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.
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 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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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!
What was a pleasant surprise, was the tasty and healthy vegetarian picnic spread, courtesy of Andrew’s mum!
It was a great day out for Walking with Kids!