Leader: Laurie Olsen
Bidjigal Reserve & Surrounding Areas
3 July 2019
An 80 leaders walk
Photos Laurie Olsen
Laurie Olsen, Misako Sugiyama, Colin Helmstedt, Kevin Yeats, Mike Pickles, Mike Ward, Alan Brennan, Jeanette Ibrahim, Kumiko Suzuki, John Hungerford, Bill Donoghoe, Jenny Donoghoe, Jacqui Hickson, Warwick Selby (Guest)
Bidjigal Reserve / Surrounding Areas West Pennant Hills to Parramatta: From West Pennant Hills follow Darling Mills Creek downhill to Lake Parramatta and on to finish at Parramatta. On formed tracks with street walking at the start and finish. (A second attempt, hope the rain stays away.) Map: http://bidjigal.org.au (Bushwalks)
This was the second attempt to undertake the walk, from West Pennant Hills to Parramatta following the Darling Mills Creek and doing a loop around Lake Parramatta near the end: the first attempt was thwarted by heavy rain that made creek crossings difficult. This time the weather was favourable - sunny with light cloud cover. The walk started at Thompsons Corner, West Pennant Hills.
The Darling Mills Creek starts near the intersection of Castle Hill Road and Pennant Hills Road and flows generally west, then south to join Parramatta River at the junction with Toongabbie Creek flowing from the west. A number of tributaries join the creek as it flows downhill. The creek was named after John Raine's mill, which he named Darling Mill in honour of Governor Ralph Darling who had granted the land on which it was built.
Descending from Mount Wilberforce Lookout Reserve, after some street walking we entered the Cumberland State Forest where the western track head of the Great North Walk commences.
Following some more street walking we entered the Bidjigal Reserve. Bidjigal Creek gives its name to the Reserve surrounding a significant length of the Darling Mills Creek catchment. The name recalls the Bidjigal (also spelt Bediagal) people, a group of Indigenous Australians living to the West of Sydney. Perhaps the most famous Bidjigal person was Pemulwuy, who led Aboriginal people before finally being captured and killed. Morning tea was a rock platform with a small waterfall soon after entering the reserve. The initial stage was relatively open but as we approached the Cumberland Highway and the M2 Motorway crossings the sides steadily increased in steepness. Infamous 1820's bushranger Jack Donohoe, who carried out many robberies in the area, is reported to have used the gorge as a hideout.
Floodwaters had caused considerable damage along Darling Mills Creek and the Upper Parramatta River and as a remedy a retarding basin has been built. It is not a dam, it is a concrete wall 25 metres high with a short tunnel in its base. During heavy rain, when all the storm water in the creek cannot flow through the tunnel, excess water will be temporarily stored behind the wall. Once the rain eases or stops the stored water will drain away quite quickly. The concrete has been decorated by numerous graffiti artists.
At the lower end of the Reserve we followed the remains of a convict road and viewed the stonework ruins of a convict-built hut and a Satin Bower bird’s nest, before leaving the Reserve for lunch at Hazel Ryan Oval.
Following lunch we crossed North Rocks Road and entered Lake Parramatta Reserve and circled the lake for a well earned lunch stop with coffee and milkshakes. Lake Parramatta arch walled dam, 1856, is of historical significance and is the first large dam built in Australia. The dam is the eleventh earliest single arch dam built since Roman times, 100 BC, and is the only masonry dam in the world to combine the use of both Roman concrete, a mix of volcanic ash and lime to bind rock fragments and Portland cement, mostly limestone and clay, to hold together small rocks.
The walk concluded passing the disused Parramatta Goal and 1885 convict built Female Factory precinct on the way to Parramatta Station.
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