The Rocky Ponds Trail to the Icicles is yet another bushwalk that starts from the Tunnel Firetrail on Woy Woy Road, which is becoming a well-beaten path for me. (My last bushwalk was a loop from the Tunnel Firetrail to the Woy Woy Waterfall and Mount Wondabyne.) I’m getting a fairly early start for what will be a long day, and the sun is still low as I pass the old (now flooded) quarry.
The first junction is with the Mullet Creek Firetrail, where I continue straight ahead along the Tunnel Firetrail.
I continue straight again past the junction with the track to Mount Wondabyne, before turning onto the Rocky Ponds Trail.
Rocky Ponds Trail
The Rocky Ponds Trail is another wide firetrail – which is the downside of what is otherwise a most excellent walk…. much of this bushwalk is along firetrails. To break the monotony, I make a few side-trips into the scrub to visit some Aboriginal engraving sites; the vegetation is fairly thick and it gives me a new appreciation of the easy fire-trail walking!
The trail generally descends, but not very steeply. At one point it crosses an enormous rock platform.
On the edge of the rock platform is an Aboriginal engraving of a man – I couldn’t see the figure on way out when the sun is almost overhead, but on the way back with better lighting, he was fairly east to see.
The Rocky Ponds Trail continues a bit over two kilometres, before the junction with the bushwalking trail to Rocky Ponds.
Bushwalking track to Rocky Ponds and The Icicles
Although the topographic map shows the Rocky Ponds firetrail continuing to Rocky Ponds… it doesn’t! You need to keep an eye out for a narrow bushwalking track, which heads south off the Rocky Ponds Trail. The distinct but rough track is a bit of a change from the firetrail, and seems to be both a watercourse and a walking track. You’d get very wet feet along this section if there’s been recent heavy rain.
The eroded track is sometimes in the creek bed and other times above it, but I manage to mostly keep my feet dry as navigate this section.
It’s just under a kilometre to Rocky Ponds, where the Tank Creek cascades over multiple rock platforms. It’s a great spot for a picnic… but the best part of this bushwalk are still to come.
A trail (the Midway Ridge Trail) continues in an easterly direction, which takes you to Little Wobby Beach – don’t go this way. Look for a trail that continues down Tank Creek on the northern, or right-hand side. It’s not shown on most maps, but is a good bushwalking trail and it’s worth allowing some time to explore. The first, very short, detour takes you to the top of a picturesque waterfall.
It plunges into a shaded waterhole, which doesn’t have an official name – but was (I am told) called Jeannies Pool or Jeannies Waterhole many years ago.
Another short detour takes you to the bottom of the waterfall, and provides access to the shallow swimming hole at the base of the falls.
The track continues along Tank Creek, passing some deeper water holes that would provide good swimming spots on a warmer day (these are, I believe incorrectly, sometimes called Rocky Ponds).
Soon after these swimming holes I reach another set of rocky cascades and pools which are not named on current maps – but used to be called Alison’s Cascades. This is a fantastic spot, with a wide rock platform on one side of the creek. An “infinity pool” is above a waterfall, where Tank Stream plunges over the creek before flowing into Tank Cove on Brisbane Water.
Around the top of the waterfall is an intriguing Aboriginal rock engraving site, with figures including a line of mundoes (footprints) which cross the creek above the waterfall, as well as a shark and two birds.
This is another great spot for a break… but it’s not the end of the walk. The informal track continues up the hill on the northern side of the creek. After a short distance, there’s a great view over Allisons Cascades and Brisbane Water.
The trail climbs up the ridge, towards The Icicles. There’s one last not-at-all-obvious junction after about 200m, where a bushwalking pad climbs steeply up to the top of the ridge. It’s easy to miss – keep an eye on the map and look for a faint trail that heads up to the top of the steep ridgeline. This is the only part of the walk that’s more of a route than a trail – but there are a few cairns and it’s very short.
After a few more minutes and a bit of easy scrambling I’m at the top of a rocky outcrop, called The Icicles. I’ve no idea how it got this name – but it has one of the best views in Brisbane Water National Park – on par with Spion Kop.
From the edge of the cliff there’s a view of Little Wobby on the left, with Gunyah Hill and Dangar Island straight head.
To the right, through the trees, is a view of the Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge.
I could sit on the rocks and enjoy the view for a long time… but I’ve still got the return trip to the car before it gets dark, so I reluctantly head back down the ridge.
It’s a quicker walk back, without the off-track detours I took on the way out, and I’m back at the car just before dark.
Getting to Rocky Ponds and The Icicles
The “out and back” bushwalk starts on Woy Woy Road with the signposted Tunnel Firetrail. It’s about 15min south of Gosford and an hour north of Sydney. There’s limited parking at the start of the trail, and more parking along the shoulder of Woy Woy Road. You can also start from Little Wobby (accessed via ferry) or Woy Woy train station.
You could do this bushwalk in half a day as most of it is on firetrails (Tunnel Trail and Rocky Ponds Trail), but allow a full day so you’ve got time to explore the area around Rocky Ponds and enjoy the views from The Icicles. A few alternative routes can you take include:
- Rocky Ponds & The Icicles from Little Wobby [10.5km return] – the shortest route, starting and finishing at Little Wobby, which is accessed via ferry from Brooklyn. Make sure you don’t miss the last ferry.
- Little Wobby to Woy Woy via Rocky Ponds [16.5km one way] – a good option if you’re uing public transport, with a ferry to/from little Wobby and train to/from Woy Woy. Last section passes Woy Woy Tip and involves a section along the road.
- Little Wobby to Woy Woy via Rocky Ponds, Mount Wondabyne and Woy Woy Waterfall [22km one-way] – if you want a bushwalk that packs in some of the best sights of Brisbane Water National Park, add a side-trip to Mount Wondabyne and the Woy Woy Waterfall. This is a fairly long and hard day walk, which involves some unofficial trails.