I’m back with friends Sam and Andy to explore a longer loop walk through the northern part of Garigal National Park. The starting point for our Five Mile Creek Loop is on Forest Way, where we take an informal mountain biking track that descends from the road into the bush.
After about a kilometre there’s a sign stating we are on the Blackout mountain biking track, rated as Very Difficult and featuring many large drops as it descends towards Deep Creek. (Most of the Blackout track is not actually within Garigal National Park, but is Crown Land.)
The trail passes under a huge rock overhang fringed by ferns.
As the track continues to descend, you wouldn’t really think it was “created” as a mountain bike trail, other than the occasional signs where the track splits into an “A line” and “B line”. We work out that “A line” is generally suicidal, while “B line” is merely dangerous… At one point the track ends at a sheer 4-metre drop (Skyfall), which seems a rather major blunder – until we see tyre tracks below where bikes have landed. (Just after drop is a helpful sign explaining how to contact emergency services with precise location details.)
At the bottom of the Blackout track is a slightly incongruous sandstone wall, about 2m high and 2m in length. It doesn’t seem to serve any purpose, nor does it appear to be part of any larger construction. If anyone knows why this wall is here, I’d love to know…
We’re now within Garigal National Park; the trail we’ve taken continues back up to where we started as the “Ground Control” track, while we take a short side track that crosses Five Mile Creek Trail and connects to the Five Mile Creek Trail. Five Mile Creek flows over and next to a wide sandstone platform.
We’re only on the Five Mile Creek Trail, a wide service trail, for about 500m before taking a rough track that goes straight up the valley to the east. Not shown on most maps, but marked by a series of pink ribbons, this bushwalking route passes a few sandstone overhangs before it meets the Slippery Dip Trail.
Another wide service track, the Slippery Dip Trail traverses the top section of Garigal National Park, and provides access to the Warringah Radio Control Society (WRCS), who have an airfield within the park on reclaimed land. We turn off the Slippery Dip Trail onto the XC Track, another unofficial mountain bike and walking track; from the junction there’s a glimpse of the WRCS airfield below.
About 500m along the XC Track is our next turn-off, onto the Little Moab Track. Another MTB & bushwalking track, the Little Moab Track follows the top of a ridge, crossing a a number of open rock platforms.
Along this ridge is an Aboriginal engraving site; it’s fairly weathered and hard to make out what the large carving represents.
The next section is a bit of a gamble… we need to head almost due west back down to the Five Mile Creek Trail, which we can see in the distance. I’ve no idea if there is a track, but none of my maps show any trail so I fear it may be an off-track bush-bash.
As luck would have it, I spot a yellow ribbon near the end of the rock platform – who said hope isn’t a strategy! It’s fortunate that someone decided to forge a route down to the valley and mark it with a series of ribbons, as I think otherwise we would have turned back. Even with the aid of ribbons it was a steep and rough route down, through mostly thick scrub.
Once we emerge onto the Five Mile Creek Trail, it’s easy walking again. The service trail crosses Five Mile Creek, before reaching a confusing intersection: the main Five Mile Creek Trail goes up the hill, but need to keep to the right. Our track, still a service trail, re-crosses a tributary of Five Mile Creek.
Soon after this creek crossing, the wide service trail abruptly turns into a bushwalking track, crossing Five Mile Creek again as it starts to ascend.
The path follows an unnamed tributary of Five Mile Creek as it ascends, passing under a large rock overhang and over some rocky ledges.
There’s been more shrubs in flower on each bushwalk I’ve done lately, with Spring only a few days away. Unfortunately, as the track reaches the top of the valley, there’s more of a scent from the Kimbriki Resource Recovery Centre (a waste and recycling centre on the opposite side of the valley) than wildflowers!
After a last, steep-ish section that zig-zags up the side of the valley, we reach the wide Kamber Road Trail. We follow this for only about 200m, before turning off again onto an unnamed trail that basically runs parallel to Mona Vale Road, along the top of the park. It’s an odd track: one minute we’re in tall forest, then sections of ferns followed by thickets of dense weeds, and then a glimpse of the back of residential properties.
Just before we reach the end of the track at Forest Way, there’s a very short side-track to a rock outcrop with views over the park and out to Narrabeen and the ocean.
We’re soon at the gate marking the end of the track at Forest Way, with a walk back along the road to reach the car just before it gets dark.
0.0km Start Forest Way (900m from Mona Vale Road intersection) 2.7km Blackout track meets exit track to Five Mile Creek 2.8km Five Mile Creek Trail 3.3km Turn onto unnamed track which goes up to Slippery Dip Trail 3.7km Slippery Dip Trail 4.2km Turn onto XC Track 4.7km Turn onto Little Moab Track 5.7km End of LIttle Moab; roug route down to Five Mile Creek 6.1km Five Mile Creek Trail 6.5km Keep right! 6.7km Junction with Kamber Road Trail on the left (ignore) 7.8km Turn left onto unnamed trail 8.7km Turn right onto Kamber Road Trail 8.9km Turn onto unnamed trail that heads west 10.7km Gate on Forest Way Road 11.4km Start point on Forest Way Road
More information on Five Mile Creek Trail
The Five Mile Creek Trail is a wide firetrail that suitable for bushwalking and mountain-biking; it does a big loop through Garigal National Park between Morgan Road and Forest Way. To avoid long stretches of firetrail, this bushwalk uses many of the informal and unofficial mountain bikes tracks. A map is essential as very few of the tracks are signposted.
For more bushwalks (as well as mountain-biking trails and swimming holes) in this area, have a look at the Guide to Garigal National Park. This includes 25 bushwalks in Garigal National Park with links to detailed track notes and online maps.