I am always looking out for new experiences, wherever I may find myself.
Published June 18th 2013
This walk is one to be enjoyed, not rushed
There are a few bushwalks that either begin or end at Crosslands Reserve, taking you along various sections of The Great North Walk (known in this area as the Benowie Walking Track). I chose to complete the Place of Winds Interpretive Trail because it didn't sound like it would take more than a few hours to complete, or offer terrain that posed too much of a challenge.
The beginning of the trail follows the same route as the Saltmarsh Boardwalk, so it's very easy and flat. After a short stretch through the saltmarsh, the path joins the mangroves along Berowra Creek, but there's not much to see along here because they block out any view of the water.
Eventually, however, you come to the scenic viewing area where you do get to have a good look out over Berowra Creek. It marks the end of the boardwalk and if you're here at low tide, see if you can spot some crabs down among the mangrove roots. I was surprised just how many there were.
The viewing platform
After the viewing area the mangroves start to give way and the creek becomes much more visible. I loved the fact the water isn't your destination on this walk, like it was on another section of The Great North Walk I completed recently, between Cowan and Jerusalem Bay. It was nice to always have great scenery to look at.
In fact, I don't think I've ever done a bushwalk with so many places I've wanted to stop and take a good look at my surroundings. Giving in to these temptations made the trek much more enjoyable too, because the path starts climbing over tree roots and rocks and getting a little more tiring by this stage, so the frequent pauses meant I never got too tired.
One place that's more than a scenic stop is a rock platform down on the water's edge which offers a great location to go fishing. I've been out this far twice recently (once just as a short addition to the Saltmarsh Boardwalk) and both times I've found people here.
Just one more example of the views on this walk
Another great feature of this walk is the series of signs that have been placed along the way. They're all numbered and offer information on the local environment, although I was disappointed that it was mainly general information on topics like rocks. But I guess they're there to help you 'interpret' your surroundings.
Nevertheless, I did like learning about the area's Aboriginal history from the 'Original Inhabitants' sign, which explains that Berowra means 'Place of Winds', shedding light on the name of the walk. It also mentions that there are carvings, paintings and other Aboriginal sites in the area, but didn't state where these could be found.
Initially, the mention of such sites got my hopes up and I thought I might actually get to see some evidence of Hornsby's indigenous history. But nothing eventuated and I had to accept the unlikeliness of carvings or paintings being conveniently located along this modern-day route.
Sign number six is 'The Rock Club'
I recommend stopping at each of the signs and many of the scenic spots along the walk because ultimately the end of the Interpretive Trail is a bit of a let down. At the moment, you can't go past Calna Creek and complete it because the footbridge has collapsed (signs suggest it will be down indefinitely too).
At the moment the bridge is down, so you can't complete the whole walk
While it is possible to get some nice views when you're at the creek, a lot of clambering over the remains of the bridge is required and if you don't feel up to it, then you may not want to come out all this way, particularly as the last part involves a lot of stairs, without much to make it worthwhile. I recommend turning around somewhere near sign number seven, titled 'Bush Supermarket'. This area is full of grass trees and marks the last interesting point on the walk.
In one section you'll be surrounded by grass trees
If you make it all the way out to Calna Creek, the 'Place of Winds' Interpretive Trail stretches for 1.3 kilometres. How long it takes you to complete depends on how often you stop and I definitely suggest you take your time to enjoy it. This isn't a walk that's about reaching your destination.