Established in the 1980s by bushwalkers Garry McDougall and Leigh Shearer-Heriot, this 250km walk from Sydney to Newcastle received official backing from the NSW Department of Lands in 1986 as a bicentennial project. Beginning at the zero-mile obelisk in Macquarie Place near Circular Quay, it follows the Lane Cove River and Berowra Creek valleys out of Sydney, heading north of the Hawkesbury through the Central Coast hinterland and Watagan Mountains before crossing back to the coast north of Lake Macquarie for the final leg through the Glenrock State Conservation Area into Newcastle.
For decades I’ve pondered doing this walk in my retirement as an extended series of day walks, taking advantage of the many rail and road access points along the way, and now the time has come to put those thoughts into action.
Why barefoot? Having a lifelong dislike of footwear, I was introduced to the joys of barefoot hiking through Dorothy Butler’s autobiography The Barefoot Bush Walker and Richard Frazine’s guide book The Barefoot Hiker. Further inspiration came from my friend Marco Peel’s barefoot hikes along the Camino de Santiago through France and Spain, and by the Barefoot Sisters Lucy and Susan Letcher’s accounts of their travels south and north along the Appalachian Trail in the USA. By comparison, the Great North Walk’s 250 kilometres through subtropical New South Wales is a mere dawdle!
In this blog I’ll be documenting my journey on each leg of the walk, with plenty of photos along the way.