The Basin Track is the least appealing of all the West Head trails. Servicing the Basin Campground, it’s partly sealed (to allow NPWS vehicles to access the camping area) and generally a pretty dreary walk. However, like a few other West Head trails, it has a few surprises if you know where to look…
Near the start of the track is the sign-posted Basin Aboriginal Art Site, which has some well preserved engravings with interpretative signage. (It’s one of 25 Aboriginal engraving sites along the Basin and Mackerel Tracks – and also the most accessible.)
The 53 figures are clustered in three groups, with the main subjects being fish, kangaroos and wallabies, and groups with people (click on the image below to look at individual engravings).
Two legs and "long, conical penis" - rest of figure is missing
A male figure with broader left arm, and an odd-looking right foot.
A man (described as a male anthropomorph figure by Sim) has a long narrow object projecting from his head, and a fish within the outline of his body. A large fish (six feet in length) is next to the man.
The second man (in a group of three figures) has no eyes or neck, and four pointed figures on each hand.
Man and Woman
At the north-east corner of the site are two men, and a woman. The largest figure, a man has a four-rayhed headdress and is holding a broad fish in his right hand, and a sword club (boomerang) in his left hand. The woman has breasts, but no hands, feet or genitalia.
Man with fish
A man with a fish next to his right leg.
An intertwined couple (man and woman): early descriptions of the site (McCarthy and Sim) describe a sword club or boomerang above the man and woman, and don’t suggest any connection between the couple and the boomerang. However, a later interpretation of the site suggests that the couple is reaching for the moon.
Moon (or boomerang)
Moon (or boomerang) above couple. (Boomerangs typically have straight sides and rounded ends, whereas the crescent moon always has a curved shape and pointed ends.)
Single fish (near boardwalk)
Two wallabies (or kangaroos) in a series of seven
Wallaby and Fish
First wallaby (or kangaroo) in a series of seven, next to a fish
One of the interpretations of this site is that it represents fishing and hunting expeditions.
Continuing down the Basin Track, and hidden in deep scrub not far off the trail, is a quite deeply cut skate (or stingray).
After about a kilometre, I veer off the Basin Track, towards the Euro Trig Station. It’s relatively easy going with the scrub much less thick than the horribly painful route up to the Bairne Trig! There’s some nice views over West Head and some large sandstone overhangs.
The Euro Trig Station (TS2005 EURO) is spotted from some distance away, with its metal vane still intact a and rising above the low surrounding vegetation.
What’s even more impressive are the sweeping views from the trig point, and from some rock outcrops just beyond the trig. An unusual surprise, as most other trig stations at West Head are hidden in dense bush. Below the trig you can see the Euro Track, and beyond that Pittwater and the Barrenjoey Peninsula.
To the east and almost below us is The Basin and the small settlement of Coasters Retreat. To the north east you can see the Barrenjoey Lighthouse and Broken Bay where the Hawkesbury River meets the Pacific Highway.
There’s a few more engraving sites: a shield, and a set of what may be footprints (mundoes) – or may be natural erosion in the sandstone.
One of these sites (Basin Trig Whale) is quite complex, and was described and documented by W.D. Campbell in 1899: “The principal figure is a whale twenty-three feet long, with a narrow double line at the base of the large fin; within and across the posterior portion of this whale are cut a large seal-like figure, three large shields, and a large fish. Near the head of the whale is another fish, and a wallaby, and a small circle, and what appears to he several unfinished figures.”
From the trig station, I descend directly down to the Euro Track below. There’s a long cliff line below the trig, but it’s not too hard to find a viable route down, with just a bit of easy scrambling.
At the end of the Euro Track is the Basin Dam, which provides water supply to the campground below.
Heading back along the Euro Track, another off-track detour across a broad rock platform to the south ends at a cliff above The Basin. Perched almost directly above the camping area, there’s a great view of the enclosed inlet. Looking slightly out of place in the middle of the grassy area is a row of Norfolk Pine trees; these were planted in the 1930s: “Further improvement and beautification is also being planned at the Basin on Pittwater; an extensive planting of pines and palms suitable for the seaside is being made.“
I return along the Euro and Basin tracks, with the occasional glimpses of Pittwater from the Basin Track.
A last detour back to the trig station provides a beautiful sunset vista over Pittwater and Broken Bay…
…and then it’s back along the service trail, completing an interesting afternoon discovering some of the off-track secrets of the Basin Track!
More information on the Basin Track
- National Parks (NPWS) – Basin Aboriginal art site
- Pittwater Online News – The Basin, Pittwater: A Reprise
Guide to West Head
Have a look at the Guide to West Head Bushwalks or download an overview of walks.