Having spotted what looked like a faint trail from Carroll Creek up to Davidson on my recent Casuarina and Lyrebird Loop bushwalk, I’m back to explore a potential new loop walk. (I discover a few days later it’s a circuit my father has been doing on a regular basis… but for me it’s a new walk!) I”m starting on the Pipeline Track near Founders Way (in St Ives), with the first part of the walk being one I’ve done many times – along the Pipeline Track and down the Bungaroo Track.
It’s a fairly brisk and easy walk down the Bungaroo Track to Middle Harbour, with the sun still fairly high.
The Bungaroo Track then follows Middle Harbour upstream for a short distance, staying fairly close to the water.
I’m soon at the Stepping Stones, the tidal limit of Middle Harbour and the demarcation point between Middle Harbour, and Middle Harbour Creek. Unfortunately one of the Stepping Stones must have been dislodged in a recent storm, so it’s shoes off for a short wade to the first remaining stone. (At low tide, you may be able to hop across without getting feet or shoes wet.) On the other side of the creek, the Middle Harbour Track goes upstream to The Cascades, and the Governor Phillip Walk heads downstream to Carroll Creek – both of these form part of the 59km Harbour to Hawkesbury walk.
Today I’m taking the Governor Phillip Walk downstream, following Middle Harbour fairly closely past a huge rock overhang and a small side-creek.
After about halk a kilometre the track passes under (or over) a huge water pipeline, with the Davidson Track heading up to Davidson along the pipeline (I’ll hopefully be returning this way) and the Governor Phillip Walk continuing along the creek.
The Governor Phillip Walk stays fairly close to Middle Harbour, passing a few sandy beaches and shaded sections through low ferns. It’s a very pleasant section of the walk.
Where Carrol Creek meets Middle Harbour, the track follows the creek upstream for a short distance, before a set of stepping stones (just above some small cascades) provides an easy crossing.
The Carroll Creek Track follows Carroll Creek upstream, through tall coachwood forest and low ferns.
After passing a small, natural pool the track reaches some picturesque cascades, where the creek has carved a deep channel through the rocks.
According to my detailed STEP map, there should be a track from somewhere around here up to Davidson… and directly opposite the top of the main cascade there is what appears to be a faint trail, marked by a blue tape around a fallen branch.
It turns out to be a very good track, which climbs fairly steeply through increasingly dense forest. Regular blue tape marks the route, but is unnecessary with the track being very obvious.
After the initial steep ascent, the track emerges from the thick forest into the more typical dry sclerophyll forest, dominated by eucalypt trees. It continues to ascend, but far more gently!
The unnamed track soon reaches the John Oxley Trail, a wide service trail which runs roughly parallel to John Oxley Drive. I could turn either left or right onto this trail; either way will eventually get me to the Davidson Track. I take the shorter route, turning left and descending a little, before the track ascends to meet John Oxley Drive a locked gate.
There’s a short (500m) road section along John Oxley Drive, until it meets the Davidson Track.
The Davidson Track follows the water pipeline down from Fitzpatrick Avenue, mostly running along an easement behind properties. The section I’m doing follows the back of houses for about 500m, before descending steeply along a concreted trail. It enters Garigal National Park at the bottom of the steep section.
At the end of the Davidson Track is Middle Harbour again, and three options from here to complete the loop: continue back up Middle Harbour to the Stepping Stones and up the Bungaroo Track (the same way that I came), wade across the creek (which is only really feasible at low tide), or walk across the top of the pipeline. (There used to be a footbridge here many years ago, but it was removed when it became unsafe and was never replaced).
From the opposite side of Middle Harbour, the Pipeline Track follows the pipeline up the hill, past the Bungaroo Track junction and back to Founders Way.
0.0km Founders Way (St Ives) 0.2km Turn left onto Bungaroo Track 1.5km Middle Harbour 1.8km Stepping Stones (cross Middle Harbour Creek here) 2.5km Junction with Davidson Track 4.3km Carroll Creek stepping stones 4.7km Carroll Creek cascades & start of unnamed track 5.2km John Oxley Trail (service trail) 5.6km John Oxley Drive (on-road section) 6.1km Start of Davidson Track 7.0km Davidson Track reaches Middle Harbour 7.1km Start of Pipeline Track 8.6km Founders Way
More information on Carroll Creek Loop
Most of the tracks in the Carroll Creek Loop are formal and signposted, except for a rough track up from the Carroll Creek Track to the John Oxley Trail. It may be marked by ribbons.
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.