Great North Walk – Sydney to Newcastle by foot

The Great North Walk, from Sydney to Newcastle, can be undertaken over around two weeks or split up into sections as day or weekend walks. With plenty of access points along the route, the spurs to/from the Great North Walk proper are often as interesting as the main trail. You can go in either direction or switch northward and southward journeys as the mood takes you and your time allows. Many sections are readily accessible by public transport. Alternatively, groups can car-pool. There are many campsites along the way..

This is a “new” multi day hiking trip for us at Our Hiking Blog and looks like an interesting option if you want a longish hike or one that can be split over long weekends or day sections within easy reach of Sydney or Newcastle. The walk was completed in 1988 (so, it is not that newish) for the bicentennial, and is a very popular bushwalking spot in N.S.W.

Great North Walk - NSW

We first came across this  250 kilometres (160 mi) trail via an interesting site called, (surprisingly!) The Great North Walk.   The site is interesting because it has been designed to cover all aspects of the Walk and provides a huge amount of information for anyone considering walking part or all of it.

We contacted the GNW Team to find out more about them, the site and the walking companion they have written.

Here is their “guest post” about how it all started and what is happening now:

We sent some of our friends a copy of our book – ‘The Great North Walk Companion’ for Christmas last year.  As well as those who admired our writing, artistic skill (there are pencil sketches throughout) and those who gasped at our determination in walking 250 km, there were also folks who asked, “why did you do it?”

Here’s part of the answer.

We live very close to the Great North Walk: just a kilometre away.  Although we’ve been Australians for around a quarter of a century (we’re all originally British) and have walked locally and further afield passing the hiker-with-a-backpack  ‘Great North Walk’ signs we had not, until last year- 2009, thought seriously about actually walking the full Newcastle to Sydney trail- wharf to wharf.   The best time to date is 66 hours – yes three guys did manage the whole 250kms in only 66 hours.  So, we knew right away we weren’t going to set any records!

We wanted a walking project we could enjoy over a period of time.  It didn’t take us very long to think of the Great North Walk.  We decide to try to conquer it in a year and actually got started in October 2008. We’re not purists and so we didn’t set out to conquer this trail from one end to the other . Instead we opted to swoop in and ‘surprise’ bits of the trail combining walking with enjoyable over-nighting and many really interesting visits.  Mostly we walked just one or two days in selected weekends when our diaries allowed.  The walking ended up taking us 12 months – the final few weeks were a bit of a flurry as we ‘patched’ in hard-to-get-to bits and sections we’d missed because we had got lost on earlier sojourns.

When it came time to create our book we split up the jobs: Brian did our research, describing and finding new places to stay and off-trail visits.  Kendal is our photographer and navigator: the one who got into trouble when we (infrequently) became separated from the trail  (not lost he claims).  Ann is the diarist and keeper of our walk record.  It was she who first became interested in the social history of the areas through which this wonderful hike passes.  We all contributed pencil and computer graphic sketches but the best ones are Kendal’s.

Another question our more bemused friends still ask is “is it true?”  The answer is simple – “yes!”  The Great North Walk Companion is a true record of our walks.  We wrote it as a puzzle – discovery of the slowly revealed identity of ‘Companion’  This allowed us to tell our story through other people’s eyes while still accurately portraying the bush trails we walked and the local history and geography we discovered.   All the good bits really happened: the wildlife, new people, and family discoveries.  All the not-so-good-bits really happened too including the snakes, the ticks and the wretched leeches.  Despite them we had a great time.  We really recommend the walk – and of course our book about it too.

ABOUT THE BOOK

The Great North Walk Companion by A. Henderson-Sellers, K. McGuffie and B. Henderson-Sellers, $27.50, 2009 (out March 2010, revised edition)

Purchase from Digital Print Australia where you can also review the book on-line for free.

Many thanks to the GNW team for taking the time to do a  write up about the Great North Walk – a walk in many parts  by the look of it.  Coming soon will be more information about the Great North Walk companion – a very interesting concept.

Have you walked all or parts of the Great North Walk?
What were the highlights (or lowlights)?
Any tips or ideas for our readers?

Comments

  1. Karl says

    Having done most of the trail in bits 2-3 times for Trailwalker and GNW100’s (Terrigal Trotter’s punishing 100k and 100 mile race), I will do it E2E with others in April. We have only given ourselves 10 days, so will be using food drops every 2-3 days to lighten the load and let us move a little quicker. Look forward to reading this book prior to our trip – good timing.

    BTW, the guys that set the 66 hr time last year have their eyes on a bigger fish yet. Spies have spotted them in the Victorian Alps and the Snowies in recent months!!

    cheers
    Karl

  2. Ken says

    Having done probably all of the walk, I consider it a pleasant enough walk if you are in the area, but not something anyone should especially travel to do. Sections around the Hawkesbury make excellent daywalks and possible overnighters, and some of the Watagans for daywalks. Otherwise there is too much walking that is close to urban areas or along roads.

  3. says

    We didn’t do the whole great north walk instead we drove along this beautiful coastline and can tell you there are heaps of beautiful landscape to admire.
    We did take a daily hike to Barranjoey Lighthouse at Palm Beach, on the northern beaches of Sydney, and the view from the top of this hill was just stunning overlooking the lush peninsula and the blue ocean.

  4. David says

    Hello! Great site. Thanks.

    It’s given my friend and I inspiration to do a 3-day hike over Xmas period. We are 2 fit 30 something guys living in Sydney. We are researching the best way to do this. For a 3 or 4 day/3 night walk (we’re flexible), can you recommend the best section of the walk to do – where to start and where to finish. We’re confident that we can cover 25-30 kms a day. We’d need to start and end somewhere close to a train or bus route to get to and from Sydney. Any tips on whether to camp or B&Bs/Motels along the route would be great too but just a recommendation on the best / most rewarding section of the walk to focus our research on would be just great. Thanks!
    David

    • Frank says

      Hi David,
      Thanks for the contact. To tell you the truth we have no real idea of the best options for the Great North Walk. The people over at the GNW Walk companion site will certainly help you out. I think you can also review the book for “free”

      Fantastic to hear you are planning a trip, once you get into it, you will love it!
      Cheers
      Frank

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *