Summary: A loop through Irrawong Reserve and Ingleside Chase Bushland Reserve, exploring the many waterfalls and cascades along Mullet Creek

I’d been meaning to visit Mullet Creek Falls in Irrawong Reserve for some time, but it seemed a bit too short for a bushwalk. It was a discussion with Phil from the Old Desperates Walking Group that convinced me there’s a lot more to this small reserve in Warriewood than meets the eye… so an invitation to join their group to explore the area was quickly accepted! The plan is to follow a section of Mullet Creek, which runs from Ingleside through the Ingleside Chase Bushland Reserve and Irrawong Reserve, before reaching the Warrieword Wetlands, and eventually Narrabeen Lagoon.

Down Mullet Creek

A well-marked trail descends from the carpark near Ingleside Road down to Mullet Creek Falls… but we ignore it, as we follow a faint footpad to the creek. The route along the creek starts just next to the Sydney Conference & Training Centre, near a large rock platform which has a very small cascade – one of many along the creek. We initially follow the creek on the right hand (western) side.

We soon reach an old causeway, where we cross the creek. The reason for the causeway is a bit of a mystery; looking at the old parish maps, there was never a road gazetted through here, nor any other evidence of a roadway.

AWAT3554 LR Exploring Mullet Creek in Irrawong Reserve

A short distance upstream of the causeway is another small waterfall, where Mullet Creek drops into a fern-fringed pool.

Mullet Creek in Irrawong Reserve

Continuing down the left (eastern) side of the creek we pass a few more photogenic waterfalls.

The next waterfall, which we approach from the bottom (having skirted around the bush on the northern side of Mullet Creek) is my favourite.

Falling over a wide overhang, the waterfall has a long ledge behind the curtain of water. It’s possible to walk under the overhang and along the ledge, to look out over the fern-filled valley from behind the curtain of water. (Curtain of water is perhaps a little hyperbolic – although there is a decent flow of water, this waterfall would be even more stunning after some heavy rain.)

AWAT3579 LR Exploring Mullet Creek in Irrawong Reserve

Above the waterfall is shallow pool, fringed by ferns and rocks. Someone has decided to take advantage of this tranquil spot, and put up a hammock across the creek.

Continuing along Mullet Creek, we reach the top of a fairly tall waterfall. The creek drops over a small ledge, before dropping down the sheer cliff.

The waterfall (2nd Falls) is even more impressive from the bottom, with the water falling in a single drop onto the rocks at the bottom.

2nd Falls, Mullet Creek (Irrawong Reserve)

There’s a bit of rock-hopping along the dry creek bed from here, with the creek disappearing a few feet underground.

(It’s also possible to clamber back up the steep slope, to meet an unofficial but obvious track that joins up with the main trail near the top of Mullet Creek Falls.)

As we continue down Mullet Creek (staying on the left or eastern side) we pass a small but quite deep and sheltered cave next to the creek. It’s a shame there’s graffiti both inside and outside the shelter, as it’s otherwise a very picturesque spot.

Beyond the cave, the trail stays very close to Mullet Creek. It’s one of the nicest sections of the walk, and reminds me of my Kierans Creek bushwalks, where the water flows over rocky ledges and through a lush rainforest-like environment.

We soon reach the last, small but picturesque, cascade above the main waterfall.

Just below this cascade is Mullet Creek Falls, also called Irrawong Waterfall, which is the star attraction of Irrawong Reserve. We end up at the top of the waterfall, next to the smaller upper tier of Mullet Creek Falls and looking down onto the natural pool below the falls.

While we’re tantalising close to the bottom, there’s no way to get to the base of the falls without a detour away from the creek (or an abseil), so we head up the valley and back to the main path. At the bottom of Mullet Creek Falls is a large natural pool, surrounded by forest and a high sandstone cliff. It’s a beautiful spot, which we share with only a handful of people – but I suspect it gets busy on a summer weekend.

Back up the Irrawong Reserve main track

We return via the main Irrawong Reserve Track, which provides access to the waterfall from the top (Ingleside Road). From the falls, the track enters a shaded swamp mahogany and wet sclerophyll forest, with an understorey of ferns.

We soon start to climb quite steeply, with timber steps on the steepest section.

The forest soon changes to cabbage tree palms and ferns; the cabbage tree palm (or fan palm) is one of the tallest Australian native plants and grows in rainforest margins. Called “Dtharowal” by the indigenous people, cabbage tree palms were significant in the Aboriginal culture as new growth could be cooked or eaten raw, the heart of the trunk cooked as a medicine, leaves used for shelter and the fibres for string, rope and fishing lines.

AWAT3316 LR Exploring Mullet Creek in Irrawong Reserve

The ascent gets less steep but is continuous, and the change in flora as we climb is quite noticeable. There’s still many ferns, but the trees have been replaced by casuarinas.

Soon we’re into the very common Sydney coastal dry sclerophyll forest, as the track reaches the top of the ridge. The last few hundred metres is easy walking as the track levels out.

It’s taken us about two hours to meander down Mullet Creek… and 15min back along the track to complete the loop! In the space of a few hours, we’ve seen some stunning waterfalls, a variety of vegetation, and almost no other people. Thanks Phil – I’ll be back to explore this area a bit more!

More information

If you just want to visit the waterfall, you take the short and easy Jim Revitt Walk to Mullet Creek Falls from the corner of Irrawong Road and Epworth Place in Warriewood (600m return). This more challenging and partly off-track loop walk starts just off Ingleside Road, next to the Sydney Conference & Training Centre.

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