Marramarra National Park is on the southern side of the Hawkesbury River, to the north-west of Sydney. The national park covers many sandstones ridges as well as mangrove swamps along the Hawkesbury River and its tributaries. Although described as “one of the Hawkesbury’s best-kept secrets”, many of the bushwalking and mountain-biking routes follow the top of ridges along fire trails, and are not particularly pleasant – especially in summer. However, there are are a few nice trails as well as opportunities for kayaking.
The park is bounded by the Hawkesbury River in the north, Berowra Creek to the east, and private land to the south and west; urbanisation and development of private land has meant that some trails are no longer publicly accessible (many of these have been illegally blocked by land owners).
There are a handful of trig stations in Marramarra National Park, with a few close to trails and many more requiring some serious bush-bashing along remote ridges.
The traditional custodians of Marramarra were the Darug (or Dharug) people, and there are many indigenous heritage sites in Marramarra National Park including rock engravings, cave art, grinding grooves, scarred trees and stone arrangements. Canoelands, one of the most significant Aboriginal sites around Sydney, was of great importance in the ritual and mythology of the local people.
Bushwalks in Marramarra National Park
The majority of bushwalks in the park are firetrails (which also allow mountain biking, an often horses), although there are a few dedicated bushwalking tracks.
|Calabash Ridge Fire Trail||2.6km||Easy||Partial loop on a firetrail. No views.||Map|
|Ben Bullen Road Trail||3.0km||Easy||Partly overgrown trail descends to Colah Creek||Map|
|Waddell Ridge Fire Trail||4.8km||Easy||Firetrail to Yurts Track, whch descends to Banks Creek||Map|
|Forest Glen Trail||5.8km||Easy||Service trail for electrical pylons. No views.||Map|
|Calabash Point (Fretus Hotel)||7.6km||Easy||Interesting bushwalk to ruins of abandoned hotel||Map|
|Simpsons Hill Trail||8.2km||Easy||Service trail for electrical pylons. Minimal views.||Map|
|Duckponds Ridge Trail||8.6km||Easy||Firetrail along ridge. Steep descent at the end. No views.||Map|
|Weavers Ridge Trail||9.5km||Easy||Nice firetrail walk to views over Hawkesbury River||Map|
|Collingridge Point||10.6km||Easy||Firetrail to nice lookout over Berowra Creek||Map|
|Peebles Road Fire Trail||11.4km||Easy||Firetrail along ridge with a few branches. Not many views.||Map|
|Smugglers Ridge to Marramarra Ridge||13.2km||Easy/Moderate||Half firetrail & half bushwalking track; descends to Marramarra Creek||Map|
|Coba Point||19.5km||Easy||Long bushwalk along ridge to lookout (average views)||Map|
|Canoelands Ridge (Gentlemans Halt)||22km||Moderate||Firetrail until steep descent to campground on Hawkesbury River||Map|
Fretus Hotel on Calabash Point
Located just outside Marramarra National Park, this dog-friendly and family-friendly bushwalk follows a firetrail to the end of Calabash Point. At the end of the trail are the fascinating ruins of the Fretus Hotel, built around 1900 and abandoned by 1920.
Distance: 7.6km return (2-3 hours).
Duckponds Ridge to the Duckpond
Most of this route is a fairly dreary bushwalk along the Duckponds Ridge Trail, with a very steep descent at the end. The firetrail stops a short distance above the creek, so you’ll need to bushbash the last 600m or so to reach the Duckpond – a large pool on Marramarra Creek.
Distance: 9.9km return (3-4 hours).
Grade: Moderate (with off-track section to creek)
Coba Ridge to Collingridge Point
An easy walk along Coba Ridge via the Neverfail Fire Trail to Collingridge Point, which has nice views over Berowra Creek. (Optional side-trip to an Aboriginal rock rock art site and the Coba trig station make this bushwalk bit more challenging.)
Distance: 10.6km return (3 hours). 16km with side-trips.
Grade: Easy (Moderate with side-trips)
Smugglers Ridge to Marramarra Ridge
A loop walk in Marramarra National Park which descends to Marramarra Creek via the Smugglers Ridge Track, and returns along the Marramarra Ridge Trail. A pleasant but not particularly exciting walk; it does have some nice river views and passes an old orchard.
Distance: 13.2km return (4-6 hours).
A fairly long out-and-back bushwalk to Coba Point, which is half along a firetrail and half along a bushwalking track. Some filtered views over Berowra Creek along the trail, but the views at the end are fairly underwhelming.
Distance: 19.5km return (4-6 hours).
Grade: Easy (long but easy walking)
Camping in Marramarra National Park
There are four campgrounds in Marramarra National Park; all are remote and one of them is only accessible by kayak or boat. Bookings are essential for all campgrounds, except the Marramarra Creek Orchard Campground.
Gentlemans Halt Campground
A basic campground on the Hawkesbury River in Marramarra National Park, which has picnic tables, barbecue facilities, toilets. There are multiple unmarked sites over a fairly large area.
The campground can be reached via a 20km return walk along the Canoelands Ridge Trail, or by boat or kayak.
Marramarra Creek Campground
At the end of the Smugglers Ridge Track is the Marramarra Creek Campground. There’s a wide clearing with a few picnic tables, some firepits and an impressive-looking pit toilet. Below the campground is Marramarra Creek.
It’s about 6.4km to the campground via the Smugglers Ridge Track, or a 13.2km loop (Smugglers Ridge to Marramarra Ridge)
Marramarra Creek Orchard Campground
The Orchard Campground is a bit more basic than the Marramarra Creek Campground, with a couple of picnic tables, but no toilet. (Unlike the Marramarra Creek Campground, this campsite can’t be booked online.)
It’s about 7.7km to the campground via the Marramarra Ridge Trail, or a 13.2km loop (Smugglers Ridge to Marramarra Ridge). It can also be reached via kayak.
Twin Beaches Campground
Located at the southern area of Marramarra National Park near Berowra Waters, the campground is right on the beach on Berowra Creek. It has pit toilets and fire rings (bring your own firewood).
The campground is accessible by kayak or boat only.
There are many options for mountain biking in Marramarra National Park – almost all the trails are fire trails, where bikes (and often horses) are allowed. However, most of the trails are “out and back” trails along ridges and not partiularly interesting. A few options are:
- Coba Ridge (Neverfail Fire Trai) – easy and fairly level 10km return ride to Collingridge Point, or a much more challenging 20km return ride to Coba Point
- Marramarra Ridge Trail is a moderately hard 8km return ride down to the Marramarra Creek, with some very steep sections
Kayaking and Boating in Marramarra National Park
Marramarra National Park has many waterways that can be explored by kayak or boat, with three of the four campgrounds and many small beaches accessible by kayak. There are a few kayak launching areas, although the upper reaches of Marramarra Creek is a long trip from all of the start points. There’s a useful interactive map on the Waterways Guide, a paddling guide to Australian waterways.
Getting to Marramarra National Park
The national park is accessed from the south via Dural, or via Hornsby and then along a very twisty road through Galston Gorge – it’s about 50km and just under an hour north of Sydney. Two main roads provide access to the boundaries of Marramarra National Park: Bloodwood Road (in Fiddletown) to the southern edge of the park and the Old Northern Road past Glenorie to the middle of the park. There is no reliable public transport to any of the trailheads.
There’s no map specifically for Marramarra National Park, but two detailed topographic maps cover the entire park and all the bushwalks:
- 9131-3S Gunderman (1:25K) – Buy / Download
- 9130-4N Cowan (1:25K) – Buy / Download (most bushwalks are on this map)
- National Parks (NPWS) – Marramarra National Park
- Katrina Hemingway – Best Walks around Marramarra National Park
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