Entrance: Fidden’s Wharf Road – corner of Carramar Road, West Lindfield.
Grade: Easy to medium with some steps and gentle slopes.
Distance: 3.5kms return approximately.
After a few metres walk along the river, the track rises through a stately open forest of Blackbutts with an understorey of Common Hop Bush and Wattles. Many bird species inhabit this area of protective forest beside the river. You are likely to see Cockatoos, Rainbow Lorikeets and hear the crack of Whipbirds. If you are quiet, you may also see Superb Fairy Wrens flitting through the undergrowth.
This walk in Lane Cove National Park begins with a view through bush to the Lane Cove River down a wide stone staircase, past Fidden’s Wharf Oval to the riverbank to join the Great North Walk track.
It was here that Joseph Fidden built a wharf in the 1820s to load sawn timber from his mill up the hill. The north shore had been identified as a rich source of timber for the colony’s house construction and shipbuilding needs. Such was the demand that the tall hardwood timber, predominantly Blackbutt, was depleted by the mid1800s, after which the jetty was used by supply boats and ferries bringing picknickers from Sydney.
We traverse the upper layers of the 250 metres thick Hawkesbury Sandstone of the Lane Cove Valley, which dates from the middle Triassic Period, estimated to be some 230 million years old. It was formed when sand, silt and clay eroded from inland mountains and was brought down and deposited by a vast river system. Beautiful rock formations are a highlight and we note the ‘slump folded rock’ caused by ancient destabilisation.
As you traverse the hillside you will initially pass through some moist gullies of ferns, Epacris and Woollsia then on the higher slopes, the dryer Hawkesbury sandstone woodland forest. This more open forest consists of Angophoras and Sydney Peppermint gums with an under storey of Acacias, Hop Bush, Mountain Devils, Banksias, Lomandra, Hakeas, Grevilleas and Xanthorrhea. The steadily rising track offers some wonderful views through the trees to the river far below.
We continue following the Great North Walk to the left up and over the hill through sandstone hillslope vegetation of Casuarinas, Banksias and Tea-trees with spider flowers and pea flowers adding colour at different times of the year. The rough old quarry road will bring you down hill to the National Park Head Quarters, café and picnic areas near the weir. A perfect place for a rest by the water to watch the water birds feeding. We might also be lucky enough to see water dragons basking by the river.
Left: Xanthorrhea (Grass Tree),
We return to Fiddens Wharf by following the road past several picnic areas beside the river then continue up the hill on the walking track retracing our steps through the bush.
For more information we suggest reading the maps and books of Geologist John Martyn (of STEP Inc.) including the ‘Field Guide to the Bushland of the Lane Cove Valley’.
Below the weir, in the brackish water of the Lane Cove River, the fish, such as mullet, are all native, but above the weir the native fish such as the Cox’s Gudgeon have to fight for survival against introduced Common Carp. The native fish are very difficult to see because the carp stir up sediment from the bottom contributing greatly to the muddy water colour.
The latest details can be found on our Facebook page.