An easy loop walk in Strickland Forest combining the Arboretum and Bellbird tracks, which visits Australia’s oldest arboretum.
Having completed the tracks in the upper section of Strickland Forest (from Banksia car park) a few weeks ago, I’m back to explore the lower section (from the Stoney Creek car park). There’s initially only one track from the carpark, which crosses Stoney Creek and descends gradually though tall forest. The path is a bit muddy in place (it has been a fairly wet week), but after the exposed walking we did earlier in the day at Bouddi National Park it’s pleasant walking under the thick canopy of trees.
After about 0.5km along the Arboretum Track there’s a junction with a trail on the left, which is the Bellbird Loop. We continue along the Arboretum Track, which crosses a bridge over Narara Creek before passing the second junction with the Bellbird Track.
As the track meanders along Narara Creek, there is a weathered sign stating that we’re entering the arboretum. Strickland State Forest was the site of the first government forest nursery (1886-1890) and first national forestry training school (1920-1927). This makes it the oldest arboretum in Australia.
There signs along the walking tracks identifying many of the trees, which include Hoop Pine, Bunya Pine, Tallow Wood and Red Cedar. The height of the trees is an impressive sight!
About half-way along the Arboretum loop is a gated trail leading to the Narara Ecovillage, an “intergenerational residential community” which will eventually have 150+ homes in a bushland setting. While it’s private property, the sign on the gate welcomes you to visit – and there’s even a cafe on-site (open Tues-Sat). After continuing along the Arboretum track, we reach a junction with the Bellbird Track, which forms an additional short loop.
The Bellbird Track continues along Narara Creek, becoming a bit more open as it ascends along the creek – but still dominated by tall forest.
The track goes up one side of Narara Creek, before crossing it and returning on the other side.
The track crosses one more small side-creek (which is dry), before re-joining the Arboretum Track to complete the Bellbird loop.
Both loops are pretty similar, so you won’t miss out on much by doing just the Arboretum Track – but combining the two tracks makes for a nice one-hour walk that’s pleasant even on hot day.
0.0km Stoney Creek Carpark - start of Arboretum Track 0.5km Junction with Bellbird Track 0.7km Junction with Bellbird Track 1.3km Gate and trail to Narara Eco Village 1.8km Turn onto Bellbird Track 3.0km Re-join Arboretum Track 3.5km Stoney Creek Carpar
|Start / End points||Stoney Creek Carpark at end of Strickland Forest Road.|
|Distance||3.5km loop (Arboretum Loop only is 2.3km)|
|Grade||Easy. Total 50m ascent.|
|Season/s||All year. Day-use only (open from dawn to dusk)|
|GPS Route||Gaia GPS map with option to download GPX / KML file|
|Resources||Forestry Corporation Strickland State Forest web page|