This 9km circuit walk explores the Great North Walk from Fullers Rd Bridge to Epping Rd Bridge over the Lane Cove River, with a climb out of the valley on the River to Rail trail before descending the Blue Gum forest back to the start. This is a route with something for everyone: death, pleasure, pain and recovery.
There is parking near the steakhouse at Fullers Rd Bridge. The path immediately climbs straight up a hill before wandering alongside the North Suburbs Memorial Gardens and Crematorium. The crematorium dates from 1933, and is heritage listed.
Fairyland Pleasure Grounds
Leaving death behind, the path descends towards Fairylands, a pleasure ground from 1913 until the 1970’s. Signage in the area tells the story of the market gardens and recreational usage of this area on a pretty curve of the river. The fairy characters have long gone, the bush has grown back, and increased river sedimentation from development up river has replaced beaches with mangroves. It’s hard to imagine the noisy revelry of a hundred years ago in this now quiet and peaceful spot.
It’s a quick and pleasant walk from Fairylands to Epping Road Bridge. Crossing the river, we enter Mowbray Rd Athletics Park, and follow the path around the oval to a nice set of stairs. Packs on or packs off, it’s time to get the heart rate up with some stair intervals.
Leaving the athletics oval near the river, we pass an artwork acknowledging the Camaraigal Clan of the Guringai family group, whose middens have been found in this area. There are handles on a rock scramble alongside the river, but today the tide is very high, and we decide to backtrack and take the high path. There are a number of walking paths in Mowbray Park, nicely mapped by Willoughby Council.
The route we follow passes through swamp oak floodplain forest, one of a number of sensitive ecological communities we will see today. Eventually, after a few detours to climb away from the river on high paths, we reach the golf course.
Ferndale Creek and Blue Gum Reserve
Taking care due to the risk of flying golf balls, we carefully cross over to OH Reid Reserve. We climb up the track along Ferndale Creek, another old aboriginal route down from the ridge towards the Lane Cove River.
We exit Ferndale Creek at Greville St. It’s a hot surburban road bash along Greville St and across Fullers Rd to pick up the trail down the Blue Gum Reserve and back to our cars at the start. This valley has a varied past including logging and dairy farming. It has been inundated by weeds from surrounding development, but still provides a significant wildlife corridor sanctuary for plants and animals. The valley has pockets of endangered and protected Blue Gum High Forest.
Willoughby Council have mapped the walking trails in Ferndale Creek and Blue Gum Reserve.