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Berowra Valley Nationall Park is managed by NSW Parks & Wildlife Service.

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Friends of Berowra Valley  inc. is an authorised community service group dedicated to assist the managers in the support of the Park

 

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Click on the track to go to text about that section

Synopsis:
Some of the best walking in the Park occurs on this walk between two railway  stations. First following Lyrebird Gully then joining Calna Creek and then Berowra Creek, the track passes a twin-log bridge and crosses a salt marsh. After shell middens, a big lookout boulder and mangroves, it continues along  Sams Creek, leaving the valley up zigzag steps for the final stretch to Berowra. As this walk starts and ends near railway stations it is suitable for walkers  without cars. For car users, parking is available at both ends. Alternative end points are Berkeley Close at Berowra Heights and Joalah Crescent, Berowra


8: Lyrebird Gully Walk

  Mt Kuring-gai to Berowra one way

Starting point:

Trackhead at the traffic-light intersection of Glenview Rd and the Pacific Highway, 100 m south of Mt Kuring-gai station

Route:

Glenview Road, Mt Kuring-gai, to Berowra Creek, to Crowley Road, Berowra

Distance:

9 km one-way

Grade:

Moderate to hard, with two steep sections

Time:

4 - 6 hours

Transport

Two cars, one at each end; or one, and catch a train at one end; or simply use the train

Track status:

Official marked track

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Text may have been abbreviated. See “Guide to Berowra Valley Regional Park” for complete text

Mt Kuring-gai Station to Lyrebird Gully

The first section of the walk, a half-kilometre, steep, downhill, narrow, sealed road, follows the sewerage line. Weeds soon give way to  such native plants as smooth-barked Sydney Red Gums Angophora costata, Turpentines Syncarpia glomulifera, Grey Gums Eucalyptus punctata and Sydney Peppermints Eucalyptus piperita, which provide shade over the road. Sandstone boulders become prominent.

The track joins Lyrebird Gully, whose waters you can hear flowing on the right. A flat grassy clearing,  occasionally used for camping, was created from spoil excavated during installation of deep sewer mains. The creek passes through large pipes under this clearing. The Pink Waxflower Eriostemon australasius, River Rose Bauera rubioides and native peas flower here in spring. Sydney Red Gums are the dominant trees.

At the clearing the path divides. Veer left as it becomes a bush track heading in a north-westerly direction.  The track soon crosses a square-section concrete drain by a timber plank footbridge. In the sandy and rocky soil there are Banksia, scribbly gums and Red Bloodwood Corymbia gummifera. The track continues ever downwards. On the surrounding slopes wildflowers abound, which may include, depending on the season, spring-flowering Boronia ledifolia, Leucopogon, Lesser Flannel Flower Actinotus minor, flaky-barked teatrees Leptospermum trinervium, Common Fringe-lily Thyanotus tuberosus and ground orchids. This has been a picturesque walk so far, requiring modest agility as the route follows along the steep slope with the creek on the right.

Creek crossing to the waterfall

After about a kilometre, cross to the right of Lyrebird Gully over exposed sandstone flats and rock pool, with  a cascade on the lower side. Black Wattles Callicoma serratifolia have started to appear along the creek. Below, the terrain begins to resemble a rainforest, with Coachwoods Ceratopetalum apetalum, Forest Oak Allocasuarina torulosa and Turpentines. Further on, ferns, tree ferns, grass trees, mintbushes, Black Wattles and Water Gums Tristaniopsis laurinaabound. A notable feature is a sandstone wall about 75 m long and 2 - 5 m high with overhanging rock. About 100 m later there is a large Sydney Red  Gum, the base of which appears to flow over the rocks. The track descends to creek level, where it is joined from the right by a creek bed in a shady glade featuring Coachwoods with their characteristic smooth bark marked with  whitish blotches, and ferns.

Soon the path joins the creek bed, almost a potholed highway formed out of the natural stone. The track follows this rocky  creek bed, along which there may be signs of flooding. The principal landmark at this point is an 8 m-high overhanging waterfall. Here water falls onto rocks to join a pool below. This is a pleasant place to pause for a while.

Calna Creek to the log bridge

Leave the creek bed at the waterfall. The track climbs a little away from the creek, and becomes drier. Near the top of the  slope, pass under a series of massive eroded rock overhangs that would provide shelter in the wet. A hundred metres or so further on another valley can be seen entering from the left, with transmission towers and lines. This is  Calna Creek, the waterflow from which can be heard as you traverse a drier open woodland slope. Somewhere out of sight below, Lyrebird Gully joins the bigger Calna Creek.

After about half a kilometre descend with an abrupt left turn down rough rock steps to what is now Calna Creek. Follow the  creek bed lined with Coachwoods, possibly flooded after rains. Cross to the other side of Calna Creek using jumbled and tossed boulders — somewhat easier said than done. (Look for direction markers on the rocks and trees.)

Rainforest-like conditions continue: look out for Water Vines Cissus antarctica, which may hang over the track. The  path, sometimes obscured, proceeds along the creek bed over boulders. After several hundred metres, at an idyllic pool, re-cross the creek to the northern, or right-hand, side. A red arrow on a white diamond sign on a rock at the  creek’s edge confirms the way.

There follows, along this creek under a canopy of trees, what must be one of the best walking stretches in the Park.  Waterholes, trees (Water Gums and Coachwoods), ferns, moss-covered rocks and perhaps sunbaking lizards and lyrebirds - hence the name ‘lyrebird gully’ - are attractions. Over the next kilometre the creek little by  little flattens and broadens.

At the start of an open Allocasuarina-grove camping area, cross a watercourse by a 1.5 m timber  bridge. Continue through the Allocasuarina. Eventually the path leaves the creek, and you cross an unnamed tributary.  The area close to the junction of Calna and Berowra Creeks is dominated by mangroves, salt marsh and Allocasuarina signifying the tidal influence. During king tides the walking track may be knee-deep in water.

Continue through the forest of Black Sheoak Allocasuarina torulosa, between mangroves on the left and salt marsh and Swamp Oak Casuarina glauca on the right, to the twin-log footbridge. A sign gives the distance and direction of trackheads along the Great North Walk: 4.4 km from Mt Kuring-gai and 6 km to Berowra Waters. This is the halfway point on the Lyrebird Gully walk. Do not cross the bridge, which leads to the Crosslands picnic grounds, but keep to the same side of the creek and follow the arrow to Berowra Waters.

Calna Creek to Sams Creek

This stretch begins with an 80 m board walk across the salt marsh, dominated by grasses, sedges and succulent plants,  and surrounded by Casuarina glauca on one side and mangroves on the other. Soon the mangroves become dense on the water’s edge.

Somewhere out of sight Calna Creek joins the much broader Berowra Creek. Continue northwards, following the east bank of  what is now Berowra Creek. Along this stretch are several shell middens. The creek is now 50–100 m or more across, depending on the tide.

Note the tall grass trees along the path. After about a kilometre there are some large boulders, together with a  considerable shell midden testifying to the long term use of this lookout rock by the indigenous people over the ages. This site is protected under the National Parks and Wildlife Service Act 1974. The boulders remain an  excellent vantage point to view the junction of Berowra and Sams Creeks, and the broadening of Berowra Creek both up- and downstream.

Over two hundred years ago, in July 1789, Captain John Hunter surveyed Berowra Creek and arrived at ‘The  Woolwash’ just below Sams Creek.

Sams Creek to zigzag steps

From the great boulder group, continue in an easterly direction away from Berowra Creek until it encounters Sams Creek.  First invisible amongst the mangroves, this creek gradually comes into view on the left as the path, which can flood at high tide, follows up Sams Creek valley.

The sides of the gully rise high to left and right. Vegetation includes Rough-barked Apple Angophora floribunda, Forest Oak Allocasuarina torulosa and  the Lilly Pilly Acmena smithii as well as a patch of salt marsh. Mangroves along the creek decrease as the water becomes fresher. There are mullet in the creek, and Chestnut Teal, White-throated Treecreepers and Eastern  Yellow Robins may also be seen. This 350 m section includes a flat stretch subject to flooding at high tide followed by a creek-edge walk, at the end of which cross Sams Creek with caution, using the rocky and sometimes mossy  ford. (Keep a lookout for the signposts here.)

Negotiate the rocky bed of an unnamed watercourse that joins Sams Creek directly opposite for about 50 m,  bearing leftwards. The area is thickly vegetated with Water Gums Tristaniopsis laurina, Coachwoods Ceratopetalum apetalum, Swamp Oaks Casuarina glauca and Common Ground Fern Calochlaena dubia.  The next stage is the zigzag steps. This is a steep ascent. An alternative for those not able to manage the climb is to retrace the track to Crosslands.

Zigzag steps to fire trail

Some 260 log and natural formation steps provide the means to climb up another 150 m out of the Sams  Creek valley. You leave the rainforest and shaded slopes behind as you climb higher. Smooth-barked Sydney Red Gum Angophora costata, Sydney Peppermint Eucalyptus piperita, bloodwoods, Christmas Bush Ceratopetalum gummiferumand Banksia begin to become more common. Shaded rock overhangs support specimens of small ferns and Rock Lily Dendrobium speciosum. The steep climb eventually reaches a fire trail. Here it is 3.7 km to Crosslands and 2 km to Berowra station.To go to Berowra Station, turn right as you reach the fire trail.

Detour: Naa Badu Lookout and link to Walk 9 and Berkley Close

If you travel left along the fire trail for 300 m you will come to Naa Badu Lookout offering a panoramic view over  Berowra Creek, where you have just travelled. This is a worthwhile detour as it offers a view of the previously hidden junction of Calna and Berowra Creeks. The name ‘naa badu’ in the Sydney Aboriginal language means  ‘see the water’.

An alternative ending to the walk is optional here. If you were to continue along the fire trail in the same direction you would join the route of Walk 9: Berowra Waters,  reaching either Berkeley Close, Berowra or Berowra Waters.

Fire trail to Crowley Road and Berowra Station

In springtime, the numerous wildflowers along this section of the track include Sydney Boronia Boronia ledifolia, pea flowers such as Gompholobium grandiflorum and Pultenaea elliptica and occasional Waratahs Telopea speciosissima. The abundance of  smooth-barked Sydney Red Gums is emphasised by their pink-tan trunks.

At the Y fork after about a kilometre, keep to the right, following the Great North Walk sign to Berowra Station. (The steep  concrete-surfaced left branch of the fire trail leads to Joalah Crescent at the top of the hill, and to residential housing.)

A few hundred metres later, just after crossing a creek underpass, keep straight ahead at the bushwalk marker post, taking  the bush track and leaving the fire trail that diverges to the right.

Exit to Crowley Road trackhead

After a small creek is crossed, the track continues east following the southern bank. Re-cross the same creek  a little later and head upwards over several broad exposed natural sandstone ‘steps’. At the T junction after the ‘steps’, turn left. Wildflowers in this area include Large-leaf Bush Pea Pultenaea  daphnoides, River Rose Bauera rubioides, Grey Spider Flower Grevillea buxifolia, teatree Leptospermum trinervium, Lesser Flannel Flower Actinotus minor and Sydney Boronia Boronialedifolia.

Several flights of timber and stone steps make the walk easier. A set of eleven metal steps, replacing the original  footholds cut into the rock face, announce the near completion of the walk.

A further 450 m later, after a final rise, you arrive at the trackhead in Crowley Road, near the junction with Berowra  Waters Road. At the trackhead is an old bush school now used as a community hall.

From the roundabout near the trackhead take Berowra Waters Road east past the sports ground to Berowra station, about  750 m away. Turn left at the junction with the Pacific Highway. The station is at the top of the hill.

The Crowley Road trackhead is on the north west corner of Mary Wall’s original sixty acre land grant.  Mary is regarded as a pioneer of Berowra: her son Nathaniel was the first white child to be born in the district and the first school in the area was started at her home in 1894. Mary herself was born in County Limerick, Ireland  in 1832. Mary Wall Crescent in the development off Gully Road is named after her. Rickard Road is named after the developer Arthur Rickard to whom Mary’s daughter Elizabeth sold the land in 1910 for 1800 pounds. The land was later divided into 150 lots and sold at auction.

 

 

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Pink Waxflower Eriostemon australasius,

 

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Eroded sandstone creek bed

 

 

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Specification for a hole: a recess, pebbles, plenty of water and heaps and heaps of time

 

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Wonderful range of colours and shapes in eroded overhang

 

 

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Watch carefully for the track markers that identufy the route.

 

 

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Salt marsh is found in intertidal areas where the sediments are waterlogged by flooding at the highest tides. Where salt marsh does occur, it is usually—although not always—adjacent to and  above stands of mangroves. Today, salt marshes in general have declined in extent in urban areas as a result of human influences.

One of the largest of the pockets of salt marsh in  the Park occurs at the junction of Calna Creek and Berowra Creek, crossed by the boardwalk.

The animals and plants that inhabit salt marsh  areas are highly specialised and low in diversity. This is because they are specifically adapted to salinity and waterlogged soils. Salt marsh is valuable as it provides a food source for  estuarine animals and plants, and because it traps sediments and pollutants, so helping to maintain water quality.

 

 

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The protected site at Sams Creek and the substantial area of midden (below) surrounding it, indicate the long-term use of the location by the indigenous people of the area. According to local  lore, Sams Creek was named after a fisherman who lived in a cave overlooking Halfmoon Bay. On the opposite, western, shore of Berowra Creek, just north of Sams Creek, is Merrymans Bay,  named after lime burners and shingle splitters who used to sing at their work there.

 

 

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Rock Lily Dendrobium speciosum on a ledge high above Sams Creek

 

 

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Pultenaea elliptica

 

 

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Brush Turkey are becoming more common in the park.

 

 

Berowra

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Mary Wall received the first land grant at Berowra in 1879 and by 1895 a tannery was established  close to the Crowley Road trackhead. It was 1902 before a road was constructed down to Berowra Waters.

 

 

 

 

 

Further Reference

Joffe, M. 1992, Yarns & Photos, Beautiful Old Berowra & Hornsby to the Hawkesbury,  Sandstone Press, Berowra Heights

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