North Rocks / Northmead Dam – we doubt it’s on your bucket list of family-friendly activities. In fact, you likely haven’t even heard of it. But listen up! It’s awesome! It consists of a BUSHWALK and then of course the DAM itself – both are very cool.
This is a bushwalk that deserves its’ own Netflix special – with a tagline that reads: James Bond meets Bush Fairies (AKA the ultimate crowd-pleaser). Why the rave review? Because it’s stunning and has its own solid compact path so you can look up and enjoy the views without worrying about tripping (or spider webs).
It has several entry points differing in distance (which we’ve listed at the bottom) and it winds itself down to the most incredible concrete structure which is a mixture between an Aztec temple and a towering wall that looks like it could have Agent 007 scaling down it. The whole family loved it and we wouldn’t be surprised if Spielberg plans to film his next action movie here once he reads this! (We better get a location fee :-P)
Location: Bidjidal Reserve, End of Loyalty Road, North Rocks.
How to get there: Drive through a spaced-out industrial section of streets, and then it’s closest to building 22 (Or, type in 41 into GPS, there is just no physical building). There is free parking available on the cul-de-sac, and also nearby streets. *See below for a detailed description of the other entry points.
There are two viewing areas:
- The top viewing platform, which can be reached by veering right halfway down the track.
- Lower platform: to reach the lower part of the Basin, retrace your steps back to the main path and follow gentle slope downhill until you see the amazing Aztec-like-Temple steps in the distance. The bottom level and tunnel can be reached via stairs going down to the creek. (This area can only be accessed when the water level is low).
Purpose of the “dam” AKA retaining basin
Not only does it look cool, but this concrete basin with its 30m wall successfully stops a mass of water from engulfing Darling Mills Creek after a freak storm (and also protects the lovely homes nearby from any flooding too!). The excess creek water is made to travel through a tunnel and on the other side is a large curved basin that takes the hit of ‘energy’, so-to-speak, which slows the water down. For the science geeks, here the difference between a detention basin and a retention basin.
We highly RECOMMEND showing your kids this clip of the basin after the heavy rains that hit Sydney last week – the kids will love seeing the tonnes of water that the basin was able to carry. (Cue applause from any science teachers as well!).
A splash of cheeky colour
Every time you visit you’re bound to see different graffiti (or as Nan calls it ‘youth street art’) decorating the concrete walls. There were quite a few brightly coloured spray-painted animals when we visited and it featured no swearwords (it’s the small things – ha!).
Other Entry Points
*There are multiple ways to enter this reserve – the five most common for families are below, with the distance listed for each one.
- Loyalty Road in North Rocks By far the shortest length (350m), it took us about 15 minutes walk to get down to the basin, and 30 to get back up (due to slope… and toddlers)
- Ventura Road in Northmead (just under 1 km to get there and back).
- Hazel Ryan Oval in North Rocks (about 1.5 kms and has a tap along the way).
- Ted Horwood Reserve in Baulkham Hills (All up just under 2 kms, but has toilets at the reserve.)
- Echidna Loop Track – Pye Ave Reserve in Northmead (Best for older kids as ta full loop takes around 4 kms). No toilets but a tap onsite.
Toilets: There are no toilets or taps along the track. But you’ll find both at Ted Horwood Reserve, and a tap at Hazel Ryan Oval and Pye Ave Reserve.
Bring: Water bottle, snacks, a hat, and your camera phone; you’ve going to want to snap away at many things.
Prams: It’s definitely a walking track, we wouldn’t advise pram or bikes because of the slope back up the hill.
Cool fact: This reserve is massive and includes Darling Hills State Forest, Eric Mobbs Recreational Reserve, Don Moore Reserve and Ted Horwood Reserve. How? Well, it follows Darling Mills Creek and this stream feeds larger streams through the suburbs of Castle Hill, Baulkham Hills, Carlingford, North Rocks and Northmead. Its name is in honour of the ‘Bidjigal’ people, which means plains-dweller, in the Dharug language.
This reserve is home to 370 native plant species, more than 140 native animals, and an array of fungi which the kids tell us is why the fairies love coming here – can’t argue with that!
More Info here.