Walking in Australia

20180503_135603.jpgI felt the lack of Aboriginal presence on the Great North Walk. During the walk I read Deborah Bird Rose’s book “Reports from a Wild Country: ethics for decolonisation” which describes how the removal of Aboriginal people from their lands has led to the ecosystems going wild and out of control- from the perspective of her informants around the Daly River region. This explains why the country on the Great North Walk was so wild.

There were a few reminders of the near complete extermination of Aboriginal people. A panel of rock engravings had been excavated – cut out of it’s place – and left on show near Westleigh.

Rock engraving on slab that had been excavated and placed on the hilside in Westleigh

Also the languages will always be present when they speak through wonderful place names: Yarramalong, Watagan, Mooney Mooney, Patonga, Kariong..

But where are the people who know these places?

I was so pleased to buy “Still Standing: We are here… and we have always been here: Life Histories of Aboriginal people associated with the area of the Shire of Hornsby”. The community is still here but not very visible to visitors.


What happens on a long walk?

The Great North Walk trail marker… this one in Hunter’s Hill

You experience all kinds of different weather, and there’s no point checking the forecast if you plan to be on the track for several weeks

You can watch and enjoy the phases of the moon over days and weeks

You are moving geographically and through the landscape, enough to reach a different latitude

There are diverse microclimates as you are climbing hills and mountains, walking along riverbanks, varying distance from the coast

You experience changing of the season over several weeks- mid autumn to late autumn gets colder

Day 18: Lane Cove Park to Sydney Cove 3rd May 2018


Great North Walk Terminus, in Macquarie Place, Sydney
Out of the corporate community near Lane Cove and down into the bush


Even amongst the corporate high rise buildings in Sydney they managed to create a trail through the bush, down to a salt marsh and along a mangrove lined water front.

Down the stairs to Buffalo Creek a wonderful mangrove swamp still cared for in Sydney City

Last bush was Kelly’s Place which was the site of the first Green Ban, in 1971 when unions refused to create an apartment block in an area of remnant bushland.

Exciting to see our ferry to the end of the walk “Friendship”

What a great way to end the walk, before our ferry ride to Circular Quay and stroll to the Mile Stone- the point from which distances were measured.


Day 17: Jungo Rest Area to Lane Cove Park

Another amazing day, now near the heart of Sydney but still in National Park – Lane Cove.

I’m increasingly tired and sore, really looking forward to the end of the walk, despite its beauty and freedom and nearness to nature.

We walked from the Caravan Park (which is huge with nearly 100 sites) to buy some beer. Heavy traffic, but refreshing that even here we walked through urban parkland.

Transport is such a determinant of Australian culture, cars, planes, motorways and railways. The night on the ridgetop before the big storm was under a flightpath and there were three planes overhead continuously.

Day 16: Crosslands Convention Centre to Jungo Rest area

Our day started with a short water taxi trip across Berowra Creek from the Convention Centre to the Trail.

Cruise across the Berowra Creek from Crosslands Convention Centre to Crosslands Reserve

Long and varied day, through Galston Gorge, up along Tunks Ridge, along the Creek via a detour to avoid the Rifle Range, then to see some rock engravings and further along to try to find Jungo Rest Area which we never found – likely to have been removed so we are camped near where it may have been. Arrived after dark but despite signs directing us to Jungo, when we got close there were no more directions.

GNW Trail at Crosslands

A warmish day and we ran out of water and twice knocked on people’s doors to request filling of water bottles. I don’t think that the lady who filled the bottles after 4pm realised that we planned to be out all night so we’ll need to take care with it. There was a possibility of getting to the Baden Powel Scout camp tonight- another 4km- but we didn’t even get to Jungo Rest area by dark. We really hope for no rain tonight!

Day 15: Ridge Top out of Cowan to Crosslands Convention Centre

Sudden severe storm overnight… after my comment about it being our first dry night in a while (and we ate a meal from a package as if some reprimand was needed). Pouring heavy rain for hours. Tent performed remarkably well but our carefully chosen, well drained and gently sloping tent site turned into a waterway. We lay in a puddle of water slightly elevated by a Thermarest. Clothes on the floor of the tent were underwater. 4cm water in the Trangia pans (and bowls were overflowing).

When finally the rain eased we moved the tent to a drier spot and lay shivering until first light. I used the emergency blanket from our first aid kit inside my wet sleeping bag and managed to sleep or at least get the night over with.

Sunny at daybreak and we began to dry everything and make a new plan as the long difficult walk to our next planned (ridgetop) site was inconceivable.

Good fortune was an accommodation option in the Convention center at Crosslands.

So we walked wet along the beautiful Berowra Creek past Berowra Waters.

The convention centre is over Berowra Creek from the Trail so the manager canoed us across. A better place to dry out would be impossible as we have a whole balcony and a set of chairs to dry things on. It’s warm enough to wear wet clothes over dry clothes and we’ll sleep with Nick’s wet sleeping bag over my dry sleeping bag and all being well will be comfortable and dry to set off again tomorrow. Only my soggy hat is lost as I strapped it outside my pack because it was too wet to put inside, and it must have been pulled away as I went between two boulders.

Day 14: Brooklyn to Cowan to Ridge Top approaching Berowra Waters

Ridge Top Campsite out of Cowan where we nearly washed away in a storm… but we didn’t anticipate such a wild night as I took this peaceful image

Magnificent day of walking through varied bush, ridges, slopes and gullies. Everyone seemed to be walking: we passed maybe 50 people walking Cowan to Brooklyn via Jerusalem Bay (and the formidable slopes).

Easy signage to the Cowan General Store, where our food box was creating some curiosity. They had an odd selection for sale, with lots of lollies and chips and a single bag of salty peanuts. I told the store man that I’d like some sultanas, and he went to his adjoining home and returned with some green sultanas, home dried in Iran. Nice and sweet. He also had a couple of yellow passionfruit on the counter so I bought one of them.

Green sultanas from Iran, served with muesli and nuts

Then with our packs heavily loaded and water for a dry camp, we set off for the second section today. Much drier bushland, with recent fire. Still passing quite a few people. Very heavy going with our big packs. But here we are, on the ridgetop, hoping for a dry night (which we haven’t experienced since Watagan Creek).