This was a most astonishing walk! My wife had joined a walking group and had begun to out-hike me. That wouldn’t do! So I decided to free up my Saturday morning to trek out to Taffys rock to bag a geocache and was treated to panoramic views of the Hawkesbury, a trail that was more bushbash than track, a bit of charming local history, ancient ruins (older than 50yrs- this is Australia ancient), a treasure hunt along a cliff-face and a route that passed the extraordinarily beautiful Jerusalem bay.
I had fun. 18km of fun!
I wanted to set out early as I always do and to be sure I was back in time for my wife’s afternoon appointment, but I couldn’t get moving and arrived at the trail head at 8:30am. I had walked the first part of this track previously and raced along it until I arrived at my first reward – the breathtaking Jerusalem Bay.
Feeling rather good I skipped past an Oxfam trailwalker team that was out training and headed up the mountain at a fair clip. I ran out of puff after fifty meters and had to sit. The trail walkers overtook me, I gathered my breath and headed up the nearly vertical rise. I came to the trail junction- a sign pointing in two directions but with a foot pad heading perpendicular into the bush.
It felt very freeing stepping into the unknown. The trail was overgrown so my poles were used as shields against the spiked plants rather than as a walking aid. There was a large rock that provided a glimpse of the views to come.
It was an old trig station but it loomed out of the bushes like an ancient temple and was quite surprising to come across.
I kept walking and soon saw a large tessellated rock but was stopped in my tracks by an enormous spider who’s web was stung across the path. I considered knocking it down but Elise’s I would then lose track of where it was on the way back. And besides it was bigger than me! So I pushed through the bushes to the left and headed up the rock face.
After passing what looked like a table and chairs made out of rock (what I called Taffy’s diner) another trig station soon appeared and I wondered how useful they would have been given that they were so hidden by the trees. The area must have been cleared back in the day.
I pushed on though the bushes (see video above for what the trail was like for most of its length), helpfully led on by some small rock cairns and the odd bit of pink ribbon, until I finally reached Taffy’s Rock.
Dorothy “Taffy” Townsend was a member of the now defunct Rucksack Club and this spot was one that she frequented and loved. On a trip to Tasmania she was bitten on the bum by a tiger snake whilst relieving herself and was too embarrassed to tell her companions. She died in hut shortly after. Her club decided to erect a small plaque on this rock to remember her.
I can see why she loved this place. The view was panoramic! One could see all along the Hawkesbury river as far as lion island and I recognised refuge bay after having spent a lovely afternoon anchored there.
I ate my lunch on Taffy’s rock then slid down the rock face to snap a photo of her memorial then descended a little further to find the geocache that had led me out here in the first place. Two treasures at once.
Having realised that time was ticking away I reluctantly left, ploughing back through the bush.
I saw a couple of big spiders but they looked beautiful out here and not so scary. Context is everything I guess. I don’t want one on me though. I made good time with only a few rest breaks on the hidden hill climbs. Soon I was back at the trail junction and headed down to Jerusalem bay once more. The drop was slower than I expected as there were places where I had to lower myself down the rocks with my hands. Very rugged terrain. I became concerned I would make my wife late for her appointment so I stopped looking at the scenery and sped up. The climb out of the bay slowed me down and I left my wife know that I’d be fifteen minutes late. I was rather puffed out but powered on as best I could. Soon enough the sound of traffic filled the air and I knew I was almost done. Only 22minutes later than expected. I actually had to wait for my wife to arrive at the pick up point and she made her appointment.
The whole trip took 6 hours but I did rest far more than normal and the ascents were extremely tough. The track is definitely not a beginners track but it is intensely satisfying! I’d highly recommend it if you don’t mind a bushbash and are comfortable using cairns and overgrown track to guide you. The treasures hidden away on this walk, including the panoramic reward at the end make it one of the most amazing walks I have ever done.
Thank you Taffy.