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In search of the Gosford hieroglyphs

It’s a fact that the NSW Central Coast has some spectacular scenic sites, both natural and man made, and one of the most controversial of these is the Gosford hieroglyphs, ancient Egyptian symbols carved into the rocks at Kariong in the Brisbane Waters National Park 10 mins out of Gosford.

The carvings were discovered in the 1970’s and have, over the past 40 years, been visited by locals, tourists, archeologists, egyptologists and sceptics. They have been photographed and studied many times and there are even translations available if you want to know what it says.

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Whether you accept these carvings as authentic and subscribe to the idea that Egyptian explorers visited this country 4000 years ago or you prefer to believe they are the scratchings of a person with an interest in ancient writings and too much time on their hands, the site provides a pleasant, easy walk through the bush with a fun prize at the end.

Gosford hieroglyphs – only a short walk from the road

There are two or three tracks that lead in to the Gosford hieroglyphs site, the easiest of which is along Bambara Road, a service trail leading from Woy Woy road into the National Park. The trail is a flat 1 Km walk before you take a turn onto a less defined walking trail to the left.

After about 600 meters you pass The Grandmother Tree, a 400 year old Grey Gum that sits in a clearing to one side. It is a traditional custom to give the grandmother tree a hug when you pass by. This actually is quite a pleasant experience. There is a sense of solidity in the old gum tree which is strangely comforting.

The carvings themselves are a little difficult to find the first time as they’re in a gap between two large rocks and not visible from the trail. This could explain why they weren’t discovered for thousands of years. Fortunately in this age of technology Google maps will lead you straight to them with dozens of photographs to help you orient yourself.

The two rock walls face each other with about a 2 meter gap separating them. To access the space you can either scramble through a small gap at the bottom of the mound, which may be OK for the kids, or climb down from the top. Either way be careful as there are no steps or railings to help.

Once inside you are presented with a tapestry of Egyptian hieroglyphs carved into both sides of the space. Most recognisable is Anubis, protector of the dead which is appropriate because, as the translations read, the site is the resting place for an Egyptian prince who, while walking in the bush, was bitten by a snake and died.

The entrance to the cramped cave in which his body was laid to rest has since been blocked with large boulders to prevent visitors disturbing him and looting his riches or maybe National Parks authorities just don’t want you to get stuck. Either way you just have to believe he’s in there and be respectful.

All in all this is a pleasant short walk in the National Park and well worth a visit. The tracks to the Gosford hieroglyphs are well maintained and clearly defined. There’s no bush bashing required and there and back will take a little over an hour depending how long you stay to examine the engravings.

Kids especially will enjoy the carvings but be warned, there may be snakes about!

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