Guide to Overnight Walks near Sydney

This was intended to be a short overview of overnight and multi-day bushwalks or hikes around Sydney. One or two evenings of writing. There can’t be that many…! ūüôā It’s taken a lot longer than planned, but also provided me with lots of inspiration and ideas for walks I haven’t yet done. The general scope of this post is to include bushwalks of one or more nights that are within 2-3 hours drive of Sydney – ideally ones that can be done over a weekend (although some multi-day walks will obviously require more time). A few are really day-walks, but include a nice campsite where it’s appealing to stretch the walk over two days or it’s ideal for a first overnight trip. And a few overnight walks could be done as a day-walk.

A general disclaimer: I’ve done many, but not all, of these bushwalks. Some I have done as day-walks, as I’m pretty comfortable doing 30-40km in a day with a light pack. If you’ve got any updates or corrections, or a walk I’ve missed, please leave a comment and I’ll update the article. Happy hiking…

Blue Mountains (West)
 1. Mt Victoria to Blackheath via Blue Gum Forest. 29km (2-3 days). Moderate.
2a. Mt Solitary - Katoomba to Wentworth Falls. 22km (2 days). Moderate.
2b. Mt Solitary Loop (via Leura). 32km (2-3 days). Moderate.
3a. Kowmung River via Gingra Trail. 36km (2 days). Moderate/Hard.
3b. Kowmung River via Roots Ridge. 26km (2 days). Moderate/Hard.
3c. Kowmung River via Bulga Denis Canyon. 29km (2-3 days). Moderate/Hard.
3d. Kowmung River via Uni Rover trail. 24-36km (2-3 days). Hard.
3e. Kowmung River via Colong Stock Route. 22km (2 days). Moderate/Hard.
 4. Splendour Rock (Wild Dog Mountains). 24km (2 days). Moderate
 5. Kanangra to Katoomba (K2K). 46km (3 days). Hard.
 6. Six Foot Track (Katoomba to Jenolan Caves). 46km (2-3 days). Easy.
7a. Woodford to Glenbrook (Oak Trail). 26-29km (2-3 days). Easy.
7b. Woodford to Glenbrook via St Helena Ridge. 21-25km (2 days). Easy.
7c. Woodford to Faulconbridge. 23.5km (2 days). Easy.
7d. Faulconbridge to Glenbrook via Lost World. 24km (2 days). Moderate.
7e. Warrimoo to Lapstone via Glenbrook Creek. 18km (2 days). Hard.
 8. Faulconbridge to Wentworth Cave. 28km return (2-3 days). Hard.
 9. Katoomba to Mittagong. 125km (5-8 days). Hard. 

Yengo and Wollemi NP (North West)
 1. Old Great North Road: Bucketty to Devines Hill. 45km (2-3 days). Easy.
1a. Old Great North Road: Ten Mile Hollow loop. 24km (2 days). Easy.
1b. Old Great North Road: Mt Lockyer (Yengo NP). 22km (2 days). Easy.
 2. Macdonald River (Yengo NP). 25-50km (2-4 days). Easy.
 3. Wollangambe Crater (Wollemi NP). 18km (2 days). Moderate
4a. Mountain Lagoon to Colo River (Wollemi NP). 24km (2 days). Easy.
4b. Colo River Loop from Mountain Lagoon (Wollemi NP). 29km (2-3 days). Moderate.
4c. Crawfords Lookout to Dooli Creek (Colo River, Wollemi NP). 21km (2-3 days). Hard
5a. Pipeline Track - Newnes to Glen Davis (Wollemi NP). 21km (2 days). Easy.
5b. Newnes to Rocky Creek & Annie Rowan Creek (Wollemi NP). 25-43km (2-3 days). Moderate.
5c. Mount Dawson Caves (Wollemi NP). 14km (2 days). Hard.

Great North Walk, Bouddi & Marramarra NP (North)
1a. Woolwich to Thornleigh (Lane Cove Valley). 32km (2 days). Easy.
1b. Woolwich to Mt Ku-ring-gai (Lane Cove Valley & Benowie Track) 58km (2-3 days). Moderate
 2. Thornleigh to Brooklyn (Benowie & Hawkesbury Tracks). 46km (2-3 days). Moderate.
 3. Patonga to Wondabyne (Hawkesbury Tracks). 28km (2-3 days). Easy.
3b. Cowan to Wondabyne via Patonga (Benowie & Hawkesbury Tracks). 34km (2 days). Moderate.
 4. Wondabyne to Somersby (inc Piles Creek). 30km (2 days). Easy.
 5. Cedar Brush to Congewai Valley (Cedar Brush & Watagan Tracks). 33km (2 days). Moderate.
+ Summary of four other sections between Somersby and Newcastle.
 6. Canoelands Ridge walking track (Marramarra National Park). 20km (2 days). Easy.
 7. Bouddi Coastal Walk (Bouddi National Park). 28km (2-3 days). Easy.

Nattai NP & Bungonia (South West)
 1. Starlights Track & Ahearn Lookout (Nattai National Park). 29km (2 days). Moderate/Hard. 
 2. Russells Needle (Nattai National Park). 21km (2 days). Hard.
 3. Bungonia Gorge (Bungonia National Park). 23km (2 days). Moderate/Hard.

Royal NP and Illawarra (South)
 1. Waterfall to Engadine (Royal National Park) 16km (2 days). Easy.
 2. Bundeena to Otford (Royal National Park Coast Walk). 27km (2 days). Easy.
 3. Great South Coast Walk Stage 1 (Bundeena to Wollongong). 46-63km (2-3 days). Moderate.

For a visual summary of walks, with trackheads and camping sites…

Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains and Kanangra-Boyd National Park to the west of Sydney offer a smorgasbord of multi-day bushwalks, with the benefit that most are accessible by public transport. The downside of the well-marked Blue Mountain walks is they are very popular, so you’re likely to share the tracks and campsites with other groups on a weekend.¬†

To avoid the crowds, you’ll need to travel a bit further into the more remote Kanangra-Boyd area (most of the longer walks are accessed from Kanangra Walls). Or venture off-track, which makes the number of overnight bushwalking options much more extensive than the list below. There’s almost infinite possibilities for creating extended walks, especially if you’re comfortable heading off-track – for more ideas have a look at Dave Noble’s Blue Breaks¬†web page.

1. Grose Valley and the Blue Gum Forest

The Blue Gum Forest is a stand of magnificent eucalypts in the Grose Valley; protected by bushwalkers in the 1930s from a logging fate, it is now preserved as part of the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains National Park. While you can’t camp within the Blue Gum Forest, the nearby Acacia¬†Flat campground has the Blue Gum Forest as its backdrop, with toilets and a nearby creek providing reliable water.

_MG_4272-LRP-3

There are quite a few different walks in the Grose Valley that traverse the Blue Gum Forest; all of them involve a fairly steep descent down into the Grose Valley.

Trailhead Getting there Distance Descent / Ascent
Perry’s Lookdown 8km from Blackheath station 2.2km 655m
Govetts Leap 3.1km from Blackheath station 5.3km 795m
Lockleys Pylon 10.5km from Leura station 6.5km 745m
Pierces Pass Bells Line of Road – no public transport 7km 815m
Evans Lookout (via Horse Track) 4.2km from Blackheath station 7.3km 935m
Evans Lookout (via Grand Canyon) 4.2km from Blackheath station (Neates Glen carpark) 11.1km 1,015m
Victoria Falls 6.4km from Mt Victoria station 13.8km 1,100m

Although you can easily visit the Blue Gum Forest as a day walk, it’s also a nice camping destination. You can start and return to any of these trailheads to form a loop, camping at Acacia Flats (Blue Gum Forest) – although Pierces Pass is only accessible by car.

Mt Victoria to Blackheath via Blue Gum Forest

The longest of the Grose Valley bushwalks is from Mt Victoria to Blackheath via Blue Gum Forest,¬†which follows the Grose River from Victoria Falls to the Blue Gum Forest and then Govetts Creek to Evans Lookout at Blackhheath. You could also ascend via Govett’s Leap, making the walk slightly shorter, or take the spectacular Grand Canyon track to finish at Neates Glen. It can be done as a 2-day walk, or three days if you camp at Burra Korain near Victoria Falls and then at Blue Gum Forest (Acacia Flat).

Getting there Start/finish at Blackheath station (or Neates Glen carpark) and Mt Victoria station (or Victoria Falls Lookout)
Distance Approx 29km on-track (or 40km station to station). 2-3 days.
Grade Moderate. 1580m total ascent.
Map/s 8930-1N Mt Wilson (1:25K). Covers most of route.  Buy / Download
8930-1S Katoomba (1:25K).  Buy / Download
Interactive topographic map with GPX download
Resources Bushwalks in the Sydney Region (S Lord & G Daniel), Vol 2, Ed 4, p.88. Buy Ebook.
100 Walks in NSW (Tyrone Thomas), Ed. 4, p.89. Out of print.
Take a Walk in the Blue Mountains (John & Lyn Daly), p.108. Buy book.
Blue Mountains Best Bushwalks (Veechi Stuart). p.29, Buy book.
Download Map / Notes Track Notes and Map via Govetts Leap [PDF, wildwalks.com]
Custom topographic maps (A4, 1:25K) – Map 1 / Map 2 / Map 3 [PDF]
 6.4km Mt Victoria Station to Victoria Falls Lookout
 6.2km Victoria Falls Lookout to Burra Korain camping area 
12.8km Burra Korain camping area to Acacia Flat campground
10.1km Acacia Flat to Neates Glen carpark via Grand Canyon
 4.2km Neates Glen carpark to Blackheath station

2. Mt Solitary (Katoomba)

An isolated sandstone plateau in the Jamison valley, Mt Solitary is a popular day-walk destination from Katoomba. It can also be the destination for an overnight walk: there are a number of camping areas on the long “summit” plateau of Mt Solitary, including Chinamans Gully (which also has a number of large rock overhangs) and Singa Jingawell Creek.¬†Both used to have reliable water, but are now frequently dry. There is also a more “upmarket” bush camping ground on the way to Mt Solitary at Ruined Castle, which has rainwater tanks, shelters and composting toilet (photo below is Mt Solitary seen from Ruined Castle).

HPIM3445-LRP

Katoomba to Wentworth Falls

A couple of longer overnight walks you can do include the¬†Mt Solitary traverse from Katoomba to Wentworth Falls. A¬†fairly¬†solid 2-day walk, it takes you along the Jamison Valley from Katoomba (and optionally up) to Ruined Castle, over Mt Solitary and back up to¬†Wentworth Falls. There’s some steep sections (up and down!) on both days, rewarded by some great views, waterfalls and cascades and nice walking trails. It can easily be done by public transport, or with a car shuffle. There are multiple campsites so you could stretch this to a 3-day walk, although it makes more sense as an overnight hike.¬†

Getting there Start/finish at Katoomba  (Scenic World or Narrowneck) and Mt Victoria station (or Victoria Falls Lookout)
Distances Approx 22km on-track (or 30km station to station). 2-days.
Grade Moderate. 1,800m total ascent.
Map/s 8930-2N Jamison  (1:25K). Covers most of route  Buy / Download
8930-1S Katoomba (1:25K). Start & end of route.  Buy / Download
Interactive topographic map with GPX download
Resources Bushwalks in the Sydney Region (S Lord & G Daniel), Vol 2, Ed 4, p.82. Buy Ebook.
Download Map / Notes Track Notes and Map [PDF, wildwalks.com]
Custom topographic maps (A4, 1:25K) – Map 1 / Map 2 / Map 3 [PDF]
 2.5km Katoomba Station to Scenic World
 5.5km Scenic Railway to Ruined Castle campsite (add 1km if walking down Furber Steps) 
 4.2km Ruined Castle campsite to Singa-Jingawell Creek campsite
 4.2km Singa-Jingawell Creek Campsite to Kedumba River campsite
 7.1km Kedumba River campsite to Tableland Road
 6.1km Tableland Road to Mt Victoria railway station

Mt Solitary Loop

An alternative and slightly longer hike is the Mt Solitary “loop”: it starts the same way as the previous walk, traversing Mt Solitary but then returning to Katoomba via Leura. You can still take the train to Katoomba, or leave your car at Scenic World, which is the recommended start and end point. There are a choice of camp sites making a one or two night hike feasible, and the walk back up to Leura and Katoomba is arguably more pleasant that the tough slog up to Wentworth Falls…¬† both walks offer the same combination of Blue Mountain views with some creeks and cascades at both ends!

Getting there Start & finish at Katoomba (Scenic World)
Distance Approx 32km on-track (or 37km station to station). 2-3 days.
Grade Moderate. 2,300m total ascent.
Map/s 8930-2N Jamison  (1:25K). Covers most of route  Buy / Download
8930-1S Katoomba (1:25K). Start & end of route.  Buy / Download
Interactive topographic map with GPX download
Download Map / Notes Track Notes and Map [PDF, wildwalks.com]
Custom topographic maps (A4, 1:25K) – Map 1 / Map 2 / Map 3
 2.5km Katoomba Station to Scenic World
 5.5km Scenic Railway to Ruined Castle campsite (add 1km if walking down Furber Steps) 
 4.2km Ruined Castle campsite to Singa-Jingawell Creek campsite
 4.2km Singa-Jingawell Creek Campsite to Kedumba River campsite
 9.2km Kedumba River campsite to Leura Falls Creek Crossing (campsite)
 8.4km Leura Falls Creek Crossing to Scenic World
 2.5km Scenic World back to Katoomba Station

IMG_3927-LRP

3. Kowmung River

There are many “out-and-back” hikes from Kanangra Walls that take you down to the pristine Kowmung River, where you can find yourself a secluded camping spot… A few are described below, but you can also create your own route by following the Kowmung River between two of the access ridges. All of the options start at the Kanangra Walls carpark and take the Plateau Walking Track (well-defined and used by day-walkers) which connects to the¬†Coal Seam Walking Track, which drops down a small cleft in the rocks at Murrarang Head. This is where the Gingra Trail starts. There’s a short detour / scramble (I couldn’t find a track) to Cottage Rock, which gives you nice views over the surrounding area (below).

IMG_1853-LRP-3

3a. Gingra Trail

The most straightforward (and longest) option is to simply follow the Gingra Trail down the Gingra Range until it eventually reaches the Kowmung River Рabout 18km one-way (roughly) from Kanangra Walls. This has the easiest navigation. As well as the small campsites on either side of the river, you can head about 600m downstream to an old gauging station.

Getting there Start & finish at Kanangra Walls. No public transport.
Distance Approx 36km return (2 days)
Grade Moderate/Hard. 1,100m total ascent.
Map/s 8930-3S Kanangra (1:25K)  Buy / Download
8929-4N Yerranderie  (1:25K)  Buy / Download
Interactive topographic map with GPX download
Download Map / Notes Track Notes from bushwalkingnsw.com for Kowmung River via Gingra Trail
Custom topographic maps (A4, 1:25K) – Map 1 / Map 2 [PDF]
 5.0km Kanangra Walls carpark to start of Gingra Track
13.1km Gingra Track to junction of Gingra Creek and Komwung River
18.1km Return same way

3b. Roots Ridge

There are several side-tracks from the Gingra Trail to the Kowmung, that follow ridges down to the valley. In some cases there are faint tracks, but navigation skills are needed. The¬†Roots Ridge Track¬†down to the Kowmung River is fairly clear of undergrowth and has a faint track (compare to the more overgrown Brumby Ridge which has no obvious route), There’s¬†a nice camping area right by the river that comfortably accommodates a few tents, and more camping options a bit further downstream and across the river.

Getting there Start & finish at Kanangra Walls. No public transport.
Distance Approx 26km return (2 days)
Grade Moderate/Hard. 985m total ascent.
Map/s 8930-3S Kanangra (1:25K)  Buy / Download
8929-4N Yerranderie  (1:25K)  Buy / Download
Interactive topographic map with GPX download
Resources Blog post for Kowmung river via Roots Ridge (with KML/GPX files)
Track notes from bushwalkingnsw.com for alternate route via Brumby Ridge (22km return)
Download Map / Notes Custom topographic maps (A4, 1:25K) – Map 1 / Map 2
 5.0km Kanangra Walls carpark to start of Gingra Track
 4.1km Gingra Track to junction with Roots Ridge trail
 4.1km Roots Ridge trail down to Kowmung (no marked route)
13.2km Return same way

3c. Bulga Denis Canyon

One of the more navigationally complicated but interesting routes is to descend to the Kowmung River via Bulga Denis Canyon. This follows a “vague track” that goes over Bullhead Mountain with a scramble down the rocky Cambage Spire to where Christys Creek meets the Kowmung River. You can camp here (if doing the walk over three days) or continue down the Kowmung River down to camp Orange Bluff.

Located opposite Brumby Ridge, Orange Bluff has a large grassy area and is a popular campsite. Return by following Brumbys Ridge up to the Gingra Trail – or continue downstream to return via Roots Ridge (which is a bit longer but a slightly easier route).

Getting there Start & finish at Kanangra Walls. No public transport.
Distance 29km (2 or 3 days).
Grade Moderate/Hard. 1,100m total ascent.
Map/s 8930-3S Kanangra (1:25K)  Buy / Download
8929-4N Yerranderie  (1:25K)  Buy / Download
Interactive topographic map with GPX download
Resources Track notes for Kowmung River via Bulga Denis Canyon
Track notes for Kowmung River to Orange Bluff via Brumby Ridge
Detailed blog post by David Noble
Bushwalks in the Sydney Region (S Lord & G Daniel), Vol 2, Ed 4, p.117. Buy Ebook.
Download Map / Notes Custom topographic maps (A4, 1:25K) – Map 1 / Map 2 [PDF]
 5.0km Kanangra Walls carpark to start of Gingra Track
 0.9km Junction with track (on the right) down to Christys Creek 
 5.9km Gingra Track to Christys Creek via Bullhead Mountain.
 7.1km Christys Creek Junction to Orange Bluff (campsite)
10.1km Orange Bluff back to Kanangra Walls via Brumby Ridge

3d. Uni Rover Trail

A different Kowmung River route that doesn’t¬†start at Kanangra Walls, the Uni Rover Trail instead commences from the Morong Creek Firetrail (on the way to the Kanangra Walls Lookout). The track was marked by the Sydney Uni Rover Crew in the 1960s, although it’s more of a route than a trail and careful navigation is required. There are many variations¬†that all finish at flat camping areas by the Kowmung River.

The Uni Rover Trail goes around Mount Goondel and crosses Mount Savage and Mount Hobnail, before descending steeply down Lannigans Spur. It reaches the Kowmung River at the bottom of the Lannigans Spur near Billys Point, with many camping areas along the river. An additional 4km (see track notes below) takes you to the Colong Caves.

An alternate, documented route (and one of the shortest routes) take you Hatchers Hollow. Rather than following the Uni Rover Trail all the way to the Kowmung River, you veer south at Mount Savage [56H 230118 6227294] and head to Sombre Dome and Dicksonia Bluffs. A steep and rocky ridge leads down to the junction of Doris Creek and the Kowmung River, with Hatchers Hollow being a short way upstream on the opposite of the Kowmung. Return the same way Рor the track notes below suggest an alternate return route via Mt Doris and along a ridge that traverses Mt Ibbai and Mt Despond and continues along Despond Ridge.

Getting there Start & finish 1.5km down Morong Creek Trail at Uni Rover trailhead (turn right off Kanangra Walls Road 2km after Boyd River Campground)
Distance Varies depending on route – 24-36km return (2 days)
Grade Hard. 900m total ascent. Mostly off-track. Limited water sources.
Map/s 8930-3S Kanangra (1:25K)  Buy / Download
8929-4N Yerranderie  (1:25K)  Buy / Download
Interactive topographic map with GPX download
Resources Track notes from HikeOZ for Kowmung River via Uni Rover Trail with waypoints
Track notes from bushwalkingnsw.com for Hatchers Hollow via Uni Rover Trail
Bushwalks in the Sydney Region (S Lord & G Daniel), Vol 2, Ed 4, p.121. Buy Ebook.
Download Map / Notes Custom topographic maps (A4, 1:25K) – Map 1 / Map 2 / Map 3 [PDF]
10.1km Uni Rover Trail to Mt Savage
       3km via Sombre Dome and Dicksonia Bluffs to Kowmung River (alternate route)
 5.7km Continue along Uni Rover Trail to Kowmung River

3e. Colong Stock Route

Finally, you can also access the Kowmung River from the east side, via the Colong (or Oberon) Stock Route. There’s very few online references to the various routes from here, partly because getting there (from Sydney) involves a five hour drive, and the Colong Stock Route is a rough road that is recommended for 4WDs (2WD accessible in dry weather).

One of the few routes that has a track for most of the way is described in “Bushwalks in the Sydney Region” (out of print but available as an ebook), starting from near the end of the Colong Stock Route at the Mount Armour trail. Alternatively, you could also start at Yerranderie by taking the Tonalli Gap Trail which meets the Mount Armour trail near the end. The last couple of kilometres is off-track, descending to the Kowmung River via Church Creek downstream of a large limestone formation.

Getting there Follow the Colong Stock Route from Mount Werong. Ford the Jooriland River and continue another 1.9km along Colong Creek. Turn left onto Mount Armour Trail Colong Creek and continue about 2km to the first track junction where you can park. Continue on foot along Mt Armour Trail past a locked gate.
Distance Approx 22km return. (2 days)
Grade Hard. 460m total ascent. Partly off-track.
Map/s 8929-4S Bindook (1:25K)  Buy / Download
8929-4N Yerranderie  (1:25K)  Buy / Download
Interactive topographic map with GPX download
Resources Bushwalks in the Sydney Region (S Lord & G Daniel), Vol 2, Ed 4, p.127. Buy Ebook.
Download Map / Notes Custom topographic maps (A4, 1:25K) – Map 1 / Map 2 [PDF]
 1.8km Mount Armour Trail to junction & gate (may be possible to drive)
 7.8km Mount Armour Trail to Mount Armout (and end the track)
 2.6km Off-track route to Kowmung River via Church Creek

4. Splendour Rock circuit

A rock platform with impressive views at the southern end of Mt Dingo, Splendour Rock is the site of the Bushwalkers War Memorial, a plaque dedicated to bushwalkers who were killed in World War II. A ceremony is held here every Anzac Day.

There are a few ways of reaching Splendour Rock:

  • Bellbird Ridge Management Trail then Black Horse Ridge and Wombat Parade (which is sloping and quite slippery) over the south end of Mt Warrigal, then over Mt Dingo on the Dingo Gap trail.
  • Down Carlons Creek Track (known for its stinging nettles) and down Breakfast Creek Track, before taking the Knights Deck spur up to Blue Dog Ridge (past Mobbs Soak – there should be water here) and around the western slopes of Mt Dingo.
  • The quickest way is via the Bellbird Ridge Management Trail and then the Medlow Gap Management Trail, which crosses Breakfast Creek before ascending to the White Dog Ridge firetrail. The White Dog Ridge firetrail meets the Blue Dog Ridge Trail which goes around around Mt Warrigal (to the west) and climbs up the the western ridge of Mt Dingo.
Getting there Start/finish at Dunphys Campground which is located at the end of Megalong Valley (20km down Megalong Valley Road)
Distance Approx 22-26km loop, depending on route. (2 days)
Grade Moderate. 640m total ascent.
Map/s 8930-2N Jamison  (1:25K)  Buy / Download
8930-3N Jenolan  (1:25K)  Buy / Download
Interactive topographic map with GPX download
Resources Track notes and sketch maps from bushwalkingnsw.com
David Noble’s blog post
Download Map / Notes Custom topographic maps (A4, 1:25K) – Map 1 / Map 2 [PDF]
Approx distance - route below is one of many options
 2.8km Dunphys Campground to Breakfast Creek track via Carlons Creek
 0.9km Breakfast Creek Track to a spur on the left (Knights Deck)
 2.6km Knights Deck spur up to Blue Dog Ridge
 5.0km Blue Dog Ridge track
 1.0km Untracked route around western side of Mt Dingo to Splendour Rock
 Camping sites between Splendour Rock & Mt Dingo
 3.6km Splendour Rock to Black Horse Ridge via Mt Merrimerrigal and Wombat Parade
 2.9km Black Horse Ridge Trail to jct with Carlons Creek Track
 3.4km Bellbird Lookout Track back to Dunphys Campground

5. Kanangra to Katoomba

The Kanangra to Katoomba (or K-to-K) bushwalk has long been one of the classic but demanding Blue Mountain routes. It’s typically done as a 3-day walk, although there is a K2K challenge that sees crazy (and very fit) people do this in a day – and even crazier people doing the K2K2K (or Katoomba 2 Kanangra 2 Katoomba) – the fastest for this 96km return walk being just under 19 hours… The walk is most commonly done from Kanangra Walls, finishing at Narrowneck (which is not far from Katoomba station) for ease of transport arrangements.

There’s a fairly standard route, with faint tracks for some sections but route-finding required for much of the walk – decent navigation skills as well as fitness are required for this bushwalk. There’s a lot of ascending and descending, with steep sections including¬†Gabes Gap up to Mt High and Mighty and the ascent from Coxs River. The suggested camp sites (Mobbs Swamp and Dex Creek) should have water – but Mobbs Swamp is often dry or stagnant.

Getting there Start at Narrowneck (Katoomba) and finish at Kanangra Walls. Transport from Kanangra Walls can be tricky Рother than a car shuffle (or a friend picking you up), you can book a shuttle or take a taxi (very expensive!). Limited mobile reception at Kanangra Walls.
Distance Approx 46km (3 days)
Grade Hard. ~2,800m total ascent. Large sections off-track or faint route.
Navigation skills required. Water sources limited.
Map/s 8930-2N Jamison  (1:25K)  Buy / Download
8930-3N Jenolan  (1:25K)  Buy / Download
8930-3S Kanangra (1:25K).  Buy / Download
8930-1S Katoomba (1:25K)  Buy / Download
Interactive topographic map with GPX download
Resources Bushwalks in the Sydney Region (S Lord & G Daniel), Vol 2, Ed 4, p.112. Buy Ebook.
Track notes and map on bushwalkingnsw.com
Track notes for alternate version from Kanangra Walls ending at Carlon’s Farm (Blackheath) – 36km (Hard)
Download Map / Notes Custom topographic maps (A4, 1:25K) – Map 1 / Map 2 / Map 3 / Map 4 / Map 5 / Map 6 [PDF]
13.2km Kanangra Walls to Dexs Creek (via Mt Cloudmaker)
15.9km Dex Creek to Mobbs Swamp via Mt Strongleg
16.2km Mobbs Swamp to Narrowneck (Katoomba) via Medlow Gap
 5.1km Narrowneck carpark to Katoomba Station

P1010115

6. Six Foot Track

The Six Foot Track follows the route of the original six foot wide bridle track between Katoomba and Jenolan Caves, that was built 1884. The historic route was re-opened as a bushwalking track in 1984, with a “right of way” for bushwalkers negotiated through private properties in the Megalong Valley. While it’s considered a “classic” walk, it’s over-rated and I would argue it’s not a particularly pleasant walk: significant sections are through farmland, almost all of the walk is on wide firetrails (some of them open to vehicles)¬† and all the official campsites are accessible by car. It’s not really a wilderness walk, and in fact you can even leave your tent at home and book accommodation at the Six Foot Track Lodge and Jenolan Caves Cottages that are adjacent to the track. However, if you’re new to¬† backpacking or looking for an easy walk to do with younger kids, it’s a good option.

The route starts near the Explorers Tree in Katoomba and after descending through Nellies Glen Canyon (a nice part of the walk) it traverses a mixture of forest and farmland before reaching Coxs River, where you can camp or stay at the Six Foot Track Lodge (must be pre-arranged). The following day involves an ascent up to the Kiangatha (or Kyangatha) Yards and then further up to the Mini Mini Saddle, before descending to the Alum Creek Camping Ground (you could also camp here, especially if you’re doing the walk over two days). The Six Foot Track (technically the Glen Chee Road) continues to ascends fairly steeply up to the Black Range ridge with the suggested Black Range Camping Ground¬†being the highest point of the walk. From here, the final day is all downhill to Jenolan Caves.

Getting there Start/finish at Explorers Tree in Nellies Glen Rd (Katoomba) and Jenolan Caves. Limited public transport options to Jenolan Caves.
Distance Approx 45km (one way). 2-3 days
Grade Easy. Mostly fire-trails.
Map/s 8930-1S Katoomba (1:25K)  Buy / Download
8930-4S Hampton (1:25K)  Buy / Download
8930-3N Jenolan  (1:25K)  Buy / Download
Interactive map
Resources The Six Foot Track guidebook – purchase at booktopia
Bushwalks in the Sydney Region (S Lord & G Daniel), Vol 2, Ed 4, p.97. Buy Ebook.
Take a Walk in the Blue Mountains (John & Lyn Daly, p.108. Buy book.
Trip report on Hiking the World blog
Download Map / Notes Track Notes and Map [PDF, wildwalks.com]
Track notes from http://www.sixfoottrack.com (you can also purchase a Guide Book)
15.7km Explorers Tree to Coxs River campsite (or 15.4km to the Six Foot Track Lodge)
19.0km Coxs River to Black Range campsite (or 24.9km to Jenolan Caves Cottages)
10.1km Black Range campsite to Jenolan Caves House

HPIM4043-LRP

7. Blue Labyrinth (Glenbrook area)

There are many paths through the Blue Labyrinth (the area of the Blue Mountains east of the Kings Tableland and south of the Great Western Highway). The most frequented route is the Oaks Trail, popular with mountain-bikers. A number of marked tracks (and an off-track route along Glenbrook Creek) provide a range of 2-3 day walking options between Faulconbridge, Springwood, Warrimoo and Glenbrook.

7a. Woodford to Glenbrook via Oaks Fire Trail

This first¬†route is mostly along firetrails, so it’s a leisurely bushwalk with easy navigation. It follows the ridges between Woodford and Glenbrook, so there are some nice views – but it’s not a great walk for a hot day (although you can enjoy a swim at the end at the Jellybean Pool). The Oaks Trail is closed to all vehicles (except for a short section), but is popular as a mountain biking (MTB) route. Ideal for a first backpacking adventure or an overnight trip with younger kids.

Starting at Woodford means the bushwalk is generally downhill, following the Oaks Fire Trail for most of the way. There’s limited or no water as you’re on a ridge. The recommended camping spot (Wheelers Gully, a large dam used a a firefighting reservoir just off the main trail) may have water but it’s not recommended for drinking. On the second day there’s a few slightly different options: you can follow the Oaks Fire Trail, which is open to cars for the last section but has a narrow shared use (for mountain bikes and walkers) trail. Or veer left onto the Campfire Creek track. Or take the right-hand fork onto the Bennetts Ridge Trail, which takes you back via Euroka Clearing – another campsite. This last option adds a few kilometres to the walk but gives you the option of stretching the walk to three days. (You need to book a campsite at Euroka Clearing which has picnic tables, barbecue facilities and toilets – and it’s also accessible by car so it can get busy.)

Getting there Start/finish at Woodford Station and Glenbrook Station
Distance 29km (26km via Oak Trail / 30km via Euroka Clearing)
Grade Easy. 700m total ascent
Map/s 9030-3N Springwood (1:25K)  Buy / Download
9030-4S Penrith (1:25K)   Buy / Download
Interactive topographic map with GPX download
Resources Oaks Trail web page on NPWS web site
Bushwalks in the Sydney Region (S Lord & G Daniel), Vol 2, Ed 4, p.67. Buy Ebook.
Download Map / Notes Track Notes and Map [PDF, wildwalks.com]
Custom topographic maps (A4, 1:25K) – Map 1 / Map 2 / Map 3 / Map 4
 1.2km Woodford Station to start of Oak Trail
12.8km Start of Oaks Fire Trail (Woodford) to Wheel Gully (camping area)
 8.3km Wheel Gully to junction of Campfire Creek and Bennetts Ridge tracks
 8.0km Campfire Creek track to Glenbrook Creek causeway
 2.3km Glenbrook Creek causeway to Glenbrook Station

7b. Woodford to Glenbrook via St Helena Ridge

This variant avoids most of the Oak Trail by utilising the Saint Helena Ridge Trail… which is partly firetrail and partly a narrow bushwalking path – it avoids the the mountain-biking traffic of the previous bushwalk. A short detour down the Bunyan Lookout Trail (MGA 740616) and then left down an unnamed trail (around MGA 747623) takes you to down to St Helena Crater, an extinct¬†volcanic vent. It used to be a nice camping spot, but is now overgrown and the camping spot is at the top of the the firetrail leading down – or you can continue another 1.5km to Lost World Lookout (photo below) where there are some nice camping sites on the ridge (no water, though). You can also finish at Blaxland, making it slightly shorter.

Getting there Start/finish at Woodford Station and Glenbrook Station
Distance 21km.
Grade Easy. 500m total ascent. Most of the walk on firetrails.
Map/s 9030-3N Springwood (1:25K)  Buy / Download
9030-4S Penrith (1:25K)   Buy / Download
Interactive topographic map with GPX download
Resources David Noble’s blog post for St Helena walk (from Springwood)
History of St Helena Crater in The Bushwalker magazine (p.4)
Download Map / Notes Track Notes and Map via St Helena Ridge [PDF, wildwalks.com]
Custom topographic maps (A4, 1:25K) – Map 1 / Map 2 [PDF]
 1.2km Woodford Station to start of Oak Trail
 4.8km Start of Oaks Fire Trail (Woodford) to St Helena Ridge junction
 5.4km St Helena Ridge firetrail to turn-off for St Helena Crater
 3.7km Detour to St Helena Crater and back to St Helena Ridge firetrail
       + another 3.4km return to Lost World campsite
 6.9km St Helena Ridge trail to Glenbrook
 2.3km Glenbrook Creek causeway to Glenbrook Station

IMG_0471-LR

7c. Woodford to Faulconbridge

An alternative option that makes a broad loop through the Blue Labyrinth is a combination of tracks that link Woodford and Faulconbridge. The walk commences on a the Oaks Fire Trail before taking the St Helena Ridge Trail, which is the same route as the previous bushwalk. There are some lookouts from the ridge along the way, and the detour to Lost World Lookout is recommended.

Rather than continuing to Blaxland or Glenbrook, the route continues past Lost World Lookout, dropping down to Glenbrook Creek and returning via the Victory Track along Glenbrook Creek and Sassafras Creek to Faulconbridge. While it would be feasible as a day walk with an early start, there’s a nice camping spot on the ridge near Lost World Lookout, and a number of equally nice camping spots along Glenbrook Creek which makes it a nice and unrushed overnight walk – plus both trailheads are very close to the railway station.

Getting there Start/finish at Woodford Station and Faulconbridge Station
Distance 23.5km (2 days)
Grade Easy/Moderate. 955m total ascent.
Map/s 9030-3N Springwood (1:25K)  Buy / Download
9030-4S Penrith (1:25K)   Buy / Download
Interactive topographic map with GPX download
Download Map / Notes Track Notes and Map [PDF Рwildwalks]
Custom topographic maps (A4, 1:25K) – Map 1 / Map 2 / Map 3
 1.2km Woodford Station to start of Oak Trail
13.8km Oak Trail and St Helena Ridge trail to Lost Worlds Lookout
 1.8km Lost Worlds Lookout to Martins campsite on Glenbrook Creek
 7.4km Martins campsite to Faulconbridge
 0.3km End of Victory Track to Faulconbridge Station

7d. Faulconbridge to Glenbrook via Lost World

My pick of the bushwalks in the Blue Labyrinth area is from Faulconbridge to Glenbrook (or Blaxland which makes it a fairly short two-day walk) via the Victory and St Helena Ridge Tracks. It’s almost entirely on bushwalking trails, initially following the Sassafras and then Glenbrook Creek along shaded valleys, and past a few nice swimming holes and campsites. The track then ascends to¬†Lost World Lookout and follows the ridges for a while, before descending back to Glenbrook Creek.

There are multiple potential campsites, both alongside Glenbrook Creek so you can get water (you’ll need to treat it) or you can camp at the edge of the ridge near Lost World lookout to enjoy sunset and sunrise over the valley. It feels like you are travelling through a wilderness area, and even on weekends you’re unlikely to see many other people.

There are a few variations you make from the two options ‘ve described one of the options below, but there are a few variants:

  • Start / finish at Springwood, using the Magdala Creek track (4km shorter)
  • Start/finish at Blaxland, making the walk about 7km shorter
  • Extend the walk from Duck Hole along Glenbrook Creek to Blue Pool (non-distinct track so allow 2-3 hours)
  • Continue from Blue Pool down through Glenbrook Gorge to finish at Lapstone (allow another 2-3 hours as there is no marked track)
Getting there Start/finish at Faulconbridge and Glenbrook (or Blaxland) stations
Distance 24km Faulconbridge to Glenbrook (2 days)
17km Faulconbridge to Blaxland (2 days)
Grade Easy/Moderate. 600-700m total ascent.
Map/s 9030-3N Springwood (1:25K)  Buy / Download
9030-4S Penrith (1:25K)   Buy / Download
Interactive topographic map РFaulconbridge to Glenbrook
Interactive topographic map РFaulconbridge to Blaxland
Resources David Noble’s blog post for Faulconbridge to Glenbrook
Track notes for Glenbrook to Springwood [bushwalkingnsw.com]
Download Map / Notes Track Notes and Map [PDF, wildwalks.com]
Custom topographic maps (A4, 1:25K) – Map 1 / Map 2 [PDF]
 0.4km Faulconbridge Station to start of Victory Track
12.0km Faulconbridge to Lost World Lookout
 9.9km Lost World Lookout to Duck Hole (Glenbrook Creek)
       5.2km Lost World Lookout to Blaxland Library Carpark (Blaxland)
       0.5km Blaxland Library Carpark to Blaxland Station
 2.1km Duck Hole to Glenbrook (Station St)
 0.4km Station St (Glenbrook) to Glenbrook Station

IMG_4978-LR-2

6e. Warrimoo to Lapstone via Glenbrook Creek

This is a tough and largely off-track route, although easy in terms of navigation as you’re basically following Glenbrook Creek. It’s perfect for a hot day as you’re generally next to or in the creek… but despite the relatively short distance it’s hard work. Despite many books and maps showing a track along Glenbrook Creek between the bottom of Florabella Pass and Blue Pool/Jellybean pool – there is no track. It’s bush-bashing or walking/swimming down the creek. You will get wet (or very scratched if you don’t want to get wet)!

The walk starts at Warrimoo at the end of Florabella St, using Florabella Pass to get down to Glenbrook Creek. After the first three or so kilometres on walking trails, almost all the walk is off-track, as you follow Glenbrook Creek downstream. It’s slow-going so don’t be fooled by the fairly low distance of this walk! There are multiple camping spots along the creek – in particular Duck Hole and Glenbrook Gorge Beach would be ideal. You can also exit at Duck Hole or Blue Pool up to Glenbrook station, or continue through Glenbrook Gorge to Lapstone station.

Getting there Start/finish at Warrimoo (station or end of Florabella St) and Glenbrook or Lapstone stations
Distance 15.5km one-way (2 days)
Grade Hard. (450m total ascent). Mostly off-track.
Map/s Interactive topographic map with GPX download
Resources Warrimoo to Glenbrook blog post
Take a Walk in the Blue Mountains (John & Lyn Daly, p.44. Buy book.
Download Map / Notes Custom topographic maps (A4, 1:25K) – Map 1 / Map 2 [PDF]
1.3km Warrimoo Station to end of Florabella St
 4.0km Florabella Pass to Glenbrook Creek (on track)
 3.3km Glenbrook Creek to Duck Hole
 2.2km Duck Hole to Blue Pool
 6.0km Blue Pool to Lapstone Station

7. Faulconbridge to Wentworth Cave

There are a few different ways to get to the lower Grose River – one of the easiest is via the Faulconbridge Ridge Track from the end of Grose Road in Faulconbridge and then down the steep Grose River track. There are some nice swimming holes here, and this would make an easy day-walk. The suggested route continues “off-track” down the Grose River, past the junction with Linden Creek and just past Wentworth Creek where there is a large cave. Wentworth Cave was used as a base for the cutting-in of the engineers track in the late 1800s.

Water is available from smaller side-creeks or treat the Grose River water… there are camping spots near the Grose / Linden Creek junction and in Wentworth Cave, and many caves along the Grose River.

All alternative route is from Bells Line of Road, using the Pattersons Ridge Fire Trail (accessible by 4WD and possibly OK for 2WDs in dry weather) and then Donna’s Track down the Grose River. The section from the end of Donna’s Track to the Grose River is very steep and requires rock scrambling.

Getting there Start/finish at Warrimoo (station or end of Florabella St) and Glenbrook or Lapstone stations
Distance 28km return (2-3 days)
Grade Moderate. Partly off-track. 400m total ascent.
Map/s 9030-3N Springwood (1:25K)  Buy / Download
9030-4-N Kurrajong  (1:25K)  Buy / Download,
Interactive topographic ap with GPX download
Resources Track notes from bushwalkingnsw.com
Blog post from Fat Canyoners describing a partly off-track route
Bushwalks in the Sydney Region (S Lord & G Daniel), Vol 2, Ed 4, p.74. Buy Ebook
Download Map / Notes Custom topographic maps (A4, 1:25K) РMap 1 / Map 2 / Map 3 [PDF]
4.4km Faulconbridge Station to end of Grose Road
 6.9km Faulconbridge Ridge Track to Grose River Lookout
 2.9km Grose River Lookout to Grose River
 5.0km Grose River to Wentworth Cave (Wentworth Creek junction)
Return via same route

8. Katoomba to Mittagong

As you’d expect from a long distance walk that traverses the Blue Mountains and Nattai National Parks, there are a few different routes and the exact length will vary. None of them are easy but some are more challenging than others and offer more of a “wilderness experience”. They all involve some rivers crossings, isolation, remote campsites and arduous hill climbs…

The walk generally starts at Narrowneck with a descent down Taros Ladder, but an alternate start is Dunphys Campground. Most of the route variations are around the first few days of this trek (if you are starting at the Katoomba end): the more common route is via the Kelpie Point Trail and then the Scotts Main Range Road connected by a short off-track section that crosses the Coxs River. These are both 4WD tracks (closed to traffic) so it’s not the most challenging experience but makes the walk a bit more feasible if you don’t have extensive off-track experience. The alternative routes are largely off-track from Narrowneck to Yerranderie, through the Blue Breaks or via Kanangra Walls – see David Noble’s blog below for some suggestions.

All the walk options pass through the ghost town of Yerranderie (which is accessible by car if you want to leave supplies or need an emergency exit point) and cross the Wangaderry Tableland using the Beloon Pass to the Nattai River valley using a walking corridor through the catchment area. If you are using the Scotts Main Range Road you also need to use another walking corridor through the Warragamba Catchment Area across the Coxs River and over Mount Cookem (no camping in this area).

Getting there Start/finish at Katoomba  (Narrowneck) or Dunphys Campground) and Mittagong (Woodlands
Distances Approx 125km. 5-8 days.
Grade Moderate-Hard (depending on route). ~9,120 total ascent & descent
Map/s 8930-2N Jamison  (1:25K)  Buy / Download
8930-3S Kanangra (1:25K). For some routes only.  Buy / Download
8929-4N Yerranderie  (1:25K)  Buy / Download
8929-1S Nattai (1:25K)  Buy / Download
8929-2N Hill Top  (1:25K)  Buy / Download
8929-2S Mittagong  (1:25K)  Buy / Download
Interactive topographic map with GPX download
Resources Track notes from HikeOZ via Scotts Main Range (has waypoints)
Track notes from Fantrails via Scotts Main Range
Track notes from David Noble via Kanangra Walls
Track notes from Mitupela (Mittagong to Dunphys Campsite)
Bushwalks in the Sydney Region (S Lord & G Daniel), Vol 2, Ed 4, p.129. Buy Ebook.
Download Map / Notes Custom topographic maps (A4, 1:25K) РMap1 / Map2 / Map3 / Map4 / Map5 / Map6 / Map7 / Map8 / Map9 / Map10 / Map11 / Map12 / Map13 / Map14 / Map15 / Map16 [PDF]
 Approximate distances using the Scotts Main Ridge route
5.1km Narrowneck carpark to Katoomba Station
17.5km Narrow Neck to Medlow Gap (campsite at Lake Birrell)
17.1km Medlow Gap to New Yards (steep climb up Mt Cookem). 
17.1km New Yards to Mt Feld (or continue 4.5km to Butchers Creek)
21.7km Mt Feld to Nice Camp Site via Yerranderie (potential exit point)
17.2km Nice Camp Site to Colleys Flat via Beloon Pass
20.4km Colleys Flat to Wattle Ridge
 9.5km Wattle Ridge to Hilltop (road bash or taxi)

Other Blue Mountain hikes

Erskine Creek – technically it doesn’t require an overnight stay, but it makes a pleasant summer walk with camping spots near Erskine Creek. Partly off-track, the walk connects Jack Evans Track and Pisgah Rock via Erskine Creek, with a camping site by a swimming hole on Erskine Creek.
Track notes from bushwalkingnsw.com.
Track notes from wildwalks (includes sketch map)
Distance: 13km (2 days)
Grade: Moderate (partly off-track; scramble with exposure up to Pisgah Rock). 200m ascent

Cox‚Äôs River return via Dunphy‚Äôs campsite – detailed on wildwalks.com, this 3-day walk starts gently as it follows the Six Foot Track up to Cox’s River, then returns to Katoomba via Dunphy’s¬†campsite and Narrowneck with significant sections off-track. Has some remote sections, but two of the campgrounds are car-accessible.
Track notes from wildwalks.com
Distance: 48km (3 days)
Grade: Hard  (some sections off-track). 2,390 total ascent

Yengo, Dharug and Wollemi NP (North West)

Multiple national parks make up a huge wilderness area in the north-west: Yengo, Dharug (and Popran) national parks, which mostly consists of dry, eucalypt forest. They contain significant Aboriginal cultural heritage, including axe grinding sites, rock engravings and Aboriginal art, as well as many convict sites. A significant length of the Old Great North Road runs through the Yengo National Park. It is, in general, harsh and inhospitable country that is more suited to longer walks in winter and the cooler months.

Wollemi National Park (the second largest park in NSW after Kosciuszko) is the exception – while it’s further from the coast, it features a number of rivers and the landscape of the park is dominated by deep valleys, canyons, cliffs and waterfalls. Some of the overnight walks described follow established routes, but many longer walks are off-track and require good navigation skills.

1. Old Great North Road (OGNR)

The original route between Sydney and the fertile Hunter Valley to the north, the Great North Road was constructed by convicts between 1825 and 1836 and traversed over 260km of rugged terrain. While much of the original road was soon replaced by a different route, many sections have been preserved in national parks and protected from vehicular traffic. Two sections of the original route are listed on the NSW Heritage Register:¬†Devine’s Hill (Wisemans Ferry) to Mount Manning and Mount Manning to Wollombi. The Devine’s Hill to Mount Manning¬†(Bucketty to Wisemans Ferry) section is closed to traffic and can be done on foot or by mountain bike.

As a bushwalk, the Mount Manning (Bucketty) to¬†Devine’s Hill section of the OGNR is¬†not the most exciting walk you can do. While the route is closed to cars, it’s mostly a wide road with not a lot of variation in the vegetation. It does have many well-preserved sections of the original Great North Road, including stonework, culverts and bridges (Clare‚Äôs Bridge is the second oldest bridge on mainland Australia).¬† There are three official camping areas along the 46km track.

At the Wisemans Ferry end of the walk, you can follow the Old Great North Route down Devine Hall, past Hangmans Rock (a beautiful sandstone cave/overhang that was reputedly used to hang convicts). Or take the slightly longer Finchs Line Track, which was the original route for the Great North Road and provides stunning views over the Hawkesbury river and Wisemans Ferry area. Both of these routes are World Heritage Listed.

Getting there
  • Mogo Camping Area¬†on the Great Northern Road, off George Downes Drive just before Bucketty if coming from Sydney (take Peats Ridge exit at Calga and follow signs to Laguna/Wollombi)
  • Wisemans Ferry¬†is accessible via Old Northern Road and across the Hawkesbury River on a free car ferry.
Distances 45km one-way (2-3 days)
Grade Easy. Total ascent 700m.
Map/s 9131-4S Kulnura (1:25K)  Buy / Download
9131-3N Mangrove (1:25K)  Buy / Download
9031-2N St Albans (1:25K)  Buy / Download
Interactive topographic map with GPX download
Resources NPWS Old Great North Road – World Heritage walk web site
Discovering Yengo & Dharug National Parks (A Dunk), p.67. Ebook
Download Map / Notes Map-Convict-Trail Рcovers full length of Old North Road
Custom topographic maps (A4, 1:25K) РMap1 / Map2 / Map3 / Map4 / Map5 / Map5 [PDF]
 8.3km Great North Road (Bucketty) to Hungry Flat (camping area)
17.1km Hungry Flat to Ten Mile Hollow (camping area). Junction with Simpson Track
13.4km Ten Mile Hollow to junction with Finchs Line
 5.1km Finchs Line track to Wisemans Ferry Road
       2.2km Old Great North Road via Hanging Rock to Wisemans Ferry Road

1a. Ten Mile Hollow circuit

A shorter version of the previous walk, this circuit combines the Old Great North Road with Donny‚Äôs Track and Simpsons Track, with an overnight stay at the Ten Mile Hollow campground. The route includes Clare’s¬†Bridge (the second oldest bridge on mainland Australia), Simpsons Cave (a stone overhang on the Simpson Track) and views from Donny’s View (unfenced rock slabs that provide a view over the Chaselings Run valley and swamp).

The other advantage of this walk over the full Old Great North Walk is that being a loop walk, you don’t need to arrange a car shuffle or car transport. The route gives you a good sense of the terrain the road traversed and includea a number of historical artefacts.

Getting there Dubbo Gully Road car park (reach by turning left off Waratah Rd when it becomes unsealed, about 4km after Mangrove Mountain shops)
Distances 24km loop (2 days). Can be extended up to 48km with
Grade Easy. Total ascent 1,110m.
Map/s 9131-3N Mangrove  Buy / Download
Interactive topographic map with GPX download
Resources Bushwalks in the Sydney Region (S Lord & G Daniel), Vol 2, Ed 4, p.52. Buy Ebook.
Discovering Yengo & Dharug National Parks (A Dunk), p.62. Ebook
Take a Walk, Sydney to Port Macquarie (John & Lyn Daly, p.90 . Out of print. [Describes a 48km circuit]
Download Map / Notes Track notes and map from wildwalks.com [PDF]
Custom topographic maps (A4, 1:25K) РMap 1 / Map 2 [PDF]
12.0km Dubbo Gully Road to Ten Mile Hollow (via Simpson Track)
12.0km Ten Mile Hollow back to start via OGNR & Donnys Track

1b. Mt Lockyer (Yengo NP)

Peppers Resorts named the Mt Lockyer walk one of the best hiking trails in Australia and New Zealand… which is a bit ludicrous! Perhaps it happens to be conveniently located near their Hunter Valley resort. It’s not a bad walk, though, outside of summer when it’s just too hot and unpleasant. Unlike the other walks, this is one is actually a combination of two day-walks with a car-based overnight camp in the middle. It explores both the convict and Aboriginal history of the area, and provides extensive views over the Yengo National Park and of Mt Yengo (which has deep spiritual and ceremonial importance to the local Aboriginal people).

The first day is a 16km return trip to the Mt Lockyer peak, via the Circuit Flat Bridge (the fourth-oldest bridge in Australia, built by convicts in 1831) and then down the Old Great North Road to the turn-off for the track up to Mount Lockyer (317m asl). The best views are from a rock platform before the summit. Return the same way to the Mogo Camping Area. If you are doing the Old Great North Road route from Bucketty (Mt Manning) to Devines Hill (Wisemans Ferry), the Mt Lockyer peak would be a very short-side trip.

The next day is a shorter (8km) partly off-track walk to the Mt Manning Aboriginal cave art.

Getting there Mogo Camping Area is on the Great Northern Road, off George Downes Drive just before Bucketty if coming from Sydney (take Peats Ridge exit at Calga and follow signs to Laguna/Wollombi)
Distances 16km Day 1 + 8km Day 2 (separate day-walks)
Grade Easy. Total ascent 180m (Day 1) / 140m (Day 2)
Map/s 9131-4S Kulnura (1:25K)  Buy / Download
Interactive topographic map with GPX download
Resources Bushwalks in the Sydney Region (S Lord & G Daniel), Vol 1, Ed 6, p.58 (out of print)
Download Map / Notes Track notes from Bushwalks in the Sydney Region (scanned)
Custom topographic maps (A4, 1:36K) – Walk 1 [PDF]
 3.4km Mogo Camping Area to Old Great North Road
 3.3km Old Great North Road south to track up to Mt Lockyer
 1.3km Track up to Mt Lockyer summit
 8.0km return same way

2. Macdonald River (Yengo NP)

A bushwalk that’s a bit different… the entire route is along the bed of the Howes Valley Creek and Macdonald River (except for a short section along the main road linking the start and end points of the walk). Most of the route is sandy creek walking, with the occasional small waterfall / cascade and boulders. There are plenty of camping spots along the river. Somewhat ironically, water can be an issue as the area can get very dry, and the Macdonald River and it’s obviously not a great walk to undertake when there the area is in flood! (The MacDonald is a “river of sand”, and its wide and sandy bed sometimes doesn’t contain any flowing water.)

The suggested route follows Howes Creek down from Putty Road until it meets the Macdonald River. You then follow the Macdonald River upstream back to Putty Road. This “loop” is about 25km.¬†You can extend the walk by continuing down the MacDonald River – there’s a large overhang and suggested camping spot 3.5km downstream. You can go another 20km+ down the river through the Yengo National Park before you reach Higher Macdonald where the river flows into farmland.

Getting there Park at the junction of Putty Road and Howes Trail (74km north from Ampol service station at Colo Heights to the bridge over the MacDonald River, than another 4.2km to Howes Creek Trail).
Distances 25-50km (2-4 days).
Grade Easy. Total ascent 400-600m. Off-track walking along riverbed.
Map/s 9032-2N Howes Valley (1:25K) Buy / Download
9032-2S Mount Yengo (1:25K) Buy / Download
9031-1N Moruben (1:25K) Buy / Download (if continuing down river)
9031-1S Auburn (1:25K)  Buy / Download (if continuing down river)
Interactive topographic map with GPX download
Resources Bushwalks in the Sydney Region (S Lord & G Daniel), Vol 2, Ed 4, p.57. Buy Ebook.
Discovering Yengo & Dharug National Parks (A Dunk), p.79. Ebook
Track notes and map from bushwalkingnsw.com
Download Map / Notes Custom topographic maps (A4, 1:25K) – Map 1 / Map 2 [PDF]
 1.1km Howes Trail to Howes Creek
12.8km Follow Howes Creek to where it meets MacDonald River
       3.5km Follow MacDonald River downstream to large rock overhang
       20km+ Continue down the MacDonald River as far as you like...
 8.5km Howes Creek / MacDonald River junction to Putty Road
 4.4km Walk along Putty Road to junction with Howes Creek

2. Alternate Route – One-way down the River (60km / 3-4 days)

You could also do this walk one-way, starting on Putty Road where it crosses Macdonald River and continuing down the river to exit via the Wallaby Swamp Trail (MGA Moruben 982428) or Bala Range trail (MGA Auburn 029328). Both are old 4WD roads that are now closed to traffic. You’d obviously need to do a car shuffle or be able to organise a drop-off and pick-up along the entry & exit points on Putty Road.

3. Wollangambe Crater

A relatively easy overnight walk that you can do by car or by train, this track accesses Wollangambe Canyon via an old firetrail and rough bushwalking trails from Bell railway station. The destination – Wollangambe Crater – is named from its appearance and was formed by erosion, and not by a meteor strike or volcanic activity (there’s an interesting explanation of how the crater was formed on The Thunderbolts Project web site).

This walk is partly through the Wollangambe Wilderness and traverses “pagoda country”, including a¬†large pagoda named “994 pagoda” (for its height) or “the Centre of the Universe”. Although rough trails exist navigation is required as the tracks are not officially marked or sign-posted. There are multiple camping spots and water available from Wollangambe Creek near the Wollangambe Crater.

Getting there Starts near Bell railway station
Distance Approx 19km return (2 days)
Grade Moderate (some navigation required)
Map/s 8930-1N Mt Wilson (1:25K).  Buy / Download
8931-2-S Wollangambe (1:25K. Buy / Download
Interactive topographic map with GPX download
Resources Bushwalks in the Sydney Region (S Lord & G Daniel), Vol 1, Ed 6, p.81 (out of print)
Blog post by Fat Canyoners
Blog post by David Noble covers different routes to Wollangambe
Download Map / Notes Track notes from bushwalkingnsw.com
Custom topographic maps (A4, 1:25K) – Map 1 / Map 2 [PDF]
 1.8km Bell railway station to 994 pagoda
 6.5km 994 pagoda to Wollangambe River
 1.1km Wollangambe River to alternate camping site
 9.4km Return same way

4. Colo River (Wollemi)

The Colo River runs through the Colo River gorge, one of the largest in the world (other than the Grand Canyon) at 30km in length, and one of the largest wilderness areas in NSW. There’s a range of walks from a few hours to overnight in length, with established tracks mainly on the eastern side and significant scope for off-track walking on the relatively untouched western side of the river. There’s also the option of li-loing down the river. This makes the Colo River one of the few areas in the north-west that is ideal for bushwalking year-round.

Some resources covering bushwalks around the Colo River:

  • The Colo Wilderness on Foot (Anthony Dunk) has a wide range of walks with sketch maps
  • Bushwalking NSW Colo River¬†web page covers different outdoor activities, including a number of bushwalking trails and walk reviews.

4a. Mountain Lagoon to Colo River (Wollemi NP)

This is one of the most-documented trails to the Colo River, starting at Mountain Lagoon and descending to the river via Meroo Trig along the Gospers and Mailes Ridges. There’s some potential camping sites along the way (a small clearing at MGA 847027), although the suggested camping site is the large Colo Meroo Picnic and Camping Area by the river. There are some nice views along the way down, which is a mix of firetrail, bushwalking trail and some sections of indistinct trails with track markers.

Getting there Trailhead is on Sams Way in Mountain Lagoon, which is off Mountain Lagoon Road (take the Bells Line of Road from Richmond and look for Mountain Lagoon Road turn-off at Bilpin)
Distances 24km (2 days). Moderate. Some steep & rough sections of track
Grade Easy. Total ascent 690m.
Map/s 9031-3S Mountain Lagoon (1:25K).  Buy / Download
Interactive topographic map with GPX download
Resources Bushwalks in the Sydney Region (S Lord & G Daniel), Vol 1, Ed 3, p.53. Buy Ebook
Discovering the Colo Wilderness (A Dunk), p.27. Buy book
NPWS Colo Meroo Picnic and Camping Area web page
Track notes from bushwalking.com
Download Map / Notes  Custom topographic maps (A4, 1:25K) РMap 1 / Map 2
 0.4km Head north from Sams Way along fire trail. Take right-hand branch.
 7.8km Follow track down Gospers Ridge. Viewing point at MGA845009
 2.5km Track crosses saddle and follows Mailes Ridge
 1.7km Steep descent to the river following a spur
12.4km return same way

4b. Colo River Loop from Mountain Lagoon

If you’re looking for something a bit more challenging than the previous Colo River walk… try this option, which explores a section of the lower Colo River. The Colo River is reached¬†using the Tootie Creek (T3) trail then you follow the river downstream before returning via the Gospers and Mailes Ridges trail (described in the previous walk). You could also do the walk in the reverse direction, although finding the Tootie Creek exit track can be a bit tricky. You can camp along the Colo River (one recommended spot is a large sand back at MGA 840000) or at the Colo Meroo campground, which has basic facilities.

The section along the river has no track, and involves a combination of navigating three sets of rapids (requiring some scrub-bashing along the bank of the river), wading though some deep pools and walking on soft sand (the river is quite shallow and sandy for the last few kilometres). You ideally want to have light-weight shoes or sandals that can get wet to protect your feet, and allow plenty of time for the section along the river.

Getting there Trailhead is on Sams Way in Mountain Lagoon, which is off Mountain Lagoon Road (take the Bells Line of Road from Richmond and look for Mountain Lagoon Road turn-off at Bilpin)
Distances 29km (2-3 days). Moderate. Off-track section along river.
Grade Hard. Total ascent 1,075m.
Map/s 9031-3S Mountain Lagoon (1:25K).  Buy / Download
Interactive topographic map with GPX download
Resources NPWS Colo Meroo Picnic and Camping Area web page
Track notes from bushwalking.com
Download Map / Notes  Custom topographic maps (A4, 1:25K) РMap 1 / Map 2
 0.4km Head north from Sams Way along fire trail. Take left-hand branch.
 7.6km Tootie Creek (T3) trail down to Colo River
 3.7km Good sand bank for camping opposite creek junction (MGA 840000)
 5.3km Follow Colo River to Colo Meroo campground
12.0km Gospers and Mailes Ridges trail back to Sams Way trackhead

4c. Crawfords Lookout to Dooli Creek

This is the toughest Colo River walk, exploring the upper reaches of the river on a circuit that is almost completely off-track. From the end of the Culoul Range Trail, a walking trail goes past Hollow Rock (an impressive wind eroded boulder) to the edge of the cliffline, with a steep and rough cairned route providing access down to Wollemi Creek (not far from where it joins the Color River). The Colo River is then followed for almost ten kilometres downstream, returning via Boorai Ridge to the firetrail.

It can be done in two days, but as there are limited camping spots once in the narrow gorge the alternative is to camp near the entry and exit points of the walk, and do the walk over three days.

Getting there Parking area at the end of Culoul Range Trail, which is about 17km north of Colo Heights off Putty Road.
Distances 21km (2-3 days). Hard. Mostly off-track including along river.
Grade Hard. Total ascent 1,100m.
Map/s 9031-4S Six Brothers (1:25K).  Buy / Download
Interactive topographic map with GPX download
Resources Track notes from bushwalking.com
Discovering the Colo Wilderness (A Dunk), p.34. Buy book
Download Map / Notes Custom topographic map (A4, 1:25K)
 4.1km Culoul Range Trail to Crawford Lookout
 0.9km Craword Lookout to Wollemi Creek (steep descent)
 8.2km Follow Colo River downstream
 6.2km Colo River up Boorai Ridge back to the firetrail (no track)

5. Newnes

Newnes is on the western edge of Wollemi National Park on the Wolgan River, about 2.5 hours from Sydney. A booming oil shale mining town in the 20th century until the industry closed in the 1930s, Newnes is now a ghost town with just some ruins remaining from the oil shale works – and a fantastic large campground, framed by tall cliffs.

There are a couple of overnight walks that are outlined below. There’s¬†also many short walks around Newnes, including a day-walk to the famous Glow Worm Tunnel, which you could do using the Newnes campground as your base.

Some resources covering walking in and around Newnes:

  • Bushwalking NSW¬†Newnes and the Wolgan Valley web page covers an overview the area and many of the walks
  • Lithgow Tourism’s Newnes¬†web site has extensive information on the area.

5a. Newnes to Glen Davis via Pipeline Track

The Pipeline Track connects the historic towns of Newnes in the Wolgan Valley and Glen Davis in the Capertee Valley, following the route of an old pipeline that linked two shale refinery sites. The track traverses the typical rugged, sandstone cliff country of the Wollemi area, with great views of the Wolgan and Capertee valleys. It’s worth taking the short detour to the Pagoda Lookout, which has some of the best views of the walk.

From Glen Davis, you can camp here before returning the same way (making this a 21km return walk) or continue along the Capertee River Trail which would make the walk up to 45km long. The Capertee River Trail follows the Capertee River and is an unsealed road open to cars – so it’s not a particularly interesting or worthwhile exension – but it gives you the option of an alternative campsite (Coorongooba campground).

ALERT: The Pipeline track between Glen Davis and Newnes was closed in 2014 further notice due to an access issue involving private property at Glen Davis. It’s possible to avoid the disputed section of the track, and Canyoning Australia has posted details of an alternative route, and states that “a footpad [is] developing along the detour route”.

Getting there Newnes is reached via Lithgow (take the Mudgee turn-off 8km after Lithgow and the signposted turn-off onto Wolgan Road after another 4km at Wallerawang)
Distances 20-45km (2-3 days)
Grade Moderate. Total ascent 820m.
Map/s 8931-4S Ben Bullen (1:25K)  Buy / Download
8931-1S Mount Morgan (1:25K)  Buy / Download
8931-1N Gospers Mountain (1:25K)  Buy / Download
Interactive topographic map with GPX download
Resources Bushwalks in the Sydney Region (S Lord & G Daniel), Vol 1, Ed 3, p.55. Buy Ebook.
Discovering the Colo Wilderness (A Dunk), p.58. Buy book
Track notes from bushwalking.com
Download Map / Notes Custom topographic maps (A4, 1:25K) – Map 1 / Map 2 / Map 3
 8.6km Newnes campground to Glen Davis campground
 4.1km Glen Davis campground to Coorongooba campground
 7.5km Coorongooba campground to end of Capertee River Trail
21.0km return (same way) or 9km from Glen Davis

5b. Newnes to Rocky Creek & Annie Rowan Creek

This could be an easy or slightly more challenging bushwalk, depending on how far you go… As the trail mostly follows the Wolgan River and side-creeks, navigation is straightforward and there’s relatively little climbing. There’s many campsites that you’ll probably have to yourself, against a backdrop of towering cliffs and occasional ruins from the areas’s mining and agricultural past.

Starting from Newnes, the Newnes Ruin Road (a fire trail closed to traffic but used occasionally by NPWS to lay fox-baits) follows the Wolgan River on the southern side. After a few kilometres the overgrown Luchetti farm is reached (camping possible here) and Twilight Creek after about 8km (another camping area). After about 11km the junction with Rocky Creek is reached, and camping is possible here, or by taking an overgrown firetrail that goes up Rocky Creek to the junction with Deanes Creek. This makes a pleasant 2-day (25km) walk, with a choice of camping spots near Deanes creek or Wolgan River.

For a longer walk, take a smaller pack the following day for a day-walk further down the Wolgan River to Annie Rowan Creek. After about 7km walking down the Wolgan River, there’s a ford with a campsite on the south side, with a steep trail going up and over a hill. This goes to the site of an old farm, which is now a camping area, on Annie Rowan Creek. Return the same way to the Rocky Creek /¬† Deanes Creek camping site.

Getting there Newnes is reached via Lithgow (take the Mudgee turn-off 8km after Lithgow and the signposted turn-off onto Wolgan Road after another 4km at Wallerawang)
Distances 43km (2-3 days). 24km (2 days) to Rocky Creek.
Grade Moderate. Total ascent 480m (320m if doing Rocky Creek walk only)
Map/s 8931-4S Ben Bullen (1:25K)  Buy / Download
8931-1S Mount Morgan (1:25K)  Buy / Download
Interactive topographic map with GPX download
Resources Bushwalks in the Sydney Region (S Lord & G Daniel), Vol 1, Ed 3, p.58. Buy Ebook.
Wolgan River Walk on David Noble’s blog
Track notes from bushwalking.com up to Rocky Creek
Download Map / Notes Custom topographic maps (A4, 1:25K) – Map 1 / Map 2 / Map 3
 8.3km Newnes (start of Newnes Ruin Road) to Twilight Creek (camp site here)
 2.6km Twilight creek to junction of Rocky Creek
 1.6km Wolgan River up Rocky Creek & Deanes Creek to campsite
       12.5km return same route to Newnes
 1.6km Rocky Creek campsite back to Wolgan River
 7.0km Follow Wolgan River to start of steep trail to Annie Rowan Creek
 2.5km Wolgan River to Annie Rowan Creek
       9.5km return same route to Rocky Creek campsite

Extended Route – Newnes to Colo Gorge (3-4 days)

If you’re able to organise transport at both ends, you could also start at Newnes and head down the Wolgan River to where it meets Annie Rowan Creek. Rather then returning the same way, continue down the Wolgan River and then the Colo River. Exit via the Culoul Range Trail (described in Walk 4c, above).

  • Described in¬†Discovering the Colo Wilderness (A Dunk), p.67. Buy book
  • Topographical maps: 8931-4S Ben Bullen, 9031-4S Six Brothers, 8931-1S Mount Morgan

5c. Mount Dawson Caves (Wollemi NP)

The last but not least of the overnight walk from Newnes: this is the shortest but hardest of the extended walks. It traverses rugged pagoda country, takes you past one of the highest cliffs in the Blue Mountains and offers spectacular views over the Wolgan and Capertee valleys and Newnes Plateau. You can camp at one of the level sites among the pagodas or inside one of many camping caves.

The route starts as an old 4WD road from the end of the Little Capertee Trail, which becomes a bushwalking track along the creek after about a kilometre before climbing steeply up a spur. The indistinct track then heads up to the cliff, from where there are more views, before following the cliff-line south towards Mount Dawson. The “camping caves” are about a¬†kilometre before from the summit of Mt Dawson, in a distinctive series of massive boulder-like cliffs. (There should be water 200-300m away at upper Little Capertee Creek – although some trip reports suggest it can dry up.)

Getting there Newnes is reached via Lithgow (take the Mudgee turn-off 8km after Lithgow and the signposted turn-off onto Wolgan Road after another 4km at Wallerawang)
Distances 14km (2 days)
Grade Hard. Total ascent 200m.
Map/s 8931-4S Ben Bullen (1:25K)  Buy / Download
Interactive topographic map with GPX download
Resources Bushwalks in the Sydney Region(S Lord & G Daniel), Vol 1, Ed 6, p.76 (out of print)
Blog post by We Are Explorers
Download Map / Notes Track notes with grid references from Bush Explorers
Custom topographic map (A4, 1:25K)
 3.2km From Wolgan Road follow trail along Capertee Creek (initially an old 4WD track)
 1.4km Route follows spur up to cliff line
 2.5km Follow cliff line to camping caves
 7.2km Return same way

Great North Walk (North)

A few people do the entire 260km Great North Walk (GNW),¬†between Sydney (Macquarie Place) and Newcastle (Queens Wharf Tower in Bicentennial Park) in one go over 9-15 days. It can also be completed as a series of day-walks. Or in shorter 2-3 day overnight sections. There are (almost) unlimited possibilities! With careful planning you can even leave the tent at home and do most of the route as an “inn to inn” walk, which also means you can cover longer sections in a day.

Some of the (arguably) nicest sections are between Thornleigh and Brooklyn, much of it through the Ku-ring-gai National Park – but the campsites are never too far from civilisation and the water is generally quite polluted (and many campsites are on a ridge with no water at all). These are often best done as day-walks. Further north, from Patonga/Wondabyne to Yarramalong, the track is more remote and public transport more limited – doing these over two or three days can be ideal. Unfortunately from Yarramalong to the north a significant proportion of the walk is along firetrails and roads and personally, I’d avoid these last sections unless you want to complete the entire route.

If you’re looking for a challenge… between Berowra and Brooklyn the track traverses multiple valleys, and you’ll have considerable elevation gain (and loss) over these sections. The steepest (and highest) sections are through the Watagans, further north with the walk up to Flat Rock Lookout and Mt Warrawolong giving you a good workout!

Great_North_Walk_terrain_Profile
Click for larger version. Source: Matt McClelland of Wildwalks.com
SECTION 1: Lane Cove Valley (25km / 1-2 days) - Section 1 map [PDF]
13.4km Valentia Street (Ferry) Wharf to Lane Cove National Park (camping)
11.0km Lane Cove National Park to Thornleigh Oval (Baden Powell scout camp)
SECTION 2: Benowie Track (27km / 1-2 days) - Section 2 map [PDF]
19.5km Bellamy Street (Thornleigh) to Crosslands (large camping area)
 7.0km Crosslands to Berowra Waters
SECTION 3: Hawkesbury Track (68km / 2-3 days) - Section 3 map [PDF]
17.0km Berowra Waters to Brooklyn Dam campsite
 3.0km Brooklyn Dam to Brooklyn (train or water taxi to/from here)
18.0km Patonga to Mt Wondabyne camp site (+ for Mt Wondabyne side-trip)
17.0km Mt Wondabyne to Mooney Mooney Creek campground
13.0km Mooney Mooney Creek campground to Somersby Store (car access)
SECTION 4: Cedar Brush Track (62.5km / 2-3 days) - Section 4 map [PDF]
12.0km Somersby to Stringybark Point (campsite)
12.0km Stringybark Point to Yarramalong (track follows main road)
20.0km Yarramalong to Basin Campsite
11.0km Basin Campsite to Mt Warrawolong campsite
 6.5km Mt Warrawolong campsite to Flat Rock Lookout (and campsite)
SECTION 5: Watagan Track (61km / 2-3 days) - Section 5 map [PDF]
19.0km Flat Rock Lookout to Barraba campsite (via Congewai Valley)
13.0km Barraba campsite to Old Forestry HQ (campsite)
13.0km Old Forestry HQ to Heaton Gap trackhead (car access)
10.2km Heaton Gap trackhead to Wakefield Trackhead (campsite & car access)
 5.8km Wakefield Trackhead to Teralba (station & car access)
SECTION 6: Yuelarbah Track (25km / 1 day) - Section 6 map [PDF]
12.6km Teralba station to Charlestown Park (via Warners Bay & Speers Point)
12.1km Charlestown Park to Queens Wharf, Newcastle (via Glenrock Lagoon)

You also see the route visually in Google Maps – the blue are the segments on bushwalking trails (or firetrails closed to cars), the orange represents roads and the dark red are sections of 4WD tracks or cycleways (not as bad as walking on a road, but not a wilderness experience!).

Some resources covering the entire track:

  • The Great North Walk (Matt McClelland, 2nd Ed) – purchase book
  • Wildwalks Great North Walk – notes and maps for day-walks and overnight walks
  • The Great North Walk website
  • Transventure blog¬†covering an 11-day through-hike of the GNW in 2013

For maps, I’ve listed the detailed (1:25K) topographic maps that cover each of the walks, but you could also look at:

  • Great North Walk map kit – an invaluable resource (printed maps for each section)
  • Online topographic map of entire GNW route [AllTrails] – this has an option to download GPS files in different formats (including GPX)

IMG_1198-LRP-4

1. Woolwich to Thornleigh (Lane Cove Valley)

This first section of the GNW is best done as a day-walk – but you can camp at Lane Cove National Park (bookings required) to make it into an overnight walk. After about six kilometres of “on-road” walking through Hunters Hill you reach Lane Cove National Park, a thin and long green strip through the north of Sydney.

You’ll never feel like your in the wilderness, but it’s fairly pleasant walking, mostly along the Lane Cove River.

Getting there Ferry to Woolwich (from Circular Quay). Train to Thornleigh station.
Distances 32km (1-2 days).
Grade Easy. Total elevation gain 900m. Some of the route is on roads.
Map/s 9130-3N Parramatta River (1:25K)  Buy / Download
9130-4S Hornsby (1:25K)  Buy / Download
Interactive topographic map with GPX download
Resources Lane Cove NP web page for campsite bookings
Download Map / Notes Track-Notes-GNW-Sydney-Thornleigh [PDF, wildwalks.com]
Custom topographic maps (A4, 1:25K) – Map 1 / Map 2 / Map 3 [PDF]
10.8km Woolwich Wharf to Boronia Park (this section is on-road)
10.5km Boronia Park to Lane Cove River Tourist Park (campground)
15.5km Lane Cove River Tourist Park to Thornleigh Oval
  0.9km Thornleigh Oval to Thornleigh Station

1b. Woolwich to Mt Ku-ring-gai

For a longer overnight walk, continue past Lane Cove National Park to Thornleigh, staying at the Baden Powell Scout Camp (bookings essential). The next day would see you finish at Mt Ku-ring-gai (you could also finish at Hornsby making the walk a fair bit shorter, or at Berowra which makes Day 2 slightly longert). There are multiple potential exits you can take on the the second day that offer public transport, depending on how far you want to go. The walk becomes a bit strenuous and you feel like you’ve left the city as you cross Galston Gorge and traverse the Berowra Valley National Park.

Getting there Ferry to Woolwich (from Circular Quay). Train to Mt Ku-ring-gai station
Distances 58km (2-3 days) including the exit track to Mt Ku-ring-gai station.
Grade Moderate. Total elevation gain 1,600m. Some of the route is on roads.
Map/s 9130-3N Parramatta River (1:25K)  Buy / Download
9130-4S Hornsby (1:25K)  Buy / Download
Interactive topographic map with GPX download
Resources Baden Powell Scout Camp web site for campsite bookings
Download Map / Notes Track-Notes-GNW-Sydney-Thornleigh [PDF, wildwalks.com]
Track-Notes-GNW-Thornleigh-to-Mt Kuring-Gai [PDF, wildwalks.com]
Custom topographic maps (A4, 1:25K) – Map 1 / Map 2 / Map 3 / Map 4 / Map 5 / Map 6 [PDF]
10.8km Woolwich Wharf to Boronia Park (this section is on-road)
19.2km Boronia Park to Baden Powell Scout Camp (campground)
23.8km Baden Powell Scout Camp to Mt Ku-ring-gai link track
  4.3km Mt Ku-ring-gai link track to Mt Ku-ring-gai Station

Other walks

  • Gordon to Hornsby – 25.8km one-way (2 days or could be done as one long day). Follows Blackbutt Creek bush reserve in Gordon before joining the Great North Walk, passing Browns Waterhole and Fishponds before reaching Hornsby station. Camp at Baden Powell Scout Camp (bookings essential). Track notes from wildwalks.com.

2. Thornleigh to Brooklyn (Benowie & Hawkesbury Tracks)

This is my favourite part of the Great North Walk: as well as feeling like you’ve finally left civilisation, there is easy access to public transport (northern train line) along the section so you easily extend or reduce the length of Day 2. The track notes from Wildwalks (see box below) cover a few different start/end points so you can vary the length or extend the walk to 3 days.

Most of the track is through national parks, although there is a short deviation onto public roads in Hornsby to avoid the Hornsby Rifle Range – a recent closure that remains in place despite considerable lobbying. It was still possible in 2017 to follow the original Great North Walk route from Fishponds, although you’re doing so at your risk (this track was used for many decades before the decision was made to close it based on a new “zero risk” policy).

After the short but steep climb down Galston Gorge and back up the other side, the track is fairly hilly and provides a good workout all the way to Brooklyn.¬†The only brief respite from nature is at Berowra Waters, where you can make a short detour across Berowra Creek to a kiosk and restaurant. Unless you’re ready to finish at Cowan where the track crosses the highway and railway line, there’s another few valleys to traverse before you finish. There’s many formal and informal camping sites – the largest being at Crosslands where water is available (it’s also car-accessible and can get busy).

Getting there Train to Thornleigh and Brooklyn train stations
Distances 46km (2-3 days). Or 35km Thornleigh to Cowan station.
Grade Moderate. Total elevation gain of 1,800m.
Map/s 9130-4S Hornsby (1:25K)  Buy / Download
9130-4N Cowan (1:25)  Buy / Download
Interactive topographic map with GPX download
Resources Thornleigh to Berowra blog post
Download Map / Notes Track-Notes-GNW-Thornleigh-to-Mt Kuring-Gai [PDF, wildwalks.com]
Track-Notes-GNW-Thornleigh-to-Cowan [PDF, wildwalks.com]
Track-Notes-Crosslands-to-Brooklyn [PDF, wildwalks.com]
Track-Notes-Hornsby-to-Brooklyn [PDF, wildwalks.com]
Custom topographic maps (A4, 1:25K) РMap 1 / Map 2 / Map 3 / Map 4 / Map 5 [PDF]
 1.0km Thornleigh station to Great North Walk trackhead (Morgan St)
13.6km Thornleigh to Tunks Ridge campsite (just before Galston Gorge)
 6.6km Tunks Ridge campsite to Berowra Creek campsite
 1.8km Berowra Creek campsite to Crosslands (busy campsite; water, toilets, BBQ available)
 1.0km Crosslands to Lyrebird Track (exit to Mt Ku-ring-gai station)
       4.3km GNW to Ku-ring-gai station
 5.5km Lyrebird Track to Berowra Waters
 7.4km Berowra Waters to Cowan station (track crosses Pacific Motorway)
11.0km Cowan Station to Brooklyn (Hawkesbury River)
 0.3km End of GNW track (Brooklyn Road) to Hawkesbury River station

3. Patonga to Wondabyne

This bushwalk doesn’t strictly follow the Great North Walk route… but it includes some of the nicer sections of the GNW including nice Broken Bay views from Patonga and from Warrah Lookout and Mt Wondabyne. It also passes the very scenic Kariong Brook Falls and waterhole, and includes some remote sections of the Brisbane Waters National Park.

Get to Patonga by catching a ferry which runs regularly from Palm Beach, before a relatively short Day 1 walk from Patonga to Mt Wondabyne, camping at Mt Wondabyne Campsite. After enjoying sunset or sunrise from the Mt Wondabyne summit, Day 2 can be extended by walking to Mt Pindar Lookout and Pindar Cave (a large sandstone overhang) before returning to Wondabyne Station. You could extend the walk to three days by camping a second night in Pindar Cave.

Getting there Ferry to Patonga (from Palm Beach). Train from Wondabyne.
Distances 28km one-way (2-3 days).
Grade Easy. Total elevation gain of 1,200m.
Map/s 9130-1N Broken Bay (1:25K) Buy / Download
9131-2S Gosford (1:25K) Buy / Download
9131-3S Gunderman (1:25K) Buy / Download
Interactive topographic map with GPX download
Resources Fantasea timetable for Palm Beach to/from Patonga
Bushwalks in the Sydney Region (S Lord & G Daniel), Vol 1, Ed 6, p.46 (out of print)
Download Map / Notes Track-Notes-Patonga-to-Wondabyne [PDF, wildwalks.com]
11.2km Patonga Wharf to Mt Wondabyne Campsite
 6.2km Mt Wondabyne to junction with track to Wondabyne Station
 4.9km GNW/Wondabyne link track to Pindar Cave
 5.8km Pindar Cave to Wondabyne Station

3b. Cowan to Wondabyne station via Patonga

This is another nice two-day walk that takes in some of the best sections of the GNW (there are just a few dreary sections along firetrails before reaching Brooklyn)… But it’s an expensive option, as the only way between Brooklyn and Patonga is a water taxi (no scheduled ferry services). It’s a bit more palatable if you have a small group to share the transfer cost! The alternative is to take a train to Wondabyne, which bypasses an 18km section of the GNW. (You could also have a nice dinner and stay in a motel or B&B in Brooklyn or Patonga instead of camping.)

The track drops down to Jerusalem Bay before climbing back up to a ridge, which it follows for while before dropping down to Brooklyn Dam (built in the late 1890s to provide water to the steam trains operating on the northern rail line). After reaching Brooklyn, a water taxi is needed to reach the secluded fishing village of Patonga, by the Hawkesbury River. The second part of the walk is relatively flat, with great views over Broken Bay at the start and later a short climb to the summit of Mt Wondabyne for sweeping views over Brisbane Water National Park.

HPIM2398-LR

Getting there Train to/from Cowan and Brooklyn train stations
Water taxi between Brooklyn and Patonga Wharf
Distances 34km (2 days).
Grade Moderate. Total elevation gain of 1,500m.
Map/s 9130-4N Cowan (1:25K)  Buy / Download
9130-1N Broken Bay (1:25K) Buy / Download
9131-2S Gosford (1:25K) Buy / Download
Interactive topographic map with GPX download
Resources Water taxi to Patonga РHawkesbury Water Taxi (0422 300 100)
Download Map / Notes Track-Notes-Cowan-to-Wondabyne-via-Patonga [PDF, wildwalks.com]
Custom topographic maps (A4, 1:25K) РMap 1 / Map 2 / Map 3 / Map 4 [PDF]
13.1km Cowan Station to Brooklyn
       Transfer via water taxi to Patonga
 3.9km Patonga Wharf to Patonga Rest Area (campsite) 
 6.9km Patonga Rest Area to Mt Wondabyne Campsite
 7.9km Mt Wondabyne Campsite to Wondabyne station

4. Wondabyne to Somersby

This section is a little short for a 2-day walk – but it’s the last overnight section that can be easily done using public transport… Well, maybe not easily – there’s only a couple of bus services to Somersby a day, and no buses on Sundays. But it’s still possible with a little planning to do this section without arranging a car shuffle or paying for a taxi. Beyond Somersby, it’s a long (multi-day) walk to Teralba or you’ll need private transport.¬†It’s a relatively easy and pleasant walk, with the first day including Scopas Peak providing nice views and the optional 4km Piles Creek Loop, a mostly shaded track, passing some swimming holes and rock caves.

Even if you’re not doing the Piles Creek loop, the GNW follows the Piles Creek track for a short distance. Just after crossing Piles Creek on the Phil Houghton Bridge, there’s a nice campsite right by the creek. From here the GNW follows Piles Creek downstream until it meets Mooney Mooney Creek. The track now follows Mooney Mooney Creek through Brisbane Water National Park, with another two campsites by the creek (which is more of a river!). It eventually reaches Mooney Mooney dam, before gently climbing up to Somersby.

You can continue to Yarramalong to make it a long 2-day walk, or a moderate 3-day walk, but you’ll need private transport or a taxi to Wyong station from the end. This section is mostly through forest, but is not a particularly nice section.

Getting there Train to Wondabyne and bus (infrequent service) from Somersby
Distances 30km one-way including Pile Creek Loop (2 days).
Grade Easy. Total elevation gain of 900m.
Map/s 9131-2S Gosford (1:25K) Buy / Download
9131-3S Gunderman (1:25K) Buy / Download
9131-2N Wyong (1:25K)  Buy / Download
Interactive topographic map with GPX download
Resources NSW Transport Trip Planner for bus & train services
Bushwalks in the Sydney Region (S Lord & G Daniel), Vol 1, Ed 6, p.48 (out of print) covers Wondabyne to Yarramalong
Download Map / Notes Track-Notes-Wondabyne-to-Somersby [PDF, wildwalks.com]
Custom topographic maps (A4, 1:25K) – Map 1 / Map 2 / Map 3 [PDF]
15.6km Wondabyne station to Mooney Mooney Creek Campsite (south)
       Includes 4km for optional Piles Creek Loop 
 1.3km South Campsite to North Campsite - recommended end of Day 1 
 5.5km Mooney Mooney Creek Campsite (north) to Quarry Camping Area
 7.3km Quarry Camping Area to Somersby Store
 +24km if extending to Yarramalong to make it a 3-day walk.  

Other walks

  • Patonga to Somersby.¬†41.5km one-way (2-3 days). Combines bushwalks (3) and (4) into a long 2-day walk or a comfortable 3-day walk. This would be one of the best 3-day GNW walks you can do, with almost all of the walk on bushwalking track and public transport at both ends (infrequent bus services from Somersby). You can make it a bit longer by leaving your backpack at the Piles Creek camp site, and doing the very pleasant Piles Creek Loop (+5.5km).¬†¬†Track notes from Wildwalks.
  • Patonga to Girrakool¬†– 24.8km one-way (2-days). Nice views from Scopas Peak and Mt Wondabyne. Combines Great North Walk with the¬†Piles Creek Loop Track, camping at Mt Wondabyne. Ferry to/from Patonga but no public transport at Girrakool. Track notes from Wildwalks.

5. Cedar Brush to Congewai Valley

This is the last section of the GNW I’d recommend as an overnight walk, but it will need a long car shuffle or private transport… There are some nice sections in the Watagans, including the walk up through a tall forest from Watagan Creek Road to Flat Rock Lookout, from where there are views over the Congewai Valley.

On the opposite side of Watagan Creek Road it’s an even steeper climb to Mt Warrawolong (641m asl) – the highest Point on Great North Walk. It’s not a particularly nice walk along a rough firetrail if you make the detour to the top, but you do get sweeping views from the narrow ridge on the way to Mt Warrawolong as well as from the peak.

IMG_2300-LR

The downside to this section of the GNW are the many sections along both firetrails and as unsealed roads that are open to cars. From previous reports, there are some nice ridgetop campsites – and others that have been littered by “car campers”.

Getting there Car to Cedar Brush and Congewai Valley trailheads
Distances 33km one-way (2 days).
Grade Moderate. Total elevation gain of 1,800m.
Map/s 9131-1S Dooralong (1:25K)  Buy / Download
9131-4N Murrays Run (1:25K)  Buy / Download
9131-1N Morisset (1:25K)  Buy / Download
9132-2S Quorrobolong (1:25K)  Buy / Download
Interactive topographic map with GPX download
Resources  Bushwalks in the Sydney Region (S Lord & G Daniel), Vol 1, Ed 6, p.56 (out of print) has Cedar Brush to Mt Warrawolong with a car shuffle.
Download Map / Notes Custom topographic maps (A4, 1:25K) – Map 1 / Map 2 / Map 3 / Map 4
 6.5km Cedar Brush trackhead (Brush Creek Rd) to Basin Campground jct
       5.6km side-track to The Basin Campground
10.2km Jct with The Basin track to Mt Warrawolong summit
 4.4km Mt Warrawolong summit to Watagan Creek Road / Watagan campground
 7.9km Watagan Creek Road to start of Watagan Track
 4.1km Watagan Track to Congewai Road

Other walks

  • Somersby to Yarramalong¬†– 26.7km one-way (1-2-days). While there are some patches of rainforest and eucalypt forest, a significant portion of this track is along public roads. One of the GNW sections I’d personally avoid unless you want to complete the entire track. Infequent bus service to Yarramalong and no public transport to/from Yarramalong. Track notes from Wildwalks.
  • Yarramalong to Watagan Creek Road – 33.7km one-way (2 days). This is similar to the¬†Cedar Brush to Congewai Valley route described above, but includes a long section of road-walking from Yarramalong to the Cedar Brush trackhead, and it finishes at Watagan Creek Road (one of the most remote trackheads on the GNW involving a long drive). Neither end of this route has public transport.¬†Track notes from Wildwalks.
  • The Basin Campsite to Heaton Gap – 60.5km (3-4 days). Some of this walk is included in the recommended¬†Cedar Brush to Congewai Valley route. This 3-4 day bushwalk includes the Olney State Forest and Watagan State Forest, but a significant portion of the route through the Congewai Valley and Watagans National Park is along firetrails and roads. Most camping sites are accessible by car. Some nice views but but particularly interesting walking. No public transport to either trackhead.¬†Track notes from Wildwalks.
  • Teralba to Newcastle¬†– 25.7km one-way (1-2-days). The last section of the GNW, with a lot of the track on footpaths or along roads, with the middle section traversing the Glenrock State Conservation Area. You could easily do this in¬† a day, or stay at Glenrock Scout Camp (bookings essential). Easy access to public transport (trains) at both ends of the track. Track notes from Wildwalks.

6. Canoelands Ridge walking track

Not far from the Great North Walk is the¬†Canoelands Ridge walking track to Gentlemans Halt Campground, in the Marramarra National Park. The track descends via a long ridge to the campground, which is located on the Hawkesbury River. Most of the route is a wide fire trail, with the last couple of kilometres a rough bushwalking track with some scrambling required. There’s some nice views along the way over the Hawkesbury, although it’s not the most exciting walk you can do!

The Gentlemans Halt campground is a large, grassy area with plenty of space: it can be accessed by boat but is generally pretty quiet and there’s a good chance you’ll have the place to yourself. There’s are toilets but no water available. You can have a campfire – if you bring your own timber, which is not very practical if you’re walking in…

Getting there Trackhead is on Canoelands Road (approximately 64 Canoelands Road, Canoelands)
Distances 20km return (2 days)
Grade Easy. Total ascent 745m.
Map/s 9131-3S Gunderman (1:25K) Buy / Download
Interactive topographic map with GPX download
Resources NPWS Gentlemans Halt campground web page
Download Map / Notes Custom topographic map (A4, 1:25K)
 8.0km Canoelands Ridge Trail (fire trail)
 2.0km Gentlemans Halt Track (rough track) to campground
 Return same route

7. Bouddi Coastal Walk

Like the Royal National Park South Coast Track (below), the Bouddi Coastal Walk is a very popular day-walk. It’s one of the best coastal walks around Sydney, traversing a number of beautiful beaches and scenic lookouts between Little Beach to the north and Putty Beach at the south. In summer you can take advantage of some magnificent and uncrowded swimming beaches, while in winter there’s a good a chance you’ll have some of the beaches to yourself. Allow time to enjoy and explore Maitland Bay and its shipwreck (at the eastern end), and while there are a few different routes you can take, try and include the Bullimah Spur track, which has some of the best views in the park.

DCIM101MEDIADJI_0022.JPG

The walk can be extended into a 2-3¬† day walk by including Box Head (the very western part of the park) and using the¬†three campgrounds (all need to be booked in advance). The biggest camping area is a nice spot on Putty Beach near the middle of the national park¬†but it’s car-accessible and gets very busy in the summer months. The camping site at Little Beach, at the far north end of the park is set in a small cove surrounded by rainforest. It has¬†space for about six tents and is a much better option if you want the feeling of bush camping (it’s about 1km walk down to the beach and campsite). There’s also a nice campsite at Tallow Beach, which is about 25m from a surf beach and 1.2km walk from the nearest car park…

If you start at Putty Beach near the middle, you could “car-camp” here and do the walk without a heavy backpack. Or camp the first night at Little Beach, and the following day you have the option of camping a second night at Tallow Beach – or leave the backpack at the car and explore Box Head with just a day-pack.

Getting there Little Beach (Graham Drive, MacMasters Beach) or Putty Beach (Putty Beach Road, Killcare Heights)
Distances 28km circuit (2-3 days)
Grade Easy. Total ascent 1,200m. All tracks well marked.
Map/s 9130-1N Broken Bay (1:25K)  Buy / Download
Bouddi National Park sketch map from park office. 1:25KInteractive topographic map with GPX download
Resources NPWS Putty Beach campsite info and booking form
NPWS Tallow Beach campsite info and on-line booking
NPWS Little Beach campsite info and on-line booking
Blog post on Hiking the World (with GPX files & track notes)
Download Map / Notes Track-Notes-Bouddi-Coastal-Walk [PDF, wildwalks.com]
NPWS Bouddi National Park overview [PDF]
Custom topo maps (A4, 1:25K) – Map 1 / Map 2 / Map 3 / Map 4
10.1km Putty Beach carpark to Little Beach campground via Bullimah Spur and Stroms Trail
 6.5km Little Beach to Putty Beach campground (via Maitland Bay and coastal track)
 6.7km Putty Beach to Tallow beach campground via Box Head
 5.2km Tallow Beach back to Putty Beach
 Return same route

Nattai NP and Bungonia (South-West)

The south-west of Sydney features the Nattai National Park, a remote wilderness area that is not heavily frequented – partly because is it has virtually no facilities. This makes it one of the best areas for overnight walks when you’re looking for solitude – but note that most walks are partly off-track and for all walks you will need some navigation skills. The Nattai River valley, surrounded by spectacular sandstone cliffs, is the focal point for most walks. Access is generally via Wattle Ridge Fire Road, northeast of the small town of Hill Top (suitable for 2WD vehicles with care) or Wombeyan Caves. Although walking all year round is possible, avoid summer due to heat, the risk of bushfires (which are frequent in this park) and lack of water.

1. Starlights Trail Loop

The Starlights Trail, named after bushranger and cattle thief Captain Starlight, provides the easiest access to a camping area (Emmetts Flat and Mcarthurs Flat) by the Nattai River. It can be done as a day-walk or an overnight trip. The suggested two-day route uses the Slott Way track down to the Nattai River, then an off-track route down the river to the camping flats and returns to the starting point via the Starlights Trail. There’s a side-trip from the Slott Way track to the Ahearn Lookout.¬†Although part of the walk is on bushwalking tracks, they are not well marked and good navigation skills are required!

The walk offers remote camping on a beautiful grassy flat, next to a large waterhole formed by the Nattai River. The side-trip to Ahearn Lookout provides sweeping views over the Nattai River Gorge and on a clear day all the way to Katoomba in the distance.

IMG_0594-LR

Getting there Start & finish at the end of Wattle Ridge Road, at Wattle Ridge Farm.
Dirt road but accessible by 2WD.
Distances 22km loop (2 days). 13km return for Starlight Trail only (1-2 days)
Grade Moderate. Total ascent 750m. Partly off-track.
Map/s 8929-2N Hilltop (1:25K) Buy / Download
Interactive topographic map with GPX download
Resources NPWS Starlights Trail web page
Track notes and map for Starlight Trail from bushwalkingnsw.com
Blog post by David Noble
Download Map / Notes  Custom topographic map (A4, 1:25K)
 6.8km End Wattle Ridge Road to Ahearn Lookout
 5.3km Ahearn Lookout to Nattai River (Slott Way track)
 3.2km Unmarked route down Nattai River to Emmetts Flat (camping area)
 6.2km Emmetts Flat back to starting point

Alternate Route РStarlights Trail Loop via Troy Creek (18km  / 2 days)

A similar-but-different route published on the Gone Bush blog follows a firetrail to Troys Creek and then an overgrown route along the creek to Emmetts Flat. The return route is via the Starlight Trail. You could be done as a day walk, or camp at Emmetts Flat. It starts and finishes at the end of Wattle Ridge Road, at Wattle Ridge Farm.

2. Russells Needle

A demanding overnight bushwalk in the Nattai National Park, the target of this walk is the narrow summit of¬†Russells Needle – a spectacular sandstone ridge that juts out into the Nattai Valley. It’s a tough hike that needs some navigation skills, but offers a real wilderness experience¬† with secluded camping spots by the Nattai River and great views.

IMG_0593-LR

There is a rough track to the Nattai River – the Nattai Road and Slott Way track – although it’s been described as “vague and virtually non-existent in places”. Once you reach the Nattai River it’s off-track following the river upstream, and then up through the scrub to the base of Russells Needle. A steep scramble up the rocky ridge gets you to the summit, from where there are great views in all directions. You can return the same way, or continue down the river, past the Slott Way track, to Emmetts Flat (lots of camping sites by the river; treat water from Nattai River or collect from Troy Creek a short way downstream). From here the Starlights Trail takes you back up to the starting point.¬†

Getting there Start & finish at the end of Wattle Ridge Road, at Wattle Ridge Farm.
Dirt road but accessible by 2WD.
Distances 21km lollipop track (2 days).
Grade Hard. Total ascent 1,500m. Largely off-track & steep scramble.
Map/s 8929-2N Hilltop (1:25K) Buy / Download
Interactive topographic map with GPX download
Resources Detailed track notes on Hiking the World blog
Blog post by Fat Canyoners
Detailed track notes on bushwalkingnsw.com web site
Download Map / Notes Custom topographic map (A4, 1:25K) РMap 1 / Map 2 [PDF]
 5.2km End Wattle Ridge Road to Nattai River (via Slott Way track)
       +6.3km for side-trip to Ahearn Lookout
 3.6km Unmarked route down Nattai River to Russells Needle
 6.2km Russells Needle to Emmetts Flat (large grassy camping area)
 6.0km Emmetts Flat back to starting point

3. Bungonia Gorge

This walk can be done as either a day-walk and an overnight walk, and is just within the range of what could be considered a weekend walk around Sydney… I’ve included it as it’s a great overnight hike that can be done year-round. It offers spectacular views from¬† many lookouts, an off-track trip into the deepest limestone gorge in Australia and pleasant walking along Bungonia Creek and Shoalhaven River to remote campsites.

IMG_7135-LR-2

There are a number of marked routes as well as off-track walking along Bungonia Gorge and the Shoalhaven River, so you can easily create your own shorter (or longer) route. Despite the relatively short distance, it can be slow going, both on the off-track section and one some of the steep tracks. One of the longer routes heads down from the Bungonia Lookdown via the White Track over Mount Ayre to the junction of Bungonia Creek and Shoalhaven River. From here head up Bungonia Creek and up into Bungonia Gorge, which involves lots of boulder-scrambling into the narrow canyon. Return the same way: you can camp at the junction of Bungonia Creek and Shoalhaven River or continue down the Shoalhaven River, to McCullums Flats – a large, grassy camping area at the base of Kingpin Mountain.

I’ve done one of the shorter Bungonia Gorge circuits via the White and Red Tracks, which was about 10km but involved about 7 hours of walking due to the steep and rough terrain. This could have been extended as described above by continuing down the Shoalhaven River.

Getting there Bungonia Lookdown is accessed via the signposted exit off the Hume Highway, just after Marulan (if coming from Sydney).
Distances From 10-18km depending on route.
Grade Hard. Total ascent 800m. Some steep ascents/descents and off-track sections.
Map/s 8928-3N Caora (1:25K) Buy / Download
Interactive topographic map with GPX download
Resources Bushwalks in the Sydney Region (S Lord & G Daniel), Vol 2, Ed 4, p.88. Buy Ebook.
100 Walks in NSW (Tyrone Thomas), Ed. 4, p.227. Out of print.
Take a Walk in NSW, South Eastern Zone (John & Lyn Daly), p.132. Out of print.
Blog post by HikeOZ (with Google Maps GPX file)
Blog post by Johnny Boy’s Walkabout Blog (with GPX files)
Download Map / Notes Custom topographic map (A4, 1:25K) [PDF]
NPWS national park brochure [PDF]
 2.7km Bungonia Lookdown to junction of Bungonia Creek and Shoalhaven River (via Mount Ayre)
 6.0km Bungonia Creek up to Bungonia Gorge and back to Shoalhaven
 3.3km Bungonia Creek Jct to McCullums Flat (camping sites here)
 2.5km Continue downstream to grassy flats under Rainbow Ridge (more camping options here) - optional
 6.0km Return via White Track or Red Track to carpark

Royal NP and Illawarra (South)

1. Waterfall to Engadine

This is a popular day-walk in the Royal National Park: although it’s very short for a 2-day bushwalk, it’s a good option as an introductory overnight walk or if you’ve got young kids. My suggested route includes the Uloola Track and Karloo Tracks, but rather than going from Waterfall to Heathcote (the traditional route), it finishes at Engadine via the Bottle Forest Trail and Engadine Track. This is a slightly longer but a nicer option that takes in the “Olympic Pool” (described as¬†the ‚Äúbest wild swimming spot in the Royal National Park‚ÄĚ) as well as the Uloola Falls and Karloo Pool.

The walk is varied and offers a few swimming holes, and is fairly shaded if you’re doing this in summer, and both trackheads are very close to the station. The only official camping site is at Uloola Falls (you need to book¬†online¬†and capacity is 18 people across six sites), and there’s a small pool above the waterfall.

Getting there Start/finish at Waterfall Station and Engadine Station (or Heathcote Station via the normal route)
Distances 15.6km one-way (2 days).
Grade Easy. Total ascent 265m. Short section with rough track
Map/s 9129-4S Otford (1:25K) Buy / Download
9129-4N Port Hacking (1:25K) Buy / Download
Interactive topographic map with GPX download
Resources My blog post describing the above walk in detail
Blog post describing an alternate off-track route
Timetable for south coast railway line
Download Map / Notes Track-Notes-Heathcote-to-Waterfall¬†[PDF] ‚Äď normal route
Custom topographic maps (A4, 1:25K)  Map 1 / Map 2
 6.3km Waterfall station to Uloola Falls (Uloola Track) - campground
 2.4km Uloola Falls to Karloo Pool (Karloo Track)
 1.4km Karloo Pool to Olympic Pool via Kangaroo Creek downstream
 5.5km Olympic Pool to Engadine (Bottle Forest Trail & Engadine Track)

2. Royal NP South Coast Track (Otford to Bundeena)

One of the most popular coastal treks around Sydney, this walk can be done as a long day-walk or an overnighter, staying at the North Era campground. You won’t be alone on this walk – but you will enjoy many beautiful surf beaches, a sheltered lagoon (great for swimming) and impressive sandstone cliffs and rock formations. While the walk can be done any time of year, go mid-week if you can and avoid the summer months and you’ll avoid the worst of the crowds.

IMG_0551-LRP-6

The walk follows almost the full length of the Royal National Park, from Otford railway station in the south to Bundeena to the north (accessible via a regular ferry from Cronulla). The track is well sign-posted and fairly easy walking, with just a short climb up from Otford station and a few headlands that need to be traversed. The walk is most commonly done from Otford, but works in either direction.

Getting there Bundeena (ferry to/from Cronulla) to Otford station (train)
Distances 27km one-way (2 days).
Grade Easy-Moderate. Total ascent 900m.
Map/s 9129-4S Otford (1:25K) Buy / Download
9129-4N Port Hacking (1:25K) Buy / Download
Interactive topographic map with GPX download
Resources NPWS official Coast Track web page
Track notes from bushwalkingnsw.com
North Era campground – information and bookings (NPWS)
Timetable for south coast railway line
Timetable for Cronulla to Bundeena ferry (hourly)
Take a Walk in NSW, South Eastern Zone (John & Lyn Daly), p.60. Out of print.
100 Walks in NSW (Tyrone Thomas), Ed. 4, p.31. Out of print.
Download Map / Notes Track-Notes-Royal-NP-Coast Track [PDF, Wildwalks]
Custom topographic maps (A4, 1:25K)  Map1 / Map2 / Map3 / Map4
10.5km Bundeena Wharf to Wattamolla (kiosk open weekends / water available)
 9.1km Wattamolla to North Era Campground (booking required)
North Era to Otford Lookout (Royal NP Coast Track)
 7.2km North Era to Otford Lookout (Royal NP Coast Track)

IMG_0574-LRP-4

3. Great South Coast Walk (Stage 1)

The Great South Coast Walk is still more of a concept than reality – a long-distance walk along the southern coastline of NSW from Bundeena in the south of Sydney to Mallacoota (just over the Victorian border). Endorsed by many bushwalking organisations and clubs and linking existing trails, you can kind of walk this 660km conceptual trail today – but there’s no consistent signage and each of the eleven “stages” has some access issues (either the route crosses private land or there are short sections with no tracks). However, there are maps and track notes for the entire walk on the Great South Coast Walk web site.

The first stage is within striking distance of Sydney, and combines the previous walk (Royal National Park Coast Track) and the¬†Illawarra Escarpment Track. It’s quite a diverse walk, combining rainforest, sandy beaches, sheltered inlets, dramatic sandstone cliffs and sweeping views along the coast from the Illawarra Escarpment.

IMG_0250-LR.jpg

There are a few downsides: between Otford (the end of the Coast Track) and Stanwell Park (the start of Wodi Wodi Track) there’s no official linking track, and the suggested route is a combination of road-walking and some rough and unofficial walking tracks. There’s also¬†no official campsites near the middle of the walk – you could make the short but steep detour to secluded Werrong Beach where there’s plenty of flat places for camping, but it’s not an approved camping area. Or camp at the popular North Era campground, which makes Day 2 quite long. From the end of the Illawarra Escarpment track the walk is along beaches and roads, so you may want to finish the walk at Austinmer station.

Getting there Bundeena (ferry to/from Cronulla) to Austinmer or Wollongong station (train)
Distances 63km (2-3 days) one-way. Or 46km (2 days) Bundeena to Austinmer.
Grade Easy-Moderate. Total ascent 1,900m.
Map/s 9129-4N Port Hacking (1:25K) Buy / Download
9129-4S Otford (1:25K) Buy / Download
9029-2N Bulli (1:25K)  Buy / Download
9029-2S Wollongong   Buy / Download
Interactive topographic map with GPX download
Resources NPWS official Coast Track web page
Great South Coast – Stage 1 web page
Blog post detailing the  Illawarra Escarpment Track
North Era campground – information and bookings (NPWS)
Bulli Beach Tourist Park web site – cabins & camping
Timetable for south coast railway line
Timetable for Cronulla to Bundeena ferry (runs hourly)
Download Map / Notes Illawarra-Escarpment-Walking-Track [PDF, National Parks Association]
Track-Notes-Royal-NP-Coast Track [PDF, wildwalks.com]
Custom topographic maps (A4, 1:25K)
Map1 / Map2 / Map3 / Map4 / Map5 / Map6 / Map7 / Map8 / Map9
19.2km Bundeena Wharf to North Era campground (official campsite)
 7.2km North Era to Otford Lookout (Royal NP Coast Track)
       +2.4km return if going to Werrong Beach (unofficial campsite)
 4.4km Otford Lookout to Stanwell Park railway station
15.4km Stanwell Park station to Austinmer station (Escarpment Track)
 4.4km Austinmer station to Bulli Beach Tourist Park
12.5km Bulli Beach Tourist Park to Wollongong

Maps

Old fashioned paper maps, a compass and an ability to use them are still pretty useful, especially on the longer bushwalks. All of the walks listed here are covered by detailed topographic maps produced by Spatial Services, a division of the NSW Government’s Department of Finance, Service and Innovation. These maps are available at 1:25,000 scale through a few on-line shops, and most camping stores will stock the more popular maps.

You can also download these maps as PDF files – or create and print your own custom PDF (from 1:3,000 scale) using the SIX viewer. The Brindabella Bushwalking Club has a useful page of tips and tricks for using the on-line maps.

A few useful links and downloads to find the appropriate topographic map/s:

There are also a number of mobile apps that provide a handy way to access the appropriate map/s while you’re on the track – which will also display your exact position on the map and track the route you’ve taken. Make sure your preferred app works off-line: even if you do have mobile coverage, putting your phone into flight mode means you’ll get significantly longer battery life.

Some of the apps include:

  • Avenza – the app is free, with a small charge for the maps which are downloaded after payment (NSW topo maps are USD$0.99)
  • maps.me – free app (with some in-app purchase options, like removing ads). Maps are also mostly free, and on the last bushwalk I did in Barrington Tops all the trails were accurate.
  • Memory-map – free app with free low-res (1:250,000) maps and a charge for detailed topographic maps (which you should get). Unlike Avenza where you purchase maps individually, you need to purchase all the maps for NSW as a bundle (AUD$99).

 

Affiliate Links…

I am not paid to promote any products. This site has links to products and suppliers that I personally recommend. If you purchase through a link on this site, I get a small commission that helps offset website expenses (at no cost to you).

 

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