The group gathers at the end of a quiet suburban street in Cherrybrook, bordered by houses on one side and bushland on the other.
The first task of guide Stephanie Chew is to spray the soles of their shoes with methylated spirits to prevent the transfer of soil-borne diseases, then they set off into Berowra Valley National Park.
There’s a mixed group enjoying the free bushwalk provided by Hornsby Council, ranging in age from mid-20s to early 60s.
Some are experienced bushwalkers, while others have never stepped off the beaten track.
It’s amazing how quickly the houses disappear from view and the traffic sounds fade until nothing can be heard but the hum of insects and the call of birds.
It’s not a difficult walk and the pace is sedate, particularly given the many stops to admire scribbly gums and other plant life.
The target is Refuge Rock, a vast rocky outcrop that is so named because it’s a point of refuge for firefighters if a fire gets out of control.
The group reaches it in less than an hour, where they admire the views over the valley while enjoying morning tea.
Among the group is Berowra’s Richard Keizer, who has done many similar walks.
“This has been very interesting, we’ve seen something we wouldn’t have,” he said.
“I’d definitely recommend it to anybody who wants to see more of the amazing bushland we’re surrounded by.”
They’re sentiments echoed by GK Teo from Normanhurst.
“The best part is having the free guide who can answer questions, which makes it better than if we were on our own,” he said.
“We’ve already lined up the next walk, along the Kurrajong Track.”
It’s not all about nature, there are also fascinating historical elements such as the craters that show where the rock was once used by the army for target practice when firing mortars.
Stephanie is having such a good time that if it weren’t for her council shirt you would never guess she was there working.
“I love the bush and I love working in the bush,” she said.
“I love taking these people out and showing them places they’ve never been before.
“I hope I can open their eyes to how special the bush is, helping to foster respect and appreciation for it.”
When one of the walkers finds a potentially dangerous tick she seizes the opportunity to teach them how to identify it and kill it.
“These walks are for anyone who is interested in bushwalking but not confident enough to do it on their own,” she said.
“Then again, we get plenty of people along who have done a lot of walks and want to discover new places.
“Really, it’s just for anybody who loves the bush.”
Visit hornsby.nsw.gov.au/bushwalks to find out more about them and make a booking.