Determined to give the family a break from our routine bushwalks in eucalypt-laden forests (well, okay, we live in Australia), I booked a walking tour at the Muogamarra Nature Reserve in Cowan. Muogamarra is only open to the public six weekends a year, between August to September, when the wildflowers are in bloom. The Reserve is home to over 900 species of native plants, 16 reptiles, and 140 native birds have been sighted here. We got a sense of the Reserve’s popularity when at 9.30 am on the day of our walk, we arrived to an almost full carpark and lined up for maps behind a throng of nature buffs, young and old, all bright, early, and eager to explore.
JD Tipper Loop, 1 km loop, 45 minutes
We started the day with a tour of a short loop track named after the founder of the Reserve, JD Tipper. Our group was made up of a botanical student with her elderly parents, a couple with their school-aged children, a photographer, and a young couple without kids, the man of which had a penchant for disputing the facts our guide was imparting.
My son spent most of this track on the carrier which allowed him to observe bees collecting nectar from the boronias that lined the track. My daughter was happy to follow the crowd, herding Andrew and I every time we lagged behind the group.
The highlight of the track was the JD Tipper Lookout offering panoramic views of the Brooklyn side of the Hawkesbury River and its islands. A perfect vantage point for our future walks!
The track is easy to follow even without a map, but the tour was still worthwhile to join because it gave some background history on the early conservationists who poured their life and finances into the conservation venture. There were some mentions of Noel Burnet, the West Pennant Hills Koala Park founder and Paddy Pallin, the pioneer bushwalking and camping retailer. As my daughter said at the end of the tour, she liked having a tour guide “because it helped with all the discovering.”
The walk ended at the small museum near the carpark. Here, we saw relics Tipper found while doing his conservation work and many photos of him working around the Reserve in his three-piece suit.
Point Loop, 2 km loop, 1 hour
After morning tea, Andrew and I decided to take the kids for a further walk at the Point Loop Track. Without a tour group to keep catching up to, we were able to resume our usual snail’s pace. The kids felt varying textures of tree barks and tried to smell the flowers that were at their face-level. I reveled in the crunching sounds my boots made as they pounded the unpaved track. The track was so quiet, I could hear the faint clicks made by Andrew’s camera. The groups we saw when we arrived must have gone to the longer walking tracks around the Reserve.
A few metres after marker 5 on the self-guided walking tour guide provided by the Reserve volunteers, we veered towards a small path to the left of the track. We spent a few minutes ducking through some tree branches until we were treated to another panoramic view of the Hawkesbury River.
The rest of the walk was straightforward as we followed the wide well-marked path. We couldn’t find marker 6, 7, and 8, prompting my daughter to insist, at marker 9, on finding them. I refused, bribing her with an ice cream at the end of the walk. Andrew continued to take photos of the spray of yellows, whites, and pinks against the sea of foliage that lined the track.
Overall, the day was a great introduction to Australian wildflowers and to conservationists who were, and are still, passionate enough to preserve the area for future generations. Muogamarra has more walks to offer and I am looking forward to the time when the kids are old enough to do the longer walks. See you there next year.
When you do go: Both these tracks are pram-friendly. Click here to purchase tour tickets to the Muogamarra Nature Reserve. You can also buy tickets at the Reserve on the day. For a quick feed after your walk, head to Pie in the Sky located across the Reserve exit.