The Pipeline Track in Garigal National Park (also known as the Pipeline Way) is a a popular walking, jogging and mountain-biking route. As an alternative to returning the same way, continue along Middle Harbour Creek and return via the Bungaroo Track for more interesting bushwalking loop.
Starting near the Barra Brui scout hall in St Ives (on Hunter Avenue), the Pipeline Track is a maintenance (4WD) trail that follows a water pipeline. Initially the water pipeline and national park is on the one side, and the back of houses on the other. (The pipeline carries drinking water under pressure from Ryde to Pymble to the Warringah Reservoir at Beacon Hill, travelling through Garigal National Park and across Middle Harbour Creek.)
After 900m the intersection is reached with Founders Way, where there is interpretive signage about the area’s history. This is an alternative starting point from Hunter St, which cuts about 1.8km from the circuit. After another 200m along the Pipeline Track, the junction with the Bungaroo Track is reached; turn left down this track (it’s easier to do the walk in this direction, as the Bungaroo Track can be a bit tricky to find at the bottom).
The Bungaroo Track initially follows the top of the ridge; 200m from the start of the track there’s a couple of markers and the track seems to split. Keep right (the left rock goes to a rock platform). After another 100m the track descends through a gap in two large boulders, with stone steps leading down. It’s easy to miss, and if you go too far you’ll emerge back onto the Pipeline Track and need to retrace your steps for about 50m.
Continue down the Bungaroo Track as it winds down through the forest, with short sections of boardwalk and well-constructed stone steps. Eventually the track reaches Middle Harbour Creek (1.5km from where it branches off the Pipeline Track) near a sandy beach. If you go left (upstream) for a short distance you reach the Stepping Stones, the tidal limit of Middle Harbour Creek and the location of Governor Arthur Phillip’s camp on his historic first expedition in 1788. The name “Bungaroo” is an Aboriginal name for either the Salt Water Turtle, or ‘running water’.
(From Stepping Stones you can cross the creek and take the Governor Phillip walk to Davidson Park, or turn left to take the Middle Harbour track to the Cascades.) Note that if you’re doing the walk in the opposite direction, the start of the Bungaroo Track where it goes up the hill from the creek (-33.743965, 151.188206) can be easy to miss.
Turn right (downstream) and follow the creek along a fairly rough track. It can be a bit faint (and overgrown) at times, but is always within a few metres of the creek. It’s only about 400m – although it can be a bit slow-going – before you reach the pipeline, which crosses Middle Harbour Creek.
From here, it’s 2.4km back up the wide Pipeline Track to the starting point (if you prefer more of a bush track, after about 400m there is a narrow track to the left of the pipeline, that’s often used by mountain-bikers – duck under the pipeline after the first steep section to find this trail). After about 1.3km you’ll pass the start of the Bungaroo Track on your right, shortly before you leave the national park.
More information on the Pipeline Track and Bungaroo Track
- National Parks (NPWS) – Pipeline and Bungaroo tracks to Stepping Stones Crossing
- Wildwalks – Pipeline Way track detailed track notes.
For more bushwalks (as well as mountain-biking trails and swimming holes) in this area, have a look at the Guide to Garigal National Park. This includes 25 bushwalks in Garigal National Park with links to detailed track notes and online maps.