We live in the middle of suburbia – the Australian dream of big houses and big backyards. Well actually, we live in a small-ish old town house with a tiny backyard; but mostly we’re surrounded by big houses with big yards, and though we’re relatively close to the outskirts of Sydney, I would not have imagined that we actually have the 186 hectare large bushland reserve, Bidjigal Reserve, literally around the corner.
The Bidjigal Reserve is named after the Bidjigal clan of the Darug people. They lived in the area prior to European settlement and the reserve contains Aboriginal cultural heritage, lots of huge overhanging rocks for shelter, and a wide range of native wildlife and plant species. The reserve is part of a large green corridor, connecting habitats across the region and its creeks flow into Darling Mills Creek and Toongabbie Creek, eventually forming the Parramatta River.
There are three popular tracks of various lengths: The Murru-Yanna track which is an 8 km track and takes approx. 3.5 hours. This track however, is closed until the end of 2017. The second track is the Burraga track, a 4 km loop track that takes about 2.5 hrs and is marked along the track with the sign of a bandicoot (Burraga is the Darug word for bandicoot) and then there’s the Platypus track, a 1.7 km loop track which is estimated to take about 1 hr. Unfortunately real platypus’ haven’t been seen regularly here since back in the 1970’s.
My partner grew up in this area and knew the reserve was there, however he hadn’t visited it for decades and didn’t as such know much about the various tracks. So yesterday we decided it was time for another little adventure. We packed a little backpack with water etc. and off we went.
Our nearest entrance to the reserve isthrough the North-Western corner, also named Eric Mobbs Reserve. Both of us being a bit of bush walking novices we chose the Platypus track, which also starts and ends here. We found the entrance by walking along the left side of the sport fields and entered the path which quickly got a bit rocky and steep as it led us down towards the creek, through lush bushland with ferns and lots of native trees.
We took a little detour off one of the connecting small tracks to take in the view of Saw Mill Creek from the rustic bridge crossing it. Then we ventured back on track to walk along Coochwood Creek which also led us to cross Gahnia and Excelsior Creek via stepping stones.
Walking there along the water and looking up on the backdrop consisting of tall trees and enormous cliff hangings, it was remarkable to think about that as far back as 40,000 years ago, Aboriginals were living and breathing here, hunting and gathering in the bushes and fishing and swimming in the water. Had it not been for the Hawkesbury sandstone geology and the steep rugged topography the valley would have been taken over by farming or urban development when the European Settlement began, and we would not have had the opportunity to appreciate and explore this “little” pocket of history and wild bushland in suburban Sydney. Next time we’ll definitely bring lunch and prepare for a longer adventure by the creek!
For further information on the Bidjigal Reserve and its tracks, I can recommend The Bidjigal Reserve Trust and the Hills Shire council’s downloadable guide (link will activate download of PDF booklet): The bushland of Bidjigal Reserve and adjoining reserves.