If ever you’ve wanted to know if it’s safe to walk along the Pearl Beach Patonga Fire Trail, you’ll be happy to know that on our walk we passed about 200 walkers and a trio of women aged in their mid-60s.
My wife and I walked from Umina Beach to Patonga via Pearl Beach. We took our time, and enjoyed the view. The total walk was about 10kms and took us about three hours. The Great North Walk joins-up with this track for part of the trek.
To get to Umina, we caught the train from Sydney to Woy Woy, and then caught a bus to Umina. The bus services to Umina from Woy Woy depart the railway station frequently.
We walked to the southern end of Umina Beach, and started heading up Mt Ettalong Road to Palm Beach — about 100 metres up the road, the path ends, and walkers have to walk another 100 metres on the road.
The access to the old Cliff Road walking track is not well sign posted, but if you follow the natural track that leads off Mt Ettalong Road to Umina Point you’ll be on your way to Pearl Beach.
The track around the headland at Mt Ettalong/Umina Point was the main access road to Pearl Beach between 1925 &1934. Property developer Charles Raymond Staples built the road so that prospective buyers could see the land he was trying to sell in the coastal village.
The Cliff Road, originally known as the Pearl Beach Road, was closed to vehicle use in August 1935 when a landslide blocked the road. Nowadays the track is used by walkers to access Pearl Beach from Umina.
As you walk around the cliff, keep an eye out for the spring that was created by road workers to supply fresh water in 1925.
The spring later supplied water to people in Umina and Woy Woy who couldn’t afford water pumps during the Great Depression.
Still to this day, the ocean continues to erode the old Cliff Road track. It is still walkable, but the Central Coast Council will soon have to make a decision on the track’s accessibility and use.
The Cliff Track exits onto Coral Crescent at Pearl Beach. At this point you can either walk along the beach or along Coral Crescent to the southern end of the beach where you’ll find the cafe, restaurant and local shop.
Near the shops, you’ll come across a monument that acknowledges that the first Governor of New South Wales visited Pearl Beach. He noted in his diary that there were ‘numerous natives’ in the area on the 2nd March 1788.
“We slept in the boat that night within a rocky point, in the north-west part of the bay (which is very extensive) as the natives, tho’ very friendly appeared to be numerous” — Governor Captain Arthur Phillip — Royal Navy.
Walk south-west along the road past the cafe to Crystal Avenue where you’ll need to join the Pearl Beach Patonga Fire Trail for the trip to Patonga.
The track eventually gets you to the top of ridge line inside the Brisbane Water National Park.
You’ll pass the north-facing Pearl Caves. It’s hard not to think that indigenous people would have once used these caves to protect themselves.
Continue up along the road, you’ll come across a rock formation that offers an excellent view of Mount Ettalong to the east.
Near the top of the hill you’ll come across the Warrah Lookout.
This lookout is located about 100 metres from the main track. It is well sign posted. The view is amazing — you can see along the Hawkesbury River from Patonga to West Head, Palm Beach and Box Head.
Not far from this spot, you’ll come across a turn off to Patonga — Join the Dark Corner track and walk down between the rocks to Warrah Reserve.
You’ll arrive at the eastern end of Patonga where you can start exploring the village.
Several bus and ferry services depart from here. The bus travels to Umina and Woy Woy. The ferry travels to Palm Beach — although, the pandemic caused the service to be cancelled when we visited.
The return walk to Pearl Beach is 2.5km. On the track we met a person who had walked from Wondabyne to Patonga over the Woy Woy railway tunnel which is located in the Brisbane Water National Park.
We thoroughly enjoyed the walk from Umina to Patonga — and we enjoyed exploring the area.
I wish I had discovered the walk 30 years ago when I lived at Umina Beach.