The Great North Walk

The Great North Walk is a walking trail that runs from Sydney Harbour up to Newcastle Harbour. It's a 250 kilometer walk that passes through a diverse range of landscapes that was initially constructed as a Bicentennial celebration. Essentially the project linked many pre-existing walks together; which is evident when you are walking the track as you walk off an obviously well walked track onto a road section that takes you to the next well walked track. Sometimes the road sections can get a little tiring: especially for a bushwalk!

I wouldn't say that we were particularly fit or overly experienced, but we do do a bit of walking in our local Blue Mountains; so this was a big adventure for us! We'd spent a lot of time planning: scouring the web for information, dissecting the Dept of Lands Maps, working on our Itinerary and Meal Menu... and in fact we're meant to do the walk some years ago but had another trip postpone it.

General Information
General information about the walk can be found on Wikipedia, the Dept of Lands manages the walk, and publishes a Discovery Kit. John Chapman's Bushwalking Site has some useful information, especially concerning Itineraries.

link to TheGreatNorthWalk There is also a new site specifically set up for discussions on this walk. They also have a printed companion for sale, which I have not read; but there's lots of good information on the site and people in the forums to discuss your queries.

Our Walk: 2007
We didn't do the whole 250 kms, but started in the North-West of Sydney and walked to the Western outskirts of Newcastle: 175 km in total. We took 14 days to do the 175km (a fairly gentle pace), took photos and kept a journal; which is all recorded on the blog. One of the main ideas was to record each campsite and an indication of the landscapes of each section. References to Campsites are numbered based on the Dept Maps: for example Campsite 3.2 relates to the second campsite heading North on Map 3. The maps, which the Dept call the Great North Walk Discovery Kit can be ordered from their website.

Overall, we were surprised I think that we did the walk so easily, and pleased that the Dept of Lands maps were adequate enough to use as our sole maps. There were only a couple of times that we lost our way, but neither of those times were particularly disastrous.

The week before we did the walk we did a drive through to determine what was available at the shops along the way (Got to say that the Australian Grocery Store is not what it used to be!). We didn't have to do any food/water drops, but made do with what we found:

  • Berowra Waters: The General Store has a variety of bread, muesli bars, eggs, bacon, milk & juice. There is also a Fish & Chip shop that we can highly recommend.
  • Cowan: Cowan General Store has a good supply of Breads, milk, eggs, cheese, frozen food, dehydrated meals and some fresh vegetables. It also has the best milk shakes on the walk.
  • Brooklyn: Brooklyn has a couple of different general stores where you should be able to get just about anything you need (except gas). Brooklyn also has a pub where you can stay for about $80/night if you're so inclined.
  • Somersby Store: Although it's called a General Store it's more of a Take Away than a general store; though you can get soups, bread, batteries, toilet paper, crackers, cheese, etc.
  • Yarramalong: The general store is adequate with a small variety of dehydrated meals, milk powder, bread, etc. A complete lack of camping in the general area makes this a difficult section of the track. There is a B&B (see below). Wyong Council should really be encouraged to do a little more for the walkers. For example: Hornsby Council allows walkers free use of Crosslands Reserve!
  • Yarradane Lodge: Has not been in business for many years. When I finally got in contact with the fellow at the number indicated on the Dept of Lands maps he said he'd been trying for many years to get his name off the maps.
  • Paxton: If you wanted to head North to the Upper Hunter rather than East to Newcastle, Paxton Pub (see below) would be a nice place to stay.

Some other helpful links

  • WildWalks: In writing this up I discovered WildWalks, which it would have been more helpful to have found before we set off! At least you know now, and we know for next time.
  • Yarramalong Manor: We didn't stop here either as we'd opted for a spot under the bridge; but they do Bed & Breakfast (AU$60-70) and looked to have a nice restaurant as well. In the end we didn't feel as though we could break our walk with such luxury. (+61 2) 4356 1066
  • Paxton Hotel: We didn't avail ourselves of this country pub in the end, but if we were headed into the upper Hunter we would have. (+61 2) 4998 1226.
  • Watagan Forest Motel: This was our ending spot, and the Motel would have provided a great unwind if we weren't being picked up. (+61 2) 4938 0149