The Great North Walk (GNW) is a 260 km hiking track between Sydney and Newcastle, on the east coast of New South Wales. Beginning at Macquarie Place in the centre of Sydney, the route ducks inland to trace a thin green corridor between the two coastal cities before returning to the sea just south of Newcastle.
In 2011, my parents and I hiked a four-day section of the track from Hornsby to Wondabyne. It seems a while ago now. It was a quiet track, loping its way gently along the riversides; I think we had each campsite to ourselves. I remember how beautiful the angophoras were, with their chalky red bark and brilliant green leaves. I remember lighting a campfire on the gritty flats below Mt Wondabyne, where the stars seem to glow as you look north, deep into the National Park. Since then, I’ve always wanted to explore the bush north of Wondabyne. Now I have my chance!
The GNW begins with an early morning ferry ride from Circular Quay to Woolwich. From Woolwich, a short stint along suburban roads leads you to foot tracks along the Parramatta River, which you follow north-west up all the way to Thornleigh. From Thornleigh the track turns sharply north-east along Berowra Creek through Galston Gorge and Berowra Waters, towards the beautiful bush of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. At Brooklyn Dam, on the Hawkesbury River, the official route requires taking a private water taxi across to Patonga; the old ferry route was cancelled a few years ago. Being young and poor, I’m opting for a ferry to Little Wobby instead, where a lesser-known walking track should take me up into Brisbane Water National Park via Tank Creek, before heading towards Mt Wondabyne, and back onto the main route. From Wondabyne, the route snakes gently onwards along the Mooney-Mooney River, heads through the towns of Somersby and Yarramalong, then heads via Cedar Brush Creek into the Watagans. Near Congewai, the route makes a second sharp turn, back east towards the coast. The suburb of Teralba, on Lake Macquarie, should be my final night on the track, before hiking across to the ocean and up into Newcastle.
New South Wales
Day 1: Macquarie Place to the Jungo
Day 2: The Jungo to Calna Creek
Day 3: Calna Creek to Brooklyn Dam
Day 4: Brooklyn Dam to Tank Creek
Day 5: Tank Creek to Mooney Mooney Creek North
Day 6: Mooney Mooney Creek North to Archers Campsite
Day 7: Archers Campsite to Cedar Brush
Day 8: Cedar Brush to Watagans Creek
Day 9: Watagans Creek to Barraba Campsite
Day 10: Barraba Campsite to Watagan Headquarters (Forestry HQ) Campsite
Day 11: Watagan Headquarters (Forestry HQ) Campsite to Teralba Caravan Park
Day 12: Teralba Caravan Park to Newcastle Ferry Terminal