Occasionally I have high expectations for a walk, but it turns out to be a little underwhelming and disappointing. Today’s walk was the opposite. I had no expectations. It was the one of the only West Head walks I hadn’t done yet, but since I’ve just finished a Guide to West Head bushwalks I thought I’d better get a few photos of the track to Elvina Bay and add some details to the walk summary. It turned out to be a fantastic little walk. I should explain my pre-walk skepticism: Elvina Bay is one of a few coastal communities along McCarrs Creek and Pittwater that can be reached by boat, or accessed by one of the West Head walking tracks. The track to these coastal suburbs is generally a wide and boring firetrail, that leads you the back of properties. So my expectation of the Elvina Bay bushwak were fairly low.
I set-up off late in the afternoon with my low expectations down the Elvina Trail, a wide and sandy firetrail. According to my track notes, there is an alternate walking trail down to Elvina Bay, although there’s no mention of this on the trailhead signage. About 300m down the firetrail, there is narrow and unmarked track on the left, which is exactly where my map indicates an alternate route should be.
Down this narrow track I go, which I later learn is the Fredericks Track. It’s clearly going somewhere and is much more interesting that the main Elvina Trail, which I plan to take back up the hill. I startle a wallaby, which moves too quickly for me to get a good photo!
After 1.1km there is a junction, with a very distinct track heading to the left, and what I think is the main walking track continuing straight ahead. I go left. Although I know from my notes that there is a swimming hole – Lovetts Pool – I’m not expecting to suddenly be standing above an idyllic natural rock pool. Framed by shrubbery and with a small cascade at one end, it would be a great swimming spot on a warmer day.
Upstream of the pool, a rough track ends where the unnamed creek narrows through a sea of ferns.
I continue downstream, alternating between following Salvation Creek, or when there’s another steep drop taking a rough path on the right-hand side of the creek. There’s multiple cascades as the creek drops steeply towards Pittwater.
I finally reach the point where the creek plunges of a huge cliff, with a nice view of Elvina Bay and Pittwater. Behind me is a smaller, picturesque waterfall.
I’m not sure from here how to proceed: I could retrace my steps back to the junction and follow the track down to Elvina Bay. Or continue along a very rough track that heads away from the waterfall, along a ridge with a steep drop to the left. With a couple of hours of daylight left, I push on – there’s a a very faint track in places, although there’s many fallen trees and obstacles to negotiate. I pass some impressive sandstone caves and overhangs to my right.
On my left there’s the occasional view of Elvina Bay, and a glimpses of thick, rainforest-like vegetation directly below.
It’s not particularly hard going, and I soon reach a spur at the end of the ridge, where the “track” completely peters out. From my topographical map, there should be another trail at the bottom of this spur. Navigating around the larger boulders, I descend quickly to reach a distinct trail along the bottom of the cliff (at MGA 401768)
(This is where I get a little lost. Not lost as in I don’t know where I am, but I discover that the trail I’m now on stops abruptly at the bottom of a tall cliff, where there are some plastic pipes collecting water from further upstream. I backtrack a small distance, and find another track a bit lower down the valley.) I follow this new track, back the same direction I’ve come from. After squeezing between a couple of boulders, I’m suddenly standing in the middle of a small sandy clearing, in front of the huge, 25m high Elvina Bay Waterfall. It’s a very tranquil spot and beautiful spot. Another unexpected surprise on my afternoon walk!
From here I head back along the bushwalking trail to where it meets Sturdee Lane, one of the firetrails that follows the edge of Elvina Bay behind a row of houses.
Just before the junction with Wirringulla Avenue (another firetrail that leads to the Elvina Track) is a tranquil and deserted beach. In fact, the whole area is pretty quiet – I haven’t seen a single other person so far.
Rather than continuing along Wirringulla Avenue and then up the Elvina Track, I spot the un-signposted walking trail that goes up the hill (it’s near the junction of Sturdee Lane and Wirringulla Avenue). Near the start of the trail is Frederick’s Grave, marked by a sandstone head stone and foot stone. Fredrick Oliver, who died after falling off his horse in 1867, was one of the children of the Olivers who made their home in the area. (The correct spelling his name is Fredrick, but it’s often spelt as “Frederick”.)
The track climbs up the other side of the spur to the one where I came down earlier (without a track). It’s only about 600m until I’m at the junction with the track to Lovetts Pool, which is the alternate route to I took down to Elvina Bay a couple of hours ago.
On the way, with dark clouds starting to fill the sky (rain has been threatening all weekend), I make the short detour to an Aboriginal rock engraving site. It’s one of the largest engraving sites in Australia, with the art including a giant whale, an emu and the Baime/Daramulan creator spirit and his emu-wife.
Finishing just as as it starts to rain, I’m mentally adding this bushwalk to my list of those I’ll definitely come back and explore again.
0.0km Start at Elvina Track gate on West Head Road 1.3km Take left track at junction (goes to Lovetts Pool) 1.6km Lovetts Pool 1.7km Edge of cliff (waterfall) 2.1km Bottom of spur (off-track along ridge & down the spur) 2.5km Base of Elvina Bay Waterfall (back same way from here) 3.2km Junction of Sturdee Lane & Wirringulla Avenue 3.8km Junction with track to Lovetts Pool 4.9km Walking track meets Elvina Track (firetrail) 5.0km Junction with track to Aboriginal engravings 0.3km side-trip to rock engravings 5.4km Return to Elvina Track gate
More information on Elvina Bay Circuit
- Wildwalks – Elvina Bay Circuit (an easier on-track route)
- Realestate.com – An early settlers’ homestead on northern beaches waterfront land is for sale – the house where William Oliver and his wife Mary lived with their son Fredrick, from 1862 to 1882.
Guide to West Head