Andy: We moved recently after our latest house-sitting job came to an end, so we spent a few days relaxing in the Sydney sun to wind down. We only moved a few miles down the road from the house we were looking after, so we are still very familiar with this area of North Sydney which made things easy. We found a great Airbnb which is a self contained flat under a house in the suburb of Warrawee.
The couple that own the place look very fit, and told us they both really enjoy walking. We told them we do too, but we don’t really know how to choose where to go for an enjoyable walk. Of course we can look things up online, but it really does help if someone local gives you a solid recommendation and not only that, but advice on how to go about it too.
So, armed with this new knowledge, we hopped on a local bus and rode the short distance to Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park. We were aiming to walk down through the bush to a place called Cowan Creek where we would find Empire Marina and a feature of the river called Bobbin Head.
There were 2 ways down to the marina – The Bobbin Head Trail, or The Sphinx Trail. We opted for the Bobbin Head Trail, so we’d come back along the Sphinx Trail making a loop. It was nice and easy going to start with on what looked like a dried up river bed. We spotted an awesome goanna (Lace Monitor Lizard) that was about 1.5 metres long, but it ran off too quickly for us to get a photo, so you’ll have to make do with other shots of some cousins later…
Seda: Would you like to know the real reason why we weren’t quick enough to take a picture of it? Because as soon as spotting the giant animal, Andy shouted “ holy f…king b.llocks”!!!… and scared it away or hurt it’s feelings. Either way it was gone in the blink of an eye which is surprising considering it’s size.
Andy: Shortly afterwards we also spotted this cute little wallaby crouched down low trying to find some dinner. We walked around it and it didn’t move at all. Our previous experience with these lovely little creatures has all ended with them hopping away very quickly whenever you get within 10-15 metres.
The trail started to wind slowly down to sea level taking us through wonderful eucalyptus forests, all shedding their bark. Apparently these magnificent trees are very fast growing, so in order to take the strain of the years growth, they shed their bark. They are protected species and grow everywhere in NSW and there are 2 very common types. The Sydney Blue and Sydney Red Gum trees. Both are spectacular, and especially the red look like they are bleeding when you see the gum oozing down the trunk.
Seda: It was like a proper crime scene really….all bits and pieces spread around and this red thick marks on skin colour trunk looking rather strange.
Andy: After about 2 hours we reached the Marina and rested a while with an iced coffee and some lunch before starting to make our way back up the Sphinx Trail which would take us along the riverside.
On the way back we saw some amazing rock formations during our walk. Sandstone is the main type of rock here which was affected by changing geographical conditions over the centuries.
After a hard climb back out of the valley we started to run out of water, and it was starting to turn into a hot day. When we finally got to the Sphinx there was a water fountain and we were gasping, only to find it out of order! Thankfully there was another one just up the track a hundred metres or more.
A few days later when our legs had rested sufficiently we decided to tackle another bush trail. This time we would need to take a train to Ku-ring-gai station and then walk the 11km through the bush to the next station on the line – Berowra. We had a map with instructions to guide us along the route this time, kindly lent to us by our Airbnb host.
We found that this walk was also signposted as it was part of something called the Great North Walk. The main walking track runs from Sydney to Newcastle and is 250 kilometres (160 mi) in length.
This walk started on a very steep descent down a concrete path the the bottom of the valley – around 1.5kms. From there we walked for the next couple of hours along reasonably flat tracks in terms of altitude, although very challenging because of the rocks, tree roots and fallen trees.
We started to see a trickle of water forming into a stream as we walked which got bigger and deeper as we went, finally opening up into a full on river which was amazing to see.
Seda: As we made it to a boardwalk, the constantly changing surroundings really surprised us. One minute it feels like you are in a jungle and the next you are in open meadows.
Similar to the previous walk, we have seen an amazing habitat around us. We saw a lovely red capped small bird, a few sunbirds and lorikeets and heard kookaburras and cockatoos. There were more bleeding eucalyptus, more rock formations and even a few cute fungus this time.
I’d say the highlight of our wildlife sights from this walk was the unbelievable tangled couple of goannas. We couldn’t figure out if they were fighting or mating. We were about to shout “get a room” then realised we were standing in their room.
One type of wildlife that i wasn’t happy to encounter with were the leaches that i had twice on me sucking my blood. Instead of getting sympathy from Andy, he took a picture of it while still on my feet and said “Turkish blood must be a sweet treat for Australian leaches”.
Andy: Of course, if you start with a descent down into a valley on a walk, it stands to reason that you will have to climb back out again. Well, that was exactly what happened and it took all of our energy (and water) to make it to the top.
Seda: When, after an eternity, we made it to the top there was no water anywhere. We had to head for the train station through this residential area. You wouldn’t believe how thirst turns an English gentleman into a dangerous beast stealing water from people’s gardens. Well ok, it was my idea to get water from these people’s garden tap but he went first.
Andy: When we made it to Berowra station to make our way back we had been walking for 4.5 hours and 11.3kms and were very tired! I think we deserved our Vietnamese lunch and ice cream!