Girrakool - Mooney Mooney - Somersby Loop

It had only been a fortnight, but the beauty of Girrakool had drawn me back again. This would be my longest walk so far. Mostly uphill walking. Would I make the full distance or would I call a taxi or maybe hitchhike? Read on to find out.

I thought I would take advantage of what felt like an endless summer and took a Friday off work. I arrive at Girrakool and set off at 8:30am. This time I went down the eastern side of Piles creek opposed to last time when I went down the western and came back via the eastern. I soon stopped to get my feed of sweet nectar from Banksia’s. I found it quite addictive and this started to slow me down. With about a half an hour of walking I arrived at the bridge to cross Piles creek.

Crossing the creek the track soon passes a campsite with remains of a campfire. The track is almost dead flat for the next few kilometres. The track has Piles creek to its left with mangroves on the side with larger stands on the other side of the creek. To the right of the track there are small cliffs and sandstone boulders. Some of these small cliffs contain small caves and possibly Aboriginal artwork?

Just under 2 kilometres down the track Piles creek and Mooney Mooney creeks meet, with the Mooney Mooney the larger of the two. Soon I came to the old Mooney creek bridge. This bridge was constructed by the Main Roads Board and opened in 1930 and is still used today. The old Pacific Highway crosses it. As you can see from the photos below and above, the weather was terrible but I needed to press on.

I crossed the old bridge and started walking down Karool Road which follows the creek on its southern side. Along this road there are a few houses in the bush. The noise of the F3 freeway above on the new Mooney Mooney Creek Bridge started to get louder. The bridge is made up of twin cantilever bridges with a small gap in between. It rises 75 metres above the creek, making it the highest road bridge in Australia. It was opened in December 1988 by PM Bob Hawke, on a hot summer’s day. I remember this as I was there.

After going under the new bridge the track soon comes to Y intersection. I mis-read my track notes here.  Instead of going left I went right. This track followed the creek closer but included long grass that could be a good place for snakes to hide. I passed the pile of bricks and old water tanks that could have belonged to an old farm house. The track soon became untraceable. After a bit of bush bashing I soon found the firetrail that I should have been on.

To my right Mooney creek and Floods Creek meet. Floods creek upstream is home to Somersby falls. Which I will come to later in my walk. I then came across Alastair's campsite and what would be a good spot for fishing. The track then crossed a few creeks. The track started to climb here. Something it would do for the next 8 or so kilometres. Then the track passed the larger Nigel's campsite. Here a previous camper left me two day old newspaper to read on a cold campfire.

The creek starts to get thinner here. The track also gets a bit steeper. Most of the track so far there has been the noise of birds; here they get louder in the most remote location of the walk. That sound is soon overtaken by the sound of water running. Here the track crosses Mooney creek over a rock platform. I do a bit of exploring here. There is a nice waterfall and at its base there is a nice waterhole. It would be nice place for a swim if I could have found a way down. There are also nice large pools of water. The creek is a peaceful place with waterlily’s living in the calm water surrounded by the temperate rainforest. 

A further one kilometre up the track I arrived at the Lower Mooney Creek Dam. This dam was built in 1937 and may be still used to supply water to the Somersby treatment works on the plateau above. After a small look around I continued on. The track here was used to build and maintain the dam. It is now in disrepair. As the track clings to the hillside there are some cliffs and may be some caves that I could see through the rainforest.

Soon I came to the intersection of the Great North Walk and the track to Somersby Falls. I walked towards the falls. Here the track goes through think stands of Banksia's, this time I decided not to have feed of nectar due to many Bee's and my allergic reaction to their sting. Last time I walked on this track over 15 years ago the bush was a lot thinner. I remember this section due to a long Red-bellied Black Snake crossing my path in front of me, with my Father and Sister being oblivious to it, walking in front of me. It was at least 2 metres long and 15 centimetres round.

The track then comes to an area with private property on each side. One property had a large pile of timber that look like it was ready to be set alight. It would be soon obvious for what it was used for. The track soon ended. Crossing a barbed wire fence I was on a dirt road. On the road were shells, for what I thought was remains of an aboriginal midden. But there were too many for a midden and they were all oyster shells. Then I put two and two together. The timber I had seen was used as racks for oyster farming.

The road which part of it is private passes a number of large houses and a horse training track. It goes over a small creek and comes to a four way intersection.  Here I saw Parks & Wildlife officers shooting local wildlife, with their large lens camera.  This was the first human contact I had on the walk. It then crosses a nice causeway over Floods creek.

Arriving at the Somersby Falls picnic area I sat down for the first time in many hours and had lunch. Somersby Falls is great place for a picnic with a short walk down well kept stairs to the falls and another short walk to the lower falls. This time I didn't walk down to the falls. I have been here many times before, including one year we spent Christmas day there. The photo below is taken about a month before.

The walk then leaves the National Park. Trying to save time I followed a shortcut on my map. I should have followed the track notes. I came to fence with a private property sign with a badly drawn picture, of a man with a drawn shotgun. I turned around. This added almost 2 kilometres to the walk. Feeling dejected I walked up a steep road. My feet were starting to dislike the hard road surface. Where possible I walked on the softer side off the road.

The roads go through a rural area with some industrial as well. It passes the Australian Reptile Park and the now closed Old Sydney Town. Here my legs were starting to hurt. I then crossed the old Pacific highway. Then I went under the F3 freeway via a road tunnel. I then arrived at Girrakool. 7 hours of walking over 20 kilometres I was tired, but would I visit the area again. I sure would. I invite you to log off your computer and go and explore this great country of ours.

Walk date 7/5/10


Girrakool - Piles Creek Loop

In an autumn afternoon that felt more like a summer one, I arrived at Girrakool with a mate. Girrakool is about 7 kilometres west of Gosford and located within the Brisbane Water National Park. Girrakool means "place of still waters" in Aboriginal. With lots of water, food and shelter I could imagine it being a spiritual place for the aboriginals. Although I didn't see them this time, not far from the entry to the park there is an engraving of Man and a Kangaroo.

It is also important place for me. As a child we had many picnics here with my family and relatives. So even though I hadn't been here for a long while, the memories came flooding back. No picnic was ever complete here without venturing into the bush. So this is one reason I have a love for the Aussie bush.

Soon after chatting to a park ranger and passing a picnic area we headed down the hill and arrived at Broula lookout, which means place of tricking water. It overlooks Piles creek. Upstream is place of the tragic accident that occurred in the floods of June 2007.

Just a bit further down the hill we arrived at the Illoura Lookout,  meaning peaceful place, which is it. There is a waterfall to the left and below the creek with its clear water flowing over sandstone. Soon after we crossed Leask Creek, further upstream is dammed, it makes the artificial cove that is a replication of Sydney Cove at Old Sydney Town. Not long again, another lookout, this one is called Bundilla. Here there a good view of the waterfall.

Piles Creek follows the track to the left and the hill on the right rises and blocks the sound of the F3 freeway above. The track gently falls and meets the creek then rises again meeting large caves. The track is quite wet in places with water slowly dripping onto it from above. This side of the track receives a lot less sunlight compared to that of the eastern side. There are a few small pockets of rain forest along the track. There then is a another cave to peruse.

The track then comes to a steep decline, with a handrail that is broken in places. At the bottom of this hill the track comes to an intersection. Off to the right the track goes to Mooney Mooney Creek and beyond. To the left is Piles Creek and the remains of a old walk bridge which I remember as a child. Just right of it is the nice new suspension bridge. It isn't likely to get washed away in hurry like the last few did.

This was about the halfway point of the walk of this 4.1 Kilometre walk. We then headed up hill passing the turn off for the track that goes to Patonga and Wondabyne. Soon crossing a gully called Rat Gully, thankfully we see no rats in this rainforest gully. I remember thirstily collecting water from this creek when in Scouts. This time it was quite dry. After heading further up the hill we came to a large boulder with a cave with honeycomb like sandstone and rocky cut-out in it.

Soon there is a lookout high over Piles Creeks with views below and across to hills to be climb another day. The track then passes the unmarked track that goes to Scout Camp Kariong. It then goes through a large rock overhang. We then arrived on rocky outcrop that was above the waterfall previously mentioned. Crossing concrete steeping stones over Piles Creek we then pass Illoura Lookout again and walk back up the hill to the car. 

Walk date 23/4/10