UNESCO World Heritage

Old Great North Road MapOld Great North Road, Dharug National Park

Wisemans Ferry to Clares Bridge
The Old Great North Road is a 240 km convict built masterpiece constructed between 1826 and 1836 to provide an overland route from Sydney to Newcastle and the Hunter Valley.  Much of the original convict built road remains in use today, although a lot of the original surface is well buried beneath bitumen.  Convict built remains, such as stone retaining walls, pick dressed cuttings, culverts, bridges and stone cut drains, can be seen when walking in Dharug and Yengo National Parks.




Wisemans Ferry to Clares Bridge
dharugNP_buttressThe first part of this section of the Great North Road is called Devines Hill.  It contains the most spectacular evidence of the road and in 2010 received UNESCO World Heritage Listing.  The National Parks and Wildlife Service manages the road as far as Ten Mile Hollow and has installed many interpretative signs.  The ferry, opened by Wiseman in 1827, is the oldest continuously operating ferry in Australia.  On leaving it and turning left, the road crosses Thomas James Bridge.  Built in 1830, it is the oldest functioning bridge on mainland Australia.  The road then enters the Dharug National Park and climbs the steep Devines Hills, where substantial work was involved in cutting away the hillside and building up retaining walls.  Limited by the size of their hand tools, the convicts removed sandstone to achieve the required road level. In some parts they had to cut away five layers of stone from the rock-face while building massive retaining walls to support the outer edge of the road.  Graffiti from 1830 can be seen high on one cut face.

Hangmans Cave
DharugNPHangmansRockIt was so named in the late 1890s to impress and horrify tourists.  In fact, hanging could only be ordered by the Supreme Court and usually took place in the gaol yard.  The cave had a solid roof in the 1830s and was probably used as dry on-site storage.  Round the corner and above the cave is the site of the stockade for Iron Gang No 3.  It had a well which offered a dependable supply of water.  From 1830 onwards, soldiers were camped outside the stockade in order to guard this Iron Gang twenty-four hours a day.  Farther up the hill, the Shepherds Gully track joins the western side of the road.  This track was possibly built at the same time as the road.  Giving access to the Macdonald River valley, it allowed the collection of timber from Wrights Creek and the procuring of fresh water from the river during drought.

East of Finchs Line
This was the original ascent, abandoned in 1828 as too steep and too long.  The Devines Hill route cut off two miles – about three kilometers.  This is the end of the section receiving World Heritage and is the farthest most day trippers will walk.  From here the road lies along the ridge-line and is now mostly travelled only by intrepid bushwalkers and cyclists.

More information and Old Great North Road and Dharug National Park can be obtained from National Parks and Wildlife Service.