After a season of fire, flood, wind storms, track closures and now plague, I have started to feel a little house bound. Today, I broke and just had to get out and walk, so I pulled out my Berowra Valley map and chose the Blue Gum Walk, a favourite with the locals which intercepts the Great North Walk near Hornsby. I chose this one as there was an engraving site accessible via a side trail that I had been wanting to visit for quite some time.
I started the walk from Ginger Meggs Park and used the awesome app from WildWalks.com to guide me. With only a few footsteps I was surrounded by tall gum trees and lush green ferns.
The track was well sign posted. It started to rise and I remembered that hiking required a bit of effort! Cliffs and caves rose up on my left and ferns and boulders fell away on my right. A photographer and his partner were quietly seeking something in the bush. Lyrebird, they said. I couldn’t see it but kept very quiet!
I checked my map and found my turn off to the engraving site. There were two ladies there also studying their map. I suspected they were looking for engravings too but I didn’t want to interrupt their conversation and said a basic hello and carried on. Being a little overconfident I put my map away and stride along the trail. The trail started to descend, which wasn’t right, so I checked the map and realised I’d missed a second turn off. The two ladies passed by me which made me consider carrying on but that way was much longer. I walked back the way I had come and really couldn’t see the track so I bush-bashed slightly in the right direction and clambered up some rocks until I was standing on a rock platform face to face with a wallaby engraving! I would have been happy with that find but the brief notes I had read told of a larger complex so I started exploring. I found a very faded engraving and couldn’t make out what it was. It resembled an engraving of a yam that I had saw whilst researching so I settled on that, knowing full well I had no idea how to identify a real yam in the bush if my life depended on it! I walked up the hill a little toward the houses, continuing my search.
I found another rock platform though this one was split in two with the side furthest away from me holding pools of water. At my feet, a shape appeared. My eyes had to kind of adjust to see the image properly but I was definitely looking at a bird of some kind. There was a horizontal line leading away from it though which made me think of a lyrebird. Possibly Emu? Very faintly there seemed to be a second bird positioned so the two heads were facing each other. As there were definitely lyrebirds in the area I’m going with that!
I spied some fish engravings nearby and a young lad and his girlfriend and pet dog approached and asked what I found so interesting about this particular rock. So I showed them the bird and the fish and I spied something else that I couldn’t quite make out. They seemed impressed. I wonder how often folks walk over these sites without ever knowing they are there. It does take a good eye to see them I suppose. A simple sign is all that is needed. We can manage to afford “keep off the grass” signs so why not “keep off the engravings!”.
There were three fish in total, with open mouths. Very well defined. The other shape had me confused until I saw a tail and realised it was a huge wallaby engraving! It was hard to photograph though. This was obviously a site describing the abundant food in the area. Fish down there! Roo’s up here! Tubers under there! That’s my take anyway. I do wish I was a trained site interpreter sometimes as there is so much story etched into these rocks. I’d love to be able to tell it.
Later on I discovered there were two more wallabies in the area – the main set that is referred to when discussing this site. Totally missed it! It tells me that the original site was so much bigger and that much had been lost to housing development.
I could have turned around and gone home happy at that point. I almost did! But I wanted to finish the walk that I had planned. My dedication was rewarded by a huge downpour! I donned the rain jacket and carried on. I soon reached the very picturesque crossing of Waitara Creek. A young lad was impressing his mum by crossing over by himself, his Mum snapping photos of his little achievement. It was cute. I waited patiently while they had their fun, had a chat then crossed over myself. There was a featured called “the spa” that was churning with water. You can see from the pictures below that it was quite an interesting place.
I followed the great north walk along the creek taking in the natural beauty. I reasoned that this was the area that the fish engraving was referring to, though who knows if that the right interpretation! The track passed some lovely rock overhangs that we’re large enough to take shelter in.
All too soon I was heading out for the final leg back to the car. I was in amongst the forest again and there were some very inviting caves in the rock. I picked one out in case I needed to “self isolate”! I popped back out onto the road and made my way back to the car. I’m pleased I pushed myself out. I started feeling like an old man, all achey and lethargic, and finished feeling fulfilled and satisfied. I recommend this walk even if you don’t head to the engraving site as the Waitara Creek area is fantastic to see and perfect for a bushwalk with the kids too.