After weeks of heat and humidity, a cooler and drier air mass moved in overnight, promising a perfect day for bushwalking, so I arranged a car shuffle with Allan Savins and arrived at the Mooney Mooney Creek trackhead for the 17km walk to Somersby.
First off it was up the stairs onto the Old Pacific Highway bridge to cross to the western side of the creek where the GNW followed a gravel access road north and under the new motorway bridge.
Soon the walking track branched off the road, entering Brisbane Water National Park and following just above the creek through a forest of ghost gums.
A couple of kilometres along I heard the sound of falling water and, descending to the bank, came upon the tidal limit of Mooney Mooney Creek. Another milestone as this is the last time I’ll see salt water on the walk until reaching Teralba on the northern edge of Lake Macquarie.
From here, the track headed steeply uphill, following along high above the creek. Occasionally I’d catch the sound of cascades far below, making me wonder if I’d encounter any substantial waterfalls. As if in answer to that thought, around the next bend I did, although it was mostly dry except for a trickle of water on the far eastern corner.
Finding an easy way down to the bottom, I decided it was a good opportunity to cool off with a quick skinny-dip in the pool.
Returning to the top of the falls, I sat naked on the rocks, drying off while devouring a mid-morning snack.
Underway again, I followed the track across the creek on the rock shelf before heading up along the eastern bank through a pleasant mossy glade with moist leaf litter underfoot.
Soon I reached the old Mooney Mooney Creek dam which was once Gosford’s water supply.
Having taken my photos, I was about to return to the track when I noticed a small waterfall just below the dam wall on the far side. I’m not sure whether this is a side stream, seepage from the dam through the rocks or an intentional outlet.
Once past the dam, the track headed steeply up along the side of the gully, leaving the coolness of the water behind, with Gymea lillies replacing ferns as the dominent understorey. At the top of the ridge the forest suddenly disappeared, replaced by a huge quarry.
Flies filled the air, along with the unmistakable aroma of cattle dung. Sure enough, in the next paddock were the cattle. Welcome to the hinterland!
The track continued along a gravel road behind the paddocks, passing some reservoirs and zigzagging up a couple of power line access roads before disappearing back into the forest. A short way in I began to hear voices behind me, seeming to approach at a rapid rate. A minute later the track crossed a broader trail where two people on horseback almost collided with me.
The other side of the horse path, the GNW headed steeply downhill, soon entering a subtropical rainforest as it crossed a tributary gully to Mooney Mooney Creek just above a small waterfall.
Once on the other side, it was back up a couple of switchbacks to where the trail threaded its way through a series of dirt roads at the back of farm properties. The flies returned with a vengance!
Soon I reached a familiar landmark, an ancient scribbly bark (Eucalyptus haemastoma) where a geocache is concealed.
Leaving the dirt road, the GNW veers left, going around behind another farm before reaching Robinson Road. Here the bushwalk ends, the final two kilmetres to the Somersby trackhead being along rural roadways.
I’m not sure which was worst, the flies, the gravel or the patches of bindii and broken beer bottles, but I eventually reached Wisemans Ferry Road and the short climb up the hill to the end of the day’s walk at the Somersby store.
A hundred and twelve kilometre behind me now and only a hundred and thirty eight left to Newcastle; another thirteen and I’ll be halfway!
The trackhead photos taken, I adjourned to the shop for more of that wonderful nutritious trail tucker.
Coming up next: Somersby to Ourimbah Valley.