What to do? Where to go? These questions arise whilst the State gradually is opening after a lockdown. Where can I take the dog for a little exercise? The Hills and Hawkesbury districts were once rural and some parts remain so. There are many small creeks and rivulets feeding into the Hawkesbury and Parramatta rivers that surround the district and along those you can often find a track or two that may take you through what were once parts of a historic rural property or a historic site.
As I have walked the dog along some of the walking tracks alongside some of the creeks I am reminded of what the early settlers would have faced with the clearing of land for a dwelling or to create a field or two for livestock or crops. I also am reminded of the native fauna that once lived in the creeks such as the platypus, which at one time was quite abundant in the area but now rarely or, is not, seen or the water dragons which are still quite prevalent in places.
I also think of the children of the early settlers and even of the aborigines who would have cooled down by swimming or bathing in the rivers and creeks in days gone by. Some shady little spots where one can sit, and rest still exists here and there and makes a pretty picture with the sunshine filtering through the trees
In the Southern end of the district you can walk alongside Toongabbie Creek at “Third Settlement Reserve” which was the site of Australia’s Third European Settlement of Toongabbie Farm. You can then follow the creek to where it joins the Quarry Branch so named for the Quarry which provided much of the sandstone for many of the early buildings in Parramatta and even Sydney.
Toongabbie Creeks also traverses through Crestwood and Baulkham Hills where it flows through historic properties once owned by the Joyce, Pearce, Pye, Doyle and Suttor families. Whilst parklands sit along the banks of the waterways in quite a few locations, there are also areas of woodland which can provide walkers with a degree of some understanding regarding what the countryside would have been like during the early days of settlement.
Another great area lies alongside Cattai Creek at Castle Hill which runs through Fred Caterson Reserve where bushwalks would take you through the area in which the Kentwell family once played and farmed. To the east of Castle Hill at the Bidjigal Reserve (end of Excelsior Ave) it is possible to walk alongside Excelsior Creek to Darling Mills Creek at West Pennant Hills and also to North Rocks.