Having recovered sufficiently from last Wednesday’s walk, and with a perfect hiking day forecast, I set off north on the train this morning, arriving back at the Teralba trackhead at 10:15 am.
From the railway station, it was off down Anzac Parade for a few blocks to Lake Crescent, just before the busy Five Islands Road.
Going between the main road on the right and a caravan park on the left, Lake Crescent transforms into a bike path leading down to an underpass under Five Islands Road. Close to this bridge was a geocache, which I found and signed before heading through.
Looping around, the path joins another bike path on the lake side of Five Islands Road, crossing several bridges as it traverses some of the islands for which it’s named.
After the last bridge it comes to a bicycle roundabout – I kid you not!
Here the GNW heads down the slip-ramp to join the main bike path along the northern edge of Lake Macquarie.
This was my first encounter with salt water on the GNW since leaving the tidal limit of Mooney Mooney Creek back on Day 10, so I had to test the water, so to speak.
Yep, definitely wet. Heading around Speers Point, I soon came to the public wharf, making me wonder if there are ferry services operating across the lake from here. I couldn’t see anything like a timetable, though, just a sign listing all the things you can’t do here.
At the tip of Speers Point, the view south opened up between headlands, showing the great expanse of water down to the higher ground beyond the lake’s mouth at Swansea.
After finding a geocache hidden nearby, I rounded the point, bringing my lunch stop at Warners Bay into view.
Just along here is a pink bust by sculptor Guy Maestry entitled Facsimilies Darwin 2017.
Reaching the main shopping centre of Warners Bay, I ducked over the road to join the queue for some trail tucker, which I brought back to the water’s edge to consume amongst a flock of hungry seagulls.
While eating, I spied a communications tower atop the mountains west of the lake and, taking a compass bearing, it seems likely this is the tower on Heaton Road just before the steep descent to Heaton Gap. It’s moments like this that drive home the distance I’ve covered on my bare soles.
With lunch eaten and distances pondered, I turned my attention back to today’s walk, reaching the Warner’s Bay trackhead a block further south where the GNW leaves the lakeside bike path. With 5.8km covered and 6.8km remaining, I’d almost reached the halfway mark.
The path follows Queen Street, a local access road alongside the main thoroughfare King Street, before turning east onto Myles Avenue. Ahead I could see the forested hills that the GNW would soon climb into, becoming a bushwalk once more.
Sure enough, the urban cream guide posts with the spherical knob on top gave way to the bushland plain green ones.
The climb up into the hills wasn’t quite what I’d been expecting, though, being mostly eroded gravel trails popular with trail bike riders rather than the more pristine walking tracks I’d grown accustomed to in the Watagans. As if on queue, a trail bike zoomed past me as I neared the top of the hill. Once over the peak, though, it became narrower and more pleasant, with a couple more geocaches to find and then a recently constructed wooden bridge over a small stream.
A little way on, the track turned due north, coming alongside a golf course on the left with the busy Newcastle Inner City Bypass on the right. I hoped the golfers’ aim was good as there’s not much protection for walkers from stray golf balls.
Continuing on for the best part of a kilometre, the track eventually turns east, going down and under the Bypass through a tunnel alongside a stream. Again there was a geocache nearby to find before going through.
Once on the other side, the track turned back east, winding its way along Winding Creek before darting across E K Avenue and Redbud Close before returning to the bush for another short stint to Park Street. Here the track turned right between two houses to pass into a dark heavily forested gully between the back yards of Park Street and Gari Street.
Climbing out of the gully, the track returned to suburbia in Anjon Street where a taxi was waiting, but not for me I hasten to add!
With the track markers becoming the cream sphere-topped ones again, it was a suburban walk along concrete footpaths up the final hill to Charlestown Park where I reached the trackhead sign at about 3:30pm.
Across the road was a more impressive sign.
Charlestown Park itself wasn’t quite the open parkland of grass, trees and picnic tables I’d imagined, instead it consisted mostly of a sports oval surrounded by a four or five metre high fence and, at the northern end, a large construction zone where it looks like they’re building a skateboard theme park or something. After passing a bunch of obnoxious teenagers wanting a cigarette lighter, I reached the bus stop for the number 14 into Newcastle to catch the train back home.
Only 12.1km remains of my hike, this being through a bit more suburbia before entering the Glenrock State Conservation Area where the GNW finally meets the sea. From there, it’s north along the beaches and headlands to my final destination at Queens Wharf on Nerwcastle harbour.
Coming up next: Charlestown to Newcastle.