Frenchs Forest

Known colloquially known as The Forest, Frenchs Forest is a suburb of northern Sydney located 13 kilometres north of the Sydney central business district. Those who live there will no doubt disagree with me, but there is not a lot at Frenchs Forest to get excited about, but as for the surrounding area - now that's a totally different story. Midway between the suburbs of the North Shore and those on the Northern Beaches, Frenchs Forest is the middle of some of the most picturesque natural features in Sydney's north. Though the forest which gave the locality its name is long gone, the city fathers had the foresight to reserve large tracks of virgin bushland around it, to be preserved for all time as National Park - Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park and Garigal National Park, the two National Parks between Sydney Harbour and the Hawkesbury River, are on its doorstep.

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Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park

West Head, Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park

Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park protects a large area of natural beauty on the northern perimeter of metropolitan Sydney, encompassing the central and lower regions of the Hawkesbury River on its southern side. Ferries, hire boats and houseboats make the park's intricate shoreline totally accessible, their deep waters are ideal for boating. The park may also be explored by a maze of walking tracks, some accessible by wheelchair, which lead to waterfalls, secluded bays and beaches.

Aboriginal Rock Art: The Park contains the largest collection of aboriginal art in the Sydney region. Over 200 groups of engravings are recorded. Most of the 1,110 individual figures have been carved onto horizontal sandstone slabs and vary in size from a few centimetres to 15 metres long. They include animals, fish, artefacts, people and ancestral beings. Three main sites - The Echidna Engraving Site, The Basin Engraving Site and The Elvina Engraving Site - are located off West Head Road between Elvina Nature Trail and West Head are all easily accessible and well signposted (UBD Map 77 Ref Q 15/B 8/F 9).

The art at the Basin Engraving Site is the easiest to view and recognise, the objects carved there include fish, a whale, male and female humans, boomerangs and a row of jumping wallabies. A few hand stencils (above), which are now barely visible due to weathering, can be viewed in an overhang on the Red Hands walking track near West Head. A large midden can be seen on the Sphinx track to Bobbin Head (UBD Map 134 Ref N 9). Engravings may also be seen on the Bobbin Head Road 200m inside the North Turramurra park entrance (UBD Map 134 Ref L 8).

Upper Gledhill Falls

These falls on McCarrs Creek are located on one of the most picturesque drives in the Sydney metro area. McCarrs Creek Road commences in Terrey Hills off Mona Vale Road and winds its way through a series of forests and a rainforest gully before reaching the yachts and waterside homes of McCarrs Creek and Church Point. The falls are near the National Park's southeastern entry beside McCarrs Creek Road below the first bridge across the creek when approached from Terrey Hills.

The valley of the gorge in which the water cascades offers the best view of the falls and the pool, however there is no path down so great care must be taken if attempting a descent into the gorge. A walking path alongside McCarrs Creek which starts above the falls on the top side of the road leads to a series of cascades. Lower Gledhill Falls is further downstream.

Garigal National Park

Garigal National Park
Garigal National Park encompasses the upper reaches of Middle Harbour Creek on the northern outskirts of suburban Sydney. The Park is comprised of a series of valleys through which creeks trickle and cascade into sparkling rock pools on their way to Sydney Harbour. A maze of fire trails and walking tracks make access easy to all but the most isolated sections of the park. Stepped sandstone ridges guard the valleys and provide numerous vantage points.

Lower Frenchs Creek Falls

Frenchs Creek Falls, Belrose: After Oxford Falls, a pair of waterfalls on the upper reaches of Frenchs Creek at Belrose would have to be the most visually stunning of all waterfalls of the inner Sydney metropolitan area after rain. Located off the badly eroded Frenchs Creek Walking Track in Garigal National Park, they consist of a pair of giant steps a hundred or so metres apart over which the creek flows on its way from the top of the escarpment into the valley below. Access to the top of each falls is good, however for the best view (from the rock pools at their base) one has to struggle down a steep, rugged hillside while pushing through dense undergrowth. This is quite dangerous, especially after rain when the foliage overhead and ground underfoot is damp, slippery and unstable. Unfortunately, this is when the falls are at their most spectacular. Access is via the walking track at the end of Wannita Road, Belrose. UBD Map 156 Ref B 13

The Cascades

The Cascades, Forestville: The Cascades are located in Davidson Park in the northern part of Garigal National Park, which is the most isolated. They are a series of beautiful rock pools at the junction of French's Creek and Middle Harbour Creek. The waters from Middle Harbour Creek enter the pools in a giant shallow sheet trickling over flat, water-smoothed rock paving. Upstream, Bare Creek flows over a series of splendid waterfalls but they are difficult to reach. Access is by a series of walking tracks and fire trails from the following entry points: Douglas Street (East), St. Ives; McIntosh Lookout, Mona Vale Road; Wyatt Avenue, Belrose; Ralston Avenue, Belrose; Stone Parade, Davidson.
UBD Map 155 Ref L 11

Bare Creek Falls: The Bare Creek and Heath Tracks in the north-eastern section of Garigal National Park meet near a series of small waterfalls and cascades on Bare Creek. Access to these falls and a series of others further upstream is difficult these days as the section of Bare Creek Track alongside the creek's upper reaches is overgrown to the point of then being almost unreachable. The Heath Track from Ralston Avenue, Belrose is the recommended access point to this part of the park.
UBD Map 155 Ref P 6

Waratah Park television set

Waratah Park
Situated about 30 minutes drive north of the Sydney in the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park at Terry Hills, Waratach Park is famous as the home of Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. It was here that the TV series was filmed there during the 1960. Though the building used as the studio still exists and is intact, complete with the sets for the show, the park has been closed for a number of years.

Oxford Falls
Middle Creek (not to be confused with Middle Harbour Creek) makes two drops into the valley of picturesque Oxford Falls Recreation Reserve where Oxford Falls Road fords the creek at Oxford Falls. Though the falls are the highest in the Sydney metropolitan region, there is no viewing platform, and the only way to see them is from the head of the falls lookin g over the top or from the valley below which is dense bushland. UBD Map 157 ref. B 13

Indigenous Rock Art

Engravings Track, Bantry Bay: The most extensive single group of carvings in the Sydney metropolitan area are located on a rocky outcrop on the hillside above Bantry Bay and accessed via the Engravings Track alongside Wakehurst Parkway 400m south of the end of Bantry Bay Road, Frenchs Forest. There are some 82 figures, including two mundoes, people, animals, fish, shields, a canoe, a basket and bag, boomerangs, circles, stone axes and clubs, snakes and a whale. One group of figures shows two men, one of whom is carrying bark canoes.

As they are on flat open ground, sadly these carvings have suffered greatly from exposure to the weather and many have faded so badly there are only recognisable to the trained eye. The best time to view them is at dawn or dusk. Other engravings occur in the surrounding bushland but they are not easy to find as they are not marked, and are often in locations where fallen leaves and other bush debris have covered them. Middens and rock shelters can be seen on the shores of the bay. Tool sharpening grooves have been found near the engravings and creek beds.

Gumbooya Reserve, Allambie Heights

Gumbooya Reserve, Allambie Heights: The main attraction at this reserve is an excellent series of Aboriginal rock engravings, however the view down the coast across Harbord and Queenscliff to Manly is also well worth seeing. There are 68 Aboriginal rock carvings including fish, hunting implements, a dolphin and a large human figure which appears to be inside or on top of a whale. Unusually, the site is not level, but some whale-shaped humps in the rock have been put to full advantage by the engravers. One of the whales has teeth, suggesting a sperm whale, and many other marine animals can be identified including a dolphin and a hammerhead shark.

The carvings, which are well sign posted and fenced, are in a location which offers panoramic views up and down the coast as well as inland. This is an indication it was in all probability a sacred site as hilltop areas containing flat rock surfaces such as this were preferred locations for sacred sites containing carvings. It would have been used to record tribal history and culture and perhaps the initiation of young men. To view the engravings, head north up Allambie Road from Mona Vale, turn right into Corkery Crescent, right again into Gumbooya Place, and park at the end next to Gumbooya Reserve.


Frenchs Forest Organic Food and Framers Market
5 Frenchs Forest Rd E, Frenchs Forest
Trading: Every Sunday - 8am - 1pm
Type: Art & Craft, Artisans, Baby & Kids/Children, General, Vintage/Retro, Farmers, Produce, Organic, Fashion, Handmade, *Wheel Chair Friendly, Food
Phone: (02) 9999 2226

The Look Inside Market
Parkway Hotel Function Room,Frenchs Forest Road East, Frenchs Forest NSW 2086, Australia
Trading: Sundays - 8am - 1pm
Type: Art and Craft, Antique & Collectables, Artisans, Baby and Kids/Children, Designers, General, Trash & Treasure, Vintage/Retro, Fashion, Handmade, *Wheel Chair Friendly, Preloved
Phone: (02) 9999 2226

Prior to the arrival of the First Fleet in Port Jackson in 1788, the area of land we now know as Frenchs Forest, and surrounding Warringah areas, was the home of the Guringai (Ku-ring-gai) language group of the Garigal Aboriginal clan. Evidence of their habitation remains today in the form of rock engravings, rock art, open campsites, rock shelters, scarred trees and middens. The word Warringah has many interpretations including "sign of rain", "across the waves" and "sea". The rock engravings in the area are the finest and most prolific in the Sydney Basin, though the elements have badly eroded many of them. European exploration into Warringah began within the first weeks of settlement at Sydney Cove in 1788. Governor Phillip made a number of journeys throughout the area, detailing the landscape, flora and fauna, as well as observing Aboriginal lifestyle and culture.

Although Beacon Hill names its peak as the Arthur Phillip lookout, after the founding governor of NSW who is said to have climbed it, it is believed by some historians that Phillip's travels actually took him through Bantry Bay and up into Frenchs Forest to gain views over the area. In 1853 Simeon Henry Pearce (1821 -1886) and his brother James acquired 200 acres (0.81 km2) in this area. James Harris French, after whom the suburb is named, acquired land in the area in 1856 and established a major timber cutting and milling operation, which cleared most of the dense forests of the area. He operated two sawmills on Frenchs Forest Road, which was the main thoroughfare. It led to Beacon Hill and was the only accessway into the area at that time. French shipped his timber to Sydney from a wharf on Bantry Bay which he accessed via a track which became Bantry Bay Road.

Despite its relative proximity to Sydney, Frenchs Forest remained predominantly rural throughout the nineteenth century. During the 1960s and 1970s, Forestway shopping centre had the name Arndale. Smaller shopping centres are located at Sorlie Road featuring a variety of restaurants, and Skyline shops on Frenchs Forest Road East, the name being derived from the 'Skyline Drive-in Movie Theatre' that existed nearby until the mid-1980s

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    Aboriginal rock art, Engravings Track, Frenchs Forest

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