2018 Walking Group Adventures

In 2018, the Walking With Kids Family Walking Group, made up of literally, our family, was born.  Here is a quick look at our walking year.  

Walking With Kids Family Nature Club and Walking Group
It all started with our first walk at Cumberland State Forest in February 2018. The older kids braved the Treetops ziplines while the younger kids joined us later for a walk through parts of the arboretum pine groves.
Centennial Park Wild Play Gardens Walking With Kids
In March, we headed to the Ian Potter Children's Wild Play Garden. The kids balanced on logs, made a shelter out of sticks, and splashed about at the water play area.
Sierra Blooms Floral Design walking with kids
In April, Jess and Pat of Sierra Blooms Floral Design shared their floral insights as we walked around Mt Tomah Botanical Gardens.
Waterfall Track Mt Wilson.
In May, we headed to the Waterfall Track in Mt Wilson. The waterfall was dry but the kids still had fun listening to their grandma talk about her own walks when she was a little girl.
Sierra Blooms Floral Design walking with kids
In June, we headed to the Jellybean Pools. The water was freezing to swim in but was perfect for mud play and impromptu sandstone art with Uncle Pat.
Providential Lookout Track walking with kids
In July, we headed to the Providential Lookout Track at the Royal National Park to catch a glimpse of the annual whale migration. We spotted six whales, a couple of which swam really close to the cliffs.
Gadyan Track Walking With Kids
In August, the kids blitzed the Gadyan Track in 30 minutes, leaving the 15 adults considering a second walk around the 750-metre loop.
Andrew at the Cathedral of Ferns walking with kids
Andrew couldn't help but hug the moss-covered towering trees of the Cathedral of Ferns Track in October. Some got goosebumps walking amongst ancient trees...
We ended the walking group year with a swim at the Jellybean Pools, finally warm enough in November. We reached a walking milestone for our four-year old walkers who walked the short track (bribed with a chocolate treat).

Thank you to Mia and Roda for the reconnaissance trips throughout the year. You are both wonderful role models for the kids and you bring the best snacks. 

Berowra Waters Scramble with kids
We managed to pull off our first girls only walking and camping trip at Berowra Waters. Miss 5 had her share of climbing, scrambling, and squeezing through boulders before learning life skills from Mia like setting up a tent and starting a fire.
We spent a few weekends in winter with Roda scouting for Blue Mountains water holes. We'll continue our search in the cooler months of 2019 so we don't disturb the snakes cooling down at the water holes this summer.

Thank you to all the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends who went on the walks this year. We really appreciate the gifts you provided to everyone in each walk: your time, your presence, your stories, and of course, your shared yummy post-walk snacks.  We hope to see you again in 2019 for more family walks and adventures!

Walking Together February Walk Update

This article was prepared by Mario who is an uncle to ten children in Australia alone! His passion for the great outdoors has been reinvigorated by sharing it with friends and family including the little ones. A seasoned hiker and the family’s tennis star, Mario joined the Family Walking Group February walk at the Cumberland State Forest, West Pennant Hills. 

Getting there

I’ve heard of “Cumberland forest” many times in maps, in road signs, and in random work discussions (as IBM HQ is located there).  But never did I know it was less than a 15-minute drive from my teenage home.   From the city, it was about a 35-minute drive, in easy early weekend traffic, via the M2 tollway.   

With plenty of “Treetop Reception” and “Treetop Parking” signs pointing in opposite directions, finding parking in this place may be confuzzling for first time goers.  If you do end up taking the detour to “Treetop parking”, think of it as a nice “warm-up”, as it’s about a 100 metre stroll to the Treetop Reception/Cafe Area, where the action begins.

You might be lured by the mysteries of the huge ‘Forestry trail’, or ‘Sensory trail’ signs.  But the start of today’s walk was from neither. Instead we followed signs to the Treetop Adventure Park which, on weekends at least, is site to a throng of kids donning bright helmets, and having a very merry time navigating the obstacle course.  It will make you wish you were a kid again; the non-treetop-adventure-park-depraved version however.

The walk

The walking trail was easygoing, until after about 5 minutes we reached a fork.  As the others had a bit of a head start, we were left to fend  forourselves.

Forestry Trail Cumberland State Forest, West Pennant Hills

A timely call came from Charis, heeding: “head away from the treetop reception/cafe area at the forks”.   By the time we reached the second fork, I was ready to take out a map and perform a resection, Except I didn’t have a map, and didn’t know how to do a resection. Luckily Charis made another call, except it wasn’t coming from my phone – she was on the lookout not far ahead, and spotted us dawdling.  Parents and eagle eyes!

Forestry Trail, Cumberland State Forest, West Pennant Hills

We soon caught up with the rest of the group, relaxing under the canopy of the Adventure park, as the trail took us there again but on a different side.

Forestry Trail at Cumberland State Forest, West Pennant Hills
Treetops Adventure Park Castle Hill

Here, we were greeted by the six kids joining the walking group that day, some of whom had already navigated the kids adventure park in the past 2 hours. They were clearly not tired. Whilst Charis and Andrew were in deep discussion over directions and way fare, I was kept entertained by the kids, showing off their 100% natural hiking sticks.

Forestry Trail at Cumberland State Forest, West Pennant Hills

The kids, parents, and grandparents resumed the trek shortly, spotting for interesting naturey things:

  • a big black feather
  • a termites nest high up a tree
  • uncovering gum nuts and debris in tree stump cavities
  • conversing in French, presumably about la forest
  • drinking cordial with 25% “natural” fruit
  • reading botanical names and factoids written on plaques
  • surveying spiders and cobwebs
  • sighting a red/purple colourful bird
  • crossing several wooden bridges 
Spider at the Forestry Trail in the Cumberland State Forest, West Pennant Hills
Forestry Trail at the Cumberland State Forest, West Pennant Hills
Forestry Trail at the Cumberland State Forest, West Pennant Hills

The trail was not without its hazards, one of the older kids tripped over uneven ground – at which point I heard my brother’s audible sigh of relief in keeping his juggernaut eighteen-month-old son in his pouch. But, we all managed to get through in one piece – with the mystery name of the trail being uncovered at the finish line.  No surprises in the naming!

Forestry Trail at Cumberland State Forest, West Pennant Hills

What was a pleasant surprise, was the tasty and healthy vegetarian picnic spread, courtesy of Andrew’s mum!

Picnic Area near the Nursery carpark at Cumberland State Forest, West Pennant Hills

It was a great day out for Walking with Kids!

Walking With Kids Family Nature Club and Walking Group
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Bungoona Path and Rawson Parade Trail Loop, Audley

Approximately 1 km loop, 30 minutes  

Decades ago when I was growing up in the Philippines, a distant relative we called Lola [grandma] Eling stayed with us one summer.  That summer, Lola Eling took me, my brother, and her grandson on outings with minimal fuss and preparation.  Our recent walk at the Bungoona Path and Rawson Parade Trail in the Audley end of the Royal National Park reminded me of the impromptu days out to parks with Lola Eling with just breakfast leftovers neatly tucked in her handbag. One time she just picked up a pot with some leftover rice that was mostly the brown crunchy bit, dumped the leftover fried egg and tuyo [dried fish] inside, wrapped some plates and cutlery in tissue, put all these in a plastic bag, then off we went to rent bikes at the local park. In Lola Eling style, this impromptu walk was agreed to on the day because the track was short and it was near where we had to drop off my sister-in-law, Alicia, anyway. We brought some leftover fruits and crackers from home.

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Gadyan Track, Berry Island Reserve, Wollstonecraft

750 metres loop, 40 minutes 


It was a sunny winter morning when we decided to stop by Wollstonecraft to explore the Gadyan Track in Berry Island. Berry Island used to be a stand alone island until it was connected to the mainland in the 1960’s through a man-made isthmus of rocks and mud, making the flat picnic area enjoyed by many today. The island contains rock engravings, stone grinding grooves, and middens made by the original occupants of the North Sydney region, the Cammeraygal. To the east of the island lies an Australian Navy establishment and to the west lies a fuel import and storage facility.

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Beach Track and Providential Point Lookout Track, Wattamolla

1 km loop

The Royal National Park is Australia’s first national park and the second oldest national park in the world after Yellowstone in the United States.  It was a crisp winter Sunday morning and we started the day lounging at my sister-in-law and her partner’s place in Engadine for a quick visit to return their car that we borrowed last week before heading to the Royal National Park next door. I was so excited to show my kids the ocean-fronting clifftops, the open Pacific Ocean, and coastal heathland that captured me in my twenties but I was met with both of them saying “I don’t like bushwalks,” eyes glued to the TV, intent on finding out how Owlette, Catboy, and Gecko would thwart Romeo’s evil plans. Andrew and I finally succeeded in prying them away from the TV (after all we’re about walking with kids) but it really made me wonder whether they were actually getting anything out of our walks.

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Nepean Lookout, Glenbrook

1.4 km return, 40 minutes

After a week of winter rain, I was relieved that the sun finally came out on the last day of the Queen’s Birthday long weekend. With our daughter spending the long weekend with my parents, Andrew and I decided to take our two-year-old son for an easy walk to the Nepean Lookout in Glenbrook. The Nepean Lookout boasts stunning views of Fairlight Gorge that was carved by the Nepean River along part of a fault line running along the eastern edge of the Blue Mountains.

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Cumberland State Forest, West Pennant Hills

Sensory Trail, 350 m loop, 30 minutes

Forestry Trail, 1.3 km loop, 1 hour

The Cumberland State Forest in West Pennant Hills is home to over 100 species of birds being the last remnant of genuine forest in the Sydney Hills District. The Forest was established in 1939 with parts of it naturally regenerated from earlier agricultural clearing and other parts planted as an arboretum. According to the Forestry Corporation, the Dharug, Guringah and Gummeriagal Aboriginal people traditionally visited the Forest.

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Waterfall Track, Hunts Creek Reserve, Carlingford

2.5 km return, 50 minutes

After a lazy Saturday breakfast of rice bubbles, leftover Thai, and what turned out to be stale peanut butter on toast, our family decided to go on a bushwalk. Andrew and I consulted our trusty go-to list of bushwalks then  agreed to take the kids to the waterfall at the Hunts Creek Reserve in Carlingford. A bushwalk leading to a waterfall and only 25 minutes away? It was hard to say no.

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Leura Cascades Circuit, Leura

844 metres loop, 30 minutes

“I am not wearing that raincoat because it is not raining!” my four-year-old daughter cried as our small family of four packed into our car. “But it might be raining up the mountains today so we have to be prepared.” I answered in exasperation looking up towards the overcast sky.  Her expression changed to wonder as she asked quietly “Why is it raining up the mountains and not here?” I made a mental note to Google how to explain it better in the future and settled with “The world is a very big place and sometimes it rains in one place but not in another.”

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