Last week friends took me to Oatley Park for a “tree experience.” My first question was, “Where is Oatley?” For those of you who haven’t been to Oatley Park, I highly recommend visiting, as it is absolutely glorious & this is not an exaggeration.
Set on a promontory that goes down to Jew Fish Bay & Lime Kiln Bay in the Georges River, Oatley Park is one of the jewels of Sydney.
Originally called Peakhurst Park, it was established in 1888. In 1908 Hurstville Council became the trustees & have managed the park since. They are certainly doing an excellent job.
Oatley Park is a massive 45-hectares of natural bushland, so there is plenty to see. There is a road for cars & a road surface cycle loop. There were many cyclists braving the hill while I was there & I was told it is very popular for cyclists.
Near one of the car parks is a stone castle, which I understand was built during the depression. The council hires this out for weddings & other functions.
The beach itself is breathtaking. The bush filled with large trees, many of them spectacular Angophoras, reaches right down to the white sandy beach & a shark net totally encloses Jew Fish Bay. I am told bull sharks frequent the Georges River, so the net allows for safe swimming. There is a pier for fishing or sitting & a small barbeque area. The trees provide afternoon shade on the beach, which I am sure is a major attraction.
There are also many walking tracks that take you in all sorts of directions & which give exceptional water views through the trees. The land also has large outcrops of sandstone that add to the remarkable beauty of the place. Everywhere you look you see phenomenally beautiful trees – giants compared to what we are used to in Marrickville LGA.
Many of the trees have hollows & dead wood is left on the ground or left standing insitu. This park is left in a natural state & it is easy to imagine how it would have looked prior to white settlement. There is significant Aboriginal history with rock carvings somewhere in the park.
We came across many native shrubs & plants in flower. These were delicate little flowers that are almost lost to the eye unless one is observant. We found ourselves clustered around various plants on the track commenting on the beauty of these flowers.
Parking would be at a premium in the warmer months. Although the issue of parking could be seen as a hassle, I like that car parks have not taken up much of the area. There is only the bitumen of the roads, no kerb & guttering, very few signs & the place looks as natural as possible.
What astounded me was that despite the car parks being full, indicating that lots of people were in Oatley Park, there was absolutely no litter to be seen. The beach was spotless, as was the road to the beach. The barbeque area was also litter-free & so were the two bush tracks we walked. There was no litter in the river either.
The only piece of litter I saw was a tissue in a bird’s nest. There was no graffiti or tagging either & trees were left without carving or the marks of humans. It was very refreshing to notice this & to me, shows the respect given to this precious area by the community who use it.
Driving through Oatley we all commented that the parks & streets were also free of litter & graffiti. Graffiti appeals to many, including me on occasions, but when it is not visible in an area, there is a sense of cleanliness & peacefulness. This is something I have not seen in Sydney for many years.
I would highly recommend visiting Oatley Park. There are no shops in the park, so you will need to take your own food & water. It is a perfect place for children as there is so much for them to explore on the beach. Also, being flat, the water is safe. My friends said that a smile never left my face & this did not surprise me. I loved the place & give Oatley Park a 110 per cent rating. Hurstville Council should be really proud of their work here.
Address – 1 Dame Mary Gilmore Drive Oatley – only 18kms from Sydney’s CBD.