St Ives to Mt Ku-ring-gai (or you can continue a bit further to finish at Berowra Station) is one of my favourite, local “easy bushwalks” that you can do as a one-way walk using a bus from Gordon Station and finishing at Mt Ku-ring-gai or Berowra stations. (You can also do this walk as a loop starting at The Sphinx in North Turramurra, if you’re going by car.) I’m starting fairly late in the day, and make quick progress along the first section of the Warrimoo Track – which is a rather boring firetrail that descends gently towards Cowan Creek.
There are some nice display of flowers along the track, with September/October being the best time for wildflowers.
After about a kilometre, the fire trail ends at a lookout and the Sonja Huddles Chair, a stone memorial to Sonja Huddle (1978-1999), a local girl who tragically died aged 21 in a stadium crush in Austria. A narrow bushwalking trail descends quite steeply from the end of the ridge to Cowan Creek. I overtake a small group (some of whom I discover are friends and neighbours!). Surprisingly, I see very few people along the track, which is fairly popular.
The Warrimoo Track now follows Cowan Creek from its very upper reaches. It’s nice walking with lots of shade throuugh ferns and casuarina forest.
It’s another kilometre along the creek before the junction with the Sphinx Track – if you start at the The Sphinx in North Turramurra, you would join the Warrimoo Track here to form a loop.
The tide is very low, so Cowan Creek is more sand than water… at high tide you can kayak up to here. Most of the creek bank is muddy and lined with mangroves, but on a hot day there are a few spots you could go for a swim. Preferably at high tide!
Further along the track is a large sandstone overhang, with the track squeezed between the creek and cliff. At high tide the track can be partly covered by water here.
A bit further on, and some of the boats moored at the Bobbin Marina are in sight. Before reaching the marina, there’s the junction with the Bobbin Head Trail, which goes back up the ridge to The Sphinx (take this track if doing the loop).
The Warrimoo Track continues behind the Empire (Bobbin Head) Marina, emerging through a gap in the buildings to a cafe situated right on the water. The cafe is open every day from 8:30am to 4pm, but note the kitchen closes at 3:30pm. There’s a good range of hot foods and snacks – and the coffee’s pretty good, too!
You now need to traverse the marina and Bobbin Head picnic area, crossing the car park and Cockle Creek and passing the Bobbin Inn Café (open every day except Tuesday from from 9am to 4pm). The cafe is also the site of the National Park’s information centre. I’ve done this walk many times, and have always followed the road around to Apple Tree Bay – but for some reason I check my topographical map more closely, and discover there is actually a walking track that crosses the headland and avids walking along the road. The Birrawanna Loop Track is both well-marked but quite easy to miss, heading straight up the from the road. At the top of the headland there’s an unmarked track which leads to the Cockle Creek Lookout. The views aren’t great, but you get filtered views of Cowan Creek and the marina below.
The Birrawanna Loop Track meets the road at Apple Tree Bay, with the Berowra Track starting at the northern of the bay. The track crosses Apple Tree Creek and follows the edge of Cowan Creek.
It’s very nice walking along Cowan Creek with the evening light – and a big change from the barely foot-high creek I started at, to the wide and deep waterway here.
About 1km from Apple Tree Bay is the track up to Mt Ku-ring-gai, which climbs consistently but never very steeply up to the top of the ridge. I often continue further along the creek and go up to Berowra Station (a shorter but steeper climb up from Cowan Creek), but it’s starting to get dark.
There are some filtered views of Cowan Creek from the track; near the top of the spur heading up to the ridge I veer off-track for a short distance to a rocky outcrop with great views down Cowan Creek.
About half-way along the Mt Ku-ring-gai Track there’s an unnamed trail on the right (north). It leads to Firefighters Rest, a memorial to four National Parks and Wildlife Service officers who lost their lives in a hazard reduction operation at Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park in 2000.
There’s one more unmarked track a bit further with views over Cowan Creek, but the views aren’t particularly great. It’s almost dark now, as I reach the end of the Mt Ku-ring-gai Track and continue up Harwood Avenue to Mt Ku-ring-gai station.
0.0km Trackhead at end of Warrimoo Road (St Ives Chase) 1.2km End of firetrail & steep descent to Cowan Creek 2.1km Junction with Sphinx Track (to North Turramurra) 6.0km Junction with the Bobbin Head Trail (to The Sphinx) 6.3km Bobbin Head Marina (Gallery Foods cafe) 6.9km Birawanna Loop Track to Apple Tree Bay 8.8km Apple Tree Bay 9.8km Mt Ku-ring-gai Track 11.6km Firefighters Rest and lookout (100m off main track) 12.1km Unnamed Lookout (100m off Mt Ku-ring-gai Track) 12.8km Trackhead at Harwood Avenue (Mt Ku-ring-gai) 13.2km Mt Ku-ring-gai station