There are three official walking tracks that end up at the very little that remains of the former Sherwood Homestead, about 45 kilometres from Canberra. The walks vary between 6.8 kms (this one) and 8.4 kms return. I have written a seperate reviews on the walk in from Mountain Creek Road and the walk in from the Blue Range Hut which, in itself, is of historical significance to the Canberra region and is now home to a camping site, making it the most popular starting point to get to Sherwood Homestead.

In this review I have included parts of, and a few pictures from, my the Blue Range Hut access review, related to the homestead.

Today, the primary reason for visiting the former homestead was to enjoy the daffodils which bloom here each spring as they have since the 1860s. On today’s late winter/early spring walk they were in bloom, unlike when I walked in from the Blue Range Hut. Accordingly I have included quite a few pictures of them here.

Anyway I have got ahead of myself.

The access point for this walk is a little tricky to find. Driving south along Brindabella Road from its intersection with the Uriarra Road you turn right, after about 2.1km, into the (gravel) East West Road (there is a very small sign) and continue for about 400metres until you come across a gravel track, again on your right.  While I parked in a small clearing on the right having entered the track, I could have carried on for a couple of hundred metres to a slightly larger parking area by the gate depicted below. 

Getting to the track head from the intersection of Uriarra and Brindabella Rds.
The track to Sherwood Homestead from entry gate. Note – allow 50 minutes to an hour each way.

Having passed through the gate there is a post with a small blue triangle pointing towards Sherwood Homestead.

The official start of the walk on a frosty and foggy morning.

There are two more of these signs en-route so I suggest you use some form of offline mapping application or device to keep you on track as there are a few sidetracks which you could inadvertently take. Mobile reception is patchy along the track with no reception at the former homestead.

When I started my walk, at 8.30am, there was a fairly dense fog and the temperature was about -2C. While the fog precluded views across the Murrumbidgee River towards Canberra, on the way in, it made for a nice atmospheric walk and I knew (hoped) it would dissipate fairly quickly and the temperature would rise.

Eucalyptus trees shrouded in early morning fog.
Kangaroos in the fog. As when I last walked in this area the kangaroos seem to be uncharacteristically shy and unaccommodating to photographers. While I saw quite a few along the walk they were too far away for decent photos.

The track in to the homestead a fairly gentle decline most of the way, meaning a fairly gentle incline on the way out. In addition to being a little shorter that the walk in from Blue Range Hut it is also somewhat easier (not that the latter is difficult). 

The fog soon starts to dissipate.

The majority of the walk is through or along relatively new pine forest though not so dense as to preclude some lovely views of the surrounding landscape (once the fog cleared). I say relatively new as the pines were planted at some time after 2003 when a major bush fire ripped through this area destroying everything in its path. In addition to being a source of timber, the pines help combat erosion and thus improve the quality of water flowing into the Cotter Dam, one of Canberra’s main water sources.

Pine forests along the track.

At around the halfway point I could hear a loudly gurgling stream and was very pleased to see water in this stream as depicted, in addition to various other small streams along the way.

A stream with water !!!!!!!!

While this may not sound that exciting for my non-Australian reader, rest assured Australians get very excited to see water away from the coast, major rivers and reservoirs these days. I should add that in this particular area many once flowing streams are also now dry as water has been diverted to the nearby Cotter reservoir.

Coming out from the forest area after the fog has dissipated.

About 500 metres from the former homestead the track merged with the one from Blue Range Hut and opened out into a small valley like area affording me sweeping views and a gentle, level walk to the site of the former Sherwood Homestead.

A few minutes later I arrived at the former homestead site, first settled by immigrants from England, Henry and Eliza Phillips in 1863.

Site of the former Sherwood Homestead

Today nothing of the homestead remains, above ground, apart from a few stones from a chimney which have been assembled into a pile at the former chimney location.

Remaining stones from the former Sherwood Homestead – 2019

The Phillips raised four children here in a seven room house and on a small farm which allowed the family to be self sufficient in terms of meat, eggs, dairy produce, fruit and vegetables. Henry was a sawyer, bookkeeper, teacher and the postmaster at the nearby Uriarra village until 1903.

Reading his obituary in the Queanbeyan Observer (13 January, 1913) I have learned that:-

“Mr Phillips was a gentleman of superior intellect and of wide and varied information…He was one of nature’s gentlemen of a decidedly religious turn of mind and lived in profound respect of all who had the pleasure of his acquaintance….”

The centre piece of the now over-grown garden is a massive and really gorgeous looking oak tree. Like me, you will have to imagine it in its autumn foliage.

Winter 2019 picture

Eliza Phillips named the property ‘Sherwood’ after the forest made famous by Robin Hood which was close to her birthplace. The story goes that Eliza planted an acorn from Sherwood Forest at her new home though it is unlikely that the large oak here today is from that acorn. A descendent perhaps?

In addition to the oak there remains a selection elms, cedars, cherry trees, apples, walnuts and raspberry bushes. Given the lack of foliage I was unable to tell one from the other. Besides, today I had come to see daffodils.

Daffodils at the base of the old oak tree.

To create an English garden in the middle of the harsh, dry Australian bush in addition to planting the non-native trees mentioned the Phillips planted daffodils, including the ‘fluffy’ Rip Van Winkle variety, which resembles a dahlia.

Rip Van Winkle Daffodils at the former Sherwood Homestead

These daffodils, or more correctly their descendants, still bloom every spring, providing a living reminder of those early days of the region’s pioneers.

In admiring the daffodils I noticed that the creek that would have provided the family with water, completely dry on my last visit, was this time flowing fast.

Having admired the daffodils and enjoyed a mid-morning snack I crossed the track I had come in on and headed in the direction of Roper’s Hill – up a slight incline for a distance of about 150 metres from the track. Here I easily located, surrounded by a wooden rail, the small graveyard where Henry, Eliza and their infant son, Henry are buried. Their other off-spring left the property which was sold to Uriarra Station in 1926 which, in turn, owned it until 1977 when the ACT Forests Department resumed the lease.

A large oak tree, now cut down with only its stump remaining, marks the graves’ location. In more recent times a small brass plaque has been added. When I visited in 2019 a new oak tree had been planted in front of the old stump. Sadly, by 2020, this had died or been vandalised.

Burial site at Sherwood Homestead

The positioning of the graves at the top of this small hill would have been a deliberate attempt to ensure they were not damaged in the event that the creek by the homestead flooded.

Burying people on their properties was a fairly common occurrence in the 1800s and the early 1900s, until the enactment of legislation requiring the use of public or church graveyards for burials. I have come across quite a few of these private burial sites in the Canberra area. Ones I have written about in this blog include the burial site of Elizabeth Westerman and her unnamed infant brother at Westerman’s Homestead in Namadgi National Park and the much grander De Salis (or Cuppacumbalong) Family Cemetery at Thawa Village, to the south of Canberra.

Returning to my car, and passing a group of about 20 people coming in for a visit, I was able to enjoy views denied to me by the fog on the way in, which had now completely dissipated to reveal yet another beautiful late winter Canberra day.

View across to Canberra, or rather Black Mountain, readily identifiable with its distinctive Telstra Tower.
Looking out to Cotter Reserve, Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and Namadgi National Park in the distance but equally importantly for me green grass in the foreground – sadly not a common sight around Canberra these days.

And to finish some more late winter flora on display.


For my next CANBERRA – WESTON CREEK AND THE WESTERN ACT review click HERE.
For other CANBERRA reviews click HERE.


27 thoughts on “Sherwood Homestead (Former) Walk Via East-West Road

  1. I did this walkthrough east-west road today after reading your blog. The walk was pretty straight forward despite having only two marker posts. I know the marker posts indicate that we can not camp overnight near Sherwood Homestead but are we allowed to camp anywhere else in Sherwood forest (off the trail)? I saw many beautiful spots which are really ideal spots for camping overnight with a small hiking tent.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am pleased my post inspired you to take this walk. There is an official campsite (paid) in the forest – https://www.environment.act.gov.au/parks-conservation/parks-and-reserves/find-a-park/murrumbidgee-river-corridor/blue-range-hut. Officially that is the only place you can camp. About 50% of the time I have visited I have seen rangers somewhere and you could also come across forestry staff. I agree there are some places that would make a good sleepover but would not be game to stay around the Homestead area itself.

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    1. Thank you Alice, we are fortunate to have some great walks within a short distance of the city centre though this one, while only maybe 15km as crow flies is 45km or so by road as there are only a couple of bridges across a river… and you need to check if the crossing are open after rain. Even though I have seen tons of kangaroos in my 30 years in Australia I still love them.

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  2. Such a lovely walk Albert! Those Eucalyptus trees and the kangaroos in the fog are so exotic to me! Fascinating to see! Although I do know fog 😉 And as a non-Australian reader, we do get plenty of water here (too much at times, like this weekend), but I can understand your excitement to see water when there is so much drought. I always love seeing daffodils; they are such a wonderful sign of spring with their bright cheerful yellow colour. I have a some Rip van Winkles in my own garden here 🙂

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    1. It was indeed a lovely walk. Hmmm I guess the answer to your question is Yes, especially if you lack a sense of direction and have no experience in bush walking. I always recommend that people carry a phone with offline maps so you can see where you are (phone signal is patchy at best in most parks and the Aussie bush). Some might think I am too cautious but these things are normally free and easy to find so for peace of mind why not? Also having maps gives you the opportunity to leave tracks (where allowed) if you so desire without worrying about getting lost. For lots of these walks it is relatively easy to find downloadable gpx.kmx/l tracks as well. Funny I followed one such gpx track yesterday and the guy who prepared it took a couple of shortcuts that I would not otherwise have taken given my lesser level of fitness – the short cuts probably cost me in time. I have used many of his tracks before and should have known lol.

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  3. Once I’d got my head around the idea of daffodils in August I enjoyed my little walk with you. Loved the atmospheric foggy photos and the later sunnier views. It’s nice to think that something of the Phillips’ presence here remains in the form of their garden flowers and quite possibly their oak tree.

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    1. You know Sarah, I have not lived in the Northern Hemisphere for over 30 years and I still think of spring in March etc ….and Christmas in 40 degrees C still does not sit right with me. I really loved how I had so many climatic changes in just a few hours that morning , from frost to fog to glorious sunshine … it added so much to the walk.

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  4. Daffs are always so cheerful, Albert, especially when the trees are bare. I love the distant views to the mountains through that vale of mist. Thank you very much for the walk. Now I’d better get on and write mine 🙂 🙂

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  5. Quite a lovely place for walking, exploring and enjoying nature, Albert. Your accompanying photos make me wish the summer wasn’t almost over here, but I do love the fall and spring too.

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