45 minutes from my doorstep lies a pocket of wildness; of bushland tumbling down into idyllic secret beaches.
Somehow, despite a couple of visits over the years, this gem has never quite planted itself in my heart - until now. Within one week, I ventured out to West Head twice.
One Friday morning, my girlfriend Laura and I left our cosy beds on Sydney's lower north shore before even the crack of dawn and made our way towards West Head.
Sunrises unfailingly mesmerise me. I always foolishly think that the sun will stir as sleepily as I do, and will rise just as sluggishly. But when the Weather App tells you that the sun is rising at 5.41am, it means 5.41am sharp.
We reached West Head Lookout literally just as the sun was bursting over the horizon. Our bags were mindlessly ditched as we ran over to watch the most radiantly orange sunrise that I had seen for awhile. It was a simple and almost childlike joy to watch the Sun's disc soar above the ocean. The sun was just so round and rose so swiftly.
The best art is found in nature
When I tore my eyes away from the sunrise, though, and looked behind me, I found my favourite scene of the day. The most memorable mornings of my life all involve an early morning sky, seemingly stuck in the lull between dawn and day, washed in muted rainbow colours. Not quite nighttime, not quite daytime. It's as though the world stands still in these bewitching minutes before the sun is well and truly risen.
On this morning, the moon was still dangling in the sky, the way a delicate charm hangs off a fine silver chain. I had the funny thought that it looked as though someone had dripped a little dot of white paint on an otherwise pristine canvas of sky.
(PS. Do you know why Lion Island is named so? Because it looks like a sphinx!)
When the day was well underway, we started the short stroll to West Head Beach. The first time I saw this little beach through the trees, I remember thinking that it seemed almost unreachable; shielded by scribbly gums and nestled between West and Second Head, at the base of the steep cliff sides. Boulders peppered the crescent of sand and my imagination ran wild, picturing what this shoreline must've looked like when it was untamed all those years ago...
I have no idea how much time we spent here. It could have been as little as 20 minutes or as long as an hour. We hopped from giant boulder to moss-covered rock. We revelled in the way the rock glittered in the morning sun and all the little sea creatures that clung to its many crevices. I watched the light and shadows dance in a way so magical that unleashed my creativity...
Having sufficiently dosed up on microadventure, we headed straight for Narrabeen where we dosed up on caffeine with extremely overdue coffees. By 11am, we were both back home. Our cosy beds were calling our names. But I for one, was much too buzzed to answer its call and instead, got straight to editing...and dreaming of my next West Head wander...