Regular readers will know that I’m booked to do Milford Track in 7 weeks time…7 weeks tomorrow to be exact.
Finding the time to train effectively with my schedule has been difficult, but I’m trying to pack as much into the weekends as I can. The biggest challenge has been going off-road…so to speak.
While there are plenty of bushwalks in the national parks around Sydney, by the time you factor in (with weekend traffic) the best part of an hour to get there and the best part of another to get back, all of a sudden the whole day is gone. And, given that weekends are filled with the business of writing, housework, and catch-ups with friends and families, the challenge becomes obvious.
That is until we discovered Lake Parramatta- just 30 minutes away.
The tracks aren’t long, but they’re long enough and uneven enough to test out boots and ankles. Most importantly, on a nice day, it’s a really beautiful track. Just don’t forget your hat and some water.
How far is it?
There are three walking tracks, but the Lake Circuit track encompasses all the others. They sort of all merge in together and the signing can be a tad confusing.
This is the shortest, easiest and most accessible of the tracks. At around 1.5kms it runs beside the lake and then loops back along the road.
This one is a little more challenging. It starts where the She-oak begins to loop back. When I say more challenging, the ground is more uneven, there is a creek crossing (that Kali was not at all impressed with), and the path is a tad rockier.
Perfect for getting ankles fit for off-road. You’re still following the lake, so there’s still a beautiful view around most bends in the track.
There are, as the name suggests, plenty of wildflowers and banksia along the path.
If you continue past where the Banksia track loops back, you’ll find yourself on the Lake Circuit. There are some steps, more (short) rocky climbs,
more uneven ground and rock overhangs.
The bush opens up and the path narrows.
Be careful along here during warm days as some of the scurrying we heard in the bushes wasn’t made by lizards- if you know what I mean.
The full circuit brings you out past the wall of the old Parramatta Dam- which has been closed since 1909.
Once past here you have a downhill walk, a stepping stone crossing of a creek, and one more climb before you’re back at the reserve.
The whole walk is around 4.5kms. I didn’t wear a watch, but they say to allow 2 hours- there’s plenty to look at and stop and take photos of. I’d say we walked for around 90 minutes.
How hard is it?
I’d give it two boots.
It’s a lovely walk and very doable for most fitness levels- although you could find yourself puffing a tad at the top of the (short) climbs if you’re as overweight as I am!
Kali, Adventure Spaniel, managed just fine.
Why do it?
If you’re in Western Sydney it’s more accessible than, say, Lane Cover or Kuringai National Parks- and you don’t need to pay park entrance fees.
Plus, it’s pretty. At this time of the year the native wildflowers are out, and the birds (and the native bees) are active.
There’s a coffee shop at the reserve itself- and plenty of picnic tables and barbecues if you’re that way inclined. You can even hire boats here and swimming is now allowed.
Not on track- but it’s a relatively short walk and there are loos at the reserve.
Not really- although you could probably take a cross-country stroller on the she-oak track.
On leash only. This is a really popular place to take dogs. Kali, Adventure Spaniel, gave it her paw of approval.
We drove- there is plenty of parking. The gates open at 6.30am, and close at 5.30pm (7.30pm in daylight saving). The main entrance is from Lackey Street off Bourke Street in North Parramatta. Public transport is available via Hills Bus Route #609 (nearest stop on Bourke Street). If you want to know more, check out this brochure.