Bicentennial Park was established in 1988 to protect and conserve Homebush Bay’s remaining wetlands. The park has 25 hectares of estuarine wetlands, including mangrove forest, and 34 hectares of rehabilitated parkland which was created out of two huge rubbish dumps. The wetlands attract all manner of birds.
There is a great deal to do in Bicentennial Park, including children’s activities and two good playgrounds There are 8 kilometres of paths for the use of walkers and cyclists. All the paths are smooth and stepless, a stroller walkers’ heaven, although walkers do occasionally have to be wary of fast cyclists. There are many shorter walks than the one described here. The path is very wide so it’s good for strolling side-by-side and nattering as you go.
Maps of the park can be obtained from the Visitor Centre or downloaded from: www.sydneyolympicpark.com.au.
A good portion of this walk is shaded by trees, but not all of it. Walkers who choose to make a side trip along the mangrove boardwalk will need to be wary of mosquitoes during the summer time.
Length of walk: 4 kilometres return
Time to walk: About 11?2 hours return
Start: The Visitor Centre in Bicentennial Park, Australia Avenue, Homebush Bay
Toilets: Toilets and a baby change room beside the Visitor Centre, plus toilets by the Field Studies Centre. Map reference: Gregory’s M G2, Sydway 274 J11, UBD 233 A3
Parking: Parking bays beside the Village Green and on all roads in the park. Carpark at the Concord West Picnic area, entrance on Victoria Avenue.
Nearest station: Concord West is a 10–15 minute walk away. Olympic Park is further.
Bus stop nearby: Yes
From the Visitor Centre take the path that leads down to Lake Belvedere past the Zelcova Pavilion. Turn to the right past the lake’s end and cross the road onto the path signposted to the Treillage. The path passes a small fenced pond on the left, continue straight ahead at the end of the pond, do not turn right along the Bay-to-Bay cycle path.
The path then runs alongside a small wood on the right, with grassy slopes to the left. Then a tiny wood is passed through. Steps on the left lead to the Treillage Tower, but those who wish to visit it can take the gently sloping path further along on the left which is suitable for wheelchairs and strollers.
The Treillage is a trellis structure with lots of steps leading up to a high platform. The views over Homebush Bay are tremendous. A moat with 199 fountains surrounds the Treillage, the water flows along a shallow canal to the two hundredth fountain at its end.
Continuing along the path, a bridge on the right crosses Powells Creek and leads to the Concord West picnic area. Continue on straight ahead. The path now leads to the field centre, where there are toilets. There are mangroves to the right and grassy slopes to the left.
Go past the field centre and straight ahead into the mangrove forest. There is shade here and through the mangroves on the right, glimpses of Powells Creek can be seen. Cross the small bridge. There is a wooden shelter with seats on the left, one of few resting places on this walk.
A little further along, a boardwalk leads into the mangrove on the left: this is a side trip option which is best done on the return journey. There is now a longish stretch of path with mangroves on both sides. The smell from the mangroves can be pungent.
The smells take a more saline turn as the path comes to the open saltmarsh area on the left side. There is a noticeboard here which gives information about the plants and animals that inhabit the saltmarsh. A small detour can be made by following the short section of path that runs alongside the marsh. There is no fence.
The path has a dogleg at the end of the saltmarsh and then the waterbird refuge appears, a large lake edged by trees. The line of trees alongside the path throw some shade on this long, straight section. On the right side there is still the muddy, oozy mangrove. Further along, the skeletons of two shipwrecks can be seen.
At the end of the path is a viewing tower, with views over the Parramatta River. A path to the left leads to the bird hide, a wooden building with benches which provides a nice secluded spot for a rest. Here one can enjoy a perhaps unique opportunity to breastfeed while birdwatching. BYO binoculars.
The return journey follows the same route with the possibility of a side trip through the mangroves along the boardwalk. The boardwalk is wooden and a bit bumpy, and three-wheeler strollers are definitely best for this. The mangrove trees spread out as far as the eye can see, still and a bit eerie with the light dappling through their branches.
Where the boardwalk forks, take the left turn to return to the path beside the bus parking area. Then turn left to walk along the path at the edge of the mangrove to the Field Studies Centre. Turn right back onto the main path and return to the Village Green, perhaps with another detour to the Concord West playground en route.