I am always looking out for new experiences, wherever I may find myself.
Published April 8th 2012
Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park is a great place for bushwalking and the Sphinx Walking Track is one route which offers history, scenery and wildlife rolled together in a sometimes challenging trek. The walk can be found off Bobbin Head Road, immediately inside the St Ives entrance of the National Park. The vehicle entry fee can be avoided if you leave your car outside the park and walk the short distance to the track, although there is a car park at the top of the walk too.
The walk begins at the Sphinx War Memorial, which consists of a sandstone Sphinx statue (with its own missing nose) and two small pyramids. The memorial was made in the 1920s by returned serviceman, Pte. W.T. Shirley, 13th Battalion, in memory of his AIF comrades who had fallen in WWI. The mainmast from HMAS Adelaide (active during WWII) has also been erected on the site to further commemorate Australia's war history. There are picnic tables and a small grassy area here too.
The walk is no easy stroll. It takes about 20-25 minutes (one-way) and while the route is mostly downhill, the track is very rocky and uneven, sometimes slippery with mud and involves a lot of stairs, some so steep and big that walking down can involve more leaps than steps. I strongly recommend wearing good shoes and bringing some water. But among the many people I passed on this walk (on a public holiday) were hikers and families, so clearly anyone can attempt the track.
Bushwalking is a great way to get close to nature and this track offered me some amazing sights. Keep a look out for iconic Australian plants – the bush here is full of grass trees, scribbly gums and banksia. As for wildlife, I thought all I would get to see was spiders (and a lot of them, but fortunately none of the webs were across the path). Yet on the return journey I had my first sighting of a lyrebird. It was an interesting experience to hear the bird call, look out for small bird in the nearby branches and then see a mass of movement among the undergrowth, which turned out to be the bird's feathery tail. Amazing! I also managed to see a wallaby too, sitting on the track at the top of a set of stairs, watchful.
The only problem with the Sphinx Track is that its namesake, and the main attraction, is at the beginning of the walk. At the end of the one-way track you will find it just meets up with another track—Warrimoo Track— near the mangroves along Cowan Creek. If you want to see any more of the National Park's main attractions you'll have to follow this other trail left to Bobbin Head or right to St Ives, which are quite long treks. However, continue along the Warrimoo Track a small distance to the right and you will shortly come across the creek you will have been listening to on the way down. It's pretty picturesque itself.