Now first up, North Rocks Dam isn’t actually a dam. But rather a flood retarding basin/ wall. So it stops water from flooding Darling Mills Creek and surrounding homes downstream rather than holding water up behind it (like at Lake Parramatta). But that technicality doesn’t stop it from being impressive… and let’s face it, North Rocks Dam sounds a lot nicer!
Until a local mum mentioned there was a local dam, I had no idea such a thing existed in the middle of Bidjigal Reserve. That was back in 2017 and we’ve been a good number of times a year ever since…. yes we really like this bushwalk! The photos in this article are a mix of our different visits over the years.
Keep in mind, you’ll see more or less water around the wall depending on when you go.
Here’s a YouTube clip of North Rocks Dam during a big storm and lots of rain. So this isn’t a good walk to do after heavy rain with young kids (unless you just go to one of the viewing upper platforms)! There are detours in place to get around the retarding wall when there’s this much water flowing through.
Finding North Rocks Dam
North Rocks Dam lies along the Murri-Yanna Track in Bidjigal Reserve, roughly between Loyalty Road in North Rocks and Windsor Road in Northmead. The flooding retarding basin actually sits on the North Rocks/ Northmead boundary and is sometimes referred to as the Northmead Dam.
Here’s a Google Map of the key starting points to walk to the North Rocks Dam.
Bushwalks to North Rocks Dam
We really like the different walks to North Rocks Dam – all are interesting, family friendly walks, suitable to different ages and abilities. The bush is gorgeous and you feel a million miles from the city.
There are a number of different walks/ entrances to get to North Rocks Dam. Here are the six main ones:
- Loyalty Road in North Rocks (~350m one)
- Riffle Range Stairs (~500m to bottom of wall and ~250 to west viewing platform)
- Winton Ave Reserve/ Ventura Road in Northmead (~650m one way)
- Hazel Ryan Oval in North Rocks (~2km one way)
- Ted Horwood Reserve in Baulkham Hills (~1.8km one way)
- Echidna Loop Track – Pye Ave Reserve in Northmead (~2km to dam, 4.3km loop)
Keep in mind that 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.
1Loyalty Road in North Rocks
The most direct entry point to North Rocks Dam is from the end of Loyalty Road (next to building 22) in North Rocks. There’s limited street parking in the cul-de-sac but other street parking nearby.
You walk down a hill towards the Darling Mills Creek, which is only about 350m away. This path is sealed but rather steep. So doable with a pram but it’s a hard push back up!
On your way down, keep an eye out for a path on your right hand side. This will take you to the top viewing platform.
2Winton Ave Reserve/ Ventura Road in Northmead
For a much flatter walk to the flood retarding wall, we recommend starting from the end of Ventura Road in Northmead. And there’s even a small playground nearby at Winton Avenue Reserve, and street parking on Ventura Road.
This walk is about 600m on a flat, wide trail. There’s just a short, steep sealed road at the beginning. It’s doable with a pram but will be a bit bumpy and a hard push back up the hill.
On this walk, you reach the back of North Rocks Dam. If the water level is low, you can walk through the tunnel and then up the stairs to the lower viewing platform. You can then follow the fire trail to the upper viewing platform.
If the tunnel has water over the path, then you’ll need to go back to the wooden bridge to take the detour to get to the viewing platform and the other side of North Rocks Dam.
For a longer walk to North Rocks Dam, through lush (overgrown) bushland and interesting rock formations, then start from Hazel Ryan Oval.
It’s about a 2km walk, one way to the dam. You start on the wide fire trail from near the carpark, and then the path goes to single file.
At Hazel Ryan Oval (end of Whitbread Place), is a fun small playground for little ones. Plus a sports field and on-site parking. There are toilets, but they are only usually open when there’s a sports game on.
The walk from Ted Horwood Reserve in Baulkham Hills, to the north of North Rocks Dam, is slightly shorter than the one from Hazel Ryan Oval. But there’s a long, steep set of rock stairs to get down, and back up again of course.
Once at the bottom of the stairs, it’s a flat walk along a fire trail to the North Rocks Dam. You’ll pass under the M2 and then connect up with the walk in from Ventura Road.
Back at Ted Horwood Reserve, there’s a fenced playground, toilets, sports fields, bubbler and on-site parking.
5Echidna Loop Track – Pye Avenue Reserve, Northmead
For a longer, more adventurous bushwalk to North Rocks Dam, do the Echidna Loop Track. It starts from Pye Avenue Reserve in Northmead and goes for about 4.5kms and includes the (little visited) western viewing platform.
It feels like a jungle through the beginning and end sections of this walk. And while fairly overgrown, it’s still easy enough to follow the path, even if it feels like you are bush bashing some of the time! There’s a few sets of stairs and rocks to climb up and down, plus the path is uneven. I reckon it’s more for kids 7yrs+.
The Echidna Loop Track starts at the bottom of Pye Avenue Reserve, behind the playground (which is more suited to little ones) where you’ll see the Council sign/ map. But after this, the track isn’t signposted at all at the moment – though there’s nearly installed posts to put signs on. So it’s best to download the map/ take a photo so you can check you go the right way at decision points on the track.
At North Rocks Dam
Eastern Viewing Platform
The eastern viewing platform can be accessed from the track to/ from Loyalty Road. It can though be easy to miss the path as it’s not sign posted. If going down the hill from Loyalty Road, it’s on the right hand side. And if coming up the hill, its on the left hand side. Just look for a clearing of vegetation about mid way along.
You really get a feel for the size of this thing from this vantage point. My boys LOVE running up and down and hearing echoes. Plus standing up on the railing looking down.
Continuing down the sealed road, there’s a second smaller viewing platform, where you can see the tunnel.
Bottom of North Rocks Dam
Next to the lower viewing platform are stairs going down to the creek and the bottom of North Rocks Dam. This area can only be accessed when the water level is low. On most of our visits, the water level has been low and contained within the mesh covered channel.
We normally spend a fair amount of time at the bottom of the dam. Our boys love splashing sticks in the creek, dropping leaves down the grate to watch them flood out and playing on the rocks. Plus running into the tunnel.
There’s a large amount of graffiti on the walls, despite (or in spite of) the sign saying no graffiti. I really think this would be the perfect spot for a graffiti art competition and it would make for more ‘attractive’ graffiti. Unfortunately there’s usually empty spray cans and other rubbish at the bottom and it’s easy to walk out with a large bag of rubbish.
Other Side of North Rocks Dam
The most direct way to reach the other side of North Rocks dam is to walk through the tunnel. This can obviously only be done when water levels are low and not after heavy rain.
The view of the flood retarding basin is impressive from the other side as well.
Western Viewing Platform
We’ve only recently started visiting the western viewing platform after years of spotting it from the eastern viewing platform. It’s reached by going up the side path after the wooden bridge (when heading north) and taking the Rifle Range Stairs.
Detour – Alternative Route When Tunnel is Flooded
There are times when it’s not possible to walk through the tunnel to get to the other side of the wall. This is mainly after heavy rain and you should not enter the tunnel when there is water covering the path.
The detour around the tunnel starts at the wooden bridge crossing the creek, on the north side of the wall, and goes up to the upper viewing platform.
If you are on the northside of the wall, cross the bridge and follow the path around to the left and up the hill. There are some steps and it’s steep (so not pram or bike friendly) to get up to the top.
Once there, the path continues onto another small lookout spot which is nice for lunch.
And then if you keep going you’ll reach the upper viewing platform and the sealed track that will take you up to Loyalty Road (left) or down to the lower viewing platform (right).
It’s hard to find the detour from the upper viewing platform, unless you’ve already come along the detour, as it’s not signposted. You basically walk up the boulders to the right/ north side of the viewing platform. Keep heading north and you’ll find the path. You then cross a little wooden bridge, go down stairs and around to the larger wooden bridge. This takes you to the fire trail on the north side of the wall, where you can continue along the path either to the wall or up to Ventura Road, Ted Horwood Reserve or all the way to Eric Mobbs Reserve.