Summary: The McCarrs Creek Loop is a challenging and partly off-track bushwalk. It takes the easy Duck Holes Trail down to the bottom, and returns by following McCarrs Creek.

I’ve walked the Duck Holes Trail in Terrey Hills a few times: as a bushwalk, I’ve generally found it a pretty uninspiring. Today I’m walking down the firetrail, but plan to return by following McCarrs Creek back to the start. This route would cover the uppermost third (or so) of McCarrs Creek, which starts just above the Duck Holes Trail in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, before passing under McCarrs Creeek Road near Upper Gledhill Falls. The creek then follows McCarrs Creek Road as it descends through the national park, before flowing into Pittwater near Church Point. 

The first half of the walk is pretty uneventful, as I head down the service trail. quickly leaving the back of properties behind as the trail heads into eucalypt forest.

I make a short detour to look at the Duckholes Daramulan Aboriginal engraving site. I had photographed the Daramulan figrure before, but couldn’t find a wallaby or kangaroo that was said to be nearby. This time I have more luck, and manage to spot the very weathered macropod.

The Duck Holes Trail continues along the ridge, before descending steeply down towards McCarrs Creek Road. Just before the firetrail reaches the road, I leave the trail and join McCarrs Creek. There hasn’t been much rain for a while, so the creek is still flowing, but the water level is fairly low.

AWAT3391 LR An exploratory loop along McCarrs Creek

Being a warm day, I plan to walk up the creek itself, which so far is working nicely. The water is only a few feet deep, sometimes with a sandy bed and other times flowing over rock platforms.

There are the occasional small cascades, which are easy to clamber up – or skirt around.

AWAT1640 LR An exploratory loop along McCarrs Creek

It’s a very pleasant “walk up the creek”, especially on a warm day.

Further up the creek is a geologically interesting section, where the creek bed is riddled with holes eroded by the water. The creek can be seen flowing below these fairly deep natural holes.

I make another detour away from the creek, to visit two McCarrs Creek Aboriginal art shelters. Both have a large amount of red ochre handprints; a humbling reminder that McCarrs Creek and the surrounding area once sustained the Darramuragal people.

AWAT1690 LR An exploratory loop along McCarrs Creek

Returning to McCarrs Creek, it’s still easy walking as I make fairly good progress upstream Around the creek is a mix of forest and large areas of low heath.

AWAT3416 LR An exploratory loop along McCarrs Creek

Being already Spring, there are also may wildflowers along the side of the creek.

Although I’m heading upstream, the creek suddenly gets a lot deeper. I don’t mind getting a bit wet, but swimming wasn’t part of the plan. So I reluctantly leave the water, and push through the scrub next to the creek.

The good news is the deep section is quite short, and I’m soon back in the creek bed again.

AWAT3431 LR An exploratory loop along McCarrs Creek

The bad news is that the creek is getting narrower, and filling up with debris and plants that are thriving in the now shallow water and sandy soil. I soon abandon the creek, and push through the increasingly thick scrub that fills the valley on both sides of the creek.

The next challenge is a waterfall, which is a bit bigger than all the cascades lower down the creek.

Waterfall along McCarrs Creek

It’s a bit too steep and slippery to climb, so I clamber up through the thick scrub around the base of the falls.

It’s a relief to reach the top of the waterfall, where the scrub is a bit less dense again. I soak my now scratched legs in the natural infinity pool, enjoying the tranquility of the rock platform.

AWAT3449 LR An exploratory loop along McCarrs Creek

One of the pools above the waterfall has a narrow channel, which may be a grooved Aboriginal water channel. A large rock next to the creek bed has a single groove, which may be an axe grinding groove (although it’s not in the usual place you would find these). I find it very hard to determine whether grooves are natural, or evidence of indigenous occupation.

The creek now flows over a wide rock platform, with a few small cascades.

AWAT3454 LR An exploratory loop along McCarrs Creek

It’s easy walking again up McCarrs Creek from the top of the waterfall… for a while. After a couple of hundred metres, the creek enters thick scrub again.

At this point, I “pull up stumps”, leaving the creek and heading back up to the firetrail. There’s a rough trail I’d found previously, which goes from the creek up to the start of the Duck Holes Trail. Most of the bushwalk has been very enjoyable, but where the creek gets too narrow to walk along and is surrounded by dense scrub, it’s fairly hard work!

0.0km Locked gate and start of firetrail
4.3km Leave Duck Hole Trail and enter McCarrs Creek
5.6km Waterfall
5.9km Leave creek via faint pad
6.2km Re-join Duck Holes Trail near the top
6.6km Locked gate (end of trail)

More information on the McCarrs Creek Loop

This loop is not navigationally challenging, but allow plenty of time as the section along the creek is fairly slow-going. I originally thought this bushwalk may be great on a hot day (as with many of the Kierans Creek walks) – but most of the time the creek is very shallow, or too overgrown to follow the creek bed.

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