The sun shone brightly and the thermometer topped out at 28°C. Autumn? What’s Autumn?
It was too hot for bushwalking for this happy wanderer, but once I commit to a path it is simply a matter of one foot in front of the other.
Fill up your water bottle, we are off on Day 2 of the Great North Walk.
Date: 15 May, 2022
From: Macquarie Park
Map #: 5, 6
Official Distance: 21.7km Actual Distance: 23.7km
Ascent: 674m Descent: 542m
Weather: Overcast with a few light sprinkles of rain, then humid and HOT!
Stayed At: Hornsby AirBnB.
Getting to the Start: The path starts about 1.5km from Macquarie Park Metro Station. Head North on the very busy Lane Cove Rd, cross De Burgh’s bridge and turn right into the Lane Cove National Park. The path will drop you down to the river. There is a GNW sign just inside the gate.
Finishing This Stage: As you scramble back out of the valley, you hit the streets of Hornsby around 800m south-west of the Hornsby Railway Station. Regular train services connect North towards Newcastle or South to Strathfield, or south-east to Sydney CBD. An Opal Card is handy for use on all public transport in Sydney and surrounds.
- Signage: General waymarking and Great North Walk (GNW) signage was clear and frequent. It only disappeared at the end of the Thornleigh stage at Thornleigh Oval, but appeared again closer to Thornleigh Train Station.
- The Path: The path was incredibly wet and slippery due to Sydney’s endless rain. This really slowed my pace as I was watching almost every footstep including the need to balance on mossy rocks and leap across running streams. Lots of trip hazards, large rocks to scramble over or, in my case, slip off.
- Other People: This is a beautiful patch of Aussie bush surrounded by suburbia. I had the path to myself for the first hour or so, but this changed as the clock ticked closer to a more civilised hour. Watch out for trail runners, mountain bikers, and other walkers and their muddy, but extremely happy dogs.
- Rating: The path is rated as ‘Hard’ and that is a fair description due to the steep ascents (more than one) and descents (also multiple).
- Wildlife: There were no signs of wildlife/animals as I walked although birdlife was both abundant and beautiful. Almost along the whole path I was accompanied by glorious birdsong – bellbirds, whipbirds and lorikeets chatting merrily. I smiled to myself as I stopped to watch some lorikeets popping into, and out of, a hollow tree branch.
- Climbing: There is quite a bit of climbing on the second half of this stage including very interesting cliff-type climbs with metal handholds drilled into the rocks. If you are not fond of heights, you may not enjoy the latter part of the Thornleigh to Hornsby stretch.
Top Tips for this Section:
- Water: Water is plentiful on this stage and the path jumps across numerous creeks and streams. I would be careful drinking this water though as, most times, it looked and smelled less than fresh. Definitely treat any water before drinking. I recommend you actually start with full water bottles and top up when you can at cafes etc.
- Toilets: There are few toilet options except at the end of each stage – Thornleigh Oval, Thornleigh Train Station and Hornsby Train Station. Plenty of bushes and trees though.
- Coffee: Unfortunately, coffee and eating options are few and far between. The part of Thornleigh you walk through is a bit of a wasteland, although there is an easily accessible Aldi supermarket adjacent to the path as you hit the Thornleigh CBD. There is a café on the western side of the train station and only metres from the start of the second stage for the day (Map 6). That coffee was a life saver!
- Remoteness: The Thornleigh to Hornsby stretch is quite remote with few people and only a couple of options to shorten your walk and connect back to civilisation. You may like to carry a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) or similar as mobile phone service could be unreliable.
- Killer Steps to Finish the Day: A final word of warning – just when you think you must be nearly done and close to Hornsby Station, 328 commemorative sandstone steps await you! Perhaps there are alternatives, but the path wants you to think that this is the most direct route to clamber out of the valley. Ugh! This path is certainly a good workout!
Here ends my Great North Walk adventure for a couple of months. Hopefully it will stop raining on the coast one day soon and the path will reopen. I will keep you posted.
Happy trails, everyone!
- The Great North Walk – HERE
- NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service – Berowra Valley National Park – HERE
- NSW Train & Buses Timetables – HERE
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