A mostly off-track hike from Warrimoo in the Blue Mountains down Glenbrook Creek to Glenbrook station via Duck Hole and the Blue Pool.
A series of hot December days means that after a successful trip down Wollangambe Canyon a few days earlier, I’m looking for another creek or river for a planned bushwalk with a friend visiting from the UK. The area around Glenbrook looks like a good option – we’d leave the car at Warrimoo, head down to Glenbrook Creek and hopefully make it as far as Lapstone, taking the train back to the car. A bit or prior research yielded some track notes from a bushwalking book, one topographical map showing a track most of the way and another map that had no trail at all… with the temperature forecast to be in the mid 30s (Celsius), we could always take to the creek!
It’s already pretty warm when we reach the trailhead at the end of Florabella St in Warrimoo at 10am. There’s not much parking – but there’s no-one else crazy enough to walk in this heat, as we head down the Florabella Pass.
The track descends pretty consistently for the first kilometre, with well-constructed steps hewn into the rock and a few overhanging caves.
Although the trail is mostly downhill and fairly shaded, it traverses a few small creeks and valleys. After about 3.2km there’s a well-marked track that goes up to Plateau Parade in Blaxland – there’s a deep overhang here and it makes a nice rest stop.
Soon after this there’s the first glimpses of Glenbrook Creek, and we start to keep an eye out for a trail down.
The path down from the main trail is impossible to miss… while the track down is not signposted, there’s a sign pointing back to “Florabella Pass” (at Springwood 777632
The track is very steep but short, and we’re at the creek in less than 15 minutes.
From here my guidebook suggests the trail is a bit “scungy”, so I’m not sure what to expect. Turns out there is no trail – at least there might have been ten years, ago but there’s no remnant of any track along the creek anymore. There’s fairly thick scrub right down to the edge of the eater. The easiest way to proceed is down the creek, which is mostly no more than waist deep, with occasional sections of rock-hopping.
It’s relatively slow-going, with a deep section near Boulder Pool (bottom right); there might be more water than usual despite the current hot and dry spell, as I’ve seen photos of the the same pool with a broad sandy bank. We see a few large eels along the bottom of the creek in the shallower parts.
There’s one last, deep section as we approach the Duck Hole. We swim for about 100m down the river, emerging on the northern side of the river. Here we see the only person we encounter all day: a backpacker is relaxing by the river, and is a little surprised by two people emerging from the creek! We have a chat and a short break, and continue down the river.
The area around the Duck Hole is quite picturesque, with some nice spots to swim from. Woudn’t be a bad place to camp either, with flat camping spots close to the water but well shaded by trees.
There’s an exit track here that goes up to Glenbrook, but we’re looking to get to the Blue Pool further downstream. Although we’re not going to get as far as Lapstone. It’s been pretty slow going, and it’s now 3pm (we’ve taken about three hours to cover just over 3km).
The good news is that while there’s still no clear track along this section, after some initial scrambling through thick undergrowth, we cross the river and find a rough track on the southern side (right-hand side going downstream). It’s not really a marked trail, but it feels like it night have been a track some time ago, and is much quicker than wading along the creek as we have been.
We stop for a break about half-way between the Duck Hole and Blue Pool, having made pretty good time – about 45min to cover 1.5km, which is about twice our previous pace. It’s here, after enjoying a freshing dip, I realise that my wallet and car keys are no longer in my backpack.
We head back to the Duck Hole – I’m pretty sure I must have left them somewhere near the spot we came out of the creek, where we had a short break, but can’t see them. I look in a few different spots, before reluctantly giving up. I’m not expecting anymore to find them, as we’ve only seen one person on the whole walk. It also means that rather than driving my car back to Sydney, we’ll be taking the train… I’ll have to come back the next day with my spare keys to pick up the car. We also don’t make it to the Blue Pool, but take the track up from the Duck Hole up to Glenbrook Station (it’s about 1.1km up to the ridge and then 1.2km along the railway line to the station).
[Somewhat amazingly, Max & Lara manage to track me down about two weeks later having found the wallet and keys in my drybag, and drop it off at the local police station. Turns out I’d left them just after the Duck Hole on top of a boulder, at one of the spots where we crossed the creek! It’s a big relief as I’d replaced the credit cards, but still hadn’t started the process of getting replacement keys and cards.]
I’ll have to come back and do the very last section from the Blue Pool… track distances beloe are based on finishing via Blue Pool.
0.0km Start at end of Florabella St, Warrimoo 3.2km Junction with track to Plateau Parade (Blaxland) 3.8km Take steep track down to Glenbrook Creek (Springwood MGA777632) 4.0km Glenbrook Creek is reached 7.2km Duck hole (and exit track to Glenbrook [2.3km to Glenbrook station] 10.2km Blue Pool 12.8km Glenbrook Station
|Location||Starts at Florabella St in Warrimoo (if driving) or Warrimoo statuion. Finishes at Glenbrook station (with two exit tracks, from Duck Hole or Blue Pool).|
|Distance||Approx 13km. Allow 8-9hrs due to off-track sections|
|Grade||Moderate. 225m total ascent.|
|Season/s||Ideal in summer on a warm day|
|Map||9030-3N Penrith (1:25,000)
9030-4S Springwood (1:25,000)
|GPS Route||Routie GPS trail – view route and export to GPX format.|
|Resources||Take a Walk in the Blue Mountains (John & Lym Daly) has this walk and some variants, but references a track that no longer exists|