On our recent trip to Sydney we explored several areas that were easily reached by public transport & we discovered that there are some great walk trails that start near train stations. There are two good day walks that start at either Berowra or Mt Kuring-gai train stations and they can be done in either direction. If you need supplies there is a supermarket close to Mt Kuring-gai station, but as it is a small station not all trains stop there! In fact we went north to come south when we ended a walk there, so we could get an express train back to Sydney! It takes about an hour to get from Central station to Berowra on the faster train and slightly longer if you stop at all the stations.
The first walk we did in this area we did from Mt Kuring-gai and we had only just started down the trail that is signposted from the train station and we had our first Eastern Spinebills! We heard Eastern Whipbirds and we were not expecting to see them, but they dropped onto the trail and crossed it-three of them! Good start to a good day! We soon descended into the bush and there were plenty of flowers out and the bush was thick….all the harder for finding birds!
Every now and then we just had to stop and wait and try and find birds that we could hear and persistence does pay off in the end. We had Golden Whistlers calling and Laughing Kookaburras making a real racket in the bush. There was a flash of yellow and we finally got onto the Eastern Yellow Robin. We soon learnt that if you hear a lot of birds calling and it was not necessarily at us at all! There was a lot of chattering amongst the birds and we stopped and looked to try and work out what they were chattering about-a Lace Monitor and a rather nice specimen at that. It soon climbed up one of the very tall trees and it was impressive to see them climb. They are about 2 metres long, so a bit longer than I am tall!!!
Lace Monitor-Varanus varius
The walk trail brings you down to Berowra Creek and it was rather wet and muddy through there, but passable. There were some mosquitoes in that area and we wore protection-nothing worse than trying to hear birds and all you can hear is buzzing around your ears! There were several excellent specimens of Rufous Fantails as well as the more common Grey Fantail and we were very lucky to come across a Shining Bronze-Cuckoo. One miserable leech was attracted to me near the creek-ha! NOT happy!
As we climbed up out of the creek area we were head down and climb up the steps. I was in front and as I reached the top of some steep steps I discovered a creature looking at me on a long log. I really didn’t expect it to stay still for too long-no birds would stay still for me in the forest to enable a photograph-so why would this!? Anyway, this Eastern Bearded Dragon was quite happy to let me take a photo, so I took a few!
Eastern Bearded Dragon
It took us about 5 hours to do this 10 km trail, as we spent a fair bit of time stopped trying to find birds that were calling. It has a large variety of habitat and a good part of it is flat, with the hard climb at the end if you start at Mt Kuring-gai.
The second trail we did started where the first one ended, but we waited a week before we did it due to other commitments. We started at Berowra and ended at Mt Kuring-gai. The start of the walk is very steep and there are some huge tall trees, which the Laughing Kookaburras love. Despite the water running down towards Cowan Creek it was quite passable and we were soon down along the water’s edge.
Tall trees along the trail
The walk trail takes you in and out of a lot of bays along Cowan Creek and you can see it would be very popular in the summer months. The weather in March was ideal and we were not seeing anyone else on the trails at all. We had a White-faced Heron that followed us from bay to bay for an hour, but there were very few birds on the water.
This is the walk to do if you want to see Lace Monitors! We saw seven very large ones that day and they would suddenly appear out of nowhere. We got a bit closer than we had planned, as we didn’t see them until the last minute-mainly as we were clearing the trail of spiders’ webs! If you go on trails after rain then you have to expect a few (more than a few!?) spiders that are out to get you! So, once again I got great photos of lizards, but failed miserably on birds!
Lace Monitor Varanus varius
Both of these walks are excellent for showing you the bush around Sydney and some excellent birds and other wildlife. It is dense forest and you will be lucky if you get photos of birds, especially if like us you are trying to see them and identify them first!