The Duckhole (Ku-ring-gai NP)

A rough but interesting trail that follows McCarrs Creek downstream from The Duckhole to the spectacular Lower Gledhill Falls.

At the bottom of West Head Road just past the junction with McCarrs Creek Road is a small parking area, which is always full of parked cars. I’d never bothered to explore this area before, despite driving past countless times, as the walk along McCarrs Creek is fairly short.

Directly below the small carpark is a grassy area with a couple of picnic tables. McCarrs Creek runs under West Head Road and across a rocky platform. (Upstream from here, on the other side of West Head Road, is Upper Gledhill Falls  –  a “secret” swimming hole accessed by a short walk.)

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A little downstream is a small set of cascades, and the first of a few swimming holes.

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A rough track follows McCarrs Creek dowstream along the left bank, soon reaching the main swimming hole that’s known as The Duckhole (I’ve also seen it incorrectly referred to the Duck Pond). The deep pool, with its large sandy bank on one side, is a popular spot for families.

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Below The Duckhole is another cascade and a longer pool, which is less suitable for swimming.

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The track then veers away from the creek, and the valley starts to get a bit steeper. A side trail leads down from the main track to the water, where there’s a view of another set of cascades and another wide pool.

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From here it gets (unexpectedly) a lot more dramatic, as the valley gets steeper and deeper. McCarrs Creek plunges over a steep cliff, forming an impressive waterfall (Lower Gledhill Falls). Near the top of the falls it’s possible to scramble down to the creek, and peer down the sheer drop to the barely-visible pool below.

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The valley is so narrow here you could almost call it a canyon, and it feels like you’re miles from civilisation- even though McCarrs Creek Road is less than a hundred metres above the falls.

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The main track continues a bit further, staying well above the creek. There are a few rock ledges where you can peer down at the pool below the waterfall, which is surrounded by steep cliffs.

The end of the track – at least as far as I go – is a vertical slab of rock, with a rope attached to a protruding root. The rope seems OK, but it’s a pretty steep descent and with the recent rain everything is pretty wet and slippery. I might come back and tackle this another day…

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Location Parking area at the bottom of West Head Road (near junction with McCarrs Creek Road)
Distance Approx 800m return.
Grade Moderate. Some scrambling (especially if you descend to the pool below the waterfall)
Season/s All year
Map/s Interactive topographical map [AllTrails]
9130-4S Hornsby (1:25K)  Buy / Download

 

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