There are times that even the simplest of everyday tasks can lead you to discover a part of Sydney that you never even knew existed. This morning was one of those times. We needed to return a car to our friend’s place in Concord after having dropped them at the airport. Not wanting to waste a trip, I did a quick google to see if there was anywhere to explore nearby and stumbled upon the Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway. To be completely honest, I had low expectations but, I was wrong.
The Walkway covers more than 800 metres from Rhodes Station to Concord Hospital in Sydney’s inner-west, and runs along the mangrove-studded shores of Brays Bay on the Parramatta River. It is a living memorial and a principal site of commemoration honouring all those who fought for Australia during World War II. The focus is on the sacrifices made during key Papua New Guinea battles which took place in 1942-43 along the Kokoda Track, at Milne Bay on the south-eastern tip of Papua, and at Buna, Gona, and Sanananda on the northern coastline.
The walkway is paved all the way making it accessible for prams, wheelchairs and elderly people and also making an easy walk for toddlers. Dotted throughout the beautifully landscaped gardens are 22 information stations with photos and descriptions of the experiences of soldiers in PNG along with motion-sensored audio descriptions to bring the stories to life. The gardens have been designed to reflect the jungles of PNG, with large tropical palm trees, lush greenery, small babbling creeks and muddy mangroves. We found it really interesting to read all the stories and look at all the historical photos from the Kokoda Track and wind our way around the garden walkways discovering new information stations as we went.
Once out from the rainforest gardens there are gorgeous views across Brays Bay and the landscape becomes more barren. We walked along the shoreline, past a rusted art structure resembling a ship and around to the great children’s playground in Brays Bay Reserve.
There is a fence in playground with loads of equipment for younger children as well as a climbing rope pyramid, swings and play equipment for older kids. It was great to have the playground to break-up the walk and the Kokoda Track information stations for the kids. Our kids could have played there for hours, and with views across the Bay and the winter sun beaming down, we probably could have sat back and relaxed there for a while too!
After exploring all the new play equipment, we made a move back toward the Kokoda Track Walkway and across a couple of small footbridges to the large Memorial. It is really a special spot to reflect and also has an audio recording over speakers that tells you a little more about the Memorial itself.
There is an on-site cafe and a large undercover picnic area for you to lay out your own picnic. As we were a little unprepared for our visit, we chose to grab a coffee/milkshake and a biscuit from the cafe and sat in the sun among the beautiful gardens.
There is also another small playground close to the cafe and the car-park so, after a quick play there we packed up the car and headed off. We had such an unexpectedly great morning discovering this suburban gem and I highly recommend a visit. Can you share any other gems in suburban Sydney?