Harbour to Hawkesbury Track: Sphinx Memorial to Davidson Park Reserve

Wanting a longer walk but still trying to keep it local, due to covid19 guidelines, I decided to walk a section of the Harbour to Hawkesbury Track which connects Sydney Harbour to The Great North Walk at Berowra. I have already walked from Berowra to the Sphinx Memorial in Turramurra and have also done the Spit to Manly Walk, so today I aimed to fill in the missing piece. What I didn’t count on though was my level of fitness dropping so dramatically during lockdown. This walk left me exhausted and aching.

I put together a 15min YouTube video of the walk if you’d like to take a look, otherwise there are lots of images below.

I started out before dawn, catching public transport for the first time since lockdown. There were “sit here” signs on every other seat to help maintain social distancing, which the other passengers were simply ignoring. It peeved me a little especially since the bus I had caught went as far as an old folks hospital, the kind of place we should all be doing more to protect. Grr.

I hopped off the bus at the hospital and walked to the Sphinx Memorial. This was a Sphinx and Two Pyramids that one of the residents of the hospital built in honour of his fallen friends after returning from fighting in Egypt at the start of the century. It was an astonishing achievement. It’s a pity most Sydneysiders do not know it exists.

I followed the Sphinx Track until it met up with the Warrimoo Track at the beginning of Cowan Creek. I lost the track a little as I started following a thin track along a small gully rather than the main track. I backtracked and rejoined the Warrimoo Track and was greeted with some beautiful scenes of the mists rising above the creek lit by the morning sun. I followed the creek for a bit and the scenes just kept getting prettier. As I climbed up away from the creek I thought about ending the walk there as it had already been a lovely morning!

The next part of the walk was along a firetrail with warning signs about sewerage overflowing. Lovely. That coupled with a dreary road section made this the dullest part of the walk. The only highlight was being gripped by the morning light flowing through the mist shrouded trees. I took about a dozen photos to try to properly capture what I was seeing.

Finally I entered Garigal National Park and was immediately immersed in bird song. I approached a small creek and two ladies were trying to rock hop to avoid getting wet. I just strode through. I glanced back and the ladies were having a giggle at themselves for doing it the hard way. Made me smile. I love my Northface Hedgehogs! The track descended to a spot called “The Cascades”. It didn’t look like much on the map but I should know better by now. It was the intersection of two creeks that flowed across a wide flat rocky area. I sat in a rock overhang and ate lunch while watching the cascades. There was another women chatting to two others who had asked “is there anything else to see”. She took them over past where I was so they could see the cascades in full. They had almost missed it by stopping ten meters ahead of the main spot. She took them further on and I lost track of them.

I started walking but found myself heading unexpectedly uphill. It didn’t seem right so I checked the map, went back down and found another path alongside the rock overhangs that followed the creek. I had expected the next part of the walk to go quickly as it seemed mostly flat but the track was surprisingly rough. It kept robbing me of momentum by putting large rocks to clamber over in the way or forcing me through tight squeezes between boulders. It was fun but also a bit annoying as it was slow going. Fortunately this section opened up and became incredibly beautiful. The creek widened and was lined with sandy beaches, muddy mangroves and many rock overhangs.

The route took me up and around a tributary, which was strange as the water was suddenly seeming to flow the wrong way! I was going upstream of course but it just seemed odd given the whole walk had been downstream to this point. I was getting so tired that I was beginning to not see the scenery though so I sat in a tunnel of trees and had a snack. There were more people out on short walks so I started thinking about exit points. Stubbornly, I kept going.

I soon came upon Davidson Park Reserve where I sat and had a rest. I looked at the map and realised I had quite a ways to go and I had a time limit as I had to be home before my wife left for work in the evening. Against logic I decided to keep going. I honestly don’t know what was in my head other than a stubbornness to see it through. I passed some mangroves and a bridge and powered along to try to cover some ground whilst the going was good. I was stopped in my tracks, thankfully, by a track closure sign that completely robbed me of the will to proceed! I hadn’t seen this closure on the usual websites I check before I walk, but on reviewing it later the information was there, I just hadn’t recognised the name of the section of track that I would be walking on. I really hadn’t planned this walk well.

I decided to not take the bypass and call it a day. I’ll have to do the last stretch to The Spit another time.

I was tired and ached for a week afterwards but I still managed 24km that day which is the most exercise I have done in a long time so I was pretty pleased. I’ll pick up this walk at the exact spot I left it and follow the road to where it rejoins the track. I’m a “continuous line of footsteps” guy it seems!

I put together a 15min YouTube video of the walk here Harbour to Hawkesbury Track Sphinx Memorial to Davidson Park Reserve. Hope you enjoy!

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