The Great North Walk – Day 1 – Sydney CBD to Macquarie Park

Don’t you love it when a plan comes together? You do all the research, fill out the spreadsheets and lay out your gear all over the floor, weighing every item.

And then the perfectly planned plan falls over!

Yes, my 15-day Great North Walk adventure was turned on its head when, at the last minute as I was starting to stuff gear into my backpack, I thought I should check the National Parks and Wildlife (NPWS) website for any alerts. And, you guessed it, wherever I looked and in letters writ large was ‘Great North Walk – CLOSED!

The endless excessive rain that the East coast of NSW has experienced the last couple of months has created landslips, felled trees and generally made the path impassable. Bugger! Back to the drawing board.

With a little more research, I found I could walk the early stages through Sydney’s suburbs and that became my much-shortened Plan B.

Enjoy Day 1 of the Great North Walk.

Map - Great North Walk - Day 1 - Source: Reddit

Logistics:

Day: 1

Date: 16 May, 2022

From: Sydney CBD

To: Macquarie Park

Map #:  1, 2, part 3, part 4

Official Distance: 22.9km              Actual Distance: 21.7km

Total: 21.7/277km

Time: 5h34m

Ascent: 389m                                  Descent: 337m

Weather: A perfect blue-sky day.

Stayed At: Hornsby AirBnB.

Getting to the Start: I won’t include these comments in every post, but thought it may be useful for the urban sections of the Walk. After leaving the Obelisk in Macquarie Place, it is only a 2-minute walk northwards to Circular Quay to catch the ferry to Woolwich. $3.66 one way and reduced services on weekends.

Finishing This Stage: The path ends about 1.5km from Macquarie Park Metro Station. On the metro head East to connect to the main trainline at Chatswood or westwards to Epping for another main line.

General Comments:

  • What a magnificent start to a long-distance walk! I know of no other walk that kicks off with a glorious ferry ride across a sparkling harbour. It was an absolute pearler of a day and adventures just don’t get better than this.
  • Map 1 leads you through the very well-heeled streets of Hunters Hill. Luxury cars, and homes to match, abound. I felt positively slovenly walking the streets in my hiking boots and daggy shorts.
  • The signage/waymarking is good although I did miss one turn off and only realised that when I noticed a post/marker pointing back onto the street I was still on! Oh well, I made up for it later on having to backtrack after taking a wrong turn and ending up on the wrong side of a 3m high fence and locked gate.
  • I have decided I am not going to be a purist on this walk. I will simply enjoy everything that is thrown at me. If that means a few diversions or unexpected shortcuts, then so be it.
  • It was muddy and slippery underfoot in some sections as water continued to ooze from between the rock shelves. Be careful as you rock scramble – the sandstone boulders can be very slippery. I have the bruises on my knees to prove it.
  • Plenty of birdlife, but no real wildlife today other than the disappearing tail of a black snake and some photogenic water dragons (lizards).
  • One challenge I found was that even though there was plenty of Great North Walk signage, there wasn’t a lot of locality signage to indicate where you were on the map. Maybe the app would solve this small issue.
  • Today’s walk is a real walk of contrasts – ferry rides, luxury homes, water views, mangrove swamps, industrial estates, noisy and smoggy freeways, and then finally into a peaceful and welcoming national parks.

Top Tips for this Section:

  • Ferry Schedule: Make sure you check the ferry timetable as the weekend schedule starts much later in the morning and only runs on the hour. This is important if you want to maximise walking in the cool hours of the early morning.
  • Distances: There are definite advantages in walking multiple stages, one stage after the other, as you save on the distance you must cover getting to/from the start and end of each stage. Those distance savings are certainly welcome at the end of the walking day when the legs are weary.
  • Alerts: Check the NPWS website for any closures and alerts. Even with my hastily researched Plan B, I didn’t know the weir over the Lane Cove River (Map 4) was closed due to flood damage and had to adapt my walking plan (see previous comment about not being a purist).
  • Riverside Walking Track Lane Cove National Park: This track became another Plan B (or am I now up to Plan C?) after finding the weir was closed. The friendly NPWS ranger recommended I take this path as it was far more scenic, a similar length and would take me to a very similar end point. It was a really good option and the only real difference was that the path hugged the southern edge of the Lane Cover River rather than meandering on the northern side.
  • Traffic:  Beware that in many parts of this stage, you are walking through a busy city. Traffic is constant, noisy and rude. I also found that parked cars often obscured waymarking signs (see previous comment about back-tracking!).

Stay tuned for Day 2.

Resources:

  • The Great North Walk – HERE
  • NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service – Lane Cove National Park – HERE

#travelinspo #greatnorthwalk #boatrides #adventurebeforedementia #longdistancewalks #australianbush #sydney #bushwalks #greatoutdoors #newcastle #luxuryhomes #waterviews #coastalwalks

27 thoughts on “The Great North Walk – Day 1 – Sydney CBD to Macquarie Park

  1. Sheila Galletta May 25, 2022 / 11:02 am

    This arrived in my box but don’t know who you are!

    Like

  2. The Travel Architect May 25, 2022 / 11:07 am

    Oh, to start a walk in the shadow of the Sydney Opera House – wow! (And getting lost on a hike – I’ve been there!)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Destinations Journey May 25, 2022 / 11:20 am

    We have seen parts of the Walk and done small sections, but won’t be doing the whole thing. Will look forward to seeing your progress and see it all that way.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Easymalc May 25, 2022 / 3:14 pm

    Great weather, fabulous urban scenery and wonderful wildlife. What more could you ask for – apart from the Great North Walk actually being open

    Liked by 2 people

  5. restlessjo May 25, 2022 / 5:03 pm

    Grrrr! I almost got cross with Mother Nature. But then we boarded the ferry and who cares where we’re going? Just look around you! And I like a resourceful woman, Mel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Life...One Big Adventure May 26, 2022 / 12:29 pm

      I am not going to lie…the thought flashed through my brain that maybe I would just forget the bloody walk and ride around on ferries all day!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. wetanddustyroads May 25, 2022 / 8:14 pm

    Yippee, another walk … and it seems it’s always good to have a Plan B (C, D, etc) 😉.
    You’re right, that was a perfect start with great views over the beautiful harbour. And I like your attitude – whatever the trail is throwing at you, you’re going to enjoy it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Life...One Big Adventure May 26, 2022 / 12:31 pm

      As you know, many times we have no other choice but to roll with it! 🙂 Although I have been known to throw tantrums on my own in the middle of nowhere…and then pull up my Big Girl panties and get on with it! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Heyjude May 26, 2022 / 3:51 am

    Oh, what a bummer. But hopefully you’ll be able to do the walk later in the year. The weather over there has been horrible this year and after that dreadful accident in the Blue Mountains you do not want to take any risks with landslides. I’m sure my son once lived at Lane Cove or nearby.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Life...One Big Adventure May 26, 2022 / 12:34 pm

      Yes, that landslip in the Blue Mountains was an absolute tragedy and a severe case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time for only a split second. I have been told by a number of people that the closures I have been experiencing are in direct relation to that landslide. The NPWS is being doubly sure that it is safe for us to be out there on the trail and I understand and appreciate that.

      Like

  8. Master of Something Yet May 26, 2022 / 4:37 pm

    Oh, I have been hanging out to start this journey with you! (And pick up tips for my own. 😉) How annoying to have it closed! Argh! Good you could start and I hope you get to continue soon. Interesting tip about the river track at Lane Cove. I already planned to walk that side on my walk because I’ll be staying at the caravan park on the first night. Good to know it’s a lovely walk.

    Like

    • Life...One Big Adventure May 26, 2022 / 4:54 pm

      Hi. Thanks for following along in my footsteps. Day 2 will be shared next week and then I hope to get back out there again in early August before you head off in September. Make sure you pack your wet weather gear! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Monkey's Tale May 28, 2022 / 4:17 am

    Love your positive attitude. The route is closed, but you do what you can. What a great start though, on a ferry under Harbour Bridge! Looks great so far. Maggie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Life...One Big Adventure May 28, 2022 / 1:47 pm

      Not much else I could do in this situation, but roll with it! I know how lucky I am to have the ability and flexibility to be able to plan these adventures.

      Like

    • Life...One Big Adventure May 29, 2022 / 12:39 pm

      It was an absolute cracker of a start. The next +200km could be a completely different story!! 🙂

      Like

  10. Born to Travel May 30, 2022 / 5:52 pm

    We were up in Sydney a couple of weekends ago. Even though it was a wet forecast we did part of the Spit Bridge to Manly walk. Did get sick of the puddles though. We will be back in Sydney in mid August on our way back from QLD so reading your post gave us a new walk to try. Cheers, Mark

    Liked by 1 person

    • Life...One Big Adventure May 31, 2022 / 7:00 am

      That’s great to hear. Although there are so many other fabulous Bondi to Manly stages to try out too. I finished that path while I was in Sydney too. A glorious stretch.

      Like

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