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Sydney is blessed with a significant number of national parks within the city boundaries. One of the most central of these is Lane Cove NP, which starts less than 10km from the city as the crow flies. While this is not all pristine bushland, due to weed encroachment from the surrounding suburbs, the park still preserves much of the original bush away from the creeklines.
The Great North Walk, a major walking track from Sydney to Newcastle, passes directly up the Lane Cove Valley. This walk forms part of the Great North Walk, and follows the non-tidal section of the Lane Cove River from the weir at Fullers Bridge to the watershed near Thornleigh, in Sydney's northern suburbs.
The walk starts at the Lane Cove NP entrance on Delhi Rd, Chatswood West, near the junction with Lady Game Dr. Given this is a through walk, the best transport option is to catch a bus from Chatswood Station (256 or 259) or from Macquarie Park, Macquarie University or North Ryde Stations (259). The walk finishes at Thornleigh Station. Check on transportnsw.info for more public transport options.
It is also possible to follow the Rail to River Track from Chatswood Station, which adds around 3.5km to the walk (approx 1 hour). Pick the track up at the intersection of Western Way and Pacific Hwy at Chatswood.
From 01 Jul 2007, last checked 04 May 2019
The walk crosses numerous small creeks, and in its upper reaches, follows the Lane Cove River at a low level. Some sections of the walk may involve wet feet, or be difficult or impassable after heavy rain.
While the only major hill is the climb up to Thornleigh Station at the end, a short steep climb of around 80m, there are a lot of small ups and downs along the way. This is particularly the case in the first few kilometres to De Burghs Bridge on Ryde Road. Beyond De Burghs Bridge the tracks are a little less undulating, and in the upper reaches of the valley have very few steep sections.
There are numerous side tracks and track junctions, too many to mention in the notes. Most tracks and junctions are reasonably well marked with Great North Walk markers. These consist of beige posts with arrows in suburban areas, and green posts with red arrows in bushland. Keep an eye out for them, and if you don't see one for some time, check maps and location for whether you're on the right track.
From the Delhi Road entrance, cross the weir and head right to the information board for the Great North Walk. Rather than following the arrows across the picnic area, veer left up to the road and follow the road up to where the Great North Walk branches off. The track climbs up and over the ridge in classic Sydney sandstone ridgetop woodland, dotted with scribbly gums, large Sydney red gums and Sydney peppermint.
Further along the track it passes through some impressive sandstone overhangs, before dropping down to a creek crossing at Blackbutt Creek. Head up and left to pick up the track, though if you walk right (upstream) for 50m, there is a large impressive overhang about 10m above the creek that is worth a visit.
The track then passes under De Burghs Bridge. About 100m beyond the bridge a short side track leads to a good lookout high above the river, with views both upstream and downstream. Another 2km further on, another side track leads to a rocky outcrop, which would be a good spot for a break.
The track soon rejoins a fire trail, and at a large information board, the route takes a less obvious track down to an awkward creek crossing. After rejoining the fire trail a little further on, you soon hit a paved path, which descends steeply to a major junction at the weir above Browns Waterhole.
From here, the track is mainly old fire trail, following fairly close to the river for the most part. Some of the sections of track are quick rocky underfoot, and are slow going.
The upper reaches of the valley are deep and dark, with shady gullies and wet sclerophyll forest. There are five river crossings, and while there are usually strategically placed rocks, you may need to look around for a dry foot crossing. After the final crossing, the track climbs steeply up the hill to Thornleigh Oval. Head around the oval and past the toilets to Handley Ave. Follow Handley Ave, zigzag into Station St and cross over the pedestrian footbridge to Thornleigh Station.