Muogamarra Nature Reserve, just north of Cowan, is open to the public for just six weeks a year to help protect its Aboriginal heritage and fragile ecosystem. And, due to the pandemic, it hasn’t opened since 2019. But now it’s set to welcome visitors again, from August 13 to September 18, just in time for its many rare wildflowers to come into bloom.

The 2500-hectare reserve is home to more than 900 native plant species, and its walking tracks have spectacular views of the Hawkesbury River and Berowra Creek, and Bar, Milson and Spectacle islands. Visitors will also spot Aboriginal rock engravings, colonial artefacts, convict-built roads and lush rainforest. A host of wildlife, including black cockatoos, New Holland honeyeaters, echidnas and wedge-tail eagles, call the reserve home.

There are four guided walks and one self-guided walk (which is only available on Sundays). The 3.5-kilometre Muogamarra Bird Gully Walk edges around a hanging swamp, past a waterfall and the remains of a sand-mining quarry that was used to create the Old Pacific Highway.

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On the 3-kilometre Muogamarra Highlights Walk you’ll spot colourful wildflowers and a monument to JD Tipper, who was instrumental in conserving the area. For a slightly tougher trek, opt for the 6.6-kilometre Muogamarra Lloyd Trig and Deerubbin Loop Walk, which will take you along the historic Peats Ferry Road, past an Aboriginal rock engraving of a whale, then to a lookout 180 metres above sea level. And the 10-kilometre, full-day Muogamarra Peats Bight Walk takes participants along a historic road built by bonded convicts, past the Peats Bight Guest House, early wharves and retaining walls, as well as natural features including volcanic pipes filled with solidified magma. And if you want to go your own way, you’ll be given a self-guided tour map and sent on your way.

Tour prices range from $15–$55, and bookings are essential – only 140 people can visit each day.