The Great North Walk

Trip Start Aug 23, 1996
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Sunday, February 28, 2010

Having grown up on the North Shore of Sydney, I was forever riding my BMX and later my mountain bike round the bush trails all the way down to Lane Cove River Park. Trust me it was fun. And in the past year having walked Hadrian's Wall, The Thames Path, the Three Peaks of Yorkshire and currently halfway through the London Loop, I decided to hit my old stamping ground, which was now part of the Great North Walk, plus it would be good training for the Pilgrims walk we are doing in April.

The Great North Walk - GPS Link
A quick note. Basically, a couple of people got together, joint a load of trails together, and a walk was created from Circular Quay in Sydney to Newcastle. A distance of 240 klms. Now normally, I walk with Lucy, but I had left her in Adelaide, so on Sunday morning, I jumped on a train and made my way into the city. I did sit with a guy who hit me up about the Annapurna Circuit. Oh how the memories flooded back, and I so do want to do that trip again.
Arriving at Circular Quay, I discovered that the first ferry did not leave until 09:50, so I fucked around doing nothing for 90 minutes, and those minutes went oh so slowly !!! Actually, I did look at one monument. In Macquarie Place there is an obelisk, which all distances used to be measured from. I have been there loads of times and never seen this, just goes to show, that I am the ultimate tourist !!!
Once on the ferry, I looked around and saw loads of walkers, but all younger than me. Kind of disappointed me as I was hoping I would be alone. The views on the water were great, I never get sick of being on the harbour and seeing the bridge, the Opera House, Goat Island, and everything. However, this trip was only 15 minutes, and once off at Woolwich, I powered on with an open jaw as the houses around here were amazing, and got even better once we were beside the water.
Through Hunters Hill, onto Ryde road, the walk kept touching suburbia, then eventually, I was on a raised track through a mangrove field. I didn't know this existed. The track followed the river and I passed under bridges that I have driven over 100's of times. Through Ryde and into Lane Cove, I came into an area that use to be known as Fairylands. As a child, I use to see the signs on the side of the road, but my parents never took me, and I feel I missed out on something !!! It is all overgrown now as it has been closed for over 30 years. Out the otherside, I saw my first Kookaburra, so it let me shoot it before it flew away. Then the next thing I saw was Fullers Rd and Delhi Bridge. I had been here loads of times, I had arrived at Lane Cove River Park, but is now known as Lane Cove National Park. It's funny how we never lose the old names !!!
Now I had been drinking regularly, but as I climbed out of the park, my body started to feel funny. I had only walked 15ish Ks, but I was getting tired. I ploughed on, but at a slower pace, which was ok as I started seeing a few monitor lizards. Could they smell that death was close to me and a meal was waiting? Who knows, but I kept on. 
In West Pymble, I stopped for a break and felt like shit, my head was thumping and I felt dehydrated. I had drunk 3 litres of water, and still had 2 left. I was hoping that this would suffice for the remaining 7 Ks. Up and down the track went, and by the time I was in South Turramurra, the air had gotten colder and the sun was now behind the clouds. In the distance, thunder was striking, and as I had no wet weather gear, I just had to keep walking and let whatever happens, happen. By South Wahroonga, the heavens opened, so I sat under a tree contemplating the walk. I was still feeling like shit with 4 Ks to go, so I thought fuck it, I'll just walk and get wet, because realistically, I might get wet, but I won't be cold like I would in England !!!
The Ks went down, and once again I climbed up, and eventually I arrived in Thornleigh, and for this, I was elated with joy, because my Mum lives in Thornleigh, so I knew I was close to my Sydney home !!! And 15 minutes later, I arrived soaked, but happy that this walk was over.
And Finally
Recently, I have walked 33 Ks in the snow (GPS link with photos) and 33 Ks in the mud (GPS Link with photos), and they were a doddle compared to this !!! The scenery was amazing, and I want to do more but I think I will have to emigrate back here if I am to complete this walk !!!


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possum on

once a sydney boy, always a sydney boy

Marc Phillips on

a stroll in the Australian summer? you need to toughen up and run with me - half marathon this weekend in Milton Keynes if you can make it? Don't worry about needing water, it won't be hot....

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