Flint and Steel Beach is one of my favourite West Head spots – an easy walk down to a beautiful beach, or the more challenging Flint and Steel Loop which connects the beach and the bay via an off-track section around the headland. I’m heading out today to venture beyond Flint and Steel Beach to the next bay along the coast.
The track has just been re-opened after maintenance – the main difference being that the wooden stairs near the top of the trail have been replaced with sandstone steps.
It’s an easy walk down to the junction of the Flint and Steel Beach and Bay, as I cross a few bushwalkers heading back up the path. There’s some views of the beach far below, and Lion Island in the distance.
Before the last descent to the beach, I take a detour along a line of cliffs that stretches to the south, back towards Flint and Steel Bay. I’m looking for a cave “with a wavy red line” that contains Aboriginal paintings, and has been recorded with only a very vague description of its location. I don’t find the cave – but do see some impressive shelters and sandstone overhangs.
I’m soon on the last stretch of the track, with Lion Island directly ahead, and the rock platform of Flint and Steel Beach below.
As I head to the eastern end of the Flint and Steel beach, I spot what seems be part of a boat buried in the sand. I haven’t noticed this before. Perhaps it’s the remains of a old shipwreck, of which there have been a few:
- Kellermont (Brigantine) sank in Feb 1868, while shipping coal from Newcastle. It encountered a storm and was totally destroyed, leaving Flint and Steel Beach “strewn with cargo” (Clarence and Richmond Examiner and New England Advertiser, Tue 25 Feb 1868 in Trove)
- Bella Coulter (Cutter) sank in Oct 1872, after capsizing while running for shelter in a gale
- John (Wooden sloop) sank in May 1803, while carrying wheat from to Sydney. Forced to anchor in bad weather, before it capsized at Flint and Steel Bay.
Being low tide, it’s an easy walk along the coast from the end of Flint and Steel Beach to the next bay.
There’s probably not much of a beach at high tide, but at low tide there’s a nice stretch of sand, backed by a grassy slope and tall trees.
Along the coast are three Aboriginal engraving sites. Unfortunately, one has been lost to erosion, and another is quite weathered.
I stop at the end of the second bay, and wait for the sun to set on the opposite side of the Hawkesbury River. It looks possible to continue much further around the headland – but that’s a walk for another day.
It’s a pleasant walk back along the coastline to Flint and Steel Beach, before the relatively short climb up to the carpark.
More information on Flint and Steel Beach
- Flint and Steel Loop – partly off-track loop connecting Flint and Steel Beach and Bay
- Flint and Steel Point engravings – three engraving sites along the coastline
Guide to West Head