Starting with a descent of the stone stairs from Quarry Rd, this great out and back 11km walk joins the Blue Gum Track at Rosemead Rd trail head. It then follows the hilly Benowie section of the Great North Walk through the Berowra Valley National Park, with morning tea at a shady clearing at Tunks Ridge rest area. Update: a section of the GNW that this walk traverses now has restricted access.
The stone steps traversing the slopes of Old Man Valley down from Quarry Rd were first built in the depression era (approx 1930), and sensitively restored in 2011. If you look carefully, you may see the words “Prosperity around the corner” carved on the rocks as you descend. There are lovely views from the steps, down to the high blue gum forest below, and a resident noisy family of cockatoos. For our purposes, the steps are also ideal for interval training.
Blue Gum Track and Great North Walk
Park in Quarry Rd, Hornsby, and then head down the steps, across Rosemead Park and into the bush on the Blue Gum Trail. The Old Man Valley is one of over 100 ancient volcanic diatremes within the Sydney basic, and very fertile, as you will notice from the lovely tall trees around you as you walk.
At an intersection near the Fishponds waterhole, pick up the Great North Walk and cross Berowra Creek. The path gets rocky as it heads through the valley, until you cross Tunks Creek at the historic military Steele Bridge. The bridge dates from World War II and was what is known as a “Bailey Bridge” – a portable prefabricated truss bridge easy to construct and strong enough for a tank to cross.
From the Steele Bridge, the walking trail is wider as it climbs up towards Tunks Ridge rest area at the top, a pleasant spot for morning tea. Return the way you came. Two great climbs will get your heart and leg muscles working.
Wildwalks track notes for Hornsby to Galston Gorge are handy.
Update on restricted access
From the Alerts on NSW National Parks website, we note that access restrictions are in place along trails that cross land managed by Hornsby Rifle Range. This includes 750m of the Benowie walking track between Steele Bridge and Fishponds.
Shooting times are between 9am and 4.30pm, 7 days a week, the trail should not be accessed during this time without permission. Alternate routes are available. Visit the website for further information about the Hornsby Rifle Range.
Another walk we do in this area, that is not subject to these restrictions, is the Blue Gum Walk with Extra Hills.