Attractions you can see
Introduction to Tours
• Explore the Convict Trail : Great North Road
• A road built by convicts - a masterpiece of colonial engineering
• An alternative route between Sydney and the Hunter Valley for travellers today
• Convict relics, 19th century buildings and landscapes
• Scenic drives, leisurely walks, cycle tours
• Towns and villages with traditional hospitality
• Cross the Hawkesbury River by vehicular ferry
• Self-guide tours, walks and cycling trips
The Convict Trail is the Great North Road ,its environs and associated convict era heritage. This road was built by convict labour often working in irons between the years 1826 and 1836. It was built to connect Sydney with Newcastle and the Upper Hunter Valley in NSW Australia.
Extending north from Sydney to the Hunter Valley, the Convict Trail follows the route of the 240 km Great North Road. Most of this road continues to be used today, offering an alternative, slower paced scenic route between Sydney and the Hunter, where one can explore the brilliant engineering works created by hundreds of convicts.
Relics such as dry-stone retaining walls, wharves, culverts, dry-stone bridges and buttresses can still be seen along the entire length of the road - in Sydney suburbs like Epping and Gladesville, at Wisemans Ferry or Wollombi, Bucketty and Broke, or when walking in the Dharug and Yengo National Parks.
There are still some places where well-preserved sections of the original Road can be seen. The 43 km section immediately north of Wisemans Ferry goes through very steep and rugged country, providing a major challenge to the early nineteenth century road-builders. Devines Hill, beginning 500m west of the Wisemans Ferry landing on the northern side of the Hawkesbury River, contains particularly fine examples of high walling with massive buttresses, drainage systems and quarries. An easy one hour walk will reveal the wonders of this engineering feat.
Other fine examples of stone work along the route are Clares Bridge, near Ten Mile Hollow, and the Circuit Flat Bridge, near Mt Manning. These are all preserved within Dharug and Yengo National Parks and can be explored on foot, by mountain bike, or by horse (except on Devines Hill). This section of the Road is closed to vehicular access to protect the remaining convict road works and allow for their conservation.
Some sections of the convict work on Great North Road can be seen as you drive along the Road: the descent into Wisemans Ferry from the south; the Bucketty Wall at Mt McQuoid, which is at the intersection of George Downes Drive and the road from St Albans; Ramsays Leap and the Murrays Run Culvert between Bucketty and Laguna.
Follow the Convict Trail signs and use the free e-Brochures to explore the Great North Road.
The free e-Brochures are supplemented by a glossy coloured self-guided tour booklet with maps which has been produced with assistance from Tourism NSW.This booklet is available from the Convict Trail Project for $10.00 posted (within Australia) or from several tourist information centres or local libraries.
Disclaimer: The contents of this section have been compiled in good faith but are published without responsibility in law or otherwise for their accuracy and without any assumption of a duty of care by Tourism NSW, the RMS or the Convict Trail Project.
Acknowledgements: Text and photos - Lorraine Banks & Elizabeth Roberts, Maps –George L. Elliott & Carol Gill, Historic photos - Rosemary Walsh. Brochure photos Elizabeth Roberts. Brochure design Newcastle University Visual Communication Honours Students 2006; Project Manager: Brooke Partridge, Main design: Nicole Leary, Assisting design: Kjetil Skaug, Angela Vangelov, Naomi Ross & Emily Quail