Located on the Central Coast of NSW, the tiny (five square kilometres) Strickland State Forest is home to 50 plant, 98 bird, 29 reptile, 27 mammal, 20 amphibian and 4 fish species… and you can walk all the trails in half a day. I’m starting at the Banksia Picnic Area, and combining most of the tracks into a loop walk.
Strickland Falls Track (1.8km)
The first loop is the Strickland Falls Track, which is the most popular walk and fairly busy on a Saturday afternoon.
There’s an interesting sandstone cave alongside the track, the inside of it weathered by years of wind and rain.
The track is fairly level, with the track dipping at the very and into the moist gully, fringed by mossy rocks, ferns and palms.
The Strickland Falls, formed by Stoney Creek cascading over a small cliff, are are not large or particularly impressive. But it’s a nice landscape, with the falls surrounded by ferns in a very rainforest-like setting.
The Strickland Falls Track turns back quite sharply at the Falls, as it descends parallel to Stoney Creek into the gully. (Although the track is fairly obvious, one group mistakenly tried to continue across the rocks below the waterfall.) It’s a nice section of the track, passing large cabbage ferns, rock overhangs and soaring cliffs.
The track then ascends past a junction with the Cabbage Tree Trail, to reach the Gosford Lookout just below the Banksia Picnic Area.
The “Gosford Lookout” is, perhaps, a little grandiose a title: you can see a glimpse of the outskirts pf Gosford through the trees.
Cabbage Tree Track (1.6km)
I’m now back at the Banksia Picnic Area, having completed the first “loop”; I turn down the Cabbage Tree Track on my second loop…
The Cabbage Tree Track gently descends a ridge, with the landscape changing from dry forest to groves of Cabbage Palms.
The track winds around the ridge, through semi-rainforest, to meet the Stoney Creek Trail. The Cabbage Tree Track continues up the ridge back to the the Banksia Picnic Area, while I turn down onto the Stoney Creek Trail for the first section of my final loop.
Stoney Creek Trail (1.1km)
The Stoney Creek Trail descends through a gully rainforest, with tall trees and palms and low ferns along the track.
It gets cooler and darker as the track reaches the bottom of the gully, where it meets Stoney Creek (it would be interesting on a future trip to try and follow Stoney Creek down from Strickland Falls).
The track follows Stoney Creek fairly closely, with a few side-tracks providing access to the water.
It’s pleasant walking along the creek, through the tall and cool forest along the bottom of the valley. The track passes a junction with the Arboretum Track (which I had planned to also explore, but ran out of time) before reaching the Stoney Creek Carpark.
Ridge to Rainforest Track (2.1km)
The Ridge to Rainforest Track starts on the other side of the Stoney Creek Carpark – although in my case it’s rainforest to ridge. This is the longest of the Strickland Forest walking tracks, which winds up from the lower Stoney Creek Carpark to the upper Banksia Picnic Area carpark. (Combined with the Stoney Creek Trail, it completes the longest loop you can do in Strickland Forest.)
The track ascends along the creek, still through a very verdant and tropical landscape.
The track crosses two side-creeks, with both narrow gullies covered in ferns and moss-covered rocks.
As the track ascends, it becomes gradually drier and warmer, with the flora changing to dry forest.
The track crosses the creek once time over a metal bridge, before reaching Strickland Forest Road a few hundred metres above the Banksia Picnic Area.
I’ll have to come back to do the Arboretum Track, which goes through Australia’s oldest arboretum (starting from the lower Stoney Creek Carpark). All the other walks from the upper carpark have been quite different and worth doing; the only section that was a little boring was the Cabbage Tree Trail. If doing this loop again, I would descend from the Strickland Falls Trail to the Stoney Creek Trail and cut out this track.
0.0km Banksia Picnic Area - start of Strickland Falls Track 0.8km Strickland Falls 1.6km Junction with Cabbage Tree Trail 1.7km Gosford Lookout. Start of Cabbage Tree Track. 2.9km Turn onto Stoney Creek Trail. 3.9km Junction with Arboretum Track 4.0km Stoney Creek Carpark. Start of Ridge to Rainforest Track. 6.3km Strickland Forest Road 6.5km Banksia Picnic Area