I’ve got a few tracks left in Garigal National Park which I haven’t done yet: I’m combining a couple of these (the Casuarina Track and Carroll Creek Track) with the Lyrebird Track into a loop alongside Middle Harbour. I’m starting at Forestville, near the Garigal National Park office, where the Carrol Creek Track is well sign-posted.
The service trail, looking rather damaged by rain, descends towards Carroll Creek. The casuarina forest, like the service trail, also looks like its been battered by recent storms or bushfire, with many fallen trees around the track.
Just before the bottom of the valley, a sign points to the Carroll Creek Track; there’s no signage for the Casuarina Track which continues along the side of the valley. [UPDATE Jan 2021: The start of the Casuarina Track just above the pipeline at the junction with the Carroll Creek Track is now clearly signposted.]
After a section of dry sclerophyll forest, the narrow track dips under a rock overhang that’s surrounded by ferns and hanging vegetation.
After this overhang, the track re-emerges into eucalpyt forest. Although the track itself is easy to follow, there are a few unmarked side-tracks: one access track goes up to Duke Street, and another descends very steeply down to Middle Harbour and the Lyrebird Track. There’s an occasional view down to Middle Harbour and some nice sections of bush, but the track also passes close to the back of properties and large patches of invasive weeds that serve as a reminder that you’re not far from “civilisation”.
The route gets tricky as it nears an electricity pylon at the end of the Forestville “peninsula”. The obvious trail continue straight ahead to meet the end of Boree Road. The much less-obvious Casuarina Track descends around the base of the pylon, soon re-entering the forest. I’m glad I took my detailed STEP topographical map, as the lack of signs and occasional side-tracks make navigation a bit tricky at times. [UPDATE: A flight of sandstone steps now leads down from the Boree Road access trail next to the Pylon, and is clearly signposted as the ‘Casuarina Track.]
The next section of the Casuarina Track is much more pleasant, with no houses in sight – and occasional glimpses of Middle Harbour below. Mostly shaded by tall forest, there’s some patches of semi-rainforest and ferny glades.
The track descends via stones steps down to the Davidson Picnic Area; it’s a pleasant surprise, as the NPWS Web site still states that the “Casuarina track between Carrol Creek and Davidson Picnic area, Forestville is closed indefinitely due to the removal of the stairway down to the picnic area after safety concern”. There’s definitely a very solid stairway now – and it’s another example of why I’m a bit cynical when I see any track closure notices.
It’s a bit of an abrupt change from the largely people-free track (I’ve met four small groups over the last hour) to the comparatively busy picnic ground. I quickly cross the open grassy space, and set off down the Lyrebird Track, which starts at the end of Davidson Park. Being late afternoon it’s not too busy, with just a few bushwalkers and cyclists on the wide service trail.
The Lyrebird Track follows the edge of Middle Harbour, with the late afternoon light making for some nice photo opportunities.
On the opposite side of Middle Harbour I can see a few bushwalkers on the Two Creeks Track, while a few kayakers glide past on the still water.
After about 1.7km the wide service trail narrows to a bushwalking track as it passes a section of casuarina trees…
…and after another few hundred metres, the track climbs a short distance above Middle Harbour, as it continues to follow the water.
At the confluence of Carroll Creek and Middle Harbour, the Lyrebird Track follows Carroll Creek a short distance upstream, to a small series of cascades.
This is the end (or start) of the Lyrebird Track; the Carroll Creek Track continues up Caroll Creek, while the Governor Phillip Walk starts on the opposite side of Carroll Creek and follows Middle Harbour up to the Bungaroo Track.
I’m taking the Carroll Creek Track to complete the loop; it’s a nice bushwalking trail that’s very similar to the Middle Harbour Creek Track.
The shaded, sandy trail is surrounded by ferns ,and follows the creek fairly closely.
Near the end of the Carroll Creek Track is a small waterfall, which has carved a deep channel across a broad rock platform,
Just downstream of the cascade is a small beach and swimming hole,
The track continues to gently ascend, through more ferns and under an incredibly long rock overhang.
It’s a fairly short track, and after about a kilometre reaches a steel bridge that crosses Carroll Creek. The Carroll Creek Track heads up the valley and away from the creek via a metal staircase, to complete the loop.
From the top of the stairs I’m back on the service trail that goes up to the Garigal NP office, and the start of the week. It’s been a pleasant walk; the section along Carroll Creek is really nice, and it’s a nice and easy walk along Middle Harbour. I was a bit slower along the Casuarina Track – it undulates a little and it’s easy to take the wrong due to lack of signage – so if you’re doing this bushwalk allow a bit more time for this part of the loop.