Where in the world can you find a wobbly swing bridge and an old Weet-Bix factory? You might be surprised to learn that you can see both at Cooranbong in western Lake Macquarie while walking along the banks of peaceful Dora Creek. The Sandy Creek Track takes in beautiful views of the creek and offers kids an opportunity to immerse themselves in nature.
Tucked away in the backstreets of suburban Cooranbong, the swing bridge is a little hard to find, unless you know where to look for it. The easiest point of access is via the end of the cul-de-sac in Victory Street, Cooranbong. We parked on the road and then walked down a concrete driveway between number 19 and 29.
The swing bridge is a beautiful structure, and was originally built across Dora Creek in 1934 to provide access for workers at the Sanitarium factory.
Before the bridge was built, workers had to swim or row across the creek. The factory is now closed, but the bridge is still used by students of Avondale College (which is located next to the old factory) and the general public.
Prepare yourself for a wobble as you cross the bridge – my kids relished a bit of a bounce along the way. You can stop in the middle to take in the peaceful views of Dora Creek.
Low barriers along either side of the bridge contain the small folk, but do keep an eye on them as they cross, to make sure they don’t climb up.
At the other side of the bridge is quite a large picnic area with a picnic table and plenty of space to run around or kick a ball. This is a really lovely spot, worth stopping at for some morning tea. From here, you can see the old tree-lined private road to the Sanitarium factory, and the buildings of Avondale College.
If you follow the track along the banks of Dora Creek, you will soon come to the start of the Sandy Creek Walk.
The track is about 3km long (return), and is nice and flat – suitable for a sturdy pram if the conditions are dry.
When we visited, the path was muddy in parts after heavy rain, so gumboots were a good idea.
The views from the path were really delightful. We walked past a couple of fenced off paddocks with some cows in the distance, and fields covered in purple flowers.
Part of the track goes through woodland, and there are several access points to the creek where you can peer into the water or skim stones.
The area was teeming with cicadas when we visited, and the kids found some very interesting specimens – one that was almost translucent (perhaps very recently emerged from the ground) and one that was enormous, with colourful patterns.
This was a great experience for the kids and triggered some interesting conversations about the cicada life cycle. We were also lucky to see several big water dragons along the way.
The track continues for about 1.5km and ends at Avondale College. The fastest way back is to walk around the edge of the college, across the sporting fields. There is an access way along the fence which brings you back to the swing bridge. If you are keen to walk back the way you came, keep your eyes peeled for faces carved into the trees. We heard about this after we visited, but plan to go back and look for them next time.
We really enjoyed this walk because it was so accessible for the kids and a lovely quiet spot to explore. The swing bridge was a novelty for everyone and offers an interesting slice of our local history. If you would like to know more about the history of the site, read the Lake Macquarie City Library article.
Good to know
Distance: About 3km return.
Getting There: Park in Victory Street, Cooranbong. The easiest point of access is via the end of the cul-de-sac in Victory Street, Cooranbong. Park on the road and then walk down a concrete driveway between number 19 and 29.
Bring: Bring morning tea, drinks, sunscreen, insect repellent, hats, gumboots if the weather has been wet.
Amenities: There are no toilets or bubblers along the track. If you are driving from Newcastle, you could stop at Dora Creek or Morriset and use the public toilets before you arrive. There is also a new playground at the Bernie Goodwin Memorial Park in Morriset if you want to visit before or afterwards and make a day of it.
Alex moved to Newcastle with her family in 1998 and has called Newcastle home ever since. Alex is a mum to two busy boys who keep her on her toes. She has worn a few different hats over the years but is currently working part-time as a practice manager for an engineering consultancy. Alex loves travel, indoor plants and exploring rockpools at the beach with the kids.