A loop via the Blue Gum Walk and Pogson Trig along the Quarry Firetrail and Benowie Track (Great North Walk). Sections of this loop require approval (as it crosses behind the Hornsby rifle range), or the walk can be accessed from both Westleigh and Hornsby to avoid the closed sections of track.
I’m back at Berowra Valley National Park again, this time to visit Pogson Trig, in my slow pursuit of “bagging” the hundreds of abandoned trig stations that remain hidden in national parks around Sydney. I’m setting out from the end of Quarter Sessions Road, where the unmarked track starts between two houses. Near the start of the track are Aboriginal engravings of a kangaroo and some fish, all quite eroded.
The track soon joins the Blue Gum Walk, which I’ve done only a week or so ago, and descends to Waitara Creek before following Berowra Creek towards the Fishponds waterhole.
Just before the Fishponds, I leave the Blue Gum Walk and continue along the Great North Walk, which soon reaches the tranquil waterhole.
While the Great North Walk continues along Berowra Creek, the Pogson Trig Trail ascends steadily, with a number of stone steps carved into the rocks.
After about 500m (from Berowra Creek), the Pogson Trig Trail reaches a large clearing. The bushwalking track becomes a wide service trail (the Pogson Trig Firetrail), which continues to ascend.
At the top of the ridge the Pogson Trig Trail meets the Quarry Firetrail, which descends from the end of Quarry Road in Dural to Stewart Avenue in Hornsby. At the junction is the Pogson Trig Station (TS3765), or at least the concrete base of the old trig point.
From the junction you can continue another 0.9km before reaching a gate, which marks the start of a closed section. The firetrail and a section of the Great North Walk was controversially closed in 2015 due to “unacceptable risk” from the Hornsby Rifle Range. You can still use the trail, but prior permission is needed by calling the Rifle Range on 0417 201 606. Hence this walk is the “loop that isn’t” – without approval you shouldn’t continue through this section, although before 2015 the same route was deemed safe.
On the other side of the “danger zone”, the Quarry Firetrail descends quite steeply to the junction with the Tunks Trail (which forms part of the Great North Walk) and the Tunks Ridge campground.
The Quarry Firetrail gets much nicer as it swings to the south, following the valley above Berowra Creek as it continues to descend. It eventually reaches Berowra Creek, which is crossed by the Steele Bridge. Named after Major General Sir Clive Steele, the bridge was constructed in 1945-1946 to allow fire fighting vehicles access from Hornsby to Dural.
There’s a nice view from the Steele Bridge over Berowra Creek, which is quite wide and still.
On the other side of Berowra Creek, the Great North Walk continues along the creek, back up towards the Fishponds. Despite the sign stating that the track is closed – again due to the risk from the firing range – the first 300m can still be accessed at any time, and is outside the proclaimed firing range safety zone. It’s encouraging to see that while all track signage has been received, the track itself is still in pretty good condition.
The nicest part of this section is on the other side of the closed section: the track descends to the creek through a large cleft between two rocks and past a large rock overhang.
Where the track meets Berowra Creek is a tranquil waterhole, with some small cascades further upstream.
For about 0.5km dowstream from the Fishponds, there’s multiple photogenic cascades along Berowra Creek.
The official track crosses Berowra Creek, but I choose to follow the creek instead, following a fairly distinct track on the northern side that passes a few more overhangs, and a rope used for swinging into a waterhole.
At the bottom of the Fishponds waterhole is another nice cascade – about a week ago I took a photo of the same falls from the rock on the other side, while doing the Blue Gum Walk.
I’m still on the “wrong” side of Berowra Creek, and the path peters out from here. Rather than backtrack, I push on past some very tall cliffs, keeping close to the water. There’s not much undergrowth, and I soon reach the small, sandy beach at the upper end of the Fishponds.
There’s a small cluster of what look like arum lilies (a non-native invasive pest) on the edge of the waterhole. Just above this small beach are the stepping stones.
I’m taking the Blue Gum Walk up from Fishponds to Westleigh, re-tracing my steps. It’s now late in the day, and there’s a nice sunset over the ridge in the distance.
The only difference on my return route from the Fishponds, is rather than finishing at the bottom of Quarter Sessions Road, I’m continuing a bit further along the Great North Walk (to finish a bit further up Quarter Sessions Road).
The Great North Walk continues past the unmarked access track up to Quarter Sessions Road (which I took on the way down). It follows the valley below road: above are sandstone cliffs and weathered overhangs, with the occasional glimpse of some of the houses perched above the valley.
Unlike the alternate access track, the main track up to Quarter Sessions Road is well marked. A short and sometimes steep trail provides access back up to the road.
Unfortunately, you can’t do this as a loop walk without permission (due to restricted sections through the area that’s behind a firing range). The good news is that the best sections of the loop are accessible from Westleigh or Hornsby, in particular the cascades and waterfalls along Berowra Creek from the Fishponds.
|Location||From Westleigh, main access track is near the end of Quarter Sessions Road
From Hornsby, access via Clarinda Firetrail at end of Clarinda St
|Distance||11km loop (3 hours)
** Approval required to complete full loop – call 0417 201 606
Alternatively tracks can be accessed from Hornsby and Westleigh ends
|Grade||Moderate. 385m total elevation gain.|
|Season/s||All year (approval required for some sections of walk, generally outside 9am-5pm)|
|Map/s||9130-4S Hornsby (1:25K) Buy / Download|
|GPS Route||AllTrails map with option to download GPX / KML files
Closed sections (approval required) shown in red