Take on one of these challenging but achievable sections of the iconic Great North Walk as a day hike! Piece together the track that connects Sydney and Newcastle as you wander along the picturesque terrain.
- Disconnect from city life while staying in easy reach of public transport
- Stunning views from heights over bushland and waterways
- Plenty of options for picnics or overnight camping stops en route
Day Hikes Along The Great North Walk
The Great North Walk covers 250km from Macquarie Place in Sydney to Queens Wharf in Newcastle. It’s a lot to tackle in one go – but it has been done! Crazy trail running feats aside, plenty of people have done it over the course of several weeks, and even more adventurers enjoy it one section at a time as day hikes, like me!
The four sections of the Great North Walk between Galston Gorge and Brooklyn are perfect for an accessible day hike! Most of them lie on the train line and provide a great sample of the variety of scenery on offer in this nature pocket where Sydney ends and the Central Coast begins.
1. Galston Gorge to Mt Ku-ring-gai
From Hornsby, the drive to the trailhead at Galston Gorge takes about 15 minutes. While there’s another section of the walk that goes from Hornsby to Galston Gorge, you still end up needing to drop off or pick up a car at one end.
In my view, the stretch from the gorge to Mt Ku-ring-gai is a nicer walk than the walk from Hornsby.
Some sections of this walk are pretty hard. They’re steep and occasionally require you to climb up rocks with the aid of iron staples as footholds or handles. The good news is you get incredible views from way up high on this part of the track.
2. Mt Ku-ring-gai to Berowra
The brilliant thing about this section – as well as the next two – is that they start and end at train stations. In general, the Great North Walk is well signposted with olive green posts and clear icons making it easy to stay on track.
The parts of this track in the valley get very muddy after rain. Boardwalks have been installed in some of the soggier areas, like this one near Crosslands.
While Crosslands is the main campsite you’ll pass through on this section, keep an eye out for another cosy spot under the canopy in one of several sheltered groves by the water. Even if you’re not staying, it’s a peaceful place to stop for lunch or drinks break.
3. Berowra to Cowan via Berowra Waters
Combine two short sections of the Great North Walk – from Berowra to Berowra Waters and Berowra Waters to Cowan – for a more substantial day hike that starts and ends on the train line.
The fish and chips shop at Berowra Waters is more or less halfway and is a welcome source of motivation to persevere up the steep inclines early in this walk.
4. Cowan to Brooklyn
Shortly after leaving Cowan station, watch the traffic hurtling along the M1 way down below from the Jerusalem Bay Track bridge. The bay itself is a sheltered swimming spot a few clicks into the walk that makes for a great summertime day trip.
Brooklyn, a little fishing town visible from the freeway at the Mooney Mooney Bridge, comes into stunning view as you descend the switch-back track. I was pleased to discover that the town also has great fish and chips.
Enjoy a cold one in the beer garden at the Anglers Rest Hotel while you wait for the train to arrive at Hawkesbury River station.
- Track notes downloaded from WildWalks
- 2L water per person (sometimes refills are available at bubblers, stations or shops, but don’t rely on it)
- Small quick-dry towel
- Jumper (the trains can be very cold when they’re air conditioned!)
- Opal Card loaded with money for train fares
How To Get There
All sections of this walk are accessible at one or both ends via stations on the North Shore or Central Coast and Newcastle train lines.
Parking is also available at these train stations. The Galston Gorge trailhead has space for only two parked cars.
Distance Covered / Duration
48.6km total / The duration of each hike depends on your own hiking ability