Tackling the Great North Walk – 16 Days Walking Through the Aussie Bush and ‘Burbs.

A few weeks ago I shared an overview of the Great North Walk – a +260km path from Sydney to Newcastle on Australia’s East coast. After a fair bit of reading, researching and scheming, it’s time to share my plan of attack.

Do you have any tips or tricks? Wisdom to share?

Even if you haven’t walked this route before, I welcome any do’s and don’ts when it comes to long hikes through the bush.

Source: Red Tractor Designs
Or HER big boots! Source: Red Tractor Designs

Timing

I plan to walk this path in two stages. The first part, through the streets and parks of Sydney, I will be joined by an adventurous friend who is keen to get out and explore too. The second part will most likely be solo, although I may yet convince another adventurous gal to join me for a few stages.

Part 1:

  • Start: on/about 4 April 2022.
  • End: on/about 6 April 2022.
  • Walking Days: 3
  • Rest Days: 0

Part 2:

  • Start: on/about 17 May 2022.
  • End: on/about 30 May 2022.
  • Walking Days: 13
  • Rest Days: 1 – after Day 9

Distance

I am not sure why, but my Excel spreadsheet adds up to more kilometres that the official distance in the Guidebook! Maybe I am taking the scenic route?

Sign nailed to a tree in the forest saying - You Not almost there
Bugger!
  • Total: 279.8km
  • Average Daily Distance: 17.5km
  • Longest Daily Distance: 26.6km
  • Shortest Daily Distance: 11.2km
  • I suspect there will be some adjustments to those distances once I actually get out onto the track, get fit and find my walking legs.

Proposed Stages

  1. Sydney CBD to North Ryde: 13.2km
  2. North Ryde to Macquarie Park: 15.7km
  3. Macquarie Park to Hornsby: 21.7km
  4. Hornsby to Ridge Top Camp: 21.53km
  5. Ridge Top Camp to Brooklyn (train/bus) to Patonga: 17.95km
  6. Patonga to Mt Wondabyne: 11.2km
  7. Mt Wondabyne to Camp Kariong (campsite not confirmed): 11.65km
  8. Camp Kariong to Somersby (campsite not confirmed): 18.67km
  9. Somersby to Yarramalong: 26.6km
  10. Yarramalong to Basin Camp: 20.7km
  11. Basin Camp to Great North Walk Camp: 16.7km
  12. Great North Walk Camp to Crawford Hut & Tank: 14.96km
  13. Crawford Hut & Tank to Watagan HQ: 16.44km
  14. Watagan HQ to Heaton Gap: 12.4km
  15. Heaton Gap to Warners Bay: 20.73km
  16. Warners Bay to Newcastle: 19.67km

Of course, this is all subject to change. The terrain may enable me to do greater distance (or lesser!) and I am yet to confirm some camping spots.

Where Will I Stay?

Sign about Walking up a mountain
Believe me, you do NOT want to hear me sing!

The beauty of this path is that it passes close by various towns and villages before heading back into the bush again. I will be able to access real campsites at the end of some stages, including showers! Luxury! There is also the option of the odd night in a motel, although the bulk of the adventure will be in a tent and sleeping bag.

Resupply

  • The access to towns will mean that I will be able to buy the odd hot meal and takeaway coffee as I pass through. I have no doubt how welcome that will be after a few days of purely dehydrated/rehydrated food.
  • I have organised a bounce box to be waiting for me on my rest day with some basic supplies such as shampoo. I will also be able to shop for breakfast and lunch supplies during my rest day.

Challenges

  • Terrain: Looking at the maps, some of the terrain is pretty rugged and remote. While I know ‘slow and steady wins the race’, doing all this with a loaded backpack adds a whole new level of challenge.
  • Navigation: Further to my point above, certain stages of this walk go way off the beaten track. I will need to brush up on my map/compass reading skills.
  • Water: As always, I will need to research and confirm the availability of water at each of the campsites. I suspect I will need to rely on creek water every now and then, and my Steripen will get a work out.

Budget

  • Accommodation: It is hard to estimate how much this trip will cost. While the bulk of the accommodation will be low-cost or free campsites, I do not intend to miss the opportunity to enjoy a real bed and a solid roof over my head if I get the chance.
  • Food: I am, as the old saying goes, handy on the tooth and a good eater at the best of times. My appetite only increases after a day’s solid walking and I will need to carefully plan for calories out/in.
  • Add transport costs in there and I expect I will need to budget for around $1,200 or $75 per day.
Hike vs saunter quote by John Muir
I am a World-class saunterer.

Getting There/Getting Away

  • Both Sydney and Newcastle are well-serviced by all forms of public transport. The loose plan is to bus to Sydney, walk to Newcastle and then have my significant other meet me in Newcastle for a tearful reunion. 😊
  • For those aiming to walk this path as a series of day walks, you will need to do your homework as public transport connects with a lot of the stages, but not all. A good friend with a car and a willingness to drop-off and pick-up, would be ideal.

So, what do you think of this plan? Have you walked all, or part of the Great North Walk?

What is your advice for tackling a long distance hike like this one?

The Basics

What: The Great North Walk crosses through a real variety of terrain from harbour views and suburban streets to pristine bush and secret rivers.

Where: The walk officially starts at the Obelisk in a small park at the corner of Loftus and Bridge Sts, in the heart of Sydney.There is nothing stopping you walking southwards from Newcastle instead.

When: Mid and late Autumn 2022.

Why: To embrace my Year of Adventure and see some gorgeous scenery at the same time.

How: I love that this walk starts with a ferry ride from Circular Quay. Talk about a cushy, and beautiful, way to start a long-distance walk.

Who: Myself and another adventurous soul who may, or may not, be talking to me by the end of the walk.

Related Posts: For a little insight into other, much larger adventures I have planned this year, read about West Australia’s Bibbulmun Track.

Related Blogs: For a detailed review of the Great North Walk and its stages, check out Andrew’s blog. Although I warn you, he does some BIG distances. Too big for me!

Read About it: For tonnes of great information and background on this path, grab your own copy of the Great North Walk Guidebook. Available from Book Depository

Dreaming of sleeping under a moon like this one. Source: Cindy Galvin at https://www.instagram.com/cindywithacamera/
Dreaming of sleeping under a moon like this one. Source: Cindy Galvin at https://www.instagram.com/cindywithacamera/

#travelinspo #greatnorthwalk #multidayhikes #adventurebeforedementia #longdistancewalks #australianbush #sydney #newcastle #bushwalks #greatoutdoors #crosscountry #exploreonfoot #coastalwalks.

45 thoughts on “Tackling the Great North Walk – 16 Days Walking Through the Aussie Bush and ‘Burbs.

  1. The Travel Architect March 23, 2022 / 12:57 pm

    Love that John Muir quote. Enjoy your hike. Say, were you hoping to do the hike to Everest Base Camp one day? The husband’s student just up and did it with her mom. Sounds like it was quite an adventure (by that I mean she said she’d never do anything like that again). And forgive me if I’m mixing your walking goals with someone else’s.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Life...One Big Adventure March 27, 2022 / 1:36 pm

      Yes, that was me. We had planned to do Everest Base Camp in March 2020 and Covid put paid to that a week before we were to fly out. It is still on the Bucket List, along with a whole lot of other adventures. Working its way closer to the top is the Mississippi River Trail. Maybe we can catch up for coffee? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. margaret21 March 23, 2022 / 6:56 pm

    ‘Intrepid’ is definitely the word! And although I enjoy walking alone, I’m not sure I’d want to be out in the wilds alone, clumsily (in my case) tripping over every tree root. I look forward to following this adventure (virtually, of course).

    Liked by 2 people

    • Life...One Big Adventure March 27, 2022 / 1:38 pm

      I hear you. I would prefer company too, but not everyone is keen to tackle these sorts of adventures. It’s either do it alone or stay home. An easy choice for me to make. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. restlessjo March 23, 2022 / 8:25 pm

    Good luck, sweetheart! I love that sign that says ‘you are not almost there yet’. I’d be happy to accompany you on the ferry, Mel, but I have no sage words of advice for the rest. Come back safe, and I’ll look forward to the blog posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Life...One Big Adventure March 27, 2022 / 1:39 pm

      Thanks Jo. I will need everyone’s ‘good luck’ wishes mostly directed at the Weather Gods I think. x

      Like

        • Life...One Big Adventure March 28, 2022 / 8:16 am

          It is still too far out to predict what the weather will do, but it has been an incredibly wet Summer on the coast. Fingers crossed for a dry Autumn. Walking in the rain is pretty soul destroying.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Master of Something Yet March 23, 2022 / 8:49 pm

    Firstly, I love Red Tractor Designs. They make fabulous cards.

    Secondly, I will be coming up to do this walk in September but hoping to do it all in 12 days (avg 22km a day). That may be a bit ambitious but I’m trying to fit it into the school holidays here. So I am VERY grateful to have you suss it all out for me first! I’ll be really interested in how much you find you have access to supplies on route. I’d probably rather not carry 12 days worth of food but I also wouldn’t want to find myself short. It’s good you can organise a resupply box.

    One thing I picked up from reading Andrew’s journey is that the guide book instructions can be very useful. But rather than carry the book, I’m going to print out the track notes from the downloadable pdfs on the website and then dispose of each page as I no longer need it. I suppose I could also rip out the relevant pages of the book as I go but I’m squeamish about ripping books.

    I think you’ll have access to water in general but most would need to be treated, from what I can gather.

    And Bibbulman Track too? Wow. You are a hiking powerhouse!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Life...One Big Adventure March 27, 2022 / 1:44 pm

      WOW! 12 days would be tough. After just completing the GOW (posts to come shortly) I am going to revisit my GNW schedule to look at the daily distances. I will be trying to work out the ‘sweet spot’ for distance considering terrain and +17kg backpack. Yes, you do get trail fit after a while, but I think to maximise enjoyment I won’t want to HAVE to do 25k every day. More thinking to be done on this one.

      Also agreed re the paper maps vs guidebook. Anything to minimise weight and I share your squeamish about disrespect to books! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Master of Something Yet March 27, 2022 / 5:04 pm

        I can’t wait to benefit from your GOW wisdom. I’ll be watching out for those posts.
        I’ve added a couple of days so I’ve now got 14 and a half days. (A half because my flight from Newcastle doesn’t leave until about 5pm.) Hopefully that will give me enough wriggle room to ease off a bit and I’ll only miss one day of term when I’m unlikely to get work anyway.

        You should check out Jaseinthewild on YouTube doing the GNW (but in reverse from Newcastle to Sydney). It’s pretty warts and all so it gives you a good idea of what you might face but it will also make you feel good about yourself because the way he does it…. well, some of his choices are… shall we be kind and say interesting?

        Liked by 1 person

  5. wetanddustyroads March 23, 2022 / 10:08 pm

    I love how you plan this walk – I think by the time you start walking, you will know the route already! And I would not hesitate to undertake such a walk … but on my own, I don’t think so. You Mel, you are a brave girl and I’m looking forward to your posts about this walk!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. pam@ichoosethis March 24, 2022 / 3:30 am

    This will be amazing Mel!! I wish I could be the adventurous friend and do some of this with you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Karen / Elizabeth March 24, 2022 / 1:43 pm

    That’s an adventure indeed! I’ve done a couple of smallish sub-sections, about 10km each maybe, between Sydney and the Hawksbury. They were hard! Beautiful in places, but hard. No way I’d consider what you’re doing. I remember getting to Berowra and guzzling a bottle of something cold and sweet from a convenience store.
    I do love the ‘not there’ sign. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Life...One Big Adventure March 27, 2022 / 1:46 pm

      Yes, I have heard it is a tough trek in parts. I am actually going to review my distances as I don’t want to do myself an injury. Thanks for the heads up.

      Like

      • Karen / Elizabeth March 27, 2022 / 5:38 pm

        Reviewing my photos, I see I did Cowan to Brooklyn, 2004 (13km) and Mt Kuringai to Berowra, 2010 (6km). I do remember being up on some rocks, with huge views, and no clear idea of where the path went. People had scratched arrows in the rocks as a guide. Rather worrying. I do hope it’s more clear now!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Monkey's Tale March 25, 2022 / 1:09 am

    Sounds like a great adventure, have fun. I love the quotes, but ‘you’re not almost there’ made me laugh the most. I know that feeling. Maggie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Life...One Big Adventure March 27, 2022 / 1:49 pm

      Yep, to me this relates to those endless hill/mountain climbs were you struggle up to the top thinking, ‘SURELY, I am at the top now’, only to see another rise in front of you. Ugh!

      Like

  9. Suzanne March 25, 2022 / 1:05 pm

    All the best,Mel for an amazing adventure. I’ve just completed a 10 km and then I came home and read this post, feeling more tired now 😉 Keep safe and trust your instinct every day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Life...One Big Adventure March 27, 2022 / 1:50 pm

      Sorry, didn’t mean to wear you out Suzanne! How about you pour a nice glass of something sparkling to rejuvenate you??

      Like

  10. 100 Country Trek March 27, 2022 / 8:47 pm

    Wow such a great hike..might be a tough hike for me. But does look like a great adventure. Anita

    Liked by 1 person

    • Life...One Big Adventure March 28, 2022 / 8:17 am

      Thanks Anita. Maybe these things need to have a little ‘tough’ in there at times to deliver that huge sense of achievement at the end?

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Heyjude March 30, 2022 / 10:34 pm

    I love the John Muir quote and the explanation of the word saunter. I am definitely a saunterer and not a hiker! I will enjoy being a virtual companion though. And I look forward to reading about your GOW hike. Stay safe my adventurous friend 👍

    Liked by 1 person

    • Life...One Big Adventure March 31, 2022 / 5:26 pm

      Thanks for your good wishes. I am relishing every shower and each time I slip into my ‘real’ bed, knowing what lies around the corner! 😉

      Like

  12. Master of Something Yet April 16, 2022 / 9:07 am

    Mel, you’ve probably organised your accommodation for your rest day but in case you haven’t, check out Beulah Ranch on AirBnB. They’re only 400m off the trail and the money from your booking goes to their charity providing horse activities for foster kids.

    Like

    • Life...One Big Adventure April 16, 2022 / 6:03 pm

      Thanks for the tip. It sounds like a really good option. Luckily I have a good friend who lives close by, so I am going to have a rest day there. Spent the afternoon reviewing my schedule. I have been trying to get the distance down on some days, but as you highlighted the other day, water is the issue. Will keep you posted. Happy walking on Monday. I hope the showers hold off. Mel

      Liked by 1 person

      • Master of Something Yet April 16, 2022 / 7:47 pm

        Oh, that’s so lucky! I’m glad you’ll get a bit of TLC. The ranch was a good option for me and I feel better about spending the money knowing it’s supporting a good cause. Only staying one night but scheduled a short day that day so I get there early afternoon.

        Oh, the GNW itinerary is doing my head in. I think I’ve got it worked out. BTW, watch the distances. The section distances don’t always equate to the thru hike kms because they allow for getting to and from the station or carpark. I found one section where the distance if you are hiking through is only about half what the day hike distance is! I’ve had my ruler out adjusting distances.

        Thanks for the good wishes. The weather forecast is not great (cold and wet) so I am having to review my gear and decide if I need to add/change some items. Like, do I bring the synthetic puffy instead of the down? Do I bring the chair or risk sitting on a sit pad on soggy ground? Which of course adds weight so it’s not an easy decision. I’ve spent today making a light ripstop nylon seat for my hiking chair to try and bring the weight down! Managed to drop it by 200g. 😏

        Liked by 1 person

        • Life...One Big Adventure April 17, 2022 / 8:32 am

          Yes, I found the same thing when I was number-crunching the distances. I am going to combine the first 4 stages into one by only do half of 3 & 4. They are weird sections and when I looked at the map I found that I could connect to 4 half way along 3 and still be heading in a more logical northly direction. Also, not sure if you have found that you can train/bus from Brooklyn to Patonga? A much more cost-effective option and the services seem to run fairly regularly. Have a happy Easter.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Master of Something Yet April 18, 2022 / 8:09 am

            I have to do some of that extra trail because my first day ends at Lane Cove CP. (First day needs to be short because I’ll have run a half marathon the day before. Lol. And I need time in the morning to post my non-hiking stuff to Newcastle. The problems of multitasking. 😁) But the next day I plan to continue along the path that runs parallel on the south side to the GNW trail and connect back up at Point 12.

            Hope you had a lovely Easter. See you on the other side of the walk. (To paraphrase a line from Hamilton.)

            Liked by 1 person

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