Exploring Windsor Downs Nature Reserve

Hakea trailIf you are looking for a bushwalk that is close to Richmond or Windsor you may be scratching your head for ideas.  But within 15 minutes drive of each town centre you'll be able to find an easy bushwalk through Windsor Downs Nature Reserve.

This bushwalk is ideal as a family walk and although there are no dramatic views or features it's a great walk to stretch your legs, look for eastern grey kangaroos  and enjoy the bush.  And coming up to spring the wildflowers and birdlife will start to feature more.

Also as it's flat and all on well maintained firetrails we can recommend doing this circuit walk as a mountain bike ride as well.

And even though this is not a National Park but a Nature Reserve  no dogs are allowed.

SignsMany locals know that Windsor Downs Nature Reserve exists but don't really know much else.

Driving east along the Blacktown/Richmond Road many people would be aware of a vast eucalypt forest and bushland to the north but probably have  taken little notice of it.  This 364 hectare Nature Reserve is in fact is one of the best preserved examples of Cumberland woodland left in the Sydney basin.  It protects a number of endangered bird and plant communities such as the broad-leafed ironbark, grey box, scribbly gum, narrow-leafed angophora, pea flowers and a species of geebung.

Water tankAnother significant aspect of Windsor Downs Nature Reserve is it's importance to the local Aboriginal Dharug people. There are known aboriginal campsites scattered through the reserve and a number of stone tools have been found.  

The land was occupied by the Riverstone Meatworks for over 100 years, during which time it was cleared and used for grazing cattle. Many of the structures from this period, including the old raised water tower (pictured here) and concrete water troughs are still there and you will pass by them on your bushwalk.

In the late 1980s, just before their closure, the Meatworks sold the land to New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife, who opened the reserve as a state park in 1990.

Lets Get to the Point

Duration: allow 2-3 hours

Length of walk: 8km circuit return

Difficulty: Easy

Access: Turn off the Richmond Road into Sanctuary Drive at Windsor Downs. Follow Sanctuary Drive through the first roundabout and after 100metres leave your car near the signposted National Parks trail on the left. At the end of the walk you’ll have a 1.3km road walk back along Sanctuary Drive.

  1. Head behind the barrier following the flat trail through tall trees.  Ignore any minor foottrails intersecting the trail.
  2. After 2km you’ll get to a clearing which has a historic elevated water tank on your right.  There is a dam behind the tank.
  3. Head straight and reach an intersection.  Look for a line of historic concrete cattle troughs – from a distance they look like road barriers. An obvious unmarked trail starts near the last trough on the right.  This is the Surprise Trail but has no signpost.
  4. The trail winds its way in a northerly direction – again ignore any minor tracks.
  5. Reach a t-junction with a signpost.  Turn right onto the North Boundary Trail and follow this for about 20 minutes.  You’ll see houses in the distance.
  6. Reach another t-junction just after crossing a shallow creek.  Turn right onto the Uncles Trail.
  7. Follow the trail (ignoring the Dip Trail sign) until you get to the signposted Hakea Trail.  Follow this trail taking note of the elevated water tank again.  The Hakea Trail goes for 1.5km eventually passing through a barrier.
  8. Turn right into Sanctuary Drive and follow the road back to your car

For a useful map that shows the walk click here.

This walk features in our Best Bushwalks Around the Hawkesbury Volume 2 (RRP $6). If you like this walk why not purchase the book which details another 10 local walks.  During the current lockdown you can purchase by emailing  discover@hawkesbury.nsw.gov.au  and provide us with your name and contact number.  A member of staff will contact you within a few days to take payment and postage details.