Looking for a nice bush walk? Not too long and somewhere with a view for a picnic lunch?
A couple of weeks ago, the kids and I decided we needed a bushwalking fix – the Fingal Beach walk (to the west of Cape Schanck) would be perfect.
The walk starts from the Fingal Picnic Area which is accessible from Cape Schanck Road. This picnic area is not a bad place for a family gathering with room to kick a ball, tables for a picnic and BBQ and toilet facilities.
The walk to Fingal beach follows a well maintained track through coastal scrubland. Not long into the walk the sounds of wind in the trees, birds singing and crashing waves below takes the place of cars driving to and from Cape Schanck.
I say waves below, because a little before the halfway point there is a short side detour to a lookout that shows just how high above the water you are. This is a great place to look across for a glimpse of the Cape Schanck Lighthouse, check out the tides and maybe even watch some hardy surfers catching a few waves rolling over the rock shelf.
A little while into the second half of the walk down to the beach you come across the stairs. When I starting coming here over 30 years ago these stairs were easy. I used to be able to run them – up and down! Not so now but they are nothing to fear as long as you have a reasonable level of fitness. My 9 and 7 year olds made it – albeit with a few rest stops and the occasional request for a ride on my shoulders.
At only 1.7km one-way it is surprising how quickly you arrive at the beach. Fingal Beach is better suited to playing in the sand and fossicking amongst the rocks and rock pools than it is for swimming but we rolled up our pants and had a bit of a splash anyway. Best at low-tide when the whole rock shelf is exposed, the beach can still be enjoyed at higher tides. Keen eyes will find plenty washed up on the beach – it can be a great game to see what the kids can find.
We found an old log washed up in a recent storm and this made the perfect spot to sit down for sandwiches. A wander up and down the beach, turning over a few rocks to find crabs, finding shells (and who could find the biggest cuttlefish) had us ready for the climb back to the car.
Sure the stairs are a bit of a challenge but you finish the walk feeling good and with lungs full of fresh sea air.
For the more adventurous or families with a bit more time, there is a longer walk branching off the Fingal Beach track which takes you (5km) to Gunnamatta Beach. At low tide you can follow the sand all the way back Fingal Beach for roughly at 10km roundtrip.
Definitely take some lunch, snacks and water with you. I always take a small towel to dry the kids feet and get rid of the sand before they put their shoes back on for the walk back up the hill. Sunscreen and hats may be needed year round and also consider that the wind off the water can be pretty cool at times.