Tree rootsThe Cartophiles’ ninth day walk of 2014 was to the dramatic sandstone cliffs, rugged bushland and varied natural habitats of the Dharug National Park, just north of the Hawkesbury river. We had last been there in June for the overnight walks along the Old Great North Road.

This time we tackled the misnamed 11km walking track, which is actually 8.2km long.  National Parks says, “… it is an exhilarating challenge for adventure seekers.”

Seven Cartophiles (Paul, James, Annie, David, Mary and Kit) met at the historic Wisemans Ferry Inn before crossing the river and heading to the start point at the lovely Mill Creek picnic area.  The first part of the walk meandered alongside a lovely little creek, rising and falling in short steep sections.  The sound of the bubbling creek and the bird calls were delightful, and the vegetation was lush.  Soon the track climbed very steeply to the top of the ridge, where the vegetation changed to open, dry

forest interspersed with cliffs and boulder sections that were draped in wildflowers.  From there it followed the ridge through a few steep gullies, with hard descents and ascents that had all of us blowing.  The overcast briefly turned to drizzle on this section, but it was very short lived.  The trees thinned out and there were some nice views, so we stopped for lunch on a rock ledge.

Mary & Paul
Mary & Paul

From there the track zigzagged downhill to the moist valley again before crossing a wooden bridge and climbing back to the Mill Creek Picnic area.  At the picnic area we were pleasantly surprised to see a lyrebird walking around feeding.

This surprisingly good walk has an extraordinary range of habitats in a very short time, mainly due to the steep climbs.  We will have to seek out other hidden gems like this for next year.

After the walk we piled back into our cars for the trip back to a relaxed debrief around an outdoor table at the Wisemans Ferry Inn.  Life is good.

L-R James, Paul and Mary on a steep climb
L-R James, Paul and Mary on a steep climb
The lyrebird in the picnic area
The lyrebird in the picnic area