery Centre”, are featured along the walk.
Angourie Coast Care volunteers contributed more than 800 hours towards completing the project.
Bob Weeks, whose photographs are the mainstay of the Angourie interpretive sign, made the journey from his Woolgoolga home for the official opening.
“We used to travel up north [from Sydney] on surfing safaris in the winter time,” he says, “it was a place we had to call into on the way to the Gold Coast.”
The first time he stood overlooking the point was 1964; the signs’ main picture was taken in 1965.
“The guy is [Englishman] Gordon Burgess,” he says, “he was in the first world surfing championships at Manly in 1964.
“People surfed on that day the picture was taken – Peter Pike, Bob Pike’s brother was there; and I got shots the day before, when it was smaller, of Gordon and a mate from Jersey and guys from the north side beaches in Sydney.”