In search of a secluded or “secret” beach, I’ve noticed Hungry Beach near West Head (north of Sydney) on Google Maps. (‘Though I’m not sure with Google Maps there is really such a thing as a “secret” beach any more!) There’s no walking track to the beach, although it’s only about 1km from West Head Road. Could it be reached by “bush bashing” down from the road?
No. What Google Maps doesn’t show is that the lighter-coloured terrain is thick scrub, and even making 50m progress through the bush is arduous, slow and painful! I could come back with a chainsaw, but I’m not sure that this would be a recommended activity in a national park!
We (I’ve managed to convince my friend Andy that bashing through thick scrub on a hot afternoon is a great idea) move to Plan B before giving up. Getting back in the car, we continue along West Head Road to the start of the Flint and Steel track. It should be feasible – at least at low tide – to follow the coastline from Flint and Steel Bay to Hungry Beach. Although I’m not entirely sure of the current tide times: there was more optimism on my part than planning in today’s pursuit of an Undiscovered Beach… Fortunately, as we reach Flint and Steel Bay along the rough but distinct track, it does appear that the tide is out.
From here I’m not sure what to expect or how far we will get, but we make decent progress along the rocky coast. It would be a lot harder at high tide, though.
It doesn’t take too long before Hungry Beach is in view, around a small headland that we still need to negotiate.
The very last few hundred metres would have been challenging if the tide was higher, but proved no major obstacle. We’re soon standing on Hungry Beach, with just a handful of people who have arrived by boat. According to legend, Hungry Beach, “a fisherman was out in his small boat when a large shark attacked him. Seizing his oars, he rowed with some eagerness to the beach and leapt from his boat. For three days the shark cruised up and down the beach and the fisherman dared not re-embark. Hence, very properly, the name of Hungry” [Pittwater Online News].
It’s a nice beach, although the colour of the water is not particularly appealing (could be that recent rain has washed some silt down the Hawkesbury River). At the back of the beach, near the middle, is a ribbon taped to a tree marking the start of a track that heads up the steep terrain. So perhaps there is an alternate track to the beach – we’ll have to come back and explore further.
There’s also an old World War II bunker located a short distance above Hungry Beach. I can’t find any information on the building, but it would have been part of the WWII fortifications built along the Hawkesbury River to fend off any Japanese naval attacks from the north.
We return back to the car the way we came: it’s been great to have reached Hungry Beach, but it’s also a hot afternoon with little shade for most of the way and we’re glad to be back at the car! I’ll be making a return trip on a cooler day to explore the possibility of an alternate track to the beach. [UPDATE: There is a track up from Hungry Beach, which joins “Jims Track” near the top of the ridge!]
0.0km Start at Flint and Steel trackhead (on West Head Road) 0.3km Take track to Flint and Steel Bay (to the left) 0.7km Ruins of McGaw House 1.1km White Horse Beach (Flint & Steel Bay) - follow shoreline 1.8km Hungry Beach 3.6km Flint and Steel carpark
More information on Hungry Beach
There’s a rough and often overgrown track down to Flint and Steel Bay. From Flint and Steel there’s no track to Hungry Beach; it’s an off-track route along the shore (low tide best).
For a complete guide to West Head bushwalks, have a look at the Guide to West Head or download a two-page overview.