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Woronora, New South Wales, Australia

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Woronora is a tiny suburb that many Sydney-siders don't even know exists. A few streets deep on either side of the Woronora River*, Woronora inhabits the base of a tree-lined valley in southern Sydney.

The home of small weatherboard holiday homes since the early 1900s, Woronora now has a population of several hundred homes, mostly built when the area was opened up from the 1970s onwards. Consequently many of them are two-storey brick jobs, which are more up-market as their view of the river becomes increasingly clearer.

Among Woronora's most attractive features are its parks. On one side of the River, the Prices Circuit side, a beautiful gum tree-dotted park extends along the river bank up to a small road bridge, and is an excellent spot for picnics, barbecues, strolls and sitting in the sun. On the Prince Edward Park Road side, Prince Edward Park has playing fields, cricket nets, and cycling paths.

The Woronora River itself hosts kayakers, canoe paddlers, the occasional motorboat user and numerous waterbirds, including black ducks, wood ducks, seagulls and geese, all of whom are not averse to bread pieces thrown by passers by. In the afternoon when the sunlight hits the water at the right angle, mullet leap into the air to grab insects hovering just above the water. Spotting their woosh-splash is a pleasant, lazy summer activity.

Woronora also hosts a large variety of native birds, including parrots. If you hang a seed-ball from your veranda, as the Researcher did, groups of loyal Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Crimson Rosellas, Rainbow Lorikeets and King Parrots will arrive for a hand-out of sunflower seeds. These brilliantly feathered birds are curious and intelligent, capable of recognising different members of your family and indulging in numerous antics to get our attention (and, they hope, some seed). Landing on the screen door, the kitchen window sill, the broom handle leaning against the wall or any other nearby perch, they peer inside to find a likely human and then call and stare intently until someone is goaded into feeding them.

The River can be crossed in two places, a small, two-lane road bridge, and a footbridge further up river. Soon, however, a tall, four-lane flyover bridge will be complete, which will help improve the large amount of traffic congestion that builds up at peak times, due to the Woronora road being the main connection between Menai to the west and Sutherland to the east. Bushfires in Menai and the resultant traffic jam that stopped ambulances and fire trucks reaching there from Sutherland a few years ago brought home the need for a better bridge across the valley to the prevaricating politicians.

If you're ever in Woronora, park your car in the little parking lot next to the river, grab some hot chips from the takeaway store by the road, and sit in the park, listening to the breeze rustling the gum leaves and watching the light make the river sparkle. Woronora is such a beautiful, little-known place.

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