A challenging circuit that descends from Wahroonga to Cowan Creek at Bobbin Head via the Murrua Fire Trail and returns via the popular Gibberagong Track.
I could do this bushwalk the easy way, taking the Gibberagong Track down to Bobbin Head, and returning the same way… but I’m keen to explore if I can create a circuit by connecting the Gibberagong Track and Murrua Fire Trail. The obvious challenge to my plan being that no track seems to exist between the end of the Murrua Fire Trail (at the top of the ridge) and the start of the Gibberagong Track (at the bottom of the valley)…
I’ve decided to start at the top, in Wahroonga, and see if I can find a way down from the end of the Murrua trail to Bobbin Head – if I have to “bush bash” between trails, I’d rather do it downhill! I’m starting on the Gibberagong Track, the first section of which is a wide management trail.
It’s easy walking along the flat and shaded trail. My maps shows a track leading off to the left after 500m which I briefly explore, thinking it may lead to a lookout. It’s very overgrown and doesn’t seem to go anywhere.
After 1.3km the management trail narrows as it starts to descend the ridge, before crossing Lovers Jump Creek with the aid of some steps carved into the moss-covered rocks.
The track now follows Cockle Creek downstream, soon passing an a huge pool (part of the Gibberagong Waterhole).
Just past the waterhole and after a 100m section of tall casuarina forest is the junction with a track that connects to the Murrua Fire Trail.
Unfortunately, this means I need to climb back up to the top of the ridge, to reach the Murrua Fire Trail. A service trail for a number of electricity pylons, the Murrua Fire Trail stretches back to North Turramurra and continues further along the ridge to access one more pylon. (The word “murrua” is Aboriginal word for “west wind”.)
Murrua Fire Trail runs along the top of the ridge, parallel to the Gibberagong Track which follows the bottom of the valley. While it’s easy walking along the fire trail, I’m beginning to doubt my plan of getting down to the Gibberagong Track as the scrub on both sides of the fire trail is pretty thick.
There’s a rocky outcrop with some filtered views across the valley, before the fire trail descends to the last electricity pylon.
From here I’m expecting to fight my way through the scrub to get down to Cockle Creek and the Gibberagong Track. The shortest way would be straight down the side of the ridge to the east, but I’m concerned this will be too steep. It’s longer but easier and safer to follow the end of the ridge down. I’m pleasantly surprised as I continue walking north-east that there is a distinct path that continues down the ridge…
Another surprise is an unmarked lookout, with Bobbin Head visible below.
From this lookout the track becomes fairly indistinct, but the occasional pink tape suggests I’m not the first to take this route. While the track is not obvious, it’s obvious when you’re not on the trac: as in, you often can’t see the track but you’ll soon realise from the thick scrub that you’ve missed a turn!
There’s another rock outcrop marked by a number of impressive cairns, and I can hear voices below… but I can’t find any track down from here. Being fairly close to the bottom of the valley, I head straight down the steep slope, scrambling over boulders and around grass trees until I emerge onto the Rainforest Track. [UPDATE: The faint track does continue down to the Gibberagong Track – head directly north rather than east as I did from the last rock outcrop maked by some large cairns – thanks Richard for the update. I’ve included his GPS route below which has the “correct” route!]
Just below me is the end of the Rainforest Track, a section of rainforest beside a small creek, just below Bobbin Head Road.
Heading back up the timber stairs I soon meet the Gibberagong Track, which follows Cockle Creek down to Bobbin Head.
There’s lots to see along this first (or last) section of the Gibberagong Track, which is also popular with many people doing the short Rainforest Walk from Bobbin Head. Opposite an Aboriginal engraving (of a single human figure) are a number of axe-sharpening grooves.
The path goes through some large boulders and past an impressive sandstone overhang.
The final part of the Gibberagong Track is a boardwalk through the mangroves and a viewing area over Cowan Creek, before it reaches a foot-bridge over Cockle Creek.
With the day getting late, I turn-around and head back up the Gibberagong Track, which follows Cockle Creek fairly closely all the way back to where I took the track up to Murrua Fire Trail.
It’s slow-going, as I’m constantly stopping to take photos: on the left are sandstone formations and rock overhangs, and on the right the picturesque Cockle Creek.
A little further on is the tidal limit of Cockle Creek, where a jumble of rocks demarcates the wide, still and sandy creek downstream, to the fast-flowing and rock creek upstream.
Beyond a rocky cliff on the left is another nice rockpool, with multiple holes in the sandstone formed by the water.
The track closely follows the creek, with a number of photogenic pools and cascades.
The Gibberagong Track leaves the creek for a while, passing next to some sandstone boulders and overhangs.
It’s not long before the track is back next to the creek, and another succession of pools and cascades.
Just before reaching the junction with the track to the Murrua Fire Trail is a rocky ledge that provides a nice vidw over a deep and long pool, which forms the southern section of the Gibberagong Waterhole.
It’s now almost dark as I reach the junction with the track I took earlier this afternoon; I complete the last two kilometres by the light of my head-torch to complete the loop. I’m happy that I managed to complete the circuit as planned. But would I do it again? Probably not; the Gibberagong Track is such a nice walk compared to the Murrua Fire Trail, that it’s more appealing to walk back the same way. Or perhaps combine the Gibberagong Track with the Bobbin Head Track to form a slighty shorter and much e
0.0km Gibberagong Track from end of Grosvenor St (170m asl) 0.5km Junction with old track (on the left) 1.4km Track narrows and starts to descend ridge 2.2km Track crosses Lovers Jump Creek (45m asl) 2.4km Turn onto track connecting to Murrua Fire Trail 2.8km Start of Murrua Fire Trail (160m asl) 5.1km End of Murrua Fire Trail (135m asl) 6.1km Rainforest Trail (21m asl) 7.0km Cockle Creek bridge / end of Gibberagong Track (Bobbin Head) 12.1km Junction with track to Murrua Fire Trail 14.5km End of Gibberagong Track
|Location||End of Grosvenor Street, North Wahroonga|
|Grade||Moderate/Hard. 395m total elevation gain. Off-track sections.|
|Map/s||Interactive topographical map from Wahroonga
(Yellow track is Richard’s route from N Turrurra)
9130-4S Hornsby (1:25K) Buy / Download
|GPS Route||Gaia GPS map with option to download GPX / KML file
Gaia GPS map – Richard’s track (from N Turramurra)