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Trip Report: Great North Walk, Mt Kuring-Gai to Berowra

PostPosted: Tue 24 Aug, 2010 1:03 am
by johnw
Mt Kuring-Gai to Berowra via the Great North Walk
Last Saturday it didn’t take much to motivate me to avoid the Federal election hype and attempt part of the Great North Walk and its feeder tracks. Having previously done a few other sections, for some time I had planned to complete the one from Mt Kuring-Gai to Berowra, to the north of Sydney. This is a one way walk, requiring a short rail trip back to the start, or a car shuffle if you can organise one. On previous occasions something had always thwarted my plans for this particular trip; weather, railway maintenance or some other distraction. Finally success!

Mt Kuring-Gai to Calna Creek via Lyrebird Creek gully
A little over an hour’s drive from home found me parking at Kuring-Gai railway station. The first section of the walk descends a steep, sealed trail into Lyrebird Gully within the Berowra Valley Regional Park. At a clearing this joins a narrow bush track which eventually descends very steeply following Lyrebird Creek. There is a walker’s log book near the start of the foot track encouraging feedback on track conditions and walker enjoyment. Having no feedback as yet I registered my trip plans, noting a few others out and about before me. During the day I encountered a number of parties who, judging from their frenetic pace and hydration packs, were likely teams in training for the 100km Oxfam Trailwalker event the following weekend nearby. Continuing down beside the creek it’s a very pretty walk requiring some agility to negotiate various sections of rock hopping, creek boulder crossings, climbing up and down steep sections, steps cut into rocks etc. There is a lot of variety along this rainforest-like walk, featuring rock pools, cascades, ferns, mossy rocks, an interesting long sandstone wall, and cave overhangs. At one point I encountered a group of magnificent yellow-tailed black cockatoos in the trees above, whose screeching and flightiness appeared to signal annoyance at my presence.

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Walkers Log Book
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Rock Wall.jpg
Long Rock Wall
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Cave Overhang
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Trip Report: Great North Walk, Mt Kuring-Gai to Berowra

PostPosted: Tue 24 Aug, 2010 1:22 am
by johnw
Calna Creek to Crosslands junction
I left Lyrebird Creek at its junction with Calna Creek and was now following the latter.
Rainforest-like conditions continued through various creek crossings, over boulders and past attractive waterholes. The creek eventually flattened and broadened to a wide sandy expanse. I continued on through Casuarina groves passing the first of two campsites on Calna Creek. I made a lunch stop at the second campsite, facing a picturesque valley containing an expansive salt marsh plain. I believe this area can flood during high tides. This spot is about halfway to Berowra, being roughly 4.4km from Mt Kuring-Gai.

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Idyllic Rock Pool
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The sandy part of Calna Creek
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Salt Marsh Plain.jpg
My lunch view outlook of the salt marsh
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Trip Report: Great North Walk, Mt Kuring-Gai to Berowra

PostPosted: Tue 24 Aug, 2010 1:38 am
by johnw
After lunch, almost immediately I encountered a junction with a tempting log bridge across the creek, indicating the track to Crosslands Reserve picnic ground/camping area. When planning the walk I had considered taking this side trip, but needed to be conscious of the time, as I had to co ordinate my finish (on a largely unfamiliar track) with the infrequent train timetable. Some quick calculations indicated I should be able to include the 2.6km return trip.

Log Bridge.jpg
Interesting log bridge over Calna Creek
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Crosslands side trip
So I crossed the bridge and followed the easy 1.3km track, arriving promptly at Crosslands. There were two car camping tents set up and a few people around. The reserve has picnic shelters and flushing toilets in park like grassy surrounds. It would make a good alternative lunch spot if you wanted a bit of luxury. After a quick look around I returned along Berowra Creek, stopping for photos at a lookout point, then re crossed the log bridge.

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Ducks near Crosslands Reserve
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Calna Creek to Sams Creek
I crossed the salt marsh plain via a raised board walk then continued alongside of Calna Creek. Eventually this joins Berowra Creek and along this section I passed mangroves and shell middens, a reminder of long term aboriginal use and feasts of long ago. At one point there was a great view of the junction of Berowra and Sams Creeks. I turned up Sams Creek gully and the track shortly became very steep climbing various sections of rock and timber steps, eventually arriving at the service trail connecting to Berowra about 2km away. This trail also forms part of the GNW section from Berowra to Cowan. Having done that section previously, I knew it would be easy going from here to the finish. So I decided to take the 300m detour to Naa Badu Lookout, overlooking the wide expanse of Berowra Creek. This is a spectacular view and showed me much of the route just completed.

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View of Berowra Creek junction
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Naa Badu Lookout.jpg
Part of my route below seen from Naa Badu Lookout
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Service trail to Berowra Station
I returned to the service trail and followed it for about 1.5km, leaving it at a marker post, to follow the indicated bush track veering off to the left. This continued steeply upward, including several stepped segments, to meet the final 700m of road walking to the finish at Berowra railway station.

Track conditions
The track infrastructure is very well maintained; in fact sometimes it can seem a bit excessive. It is very clear that the Great North Walk land managers (principally NSW Dept. of Lands) are actively encouraging people to walk it. The navigational features, bridges etc are well thought out and helpful in negotiating the track. For the most part I’d consider the walk grading to be easy medium for reasonably fit walkers. Apart from the fairly tortuous (but short) steep descent early on, the climb out to the service trail is fairly strenuous. I currently have a knee injury but only had some minor discomfort on the Lyrebird Creek descent. Overall, the walk took me about 4 hours 15 mins including side trips, a 20 minute lunch break lunch and numerous brief photo stops. I walked approximately 11.8km in total. This walk is somewhat easier than the Berowra to Cowan section.

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Navigation sign at Crosslands
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Weather and gear notes
The weather was mostly sunny but cool, about 12-14 degrees, and quite windy at times, making it feel colder. I was generally comfortable down in the protected sections of the valley wearing an L/S Icebreaker 200 merino top, long trousers, hat and Scarpa Treks. I used track notes from http://www.wildwalks.com as a reference. These were not really necessary as the track is easy to navigate, but they were a useful resource in identifying the features along the walk. I also used the Kuring-Gai Chase NP 1:30,000 tourist map as a reference, and took the 1:25,000 Hornsby and Cowan topographic maps but these were not needed.

Re: Trip Report: Great North Walk, Mt Kuring-Gai to Berowra

PostPosted: Wed 25 Aug, 2010 1:26 pm
by stepbystep
Nice report John,
I lived up this way for 2 years going back a while now and did the section to Lyrebird Creek from Mt Ku-Ring-Gai along with a few other short walks in the area.
I don't have any photos from this time, so thanks for the memories :D

Re: Trip Report: Great North Walk, Mt Kuring-Gai to Berowra

PostPosted: Wed 25 Aug, 2010 3:04 pm
by Lindsay
Thanks for the report John. I live quite close to this area and have walked these tracks on numerous occasions. I often start from Hornsby and follow the GNW to the junction with the Lyrebird Gully track, just north of the log bridge in the photo, and then must decide wether to follow the GNW to Berowra or head up Lyrebird Gully to Mt Kuring -Gai. Both are very nice walks. Lyrebird Gully is slightly less steep but Berowra has a shop near the station for a cold drink. Decisions, decisions :?

Re: Trip Report: Great North Walk, Mt Kuring-Gai to Berowra

PostPosted: Thu 26 Aug, 2010 2:20 am
by johnw
Thanks SBS and Lindsay. Great area to have in your backyard. Although northern Sydney is a bit distant from me geographically, it actually doesn't take too long to drive there on weekends (occasional traffic jams excepted :(), and I've been exploring bits of it from time to time. I have noticed that Mt Kuring-Gai hasn't much in the way of facilities so can understand the temptation of taking the Berowra exit. It's a reasonable climb out though, so you probably earned the drink afterwards :D. I've got some other walk ideas around Hornsby on my to do list, and will get around to those eventually.

Re: Trip Report: Great North Walk, Mt Kuring-Gai to Berowra

PostPosted: Fri 27 Aug, 2010 10:37 pm
by davidmorr
johnw wrote:Mt Kuring-Gai to Berowra via the Great North Walk
Last Saturday it didn’t take much to motivate me to avoid the Federal election hype

I was amused to hear Bob Brown referring to the bushwalker vote on Saturday night. He was referring to postal votes favouring the Greens because bushwalkers would have been out in the bush on Saturday.

Re: Trip Report: Great North Walk, Mt Kuring-Gai to Berowra

PostPosted: Thu 14 Oct, 2010 12:19 am
by rough60
Just noticed your excellent report johnw.
This is really nice half day walk, did it last weekend, but took 2 days and 2 kids on their first over nighter.
Here's a couple of pics.
Cheers.

Re: Trip Report: Great North Walk, Mt Kuring-Gai to Berowra

PostPosted: Thu 14 Oct, 2010 10:15 am
by johnw
Thanks rough60. Looks like you all had a good time. Some familiar looking spots there; nice campsite along the valley flats.

Trip Report: Great North Walk, Mt Kuring-Gai to Berowra

PostPosted: Thu 14 Oct, 2010 12:44 pm
by Bluegum Mic
Thanks guys! Great pics. I live 5 mins up the road and can't tell you how many times I've done that walk by day and night! (it's a gorgeous walk to do at night with head torches on. Great wildlife and serenity).

I really appreciate your pics. I've had a knee reconstruction 6 weeks ago and am itching to get back on the trail. Galston to crosslands (overnight stay) then walk out to mt k or berowra the next day (depending on how my knee is) is my first scheduled walk back in the coming months. Can't wait to get back out there. Thanks for sharing.

Re: Trip Report: Great North Walk, Mt Kuring-Gai to Berowra

PostPosted: Sun 24 Oct, 2010 4:51 pm
by Leppy
Well done guys, two accounts of just how lucky we are to have such a great section of the GNW to close. Cant wait to get back out there next weekend.

Re: Trip Report: Great North Walk, Mt Kuring-Gai to Berowra

PostPosted: Mon 25 Oct, 2010 8:36 am
by juju
Great trip reports and photos. Thanks for the smile after seeing those young bushwalkers getting out there!

Re: Trip Report: Great North Walk, Mt Kuring-Gai to Berowra

PostPosted: Sat 27 Nov, 2010 5:16 pm
by flatfoot
Great report! Good inspiration for checking this walk out myself.

After I get back from Tasmania I'm thinking of walking from Galston Gorge to Berowra Waters. Measuring it off the topo maps it looks like the distance is about 12km. I'm planning to do this as a daywalk. Logistics will be interesting though.

Re: Trip Report: Great North Walk, Mt Kuring-Gai to Berowra

PostPosted: Sun 28 Nov, 2010 1:56 pm
by johnw
flatfoot wrote:Great report! Good inspiration for checking this walk out myself.

After I get back from Tasmania I'm thinking of walking from Galston Gorge to Berowra Waters. Measuring it off the topo maps it looks like the distance is about 12km. I'm planning to do this as a daywalk. Logistics will be interesting though.

Yep, a day trip starting from Galston Gorge has attracted my curiosity now and again. But the logistics! Wildwalks has track notes from there to Berowra (station) and suggests that you may be able to get a taxi to the start. I'd possibly walk up to Mt Kuring-Gai which reverses the first part of my trip above. Although a bit steep it's a very nice section. If you wanted to finish at Berowra Waters you'd need to have transport from there somehow, maybe a car shuffle. I can't remember what public transport goes from there other than the car ferry. It's possible to continue the walk from Berowra Waters up to Cowan station, but would be a fairly long strenuous day I think. I found that section to be quite challenging as it's a very steep ascent initially, followed by several down/up steep gully traverses negotiating steel rungs attached to rock faces on some ascents. Worth doing and not technical, but not for the unfit.

Trip Report: Great North Walk, Mt Kuring-Gai to Berowra

PostPosted: Sun 28 Nov, 2010 8:04 pm
by Bluegum Mic
You can always do crosslands to berowra return and that works out to be a similar distance. There unfortunately is no public transport down at berowra waters (other than a lovely ride on the ferry).

I've done the gorge to berowra waters but we do have a car at each end (bit of a pain at the end of the day but if doing this I recommend crossing the ferry and driving back via Arcadia, galston and the gorge. Quicker and prettier. Much quicker if you know the short cuts).

You can always walk out at berowra and to the station but you miss the nice finish at the end. Gorge to cowan is definitely for the fitter folk and wouldn't be pleasant on a stinking hot day either. Easy done though.

I must say I tend to do down the quarry stairs, bluegum track to fishponds and follow GNW and come up at mt kuring-gai if transport is an issue. Mind you I often make this an overnighter and pack my short ugly stick and a few lures and have a nice camp and fish at the crosslands. Nice n leisurely. That and a nice mug o red wine and this gals in heaven!

Re: Trip Report: Great North Walk, Mt Kuring-Gai to Berowra

PostPosted: Tue 30 Nov, 2010 9:30 am
by iandsmith
Thanks for sharing folks, interesting reading. Maybe I'll make the effort one day and do some of it other than the bit out in front of my back door. Cheers all