When I hiked this trail, I was the fourth generation to retrace the steps (fifth if I could’ve convinced the kids!) of my great grandfather Mr Percy Kennedy.
A keen amateur geologist and an active citizen of Wollongong, Percy was convinced of evidence of an extinct volcano under Mount Robertson as he explored the beautiful Byarong Creek and its cascades in the early 1930s.
Today I set out with Dad with vague directions recalled from his own personal adventures as a kid in the 1950-60s.
I think Byarong Creek probably looks much the same today as it did in the 1930s – at least.
Starting in the suburbs at the back of Mount Keira, the creek quickly turns into pristine wilderness so typical of the surrounding rainforest areas.
It’s a relatively flat creek with a distinctive fork, leading you up towards Mount Keira Scout Camp, or south towards the cascades under Mount Robertson.
Taking the creek to the left, we are overtaken by some great young kids who are also venturing up to the waterfall.
Immediately we find a natural water slide - which in wetter conditions would be amazing, with its slippery smooth surface already carved out. I should’ve had a go, I guess!
The trail consists of lots of rock hopping and ample opportunity to check out the local wildlife, aquatic life and gorgeous plants including native fruits, flowering trees and majestic red cedars.
Along the way, there were lizards, water dragons, yabbies, frogs and fresh water tortoises and fish, not to mention a chorus of birds the entire hike.
I’m not sure about the exact status of the water quality, however to the amateur eye it appeared very pristine, save some algae in the stagnant pools.
True to Percy’s observations, there are some very distinctive shale outcrops on the left which can be surveyed (watch out for some minor rock falls we observed with the unstable shale!), petrified wood fossils, sandstone conglomerates and, of most interest, granite – typical of volcanic activity. There are many interesting rocks that you jump on that tell the tale of the geological history of the area.
The cascades lead you up to various pools and waterfalls, very similar to the cascade trail in Macquarie Pass National Park.
There is even rope to assist the climb up the side of the larger waterfall, where we were again greeted by more pools and cascades.
This walk is an obvious favourite for the young local kids, spending a few hours searching under rocks for yabbies and cooling down in the summer months.
It’s a welcome sight to see that younger generations haven’t lost that evolutionary yearning to explore and be in nature – at least for a short-lived alternative to the screen for a change.
Happy exploring! Jenae Johnston.
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