This is a marked 250km track from Sydney to Newcastle.
Starting in the centre of Australia's largest city, the track winds a devious route through the suburbs into the surrounding forests then heads north to the city of Newcastle. While not a wilderness walk like some other tracks this route has great appeal in that it is easily accessed, can be walked in any season of the year and crosses a wide variety of natural landscapes. Campsites have been established at about 3 hour intervals so there is a wide scope for variety of itineraries.
The best time to walk this track is winter and spring (July to November). This is because this period has the finest weather and the lowest rainfall for the year. The track can be walked at any time of the year. The only real weather problem are the occasional extremely hot days. See weather graphs for more details.
Running through a heavily developed region, parts of the track have been moved and sometimes even temporarily closed due to conflicts with land owners, other users and bushfires. Expect changes and follow the signposts when in doubt. Be aware that long sections of this track passes through suburban areas and there are some long road bashes.
In 1981, two walkers from Sydney, Garry McDougall and Leigh Shearer-Heriot come up with the idea to walk from Sydney to Newcastle. Sydney is the capital of New South Wales and Newcastle is a large industrial city to the north. They spent a lot effort finding as they described 'a corridor of green between the red brick housing'. They went past the stage of finding a walk for themselves to do and decided to create a formal track.In 1983 they approached the NSW Bicentennial Committee for support. The idea became an obsession and involved the two of them writing many submissions and reports. Minor grants followed and in 1986, the Bicentennial Committee allocated a major grant. The track was then adopted by the NSW Lands Department and became a reality in 1988.
Good access exists to both ends of the track with regular public
transport to Sydney and Newcastle. The track heads inland from
Sydney and runs north through low mountain ranges and forests
then heads back to the coast to Newcastle. Crossing numerous roads,
it is possible to walk almost any part of this track as a short
walk. The only section there can be problems with is around the
Hawkesbury River - Marine Cabs, tel 0448 101010 provide a water taxi
for the Brooklyn, Wondabyne, Patonga area.
The Department of Lands, publish
a 'Discovery Kit' (for A$14.85 posted) which includes 6 maps and notes
the entire walk. Also useful is the original guide book 'The Great
North Walk' by Garry McDougall and Leigh Shearer-Heriot. Published
in 1988, this is now out of print – copies might be found
for reference in libraries. I have heard a second edition was printed
by Simon and Schuster in 1996 with the identical ISBN (which might
indicate its the identical content) but I have not seen it to compare.
The regular CMA topographic maps can
also be used although they do not always show the track's current
location. Information on current track conditions are available from
the Department of Lands website.
None are needed to walk the track. As the track passes through
some urban areas, there are restrictions on where you can camp. All
streams should be assumed to be polluted and clean water should be
obtained from public taps and carried to campsites.
Thanks is given to Jim
Happ for his personal comments and detailed
itinerary about his
trip along the entire track in September 2001. We have now walked most
of the southern half of this track and it is surprizingly pleasant with
few signs of the surrounding city.