Frenchs ForestKnown 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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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).
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 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, 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
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.
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
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
Duffys Forest is a suburb of northern Sydney, not far from Frenchs Forest. Duffys Forest is 28 kilometres north of the Sydney central business district. The forests of Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park to the north of Duffy Forest are just what the doctor ordered if you desire to get yourself lost in the middle of nowhere without going too far from the city. Long Track commences at the end of Bularra St, Duffys Forest. For a shorter walk, take the Cowan Track turnoff. At the end of the track is a lookout with views across Cowan Creek. Aboriginal art depicting human figures, kangaroos and boomerangs has been carved onto a rock face near the lookout.
Duffy's Track commences at the end of Booralie Rd, Duffys Forest. A 1 km walk leads to a lookout with views towards an inlet on the east side of Cowan Creek. A branch leads to Slades Lookout, known for its commanding views to Bobbin Head. A nearby rock had a carving of an emu. How to get there: drive by car to end of Booralie Rd, Duffys Forest. Follow track.
Duffys Forest is named after Patrick Duffy, who received a land grant there in 1857. He became a timber cutter and cleared a road through the bush to Cowan Creek, where he built a stone wharf for transporting timber. The wharf is still known as Duffys Wharf and the road is Duffys Track.
Waratah Park Earth Sanctuary was a popular tourist attraction in Duffys Forest, famous as the film set of the popular television series 'Skippy the Bush Kangaroo' (1968-70). The studio which represented the inside of the ranger station has been retained for posterity. Known by it television name - Waratah Park - it became a popular tourist attraction, complete with picnic facilities, bush walking tracks and a wildlife park that maintained the park's connection with the TV show. Waratah National Park was closed in August 2009, becoming Waratah Park Earth Sanctuary. Much of the set and props remained, but the park was eventually closed to the public, and all of the animals including descendants of the kangaroos used in the series have all been removed.
The set of 'Skippy the Bush Kangaroo'
The site, which was formerly Crown land, was handed over to the local council in 2014. While renovation of the building may still be some years off, plans are afoot for the site to be eventually restored and reopened to the public for educational purposes, focusing on both the TV series, and on local Aboriginal culture. Location: 13 Namba Road, Duffys Forest.
The nearby suburb of Belrose is named after two flowers, the Christmas bell and the native rose. The area remained virgin bush until after the second world war when urban development began. Belrose is primarily a residential area, but contains the Austlink Business Park. Optus satellite communications facility is located in Belrose, where Optus manages its five satellites currently in orbit.
Frenchs Creek Falls: 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.
Upper Frenchs Creek Falls
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.
The nearby suburb of Oxford Falls is 20 kilometres north-east of the Sydney central business district. Oxford Falls was gazetted as the name of the suburb in 1902.
The ford at the top of 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.
The geographical feature of Beacon Hill is the highest point in the region of Sydney's northern beaches. It was named when the department of lands built a trigonometric beacon there in 1881. The hill was climbed by Gov. Phillip on his first exploratory journey through the area in 1788 and was used as a lookout by the early settlers to view the area and watch for ships passing. Little is known of local aboriginal culture in the Beacon Hill area but other local areas towards the sea have a rich and diverse aboriginal background. There are some aboriginal carvings in rocks to the north of Red Hill.
Phillip Lookout: This lookout is located at the top of Beacon Hill. Views of almost the entire eastern half of the Sydney region may be had from the summit which is approximately 152 metres above sea level. Views extend from the southern outskirts of Sydney, west to the Blue Mountains and north to Gosford and the Central Coast. The skyline of the city is seen to the south, ships, pleasure craft and occasional migratory whales can be seen out to sea in the east. The lookout is popular with locals on New Year's Eve when the firework displays across Sydney Harbour are clearly visible.
The suburb of Beacon Hill is 17 kilometres north-east of the Sydney central business district. Most of the houses in the suburb were built in the boom days after World War II, in the 1950s and 1960s. Many of the streets in Beacon Hill are named after notable battles, military men or places where Australian troops served in World War II. These include Owen Stanley Avenue, Kokoda Crescent, Goroka Place and Lae Place.
Red Hill: not to be confused with Beacon Hill, Red Hill is located at the northern end of the suburb behind the former Beacon Hill High School site. From here there are views across to the Governor Phillip Lookout, and onwards to the city. The views to the north are over the eastern sections of the Garigal National Park, to Cromer and beyond into the suburbs of Elanora, Narrabeen and Ingleside.
Allambie Heights is a residential suburb of northern Sydney, some 17.5 kilometres north-east of the Sydney central business district. It is part of the Northern Beaches region. Allambie is an Aboriginal word that means "peaceful place". An estate by that name was subdivided and auctioned in 1918. It is likely that a "goat track" that roughly follows the existing Allambie Road today was used by the Aboriginal people to access the ocean beaches at nearby Manly. The suburb was developed in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
The land upon which the nearby suburb of Forestville stands had been soon cleared of timber after colonisation, but remained largely unused until 1915 when large tracts were acquired to create soldier settlement farms. The soil was of poor quality and the area was isolated, which led to the scheme's failure. Even the construction of the original Roseville Bridge, which made access easier, failed to attract settlers.
Only a few farms survived until after World War II when the area became swallowed up as part of the Sydney metropolitan area. Its name, meaning 'home in the forest', was possibly first used as a reference to James Harris French's dwelling. French was a settler who began extensive woodcutting activities in the blue gum forests of the area in 1856.
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