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Great North Walk: Australia's best bushwalk

Hike 250 km from central Sydney to downtown Newcastle and visit ancient art and historic landmarks
Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 155.5 miles
Duration: Multiple days
Family Friendly

Overview :  The Great North Walk connects New South Wales’ two largest cities from the obelisk in Australia’s first planned town square to the... more »

Tips:  Hike in one long walk (10 days to 2 weeks) and camp on track-based sites or walk in a series of day trips or weekend jaunts staying at... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Newcastle obelisk

Built in 1850 this obelisk replaced a flour-grinding windmill demolished in 1847. The mill had become a crucial navigation aid for ships’ captains entering the tricky harbour of Newcastle and its removal posed serious hazard to shipping of the era. Positioned on a prominent hill overlooking this busy harbour this historic obelisk is in many ways... More

2. Bogey hole: Australia's oldest swimming pool

The oldest swimming baths in NSW date from around 1820 when a natural pool was enlarged by convict labour under the direction of soldiers and on the orders of Major James Thomas Morisset, Commandant of the Newcastle settlement from 1819 to 1822. Its original size is estimated as 15 feet (about 5m) long, seven feet (2.2m) wide and six feet (2m)... More

3. Heaton Gap:Obstacle to Early European Settlers

The terrain north of the new British settlement of Sydney rises rapidly to a high sandstone plateau on the northern bank of the Hawkesbury River falls away into the Hunter River Valley still further north. This high terrain posed an impenetrable barrier to establishing a land route from Sydney to Newcastle. Heaton Gap or simply “the Gap”, named... More

4. Ellalong Lagoon:Famous for birdlife

Originally named Catchaboy Swamp by early European settlers, this small lake also has links to indigenous history. The lagoon’s early name may indeed have arisen from the belief that it was haunted. The name could have come form ‘catch a boy’ as the 'rainbow serpent' in Aboriginal mythology rested in deep waterholes and lagoons that were... More

5. Watagan Forest

The Watagans provide an important habitat for over 150 native animal species including wallabies, gliders, brush and ring-tailed possums, amphibians and reptiles and more than 130 species of birds. Echidnas, although rare, can be frequently seen foraging on the verges of the forest tracks. The Watagan Mountains has been a NSW state forest for... More

6. Mount Warrawolong

Mount Warrawolong (33° 2′ 39″S, 151° 15′ 50″E) was seen by Captain Cook on his round-the-world voyage on the ‘Endeavour’ in 1770 not long after he left Botany Bay. He noted it in his official ship’s log. Although called a ‘Mount’, it could only be thought a mountain in the uniquely low-lying continent of Australia where even our highest peak,... More

7. Saint Barnabas Church: Oldest church in Wyong Shire

St Barnabas’ Church, Yarramalong: the oldest remaining church in Wyong Shire is tended by volunteers. Visit the pioneer churchyard (round the back) to view the grave of William Bevan and other early settlers. Located on Ravensdale Road, Yarramalong on the Great North Walk less than 1 km north out of the centre of Yarramalong. Watch the video (http... More

8. Banksia

Seventy-five of the known 76 Banksia species occur naturally only in Australia. These strange plants are named to honour Banksias Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820), who, in 1770 while travelling with James Cook on the Endeavour, was the first European to collect specimens. A number of Banksia cultivars have also been developed. The flowers occur in... More

9. Aboriginal rock art on the Great North Walk

From Woy Woy Road (near Staples Lookout) you walk into the bush for about 500 m — as far as the rock ledges continue — this takes you to the last engravings and from here you can find the others by back-tracking to the road. There are a number of groups of engravings all of which are worth locating. The furthest from the road could be termed the... More

10. Somersby Falls

These impressive waterfalls are a short (but tough) 3 km diversion off the Great North Walk proper takes you to this area. Observation platforms provide excellent views of the 8 metre falls and the rainforest. After a steep track with many steps, the Falls Walking Track descends to Floods Creek past two stages of waterfalls and ends at the base of... More

11. Mooney Mooney Bridge

Mooney Mooney Creek Bridge that carries the F3 Freeway which now runs between Sydney to Newcastle. The Great North Walk trail actually takes you so you can stand beneath the towering arches of this impressive construction. The bridge, nearly half a kilometre long and standing 76 m above your head and the adjacent the river is the highest road... More

12. Mount Wondabyne & Wondabyne

Mount Wondabyne is a short spur off the Great North Walk and a worthwhile scramble for the view over the Hawkesbury estuary. Wondabyne Station (a possible point of access to the Great North Walk) is near to the longest railway tunnel in Australia. Nearly two kilometres in length, this tunnel was completed in 1888 and forms part of the local... More

13. Brooklyn Obelisk

Brooklyn Obelisk: if you spend much time around Brooklyn Wharf, you are almost bound to find the obelisk on today’s walk. It commemorates the discovery and naming of the Hawkesbury River in 1789 by the earliest European explorer in Australia, Governor Arthur Phillip. It also recognizes the importance of the railways to this area being erected just... More

14. Berowra Waters

Berowra Waters Engraving: just 200 m from an easy-to-reach car park and on the Great North Walk track itself, this rock is often overlooked even by those who know this trail well. From the F3 Freeway take the Berowra turning and go down Berowra Waters Road to the ferry. Walk north along the track by the side of the creek past the car park and look... More

15. Steeles Bridge & Ginger Meggs Park

Steeles Bridge This bridge is an old military bridge that crosses Berowra Creek along the Quarry Road Track. This bridge appears to be an Australian adaptation of the Bailey Design Bridge.
Ginger Meggs Park is a few hundred metres off the Great North Walk. The Park, so named in July 1997 to commemorate Jimmy Bancks (1889-1952), creator of Meggs,... More

16. Fairyland

The famous Fairyland Tea Gardens, also called Pleasure Gardens, was – for 1910s Sydney – a bit like Disneyland. It comprised around 17 acres of flat land covered in ti-trees, paperbarks, swamp oaks and brackens, with a small creek running across the site to the Lane Cove River. Robert Swan, who served as an alderman on Ryde Municipal Council... More

17. Woolwich Dock

To build Woolwich Dock they dug out more than 20,000 tonnes of stone to create the deep docking and build up the sea-wall. There are a series of signs in the Goat Paddock garden (opposite the Woolwich Pier Hotel). A 15–20 minute tour of the Goat Paddock rewards the walker with a brief history of the remarkable Mort’s Dock. The Atlas Engineering... More

18. Macquarie Obelisk

Road Builders’ Obelisk: Macquarie’s Obelisk is located in the oldest planned town square and urban park in Australia: the tiny Macquarie Place on Bridge Street in central Sydney. It marks the start of the Great North Walk and is the oldest true obelisk on this journey dating to 1818. Built of locally quarried white sandstone, this elongated... More