Discovery Trail: Great North Road
- 165 kms (one way)
- Driving Time
- 3 hrs (one way)
- Road Conditions
- Narrow sealed roads, unsealed roads (dry weather only).
- Wisemans Ferry
- Links with Discovery Trail 18 (to the south) for an interest-packed and alternative to the main drive, through the historic Macdonald and Wollombi valleys on the eastern side of the mountains.
- Historic features including the Old Coach Road and historic villages of Broke, Wollombi and St Albans, Finchley Lookout and Aboriginal engravings and the Macdonald Valley.
- Winding, unsealed roads in variable condition. Suitable for experienced country drivers only.
This trail follows the corridor of the first fully constructed road from Sydney to the Hunter Valley, through scenery that is much as it was in the 19th century. The Great North Road was built with convict labour between 1826 and 1836 and substantial sections of it still survive. It is included in a suite of convict sites throughout Australia being investigated for World Heritage nomination.
From Bulga, follow the Putty Road south to Milbrodale and turn left into Milbrodale Road which follows the Wollombi Valley 14km to Broke. The historic buildings of Broke are worth an extended break before continuing south on the Wollombi Road. The road is unsealed from just north of Paynes Crossing, and winds along the brook with sections of old-style, post-and-rail fencing alongside. The historic village of Wollombi, 30km from Broke, could easily fill from several hours to an overnight stay. The sealed road now leads south to Laguna, just after which is the Finchley turnoff into Yengo National Park, on the right. Although narrow, the circuit around the Finchley and Boree Tracks is quite negotiable by 2WD and not to be missed if at all possible.
Follow the signposts to the Finchley Trig lookout, then a little further on to Finchley Aboriginal Area. The trig gives a stunning panorama over the bushland of Yengo National Park, to the distant volcanic peaks on the western edge of Wollemi National Park and the ridges of the central Blue Mountains. But the flat, basalt summit of Mount Yengo dominates everything. The engravings on the Finchley rock platform include animals, footprints and spirit figures. It's worth planning an overnight stop at the nearby campsite to fully appreciate this area.
Back on the Wollombi Road, continue south to a major intersection, 16km from Laguna. Turn right into Mogo Creek Road which goes all the way to St Albans (36km). It passes the pleasant Mogo Camping Area (walking tracks) before descending through the tall blue gums of the Mogo Creek valley. The road emerges into the wider Macdonald Valley and passes the waterbird haven of St Albans Common (bring the binoculars) before entering St Albans.
From St Albans, roads down both sides of the valley lead to ferries across the Hawkesbury River. The better road crosses the Macdonald at St Albans and follows the western side of the river 19km to the ferry. You need to wait for the ferry to come to your side before driving aboard - but it operates 24 hours. If you want to visit the walks that explore surviving sections of the Great North Road, it's better to take the eastern road. Both ferries deliver you to the village of Wisemans Ferry - and Discovery Trail 18 to Windsor.