In search for some new bushwalks near home, I’m exploring a few of the trails in Duffys Forest. Both the Cowan Track and Wilkins Track branch off the Perimeter Trail, a popular mountain-biking track. There’s quite a few people on bikes taking advantage of the perfect Easter weather, but nobody walking along the firetrail.
It’s easy walking along the Perimeter Trail, which is pretty flat and has just the occasional puddle (from recent rain) to avoid. I go past the first junction (Long Trail) and continue onto the turn-off onto the Wilkins Track. There’s pretty much no-one on the side-tracks; I pass one family (with a stroller!) on the way back, and another father with his daughter points out a pair of flamed robins that are darting high above us in a eucalpytus tree.
Like the Perimeter Trail, the Wilkins Track is also pretty flat, so it doesn’t take long to reach the end. After a sign saying “walkers only” there’s another 20 metres before the walking track reaches a rock ledge. From here there’s a view over Smiths Creek, which is a tributary of Cowan Creek. It’s a nice view – but not spectacular. (If you’re after a view, the end of the Long Track is far better, and the Cowan Track is slightly better.)
After returning to the Perimeter Track, I make a short detour to find TS4763 WILKINS, an old trig station that’s not far off the Perimeter Track. It takes me a bit longer than I expect to locate it – although it’s at the highest point there’s no obvious hill, and the rock cairns blends in the with the trees. The base is in good condition, but the mast and vane are missing.
It’s then back down the Perimeter Track, until I turn right onto the Cowan Track. It’s another quiet trail, with just a couple of bushwalkers going in the opposite direction. Like most of the other firetrails in this area, it’s not particularly varied scenery, but is easy walking.
A little past the half-way mark I leave the firetrail and head into the bush to find TS1672 COWAN. Like the trig station near the Wilkins Trail, the stone base is in good condition – but the metal vane looks like it’s been baked by bushfires.
Just before reaching the end of the trail is a marked Aboriginal engraving site (Spirits Rock), which wasn’t on any of my maps and which I wasn’t expecting. The clearly visible rock art includes Baiame (the creator god and Sky Father in the dreaming of several language groups), a shield and a number of figures (one holding a shield, and another holding a boomerang).
It’s not much further to the end of the Cowan Track, which offers a nice view over Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, with Cowan Creek and Apple Tree Bay to the south-west.
Just beyond the end of the track are some large sandstone boulders; these can be easily climbed to get a slightly better view, and a nice spot to stop and admire the landscape. It’s then back the same way, with almost no-one left on any of the tracks as the sun starts to set. It hasn’t been the most exciting I’ve done, but it’s nice to be able to sit and enjoy the views with no-one else around… Both the lookouts are nice, but if you’re going to pick one I’d definitely go with the Cowan Track option.
0.0km End of Bulara St, Duffys Forest 0.2km Start of Perimeter Trail (locked gate) 0.9km Junction with Long Track (continue along Perimeter Trail) 2.2km Turn onto Wilkins Track 3.0km End of Wilkins Track 3.9km Return to Perimeter Trail 5.1km Turn onto Long Trail 6.1km Turn onto Cowan Track 8.2km End of Cowan Track 11.3km Return to Perimeter Trail 12.2km Bulara St trackhead
More information on Wilkins Track and Cowan Track
- Wildwalks – Wilkins Track
- Spirits Rock Aboriginal engraving site
- Sydney Rock Art – Cowan Track web page
For more bushwalking suggestions, have a look at the Guide to Ku-ring-gai Chase, which lists all the official and informal routes in the park. Other bushwalks you can do from the Perimeter Trail are the Long Trail, Smiths Creek Loop and Mount Murray Anderson.