The Caves off Alston Track

I was all set today to be a parent helper on my sons Teddy Bears Picnic excursion to the magnificent Muogamarra Reserve, but the trip was cancelled due to rain. Humph. Suddenly finding myself with a few hours to spare I decided to go on a bushwalk anyway, and to heck with the rain!

A local on the Berowra Outdoors Facebook page put up some pictures of some sandstone caves off the Alston Drive-GNW Track, on the way to Cunio Point, so I decided to go and check them out. As soon as I stepped out of the house the rain started. Bah! Nothing was going to stop me today! (Note this is a photo heavy post and I encourage you to view the short video clips of the caves as the photos simply can’t capture it).

I walked along Alston Track until it intersected the Great North Walk. The views off the top of the cliffs down to Berowra Waters were moody and glorious in the misty rain. Instead of turning onto the GNW I walked straight on into the bush!

Darkness on the water
Future shade
Riverside living
Wildflowers in the gloom

Fortunately the bush was not too thick and there was a clear way forward. The only real obstacle was the crazy number of tiny webs strung along my route.

I soon reached the first cave and was thrilled to learn that it was big enough to stand inside. The roof and walls had layers of differing colours. There was a ledge further up and I wondered if there was a passage up there, but I wasn’t game enough to climb up and find out.

There was a campfire ring near the cliff edge and I thought that this would make a fun overnighter with the kids.

First cave
Standing room
Cave roof
Video of first cave
I call it “Ogre face cave“

There was another cave further on, though this had darker colours on the interior.

Roof of second cave
Video of second cave
From afar

The third cave showed evidence of occupation, either by local hoons or a hobo living rough. There was an orange tarp at the entrance on the floor, presumably put up when the weather turned (which makes me think that someone was living here). Placed neatly on a small ledge on the wall was a grill plate, a water bottle and a whisky bottle. Just outside was a campfire circle and part of the ground was covered with melted plastic, likely a tarp or tent that didn’t survive a hazard reduction burn. I couldn’t decide on when the cave was last occupied but it felt like some time had passed.

Inside the hobo cave
Something went this way
Supply cabinet
Entrance with tarp
Lots of room
Melted plastic

I had wanted to explore further along the ridge and maybe find a way down to the water but I didn’t have all day to play with so I settled for climbing the highest knoll. The views were better lower down!

The view from near the top

I’d hit my turn around time so back I went. I briefly considered following the Great North Walk and returning to Berowra via the Turner Rd trails but it would add a lot of time and I really wanted to have a rest before picking up the kids from school. On the way I was joined by three Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoo. They circled the outcrop that I was climbing and settled into a branch to feed. They are magnificent creatures and if I believed in spirit animals then this would be mine. Their calls lift me up every time I hear them.

Yellow tailed Black Cockatoo

In all it was an extremely satisfying adventure that took me off-track, showed me an incredible bit of geology and provided a glimpse into the lives of those who are living rough in the area. It also offered a future adventure – finding a way down to the bay.


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