This (mostly) easy bushwalk follows the Neverfail Fire Trail along Coba Ridge to Collingridge Point – with a more challenging side-trip out to the Coba Trig station. I’m gradually exploring Marramarra National Park, which is in the north of Sydney. Many of the tracks, especially along the ridges, are fire trails like this one – although there are more interesting bushwaking tracks such as Smugglers Ridge. What’s becoming more of a frustration and challenge for bushwalkers is access being blocked where firetrails traverse private land.
Neverfail Fire Trail to Collingridge Point
The Neverfail Fire Trail (also referrred to as the Coba Ridge Trail) starts at the end of Bloodwood Road. Although one of the better-known trails in Marramarra National Park, it’s still fairly quiet and you’ve got a good chance of not seeing anyone, even on a weekend.
The wide trail follows the ridge, and is fairly well shaded by tall eucalypts – so it’s pleasant and easy walking, even on a warm day.
Right next to the track is a scarred tree, marked by an “Environmentally Sensitive Site” sign and some orange tape. Considered “one of the least understood elements of Aboriginal heritage”, these are trees which have been scarred by Aboriginal people through the deliberate removal of bark or wood. This leaves a scar, or a panel of exposed sapwood, which dries out dies after the bark has been removed. The scars can be quite small (like this one) or well over a metre, when the bark is used to make a canoe.
The trail continues along the ridge, and after about 4.3km from the locked gate there’s a junction: to the left is the Coba Ridge Track which continues another 6km to Coba Point, while the firetrail goes to the right to Collingridge Point, today’s destination.
It’s about a kilometre to the end of the Neverfail Fire Trail at Collingridge Point, which is also the end of Coba Ridge and overlooks Berowra Creek. It’s pretty much as far as you can go; there are steep cliffs around the ridge and descending to Neverfail Bay and the water-access-only suburb of Collingridge Point would require considerable effort.
The point is named after George Collingridge (1848–1931), an English-born artist, writer, and adventurer, who constructed a house on Berowra Creek. His writings include the fascinating “Berowra and the Unsolved Mystery of its Unnamed Ridge”, where he describes the accidental discovery of a route from Collingridge Point to Fagan’s farm at Dural (in the parish of North Colah), which is now Fagan Park. The route he describes may have been what is now the Neverfail Fire Trail.
While trees obscure visibility in some directions, there is a nice view over Berowra Creek and Marramarra National Park. (The benefit of all the trees is that on a hot and sunny day there’s lot of shade here.)
It’s back the same way from here, with the option of a more challenging side-trip…
Out to the Coba Trig
An obvious but unmarked track heads north off the Neverfail Fire Trail (about 2km from the start). It follows a ridge that branches off the main ridge, so it’s fairly level and easy walking, other than the occasional fallen tree.
After about a kilometre, the track crosses the Coba Ridge Engraving Site, a small rock platform which contains Aboriginal rock art. There’s a very obvious engraving of a kangaroo, and another Daramulan figures which is much harder to see.
After about 1.6km, the trail reaches the end of the ridge; the Coba trig point is on a small hill on the other side of a saddle.
The track gets a lot more indistinct from here, with the easiest route being to continue in a northerly direction along a rock platform, before dropping into the saddle.
There are rock cairns and ribbons marking the route – but you should treat this as an “off track” walk and have a decent map with you.
The route crosses the saddle and climbs back up the hill, past a nice overhang – which makes a good spot for a break on a hot day.
On the top of the hill is the TS1507 COBA trig station, with it’s stone cairn in good condition. As with many trig stations, there is no longer any view as the tree and vegetation have been allowed to grow back.
From here it’s back the same way. (There’s another trig station – TS1808 DENNY – along the Coba Ridge Track, buu that’s one for another day.) The bushwalk to Collingridge Point and back is about ten kilometres; if you add the side-trip to the Coba Trig it’s just over 16km.
Getting to the Neverfail Fire Trail
Reaching the start of the bushwalk is fairly easy, although it’s a fairly long drive. The signposted walk starts from a locked gate at the end of Bloodwood Road in Fiddletown, which is about a 40min drive from Hornsby, or an hour from Sydney. The nearest shops if you need any food or drinks is at Galston, where there is a supermaket and cafe.
- National Parks (NPWS) – Coba Ridge to Collingridge Point walking track
- Environment & Conservation NSW – Aboriginal Scarred Trees in NSW [PDF]
- George Collingridge, “Berowra and the Unsolved Mystery of its Unnamed Ridge” book [PDF]