I am always looking out for new experiences, wherever I may find myself.
Published June 15th 2013
Crosslands Reserve is a great place to visit with your family, whether it be just for the day or even an overnight stay. There are many things to do here and among them is going on a bushwalk, which allows you to explore the natural environment that makes up this section of Berowra Valley National Park.
At both ends of the reserve you will find sections of The Great North Walk, also known in this area as the Benowie Walking Track. These allow you to use Crosslands Reserve as a starting point for treks to other destinations in Hornsby Shire.
However, if you're looking for a walk that can easily be incorporated into any day at Crosslands, then your best option is the Saltmarsh Boardwalk, which is located in the northern section of the reserve. Perfect for the whole family, it's only 400 metres long (one-way) and is completely wheelchair accessible.
The boardwalk at the beginning of the route
The walk begins with a boardwalk through the saltmarsh that gives the route its name, an ecosystem that is becoming endangered in the area. Shortly afterwards, the path joins the mangroves at the water's edge, with bushland sloping upwards on the other side.
Your view of the water along this section is largely obscured by the mangroves, but on a walk this short no-one will have time to complain. Plus, there are reasons to stop and admire the mangroves themselves anyway, as signs have been erected along the route to educate you on subjects like their food cycle.
I wasn't that interested in these signs at first, as the topics seemed pretty familiar, but when I reached one titled 'Original Inhabitants' my attitude changed. It focuses on the indigenous heritage of the area and I was interested in its references to the local region specifically.
Apparently, there are over 100 Aboriginal sites nearby, including carvings, paintings, axe grinding grooves and middens. As you can see in the image below, the sign also features a series pictures that I interpreted as images of the carvings or paintings that might be found. However, you don't actually pass any of them on this walk (at least, not to my knowledge).
The 'Original Inhabitants' sign
Right next to this particular sign is the scenic viewing area, which marks the end of the Saltmarsh Boardwalk. Here you can look out over Berowra Creek and there's a seat for you to relax on. It's definitely the best part of the walk.
The viewing platform
Looking out across the water
While you're here, you will often be able to spot people kayaking on the water or fishing further along the bank. In fact, there always seems to be people about, but it's just an indication of the popularity of Crosslands Reserve.
When I'm on the platform, I always seem to spend most of my time looking down though. The first time I came, it was low tide and I was amazed at the number of crabs among the mangrove roots. The next time the water wasn't quite as low, but there were still wrens to marvel at instead.
Can you spot the crabs?
If the viewing area has given you a taste of what you can see around the area, you may want to continue along The Great North Walk a little further. The subsequent section makes up the 'Place of Winds' Interpretive Trail and while it's no longer wheelchair accessible, most family members shouldn't have a problem with the rest of the track.
There are a lot more sights to see if you go on too, including views of the river that are just as good, if not better, than those you get from the viewing platform. They happen more frequently than they did along the boardwalk because the mangroves start to give way. I suggest at least going out to the rock where people can often be found fishing.
The fishing spot
If you don't want to continue however, it's just a matter of returning to your lunch or car along the same route you've just taken. Often you'll have the smell of sausages cooking on the BBQ to tempt you on the way.
Don't rush back too quickly though, as your experience may not be complete. Returning from the walk once, I managed to see a lyre bird scratching among the leaves up the slope, a moment reminiscent of my first sighting of one of these birds on a bushwalk I did last year in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.