Let’s go chasing waterfalls: Bush Playgroup Week One

Hasn’t this heat being something? Thank goodness for waterfall adventures and cool, shady caves, right? Yep, we’ve found the perfect location for this term’s Bush Playgroup: The Horseshoe Falls Reserve in Hazelbrook, which has waterfalls and two caves!

And so our first gathering for the year was spent escaping the heat (after a hot, sweaty walk!) by splashing about in the shallow pool below Oakland Falls and sitting in the nourishing shade of the cave that nestles in behind the falls.

After a team building game involving questions about gold fish, kookaburra and mud (!) and a chat about bushwalking safety from Andrea, we set off to explore the trail. The track begins on Oakland Road and meanders along easy trails, boardwalks and stone stairs for about 1.2 km. The younger children in our group found the stone stairs quite challenging to navigate, but they were such troopers – especially given it was quite a hot day!

Oakland Falls is one of three waterfalls along the Horseshoe Falls track in Hazelbrook (Blue Mountains), along with Horseshoe Falls and Burgess Falls. Horseshoe Falls, however, is the first waterfall along the trail, and – as I’m sure you can guess – is in the shape of a giant horseshoe. It also has a cave behind the falls.

And we discovered fairies live here! It’s true. We spied some cute painted fairy doors under some of the trees at the start of the entrance to the falls (We suspect the local Steiner school kids might be friends with these fairies!). The trail then leads to Oakland Falls a few hundred metres along (we didn’t go to the Burgess Falls this time) where we played before returning back to the picnic area for some delicious fruit platters and a story about a shy yabby.

Many of us searched quietly for the yabby, which Andrea has seen so many times in the creek near the picnic area… No sightings this week though.

We did spy some lizards though and found some red mountain devil flowers. We also discovered the spikiness of the lomandra grass seeds and leaves and noticed how lots of other seeds from different plants are already burst open. We also noticed lots of crunchy bark under foot, which means the gum trees are shedding their bark. Some kids spied a few Fungi growing under logs during our walk too.

Over the next seven weeks, we’ll be returning to this reserve – rain, hail and shine – to explore the trails, enjoy lots of free play, make nature art/craft, listen to stories, play nature connection games, and learn some bushcraft. Coming into Autumn will be perfect for children to find loads of Fungi within the rainforest gullys. And we’re also curious to see how much the waterfalls change throughout the term depending on rainfall (or lack thereof!).

A big welcome back to the families who have adventured with Wild Ground before and welcome to those who are joining us for the first time! We’re looking forward to splashing in muddy puddles and playing out bush with you!

Want to know more about Bush Playgroup? Check it out here

— Dan

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