APRIL 2018 | Tara Ulbrich
DO YOU boldly launch into a walk or ease into it? My companions - three young, Italian travellers, were striding. They intended to take far less than the four hours return indicated by the sign marking Syds Track but they weren’t counting on the spell about to befall us all.
Located on Westrope Road above Western Creek, foot climbing starts on a disused vehicle access track. Look for the right veer at a Y intersection and take the sign-posted walking track further on the left.
Part way up is a section of scree. Distracted by the view back to the lowlands and you might miss the path. Previous walkers have left evidence of lichen-worn stone faces, even moved rock into position to level a route and, in the event of snow, built small cairns. With a clang and an echo, a stepping-stone declares it was not so sure of my footing. The joy of my companions is not tempered. They burst into a loud operatic song. Did the farmers below hear that?
A rare treat lies beyond this scree, a section of old, old forest like some enchanted habitat for gnomes or trolls or fairy folk. Surely the King Billy Pines are ancient wizards? Luxurious, green fur covers every surface. Gnarly, twisted burls sit on myrtle limbs. They’re clothed in a moss which itself seems to sprout whiskers. The light has a quality that puts a walker into a dream state made all the more deeper by the scent of sassafras and moist earth.
It is no wonder that, upon reaching the top, each one of us fell into a soporific sleep. Lizards on a rock. An ocean of ranges unfolded before us. Native currants were orange and ripe and wild bees sought out the red, flowering rocket but our senses dozed. It was only as the afternoon cooled that we were roused to return.
The adventure ended up taking four and a half hours. You could do it in much less but you might miss the magic. Carry a walking stick if descents are unkind to your knees and you’ll need to bring water.
Photo | Jade Hallam