12 Great Walks at Munibung Hill

(under construction)

Walking in nature at Munibung Hill

Welcome – How to use this guide

The 12 Great Walks offer the best of Munibung Hill’s walking experiences. Whether you are after a leisurely stroll or a physical challenge; a gentle ramble or a hilltop adventure; a long day’s outing or a short wander, 12 Great Walks has plenty to choose from. The walks can generally be accessed from local roads and streets. They include a range of bushland settings. There are some protocols we all need to be aware of and take heed of.  See the Know Before You Go and Safety Message sections of each walk. Also we ask that caring for country is front and centre of all our visits.

This is a community inspired guide,  produced in response to enquiries from members of the Society and the community for information about where to go and what to expect, when visiting Munibung Hill. The intention is that it will complement the information already being posted on various media sites, where the experiences of people who have been visiting Munibung Hill for many years gets posted. As a citizens research project, we have attempted to factor in many of the components that go to make up the complex characteristics contained within the Munibung Hill landscape – geodiversity, biodiversity, human involvement and planned revitalisation.  It is important that there is a high level of accuracy and consistency in the way we communicate and reflect on the geodiversity as well as the Indigenous heritage extending over tens of thousands of years in contrast to the more recent European history of the last couple of hundred years. ‘Today we walk where once they walked’ – takara milaythina mara mapali takara.

Taking care of country

Help us help each other by taking care of the walking tracks, picnic sites, lookouts and creek catchments as you walk or jog around and across Munibung Hill.

  • Take whatever left-overs there are from food and drink, back home.
  • All native plants, animals, cultural and historic sites must be respected and protected. Observe all Council Public Reserve signage and bring this to the attention of others.
  • Leave no trace other than prints from the soles of your shoes.
  • Take no treasures other than the pictures of the distant horizons, local native plants and animals, and the memories of happy times spent in the company of nature.,

Map and Guide to Walks

Creek (Powaramalong) Catchment Map

Ways to get there

Awabakal to English word finder

30 minutes one way,
1.1km

Grade 2-4: Suitable for most ages. The track has a hardened surface that varies from flat to gentle slope to steep eroded sections.

  • Supervise children, there are unprotected track edges.
60 minutes return,
1.3 km

Or at a more leisurely pace 45 minutes one way.
Grade 2-4: Suitable for most ages. The track has a hardened surface that varies from gentle slopes to steep eroded sections.

  • Supervise children
30 minutes,
300 metres

Grade 2: Suitable for most ages. The track crosses a grassy area of Munibung Hill with little tree cover. It’s a good introduction for first time visitors.

  • Supervise children.
45 minutes return,
900m.

Grade 2-3: Suitable for most ages. The track crosses grassy areas leading to hardened surfaces. The terrain varies from flat to gentle slopes and steeper sections.

  • Supervise children.
90 minutes return, ,
1.1km.

Grade 2-3: Suitable for most ages. The track starts out crossing grassy areas leading to hardened surfaces. The terrain varies from flat to gentle slopes with a couple of steeper sections. This track  includes the Mountain View Lookout.

  • Supervise children.

 

60—90 minutes return, ,
2.6km

Grade 2-4: Suitable for most ages. The track has a hardened surface that varies from flat to gentle slopes to steep badly eroded sections.

  • Supervise children.
45 - 60 minutes return,
1.2km circuit

Grade 3-4: Suitable for most ages. The track starts with a sealed surface but then walkers encounter a steep rocky section leading to the  Awaba Lookout. The return portion of the track is much easier being either level or downhill.

  • Supervise children.
45 minutes circuit,
800m.

Grade 2 – 3: Suitable for most ages. A loop or circuit from which to experience more of the network of tracks on Munibung Hill.

20 minutes return,
300m.

Grade 2: Suitable for most ages. The shortest and easiest of all the walks.

  • Supervise children.

 

90 minutes circuit,
2.2km linear with Southern circuit.

Grade 3: Suitable for most ages.

  • Supervise children.

 

90 minutes,
2.8km depending on diversions

Grade 3: Suitable for most ages. The track begins in a grassland section but soon joins with a formed road leading to the top ridge. 

  • Supervise children.

 

1 to 4 hours,
Up to 5km

Grade: 3-4 Suitable for most ages. Depending on the start point the track can vary from grassy areas to steep rocky slopes. Best be prepared for all manner of walking surfaces.

View variety of geological formations, lake valley and creek catchments. Learn about former coal mine site, sulphide works now rehabilitated, reclaimed quarry sites, farm land, regenerated bushland and more. This is a whole-of-hill experience spanning deep time and big history.

  • Supervise children.

 

At a glance: If time is an issue, here are

4 shorter walks to Munibung Hill Lookouts

 

Ocean View Lookout

30-50 minutes return, 800m. one way
Grade 3: Suitable for most ages. The track crosses grassy areas leading to hardened gravel surfaces; from flat to gentle slopes and steeper sections.

  •  Supervise children.

Overview / Getting there

Expansive views across Newcastle and down the lake.

Ideal way to appreciate the place of Munibung Hill within indigenous and local culture.

This is a short walk version of the Kantalong (Spotted Gum) Walk. 

Enter: One of two ways—Access gate next to 65 Lawson Road, Macquarie Hills. This is the quickest.  Or Grasmere Way, Lakelands, which adds about 20 minutes to the total time. Either of these will take walkers to the highest of the four (4) lookouts.

 

Balkira (Mountain) View Lookout

45 minutes return, 900m. one way
Grade 2-3: Suitable for most ages. The track crosses grassy areas leading to hardened gravel surfaces; from flat to gentle slopes and steeper sections.

  • Supervise children.

Overview / Getting there

After a stop over at Grandfather Rock this track climbs a little higher to a lookout with expansive views across the Lake and north to Mt Sugarloaf. This is a good spot for a cuppa or picnic and perhaps a meet up with friends from areas to the east.  This lookout is on the track that is part of the longer Wantalong (Wattle Tree) Track.

Enter: Sixth Street or Seventh Street, Speers Point.

Awaba Lookout

30-50 minutes return, 500m. one way (Before making a decision, see Getting there notes)
Grade 3: Suitable for most ages. The track starts out as a sealed road leading to gravel surfaces; from gentle slopes to rocky steeper sections.

  • Supervise children.

Overview / Getting there

From this vantage point, visitors get a wonderful view over Lake Macquarie, including Speers Point and LMC facilities such as the Museum of Art & Culture and Lake Macquarie Variety Playground. Speers Point Park is the venue for fortnightly Farmers Markets, the annual Living Smart Festival and other events.  To the north-west the view expands to Mt Sugarloaf and beyond.

There are two ways to reach Awaba Lookout.   

Enter: Quarry Road, Speers Point. This is the quickest but most difficult way to get a view of Lake Macquarie from the west. Be aware that the climb up develops into a short sharp pinch with loose gravel.  Take extra care – it can be slippery.

An alternative?

Enter: Farm Street, Speers Point, walk into the bush and veer to the right up the side of Hawkins Creek then turn left onto the south western spur leading out to Lake View Lookout. 

Birabaan Lookout

30-40 minutes return, 800m. one way (Before making a decision, see Getting there notes)
Grade 2-4: Suitable for most ages. The track crosses grassy areas leading to hardened surfaces; from gentle slopes to steeper sections.

  • Supervise children.

Overview / Getting there

For tens of thousands of years this was a valley not a lake. Lake Macquarie only began her life 12,000 years ago, stabilising at the current level 6,000 years ago. This makes her very young when compared with the valley that would be in the order of millions of years old.  This doesn’t detract from the beauty of Lake Macquarie. It draws our attention to how geological time predates human time. And how within an indigenous context the lake may have been initially viewed as an intrusion onto productive country. Their stories would then have been modified to take account of a new reality, to then be expressed in new dance and songlines.

There are two ways to reach Birabaan Lookout.

1. Enter: Farm Street, Speers Point and take a hard right turn behind the houses leading to a pleasant gradual climb to the south end.  This is the longer of the two.

  1. Not recommended.  The shortest and the most difficult. Enter: Access laneway between 71 and 73 Thompson Road, Speers Point. The track is very steep with a few steps at the bottom. Can be slippery, especially on descent. Not recommended for the return walk. Be advised, it’s only for serious bushwalkers.

We only mention the second option because the reality is some people choose this way of getting up onto, or down from, the ridge.

More know before you go guidelines 

Need to know: It is agreed that spending time in nature is important for our wellbeing, but it needs to be done in a way that keeps everyone safe. Here’s what you need to know about visiting public spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic from NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment … A guide to using public spaces during COVID-19

Alert:  The Society suggests that the best way to keep on top of weather alerts is to register with the Early Warning Network.

Respect: There are no designated car parks at the start of tracks, it is therefore important to respect the residents who live in close proximity to these areas.

Watch out: When driving around Munibung Hill at night remember we are sharing the roads with our native wildlife, so take it slow and watch out for animals on the road.

There’s a difference: A track is a walking pathway provided for walkers, whereas a trail, in addition to walkers, also caters for joggers and bicycle riders. No motor bikes or trail bikes are permitted at Munibung Hill at any time.

MTB riders conduct: Some tracks are off-limits to MTB riders. There are good reasons for this – the tracks are very narrow and were not designed or built to cater for anyone other that walkers. Some are shared walkways with MTB riders, who must respect pedestrians—the walking community takes precedence when they cross paths.  Families with young children are regular visitors. The shared walkways are not racetracks—ride at a safe speed and slow down / move aside for pedestrians. 

Track, Time, Grade and other Issues

Track Type – Linear tracks lead to a specific point and return along the same path. Loop tracks have a continuous path where the end point meets the start point. Some walks are a combination of the two.

Time duration – These are estimates only. Times are ‘there-and-back’ unless stated as one-way.

Track Grade – Tracks are graded according to the Australian Walking Track Grading System.

Grade 1: No bushwalking experience required. Flat surface with no steps or steep sections.

Grade 2: No bushwalking experience required. Track surface is hardened or compacted and may have gentle hill sections with some steps.

Grade 3: Suitable for most ages and fitness levels. Some bushwalking experience recommended. Tracks may have short steep hill sections and many steps.

Grade 4: Bushwalking experience recommended. Tracks may be long, rough and very steep.  Directional signage may be limited.

Issues of community concern
..RID (Report Illegal Dumping): NSW-EPA 131 555
..Fires can destroy our unique vegetation and put wildlife and other walkers at risk. Report incidents – Bushfire Information: Call the NSW Rural Fire Service: 1800 679 737
..Pets can thraten or harm wildlife. Leave them at home or ensure they are on a leash. Carry a poo bag and clean up their manure.
..Non-compliance with Public Reserve Notices: Report to Lake Mac Council: Call 4921 0333

Better walking checklist

Wear covered in sturdy shoes or boots, a sun hat, suitable clothing and take some insect protection; Carry a reusable water bottle and some nibbles in reusable containers and carry a bag for left-overs. 

Older walkers might find trekking poles handy; Know your way, walk within your capabilities. Choose walks suitable to your experience and fitness. Study maps and seek advice from experienced bushwalkers or locals about track conditions.  Consider not walking alone—walk with friends.

Carry a first aid kit and prepare to be ‘on the track’ for an hour or two at least; If your mobile phone is charged up take it with you. Limit use of your phone to conserve the battery; Tell someone where you’re going – be sure to advise them of your safe return. 

Do a little Plogging as part of your visit. Plogging is getting into nature and doing some cleaning up of nature as we go. Clean Up Australia has put together The Complete Plogging Guide. Check it out.  Or the Plogging Australia facebook page.

Be flexible in your thinking, by being prepared to turn back or change your plans if the walk is more difficult than expected. For more check out this link to NPWS-NSW bushwalking safety. 

More places and opportunities

Lake Mac Publications – Pick up a paper copy (see guide books at right) from Council at Speers Point or Lake Macquarie Visitor Information Centre, 238 Pacific Highway, Swansea W: www.visitlakemac.com.au  E: tourism@lakemac.nsw.gov.au
or find out more at these links …
Parks, Picnics and Playgrounds – See-and-do/Parks, Picnics
Shared Pathways Guide – Shared Pathways Guide 
Walking and Cycling Trails –
 See-and-do/Walking & Cycling

Sustainable Neighbourhood Groups (SNG) around Munibung Hill
Cardiff Area SNG:  Cardiff Area SNG Facebook page
Warners Bay Area SNG: Warners Bay Area SNG Facebook page 
Sustainable Neighbourhood Alliance:
ReLeaf Lake Mac 

Check the About Us page for more groups associated with Munibung Hill Conservation Society.

Picture (above): Green Point Foreshore Reserve, located between Belmont and Valentine, Lake Macquarie 
Other group contacts

Australian Plant Society – Newcastle District: https://austplants.com.au/Newcastle 
Hunter Bird Observers Club: https://www.hboc.org.au/ 
Hunter Wildlife Rescue:  https://www.hunterwildlife.org.au/ 

Native Animal Emergency Rescue  0418 628 483

Hunter region nature and walking groups

Hunter Area Walkabout Club: http://newcastle-hunterbushwalking.org/
Lake Macquarie Bushwalkers: https://lmbushwalkers.godaddysites.com/ 
Nature and You: https://www.meetup.com/en-AU/Nature-and-You/
 
Newcastle Bushwalks and Getaways: https://www.meetup.com/en-AU/Newcastle-Bushwalks-Getaways/
 
Newcastle Ramblers Bushwalking Club: https://www.newcastleramblers.org.au/ 
Watagan Wanderers Bushwalking Club: http://www.wataganwanderersinc.org.au/

State

Bushwalking NSW: https://www.bushwalkingnsw.org.au/ 
The Bushwalker’s Code of Conduct:  https://www.bushwalkingnsw.org.au/bushwalkers-code/

Resources – a short list

There are many reasons why getting into nature and walking is good for us.  Here is a short list of titles that might be of interest if you need any justification for being a part of, rather than apart from, nature. And why we need to protect open green spaces in our towns and cities, why nature is good for us mentally, physically and spiritually.

Louv, Richard: Last Child in the Woods 
Morgan, Jennifer: The Universe Tells Our Earth Story 
Pouliot, Alison: The Allure of Fungi 
Sampson, Scott: How to Raise a Wild Child 
Schofield, Jo & Danks, Fiona: The Stick Book 
The Deep Time Walk – mobile app. 
Wohlleben, Peter: Can You Here The Trees Talking?  and The Secret Network of Nature 
Wild, Alicia et al: The Forest in the Tree
Worroll, Jane & Houghton, Peter: Play the Forest School Way

More reasons for getting out and about

Awabakal book writing project: Where’s Our Water, by Aboriginal Students at Newcastle High School – read the e-book version at the link
Green Magazine press: Walkers Journal
O’Mara, Shane: In Praise of Walking  (Guardian review here)
The Conversation: Green Prescriptions, a healthy, easily accessible, freely available means of keeping well.

Acknowledgements

Editor’s note from Stuart Carter, President, Munibung Hill Conservation Society (MHCS). The Society operates on the basis of collaboration. Here are some of the collaborators who have contributed to the content of the 12 Great Walks at Munibung Hill.

Lachlan Carney at Jezweb has been the builder and fixer of all things technical. There’s nothing Lachlan can’t sort out. We are very fortunate to have Jeremy Dawes and the Jezweb team looking after the MHCS internet side of our activities. It is no exaggeration to say we’d be floundering without them.

Thanks to David Bretreger for hours devoted to producing the maps for each of the walks. Also thanks to Belinda, Bob, Craig, Fergus, Greg, Heather, Liam, Marcus, Stephen, Wendy and others who have contributed to the content. 

The general idea for the walks page has come from Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service. If ever you should take the trip to Tassie, we commend the 60 Great Short Walks in Tasmania to anyone looking to get an appreciation of this amazing part of Australia and the world. It is not an overstatement to say that Tassie is as good as it gets.

Suggestions for improving the site are welcome.

Munibung Hill Conservation Society acknowledges the Awabakal Aboriginal people and their relationship and connection to the land, sea and community where Munibung Hill is situated.
We acknowledge and pay respect to Elders – past, present and emerging.