Wollongong to Thirroul Bike Track
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The Wollongong to Thirroul Bike Track is a walking, jogging and bicycle track running from Wollongong City to Thirroul, a northern suburb of Wollongong, in the Illawarra region of New South Wales, Australia.
The track is also known as the Heart Care Walk, and signs and markers were put in to promote this name and the Heart Care Foundation. These have since degraded, and it is known as the Wollongong to Thirroul Track by most locals or simply the Wollongong Coast Walk. The first mile from Flagstaff Point is known as the Peace Mile.
The track starts as the City Walk from near the eastern end of Crown Street at Lang Park. It climbs a three metre rise, part of the Olympic Lookout, and descends to go past the bus depot. Here it splits into a bicycle track and walking track and joins the beachside sidewalk. The other alternative is to start at the end of Bank Street at the southern part of Wollongong Beach north of the golf course and south of WIN Stadium and to go along the bicycle/walking track along the coast which becomes the sidewalk to the surf lifesaving club. Both tracks meet to cross the street at Belmore Basin and merge to become the Wollongong to Thirroul Track at the harbour, west of the cafe.
From here the track turns into the Peace Mile, going along the old Mount Pleasant Tramway route through a cutting and along a ledge past the bathing tidal pools and indoor seapool. Plaques about the tramway and Peacemile are along this section, starting at Flagstaff Point as part of the History Walk, which goes from the beach around the lighthouses and back to the harbour. At this section views can be had of the northern escarpment, and the cokeworks chimneys of Corrimal are visible, and the land up to Bellambi Point can be seen. On the left side of the track is the cliff giving the name to Cliff Road, the street to the west and edge of settlement. An alternative pavement path goes over the cliff, giving fine views of the point and baths. The tracks merge at North Beach Kiosk, and this starts the Heart Foundation Walk.
The Heart Foundation Track is for bicycles and walkers/joggers, although skateboarders and rollerbladers are seen, though this is illegal. It, from Wollongong to Hewitts Creek in Thirroul, is 13 kilometres long, and faint markers every kilometre can still be seen giving the remaining distance. Both use the left side of the track, whereas in the Peace Mile the left is for bicycles and the right for walkers. The track goes around Stuart Park wetland lake and separates from the tramway route here, going north, splitting to form a bike and walking track and then converging again, to meet Squires Way Bridge. This is the southern entrance to Puckeys Estate Reserve and walkers often choose the track through the reserve as an option to the bike track along Squires Way past the Science Centre. The two converge at the northern entrance to Puckey's Estate, an annexe of Wollongong Botanic Gardens. Here the track goes north, between the coast of Fairy Meadow Beach and the sports fields. It goes under a roadbridge that leads from the swimming centre to the Fairy Meadow Tourist Park, and follows Fairy Creek north, before going, after leaving the tourist park, east and back to the coast at Towradgi Beach. Here it passes Towradgi Road's eastern tip and the Blue Moon Beach Café and follows the coast to Towradgi Point, site of the Queen of Nations shipwreck and a picnic area. Here there are several plaques including one commemorating the shipwreck and one commemorating the landing of George Bass and Matthew Flinders in their 1796 expedition along the coast. From here the track goes through Towradgi Park, splitting into a bike and walking track and re converging again to cross Towradgi Creek on the bridge. The bridge was created in 2006 to replace the old one which was unsafe. The track goes up through some remnant bushland, managed by Bushcare volunteers, past the Corrimal tourist park, and to Corrimal Beach. At the corner entrance to the tourist park one can go west to Corrimal proper. From the beach the track goes along the west edge of Bellambi Lagoon Wetlands to Bellambi Harbour recreation ground, a popular surfing destination. From here the track crosses Bellambi Creek and goes through some protected coastal bushland to Collins Rock/Flat Rock Point, though it cuts through the residential area rather than going around the tip. It is, however, possible to do this and go past the baths at the point. From here the track crosses a creek and enters Woonona. It goes to Waniora Point, where a plaque commemorates Captain James Cooks first landing attempt, and then along the coast to Sandon/Bulli Point, site of migratory bird refuge at Tramway Creek. At Sandon Point there is a short history walk detour along the road to Bulli detailing the old mining tramway, now residential housing. The track goes through the Tramway Creek turpentine bushland, with good views of the local escarpment and Sublime Point/Bulli Mountain. Here it crosses the creek and goes into residential area, but is signposted, and emerged at Thirroul Beach, where road access to Thirroul proper is available. It is possible to continue walking along the coast, the track officially ends at Hewitts Creek. The finish of the track is often debated, some say it finishes in Coldedale, but others say if ends in Thirroul near gobbys (what the local beach break is called).
Considering that along the track there are many sites, and that it has little in the way of steep grades or dangers, it is a popular walk for the elderly, tourists, and locals due to its ease of access and good views. It takes about two hours for a fit walker.