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.
There were a number of tracks that lead to the waterfall but we chose the Parklands Road entry because it gave us the longest walk at 2.5km. We missed the Parklands Road entry because it was not well-marked and there was no parking on the road next to the entry. Andrew ended up parking our car on Lindisfarne Crescent, Carlingford where we started our walk. From Lindisfarne Crescent, we then walked back up to Parklands Road, turned right to walk along Parklands Road, then right again to enter the track via the Parklands Road cycle track entrance.
The track is located next to a residential area so at the start, we walked past people’s backyards complete with dogs barking and the occasional glimpses of residents. As the track was a shared cycle way, we were extra cautious, stayed to the left of the track, and made sure the kids did not walk too far ahead. After walking a few hundred meters, the houses stopped peeping through the bush and the calming shadows cast by the towering Blackbutt, Turpentine, Sydney Red Gum and Red Bloodwood trees muted the sunlight. At this point, the kids busied themselves looking for twigs which they waved around as magic wands.
We continued on the flat unpaved track sometimes seeing small holes on the sides of the track which Andrew and I thought were made by ants. “Would you like it if someone poked you?” I asked my daughter who replied “No!”. I then explained that’s the same with the ants, they don’t like getting poked. That finally stopped both kids from sticking their magic wands into the holes. I added “looking for kid-friendly versions of E.O. Wilson’s work on ants” on my to-do list. We then spent some time craning our necks marvelling at mud mounds on tree branches which I thought perhaps might be wasp nests or ant nests. I couldn’t find any information on these mounds on any of the information boards along the walk. We continued to follow the track with my daughter taking the lead as she followed the arrows on the waterfall signposts.
There was no signpost at the waterfall turn off but we heard the distinct sound of flowing water which we followed. We scrambled down some rocks and I was so happy to hear my four-year-old mutter “Find a foot step, find a foot step” under her breath as she tentatively tested rocks to step on. This was most likely ingrained from rock scrambling in previous walks. When we got to the waterfall, both kids were so excited to be at the very top overlooking a small pool below and in front of us, more bush. It became apparent that as it had not rained recently, the waterfall fed by Hunts Creek, was merely a trickle. Sadly, this meant that the half-buried shopping trolley on the pool below was clearly visible. My daughter thought that the shopping trolley was a fish so Andrew had to explain to her that unfortunately, it was rubbish.
We followed a steep path leading down to the pool below. We settled on a log a few metres away from the pool and ate our late morning tea of apples, carrots, plums and crackers as we listened to the sound of soft splashing water. The kids then balanced on the logs, falling more than staying upright, sparking off giggles for a good 20 minutes. A text message from my mum inviting us to lunch provided us with the incentive to move on.
We continued to follow track away from the pool and into the bush which eventually led us to a creek crossing. My daughter was able to carefully balance from rock to rock but I had to carry my son as he was intent on getting wet. I would usually let him but there was some dirty white foam building up on the water near some rocks and my gut instinct told me that that couldn’t be good. An information sign confirmed my gut feel indicating that Hunts Creek has been declared unfit for swimming since 1975 after a sewer carrier was installed nearby.
There were some plastic wraps in and near the creek crossing which I expected being so close to the residential area. I have never done it in previous walks but this time, after seeing the shopping trolley at the bottom of the waterfall, I really felt compelled to do my bit and I picked up litter as we walked. My daughter asked me why I was doing it and I explained that I was doing it because the rubbish is meant to be in the bin, not in the bush.
After the creek crossing, the track looped back to where we started at the waterfall turnoff. From here, we returned the way we came.
There were not many people on our way to the waterfall but the track was definitely busier on our way out. We walked part of the way back with a grandfather and his two granddaughters. We said hello to a family with four kids all carrying walking sticks and I had to diplomatically stop my kids from saying “We’ve been to the waterfall. Nah nah nah nah nah.” Andrew and I smiled in solidarity with a dad, young daughter on his shoulder, quickly walking past us explaining “I need to hurry and get her home, she’s falling asleep!”. We came across six bikers on the track and they were all lovely, slowing down as they passed us, mindful of the kids.
On our walk back, I noticed a lot of plants that felt out of place. I saw some cacti, what looked like beans (this actually turned out to be a native plant), and many flowers I’m sure I’ve seen at Bunnings. After reading through some information boards along the walk, I understood that there are a lot of weeds in the Reserve and that it’s the local council’s priority to remove these to help the native bush plants to naturally regenerate.
This walk took us two hours and 40 minutes which included the stops we made to explore and rest. When we got back to Parklands Rd, my son was sound asleep in the baby back pack. I congratulated my tired daughter for walking the entire track but she was more interested in extracting some grass seeds that stuck to her clothes before dragging her feet to a couple of dandelion flowers on the lawn near we parked our car. Overall, I thought that this walk was an important reminder for Andrew and I, and an eye-opener for my children, that nature is not just the picturesque mountains and coastal walks we’ve walked in the past. Nature also includes our local reserves and we can do our small bit in caring for it like picking up rubbish when we go for our walks from now on.