I’ve joined a bushwalking club walk led by Bob for this scenic loop bushwalk, which combines a section of Glenbrook Creek with the stunning Kanuka Brook and Crayfish Pool, before finishing at the Jellybean Pool.
Glenbrook Station to Kanuka Brook
We’re meeting at Leura station, before descending to the Glenbrook Creek Sandbar via the Station Street Firetrail. It’s the same route down to the creek as I took a couple of months ago on my solo Glenbrook to Lapstone via Glenbrook Creek bushwalk – only this time it’s a pretty big group doing the walk.
We make good progress down the firetrail, which turns into a bushwalking trail for the last, steep section down to Glenbrook Creek.
We soon reach the beautiful Glenbrook Creek Sandbar; last time I followed the creek downstream to where it meets the Nepean River. Today we’re heading upstream, crossing the creek at the bottom of the pool (you can also cross at the top of the pool when the the water is fairly low).
There’s no real track along the this part of Glenbrook Creek, but it’s pretty easy walking along the western side of the creek. The terrain varies from many sandy sections, to occasional boulder-scrambling.
After just under 1.5km along the creek, we stop for morning tea at a long and flat rock platform perched above Glenbrook Creek.
An optional side-trip goes up a short distance to some large, sandstone overhangs in the cliffs above the creek.
We continue a short distance further upstream; our conga-line of bushwalkers snaking along the rocks beside the creek.
We’re going up the creek, so to speak, as far as Kanuka Brook, which flows into Glenbrook Creek.
Along Kanuka Brook and up Red Hands Ridge
Although Bob warns me that the undergrowth along the creek gets painfully thick and painful to traverse further up, this section is easy walking.
Kanuka Brook is a pristine creek, and while there are not deep pools along this section, the water looks clear – and very inviting for a swim on a warmer day!
We continue up Kanuka Brook for about one kilometre, passing a few more pools along the creek.
An easy pass goes up from the Kanuka Brook to Red Hands Ridge; it initially follows a side-creek, which is dry. The start of the pass is marked by a blue arrow, and the route has regular blue dots and cairns; it was noted in July 2007 that somone “has defaced the route by painting blue dots along the way” – and they’ve obviously used some durable paint!
The route soon climbs up from the sheltered creek and gully, towards a small cliff-line, which is climbed (with some easy scrambling) via a couple of ledges and gaps in the rocks.
Near the top, Bob points out Dog Face Rock, a weathered rock formation. I think it’s a labrador. But I could be wrong.
After a short break on top of Dog Face Rock, there’s a just a few more rock platforms – and a few more blue, painted dots – before we reach the top of the pass.
The pass from Kanuka Brook takes up to Red Hands Ridge, where a very distinct track goes along the ridge and up to the Red Hands Firetrail.
Crayfish Pool and Grey Hat Falls
There’s a bit of firetrail-walking to get to Crayfish Pool and Grey Hat Falls (you can also do this as a much separate, shorter walk), as we follow the Red Hands Firetrail to the start of the Grey Hat Falls Track. I’m surprised and pleased there are no cars parked opposite the trailhead – this walk can get very busy on weekends.
The track from the Red Hands Firetrail descends gently at first.
The track then gets a little steeper, as it passes a number of rock overhangs.
At the bottom of the valley, there’s a few rock scrambles before the track reaches Kanuka Brook – we’re now about 4km upstream of where Kanuka Brook flows into Glenbrook Creek, where we were a couple of hours ago.
We now follow the creek a short distance upstream, passing few crystal-clear pools,
The track finishes at a large overhang just above the Grey Hat Falls and Crayfish Pool, where we stop for lunch.
A few of us brave the chilly water – despite the day being fairly cool, it feels almost rude not to go for a swim in such a spectacular setting.
After a break here, it’s back up the same way to the Red Hands Firetrail, and then along the firetrail to the start of the Red Hands Cave Walking Track.
Red Hands Cave Walking Track
The last part of our loop bushwalk is along the Red Hands Cave Walking Track, which descends to the Red Hand Cave. Protected by a steel mesh which detracts a little from the experience, this indigenous rock art site has an estimated 80 motifs – most of them hand stencils in red ochre.
The track continues past the shelter as it follows Red Hands Gully Creek. It’s really enjoyable walking, with the track following the creek through a shaded valley, with ferns next to the track and tall trees towering above.
The Red Hands Cave Track reaches the confluence of Red Hands Gully Creek and Campfire Creek about 1.2km from the Red Hand Shelter; here the Link Track follows Campfire Creek upstream, going back to the Red Hand Cave carpark to form a loop walk. We continue along the Red Hands Cave Track, which now follows Campfire Creek downstream. It continues to be very picturesque, with deep and clear pools along Campfire Creek.
Just before the end of the track is a large overhang, before a set of steps down to Glenbrook Creek.
Back to Glenbrook station via the Jellybean Pool
The Red Hands Cave Track finishes at the Glenbrook Creek causeway, where the road and walking track (Oaks Trail) crosses the creek
We follow Glenbrook Creek a short distance downstream, which is the most practical way of getting back to Glenwood railway station (the alternate option being to walk along the road back to the national park entry gate).
We’re soon at the Jellybean Pool – there’s relatively few people here, being late in the day. This popular swimming spot – named by Tourism Australia in 2022 as Australia’s 19th best beach – is usually pretty busy.
After our last, short break at the pool we take the Jellybean Track up to the Glenbrook National Park Entrance. From here it’s a 1.3km walk along the road to Glenbrook station, where we left our cars.
0.0km Glenbrook Station 0.5km End of Statiion St / start of Station Street Firetrail 1.5km Glenbrook Creek (Glenbrook Creek Sandbar) 3.2km Junction of Glenbrook Creek & Kanuka Brook 4.3km Leave Kanuka Brook for pass up to Red Hands Ridge 6.0km Red Hands Firetrail 7.0km Start of Grey Hat Falls Track 8.1km Grey Hat Falls and Crayfish Pool 9.2km Red Hands Firetrail 10.6km Start of Red Hands Cave Walking Track 10.9km Red Hands Cave 12.1km Junction with Link Track (allows shorted Red Hands Cave loop) 14.2km Glenbrook Creek causeway 14.5km Jellybean Pool 15.0km Glenbrook National Park Entrance 16.3km Glenbrook Station
Getting to Glenbrook Creek and Kanuka Brook circuit
The loop starts and finishes at Glenbrook station in the lower Blue Mountains. (If driving, you could also start and finish at either the Jellybean Pool or Blue Pool, walking along Glenbrook Creek to complete the loop). It’s about 62km (55min drive) from Sydney to Glenbrook, via the M4 or an hour from Central by train.