The Walk officially begins in the small park at the bottom end of Rosemead Road, Hornsby, at a boulder bearing a commemorative plaque stating that the walk was opened by the then Mayor of Hornsby, Councillor Chris Meany, on 31
October 1993. Beside the boulder a National Parks and Wildlife Service signboard marks the Great North Walk, which the Blue Gum Walk partially overlaps, with destinations shown including that to Newcastle, 220 km. Most people
arriving by car normally set off from the green fire trail gate at the end of Rosemead Road, a few metres away.
Old Mans Valley has what is reputed to be of the best stands of Sydney Blue Gums Eucalyptus saligna in the Sydney metropolitan region. The stand is a glen forest unlike the Blue Gum High Forest on the ridge tops. The origin of
the soil is the reason these trees have flourished here. The soil derives from another significant, though less obvious characteristic of the valley as the site of an ancient diatreme. (See Landscape.) Just out of sight to the north of the park lies the former bluemetal quarry that also exploited this resource.
At the beginning of the fire trail some black rock in the roadway —unless placed there as part of the road bed — tends to confirm the presence of volcanic activity. After about 100 m Old Mans Creek is crossed by
means of several concrete stepping stones. Normally a trickle, this creek cannot be safely negotiated after heavy rains.
On the other side the fire trail rises sharply. Residents report seeing lyrebirds here. All signs of volcanic rock have disappeared well before you reach the creek.
Near the top of the hill the fire trail and Blue Gum Track swings to the left. (The side path to the right, or eastwards, leads to the former CSR bluemetal quarry boundary fence.) At the top the track passes between the summits
of uninhabited Joes Mountain to the left, and Hornsby Heights, where glimpses of rooftops reveal urbanisation not far away.
At the top of the rise a flat cleared section marks the site of a shack used in the filming of a minor bush–horror drama, Spook, a film made by Tesha Media Productions, with the cooperation of the Elouera Bushland Trust,
A hundred metres on, to the left, is a small stand of Turpentine trees Syncarpia glomulifera, many about 200 mm thick. Turpentine was widely used for piles for harbour wharves. Grass trees, too, are evident. Sydney Red Gums
Angophora costata begin to appear, with a landmark specimen over 1 m in diameter occurring halfway down the slope on the right-hand edge of the fire trail.
So far the fire trail has been broad, almost a country road, with tumbled truck-sized sandstone boulders dotting the slopes to either side. Varieties of wattle proliferate.
When the track divides, leave the fire trail (which swings to the left for a kilometre or so before coming to a dead end not far from the West Hornsby sewage treatment plant) and keep straight on.
After 50 m, ignore the sign
on the right marking an alternative route to Galston Gorge, developed in 1995 by the Hornsby Shire Council to avoid the hazard of the rifle range on the other side of Fishponds. Carry straight on as this diversion is not relevant
for the present walk.
The track, now a path, with single-file walking for most of the rest of the way, soon crosses over rocks with small chiselled steps. The valley drops away to the right, in which a creek, like the track itself, heads towards
Fishponds to Waitara Creek
The Rosemead Trackhead joins the Great North Walk proper at Fishponds Waterhole on Berowra Creek. First-timers will find it worth their while continuing for the 200 m down to the stream, crossing it by stepping stones, to take
a close look at the waterhole, once favoured for swimming and still used by local youths for this purpose, perhaps inadvisedly given the questionable degree of purity of the water. (
According to one of the signs at the
junction, Newcastle is 210 km away and Galston Gorge 5.8. Old carvings scored into the rocks, perhaps by the makers of the track years ago, give arrows to P.H. (Pennant Hills), G (Galston and H (Hornsby). Take the left
(westwards) fork to PH, and follow Berowra Creek.
A Blue Gum Walk sign shows that 2.8 km of the walk remain. After about 20 m a second wooden footbridge crosses the usually dry creek bed that you followed earlier. At the weekend, shots from the nearby rifle range can be heard.
Soon the track narrows, hemmed in with ferns and foliage, and you make your way over and among tumbled rocks and boulders, the creek bubbling away on the right. The most scenic part of the walk begins at a sandstone sculpted
eroded defile, where you wend your way below its overhang. Along this stretch dominated by rocks, the creek and the Sydney Red Gums, Berowra and Waitara Creeks diverge below a flat rock expanse. A few hundred metres later, cross
Waitara Creek at the natural swirling ‘washing tubs’ in the rocks and at once climb upwards.
To the Blue Gum turn-off
At the top amidst the taller gums, Banksia and Flannel Flowers Actinotus helianthi dominate in a sandy, stony flat terrain. The path then rises further, at one point assisted by a flight of 24 stone steps. On the summit of the
ridge separating the valleys of Berowra and Waitara Creeks the track is strewn with needles below a stand of casuarinas.
About 1 km from Fishponds, the paths divide at a broad rock outcrop. The Blue Gum Walk heads left, due south, away from the Great North Walk, through a sheoak grove. The back of Joes Mountain looms up across Waitara Creek
valley on the left, with the Berowra Creek valley on the right.
The Blue Gum Track now follows an old sawyers’ route used in the 1800s by the Higgins family to transport timber out of the valley.
As the track begins to descend, large Sydney Blue Gums Eucalyptus saligna begin
to join the other timbers. High overhead on the right, houses in Westleigh reveal the closeness of suburbia. Below this Westleigh ridge, as the frequency of Sydney Blue Gums increases and with them an increasing density of
bracken and ferns, matching rooftops across the valley in Valley Road, Hornsby can be spotted, as further evidence that this semblance of limitless bush is illusory.
Fire trail back to Valley Road
After a considerable distance through this upper shady forest, a flight of timber formed steps down brings you onto a fire trail. At once the route descends steeply.
Leave the wilderness and rejoin suburbia at a tubular gate and metal stile. (After a short distance a diversion to the left of about 50 m leads to the site of a sandstone cottage.) Cross over Waitara Creek by means of the
concrete ford and stepping stones, and look out for the ducks. Follow the final few metres of the walk alongside Jimmy Bancks Creek to rejoin the “real world” of Valley Road, at Ginger Meggs Park.
Ginger Meggs Park
Jimmy Bancks (1889-1952), creator of the cartoon character Ginger Meggs, arrived in the Hornsby area in 1892 when his family moved there to live in a railway cottage between the present Main and North Shore rail lines, his
father being a railwayman. He was to stay for about twenty years. Bancks’ childhood range included Old Mans Valley, and Fishponds on Berowra Creek. Fruit-raiding exploits of the comic strip characters are believed to have
been based on the Higgins family orchards in Old Mans Valley. The park was officially named Ginger Meggs Park on 26 July 1997.
Ginger Meggs Park is about 400 m from the Rosemead Road starting point, which can be reached by following the road leftwards.
Typical stand of Blue Gums Eucalyptus saligna showing the signature black stocking,
blue-grey mottled bark and clear understorey.
Grass trees Xanthorrhoea arborea. and
Sydney Red Gum Angophora costata
are often seen together.
Dense stand of young Turpentines
Eroded creek-bed sandstone is common throughout the Park
Remnants of an earlier dwelling.
Ginger Meggs bronze memorial in