At Strickland State Forest, you will find many beautiful native plants and trees.
Wandering through the forest tracks on a recent visit, we photographed some of the large fan shapes of the cabbage tree palms, dainty new buds and flowers on the wattle trees and some amazingly patterned tree trunks.
Strickland State Forest has many walking tracks through varying forest types. These tracks were built by a volunteer group – Friends of Strickland – in partnership with the Forestry Corporation of NSW.
As you meander along tracks which descend gently through moist forest, filled with ferns and cabbage palms, you pass delightful little babbling creeks.
These interesting markings on the scribbly gum are made by larvae of the Scribbly gum moths. They bore a meandering tunnel through the tree’s bark; eventually, when the tree sheds the outer bark, it produces scar tissue which shows these intricate patterns.
Looking closely at the base of this scribbly gum tree, you can see the trails in the decayed heartwood that show previous white ant occupation. The tree has also been scarred by fire but, amazingly, it still shows signs of active life, with a good canopy of leaves overhead.
Looming above this huge boulder – which seems to have eyes and a gaping mouth – is this shapely gum tree. I couldn’t resist the chance to capture this unusual photograph.
Following the Patonga Drive, and heading south towards Patonga in the Brisbane Water National Park, turn left into Warrah Trig road and drive until you reach the carpark. Follow the Tony Doyle track from the old Warrah Trig Station down the ridge, along a well formed rock path – which includes some wooden stairs. At the end of the trail, you’ll find the spectacular Warrah lookout.
Along the way you will encounter many native wildflowers and waratahs for which the area is well known.
From the lookout, there are fantastic views to the distant Barrenjoey headland, Broken Bay and the Hawkesbury River.
Photographed above are just a few of the lovely native wildflowers we encountered beside the track this morning and a view from the lookout.
Walking through the Rumbalara Reserve (near Gosford, NSW) – a tree-filled area including rainforest, ferns, wildflowers and wildlife – you come across bronze sculptures of pioneers and explorers.
Photographed above is the bronze sculpture of Matthew Flinders, an English explorer, naval officer and navigator who sailed around Australia and mapped much of its coastline. Views from the reserve (pictured above) include the steep steps between two huge rock walls, some beautiful grass trees and some amazing rock formations.
Following the trails and looking at the view through the trees, you can catch glimpses of Gosford City with its office blocks and high-rise apartments, and watch tiny trains on the bridge which crosses over a section of the Brisbane Water.
The Mouat Trail is a pleasant walk of 4km, which should take approximately 2 hours to complete. This walk – best done with a car shuffle – starts from Rumbalara Reserve, accessed from Dolly Avenue at Springfield, to Katandra Reserve at Toomeys Road, Mount Elliot. The trail follows a series of tracks and management trails along the top of the ridge between the Katandra and Rumbalara Reserves.
There are many trails throughout both the Rumbalara and Katandra reserves, and you can walk all the trails or, as we did on this occasion, just a selection.
The Davistown to Kincumber shared cycle/walking track is a level and pleasant 2.75km walk along the foreshore of the Kincumber Broadwater.
Beginning at Davistown, near the reserve, we headed north along a raised boardwalk which winds through wetland and mangrove trees. The boardwalk eventually opens onto a wide concrete footpath along the broadwater and passes a children’s playground. After a short forested section, the pathway ends at Carrak Road, Kincumber, near a wharf and some memorials to the past ship building heritage of the Kincumber area.
Completing this walk on a wintry morning, we spotted about 10 different species of birdlife. Among the wetlands we saw fairy-wrens and even a quail darting around in the undergrowth. As we came along the pathway we saw kookaburras, magpie-larks (also known as peewees), and willie wagtails; then ducks, white-faced heron, cormorants, pelicans and ibis as we walked near the broadwater.
Pictured above are just a few of the beautiful bonsai plants we viewed in the National Bonsai and Penjing collection of Australia. Situated at the National Arboretum in Canberra, this collection – the best bonsai exhibition in Australia – has trees from almost every country represented, including Chinese elm, cedar, maple, banksia, angophora and paperbark.
This amazing exhibition, which is carefully tended by enthusiastic and very knowledgeable volunteers, usually has about 80 bonsai on display.
Australian natives make up about 20 per cent of the exhibition, and I was particularly impressed with the banksia bonsai (which is featured above).
Mt Ettalong Lookout is a 1.4km return hike which takes about 30 minutes to complete. This short walk, with great views and easy access through the bush, takes you from a large water tank along an old trail to a fenced lookout platform with views over Umina Beach.
Numerous unofficial lookouts lead off the main trail, revealing stunning coastal scenery. Great views can be seen from this rock platform overlooking Pearl Beach, with Lion Island and Pittwater in the distance.
Banksia integrifolia (above), commonly known as coast banksia, are growing in profusion in this exposed area near the lookout.
The Grass tree Xanthorrhoea, which grows from 1-5m in height, is a uniquely Australian plant. In the above photo the grass trees grow happily among the rocks and look amazing with the spreading branches of the Sydney red gums.
Located on the Central Coast of New South Wales, the Banksia picnic area in Strickland State Forest is a good school holiday destination. It’s a great place to enjoy the natural bushland and go for a leisurely walk on one of the many walking tracks, or just relax and have a picnic.
The Banksia picnic area has picnic tables, fire pits and a large area for children to play. They can make a swing, a bush Teepee/cubby house, or a fairy house – like the one made by our granddaughters (pictured above).