Great North Walk: Thornleigh - Hornsby

3 h 15 min to 5 h

10.4 km
oneway

↑ 423 m
↓ -424 m

Hard track
Starting at Thornleigh station you walk through suburban streets for a short while before diving into the bush at the southern end of Berowra Valley Regional Park. Soon after visiting the site of the historic Zig Zag railway you start wandering through the Berowra Creek valley, passing a few cascading creeks. The track undulates along the side of the valley visiting a range of environments from moist fern forest to the drier grass tree and eucalypt forests of the ridge. There is a short side trip to visit the Westleigh engravings. Walk through the volcanic Old Mans Valley, to a picnic area at the end of Rosemead Rd. Here you follow the Blue Gum walk through one of Sydney’s rare Blue Gum Forest stands to then cross Berowra Creek a few times at Fishponds waterhole before heading back to the streets of Hornsby. Let us begin by acknowledging the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we travel today, and pay our respects to their Elders past and present.
Show all
Photo by admin, 2011.
Photo by admin, 2011.
Photo by admin, 2010.
Photo by admin, 2010.
Thornleigh Track Head sign. | Photo by admin, 2010.
Photo by admin, 2010.
Photo by admin, 2010.
Photo by admin, 2010.
Photo by admin, 2010.
Photo by admin, 2010.
An old sleeper and rail clamp maybe part of the original Zig-Zag railway. | Photo by admin, 2010.
Photo by admin, 2010.
Photo by admin, 2010.
Photo by admin, 2010.
Walking alongside the creek behind Morgan Street. | Photo by admin, 2010.
Photo by admin, 2008.
Photo by admin, 2017.
Photo by admin, 2017.
Photo by admin, 2010.
Photo by admin, 2009.
Photo by admin, 2017.
Footbridge crossing. | Photo by admin, 2008.
Photo by admin, 2010.
Photo by admin, 2010.
Footbridge. | Photo by admin, 2008.
Small bridge Near Zig Zag Creek. | Photo by admin, 2010.
Photo by admin, 2010.
Photo by admin, 2010.
Photo by admin, 2010.
Photo by admin, 2010.
Photo by admin, 2010.
Photo by admin, 2010.
Old and new intersection markers. | Photo by admin, 2009.
Photo by admin, 2009.
Crossing Berowra Creek north downstream of Zig Zag Creeek. | Photo by admin, 2010.
Photo by admin, 2008.
Photo by admin, 2010.
Steps and rocks. | Photo by admin, 2008.
Photo by admin, 2010.
Photo by admin, 2010.
Photo by admin, 2008.
Photo by admin, 2010.
Photo by admin, 2010.
Photo by admin, 2010.
Rock steps north of Elouera lookout. | Photo by admin, 2010.
Photo by admin, 2010.
Photo by admin, 2010.
Photo by admin, 2010.
Climbing up the side of the Berowra Creek Valley. | Photo by admin, 2010.
Photo by admin, 2010.
Photo by admin, 2010.
Photo by admin, 2010.
Photo by admin, 2010.
Int of the Great North Walk and the Quarter Sessions Road track. | Photo by admin, 2010.
Photo by admin, 2010.
Photo by admin, 2010.
winding around ridge. | Photo by admin, 2007.
Photo by admin, 2010.
Int of the Great North Walk and the Blue Gum Walk (SW). | Photo by admin, 2010.
Photo by admin, 2010.
Steps on the track on the Quarter Sessions Road ridge. | Photo by admin, 2010.
Photo by admin, 2010.
Track on west side of Waitara Creek. | Photo by admin, 2010.
Circular hole at the 'Spa'. | Photo by admin, 2007.
Photo by admin, 2010.
Water hole below 'the Spa' on Waitara Creek. | Photo by admin, 2010.
Waitara Creek Crossing. | Photo by admin, 2010.
Lizard beside Waitara Creek. | Photo by admin, 2007.
Photo by admin, 2008.
Crossing a small gully near Fishponds. | Photo by admin, 2010.
Photo by admin, 2008.
The choice is yours. | Photo by admin, 2008.
Photo by admin, 2008.
Photo by admin, 2008.
Berowra creek Stepping stones. | Photo by admin, 2008.
Photo by admin, 2010.
Photo by admin, 2007.
Photo by admin, 2007.
Photo by admin, 2007.
Photo by admin, 2007.
Photo by admin, 2009.
Photo by admin, 2009.
Downloads GPX PDF

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Safer Bushwalks
Tips on staying safe on track
Before you start any bushwalk ensure you;
• Tell someone you trust where you are going and what to do if you are overdue
• Have adequate equipment, supplies, skills & knowledge for the whole journey
• Consider the impact of weather forecasts, park/track closures & fire dangers
• Can respond to emergencies & call for help at any point
• Are healthy and fit enough for this journey
If not, change plans and stay safe. It is okay to delay and ask people for help.
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Getting There
Transport options and directions
Start (-33.7319279,151.0782952)
Mode Bus Car Train
DirectionsFrom Pennant Hills Road, A28, Thornleigh.
  • Turn on to Wells Street then drive for 125 m
  • Turn right onto Yarrara Road and drive for another 80 m
Finish At the intersection of Clarinda Street & Clarinda Firetrail (-33.6881045,151.0918163)
Mode (end) Car Shuttle   Bus   Car   Train  
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Track Notes
Turn by turn instructions & maps
Turn map Directions & comments
Start.
Then cross the bridge (about 45 m long)
Then head down the 29 concrete steps (about 10 m long)
Curl and Wisker Cafe (about 50 m back from the start).
There is a toilet (about 6 m back from the start)., female.
There is a pay phone (about 6 m back from the start).
There is a toilet (about 5 m back from the start)., male.
Find the Zacs Great Food at the start.
Zacs Great Food
Zacs Great Food

This restaurant can be found on Pennont Hills road just a stones throw from the station. They are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner with a continental menu ranging from about $20. for a meal. The opening hours are from 6.oo am to 10.00 pm from Tuesdays to Saterdays, and closed Sundays and Mondays. For more information on bookings call (02) 9484 6799.
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This restaurant can be found on Pennont Hills road just a stones throw from the station. They are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner with a continental menu ranging from about $20. for a meal. The opening hours are from 6.oo am to 10.00 pm from Tuesdays to Saterdays, and closed Sundays and Mondays. For more information on bookings call (02) 9484 6799.

Find the The Great North Walk at the start.
Turn right.
Then cross the bridge (about 30 m long)
Then cross the bridge (about 10 m long)
Then head down the 29 concrete steps (about 10 m long)
After another 10 m pass a seat (on your right)., has a backrest.
Then pass the "The Great North Walk" (on your left).
After another 15 m pass the pay phone (15 m on your left).
After another 20 m pass the car park (on your right).
After another 5 m pass the "Monday Morning" (35 m on your left).
Veer right.
After another 50 m pass the "The Great North Walk" (on your right).
Turn left.
After another 330 m pass the "The Great North Walk" (on your right).
After another 350 m turn right.
After another 15 m pass the "The Great North Walk" (on your right).
After another 265 m (at the intersection of The Great North Walk & Morgan Street) turn right, to head along The Great North Walk (a walking track).
After another 35 m pass the "The Great North Walk" (on your left).
After another 115 m cross the bridge (about 3 m long)
After another 80 m find the "Picnic Table" (70 m on your left).
Picnic Table
Picnic Table

A timber slat picnic table and bench seat. The table is 80cm high, 71cm deep and 2.4m wide. The seats are 45cm high, 29cm deep and 2.07m wide. On a 3x3m concrete slab about 7m walk over rough grass from the trail.
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A timber slat picnic table and bench seat. The table is 80cm high, 71cm deep and 2.4m wide. The seats are 45cm high, 29cm deep and 2.07m wide. On a 3x3m concrete slab about 7m walk over rough grass from the trail.

After another 10 m pass the sign (on your left).
At the intersection of Timbarra Road - Bellamy Street Cycleway & The Great North Walk veer right, to head along Timbarra Road - Bellamy Street Cycleway.
After another 15 m find the "Trip Hazard" (on your right).
Trip Hazard
Trip Hazard

Unfenced and unmarked edge with potential 80cm or higher fall into the creek. Keep clear of the culverts edge when crossing.
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Unfenced and unmarked edge with potential 80cm or higher fall into the creek. Keep clear of the culverts edge when crossing.

Then cross the bridge (about 7 m long)
After another 125 m find the "Thornleigh zigzag railway" (10 m on your right).
Thornleigh zigzag railway
Thornleigh zigzag railway

The Thornleigh zigzag railway originally ran from the main rail line near Thornleigh to a historic quarry, near present day De Saxe Cl, Thornleigh. There are only minor fragments still visible today. The 'Heritage Trail' in Thornleigh has interpretive signs for the railway and the old Thornleigh Quarry. A book is available with some detail on railway and associated quarry: 'Sydney's Forgotten Quarry Railways' by John Oakes, ISBN 0 9757870 3 9
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The Thornleigh zigzag railway originally ran from the main rail line near Thornleigh to a historic quarry, near present day De Saxe Cl, Thornleigh. There are only minor fragments still visible today. The 'Heritage Trail' in Thornleigh has interpretive signs for the railway and the old Thornleigh Quarry. A book is available with some detail on railway and associated quarry: 'Sydney's Forgotten Quarry Railways' by John Oakes, ISBN 0 9757870 3 9

At the intersection of The Great North Walk & Timbarra Road - Bellamy Street Cycleway turn left, to head along The Great North Walk.
After another 7 m pass the sign (on your left).
After another 680 m cross the bridge (about 7 m long)
After another 295 m cross the ford.
After another 120 m cross the ford.
After another 335 m pass the sign (9 m on your left).
Then find the "The Jungo" (6 m on your ahead).
The Jungo
The Jungo

The Jungo is a relatively small clearing and campsite near the junction of Berowra and ZigZag Creeks at a well signposted intersection. There is often water in the creeks (treat well before drinking) but there are no facilities. Speculation on the source of the name 'Jungo' includes the Aussie tendency to abbreviate words ('Junction' gets corrupted to 'jung-o' etc) as well as a possible derivation from one of a few similar sounding aboriginal words.
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The Jungo is a relatively small clearing and campsite near the junction of Berowra and ZigZag Creeks at a well signposted intersection. There is often water in the creeks (treat well before drinking) but there are no facilities. Speculation on the source of the name 'Jungo' includes the Aussie tendency to abbreviate words ('Junction' gets corrupted to 'jung-o' etc) as well as a possible derivation from one of a few similar sounding aboriginal words.

At the intersection of Schofield Firetrail & The Great North Walk turn right, to head along Schofield Firetrail (a vehicle track).
After another 20 m cross the ford.
After another 80 m (at the intersection of The Great North Walk & Schofield Firetrail) veer right, to head along The Great North Walk (a walking track).
After another 85 m cross the ford.
After another 9 m pass the "The Great North Walk" (7 m on your right).
After another 3 m continue straight, to head along The Great North Walk.
After another 245 m cross the bridge (about 3 m long)
After another 270 m cross the ford.
After another 185 m pass the "The Great North Walk" (10 m on your left).
After another 255 m (at the intersection of The Great North Walk & Great North Walk access) continue straight, to head along The Great North Walk.
Then find the "Elouera Lookout" (6 m on your left).
Elouera Lookout
Elouera Lookout

This fenced lookout is on the Benowie Track close to Westleigh. There are uninterrupted views from the clifftop across the Berowra Creek valley, which is rare for the area. As well as being on the Great North Walk, this lookout can be accessed by a short walk from Elouera Rd, Westleigh. This section of fenced rock platform is about 100m long, and there is some limited shade from the casuarina near the lookout if you want to take a rest.
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This fenced lookout is on the Benowie Track close to Westleigh. There are uninterrupted views from the clifftop across the Berowra Creek valley, which is rare for the area. As well as being on the Great North Walk, this lookout can be accessed by a short walk from Elouera Rd, Westleigh. This section of fenced rock platform is about 100m long, and there is some limited shade from the casuarina near the lookout if you want to take a rest.

After another 75 m pass the "The Great North Walk" (on your left).
After another 470 m cross the ford.
Then cross the bridge (about 6 m long)
After another 115 m (at the intersection of The Great North Walk & Rough Very Steep Track) continue straight, to head along The Great North Walk.
Then cross the bridge (about 4 m long)
Then head down the 8 earthen steps (about 4 m long)
After another 60 m cross the bridge
Then cross the bridge
After another 25 m (at the intersection of The Great North Walk & Track) veer left, to head along The Great North Walk.
After another 125 m head down the 31 earthen steps (about 35 m long)
After another 160 m cross the ford.
After another 470 m continue straight, to head along The Great North Walk.
After another 400 m cross the bridge (about 4 m long)
After another 135 m cross the ford.
After another 70 m head down the 6 earthen steps (about 3 m long)
After another 50 m pass the "Great North Walk" (on your left).
The starting point of an optional sidetrip. Side trip to a lookout with filtered views across the valley and some Aboriginal engravings of wallabies. To start this optional side trip turn sharp right here. On returning from this side trip veer right when you get back to this intersection. Details below.
Continue straight, to head along The Great North Walk.
After another 530 m cross the ford.
After another 165 m pass the sign (on your left).
At the intersection of Blue Gum Walk & The Great North Walk continue straight, to head along Blue Gum Walk.
After another 230 m head up the 22 stone steps (about 10 m long)
After another 230 m head up the stone steps (about 9 m long)
After another 65 m head up the rock steps (about 8 m long)
After another 30 m pass the cave (on your right).
After another 25 m cross the ford.
This is flood prone; never cross flooded waterways.
After another 35 m head down the rock steps (about 4 m long)
After another 295 m cross the bridge (about 3 m long)
Then head down the 13 earthen steps (about 7 m long)
After another 30 m find the "Fishponds" (80 m on your ahead).
Fishponds
Fishponds

Fishponds is a long waterhole on Berowra Creek in Berowra Valley Regional Park. The waterhole is lined with tall cliffs and a few sandstone caves. At the southern end, there are stepping stones to help cross the creek, and a small timber bridge at the northern end. This is a beautiful spot and a worthy place to rest and enjoy the water passing by. The waterhole is fairly popular with local teens in summer, cooling off. Swimming and jumping at the Fishponds waterhole has resulted in fatalities - please heed the signs and Cora's parents' plea and enjoy the water from the edge.
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Fishponds is a long waterhole on Berowra Creek in Berowra Valley Regional Park. The waterhole is lined with tall cliffs and a few sandstone caves. At the southern end, there are stepping stones to help cross the creek, and a small timber bridge at the northern end. This is a beautiful spot and a worthy place to rest and enjoy the water passing by. The waterhole is fairly popular with local teens in summer, cooling off. Swimming and jumping at the Fishponds waterhole has resulted in fatalities - please heed the signs and Cora's parents' plea and enjoy the water from the edge.

The starting point of an optional sidetrip. Side trip to Fishponds waterhole on Berowra Creek. At the southern end, there are stepping stones to help cross the creek, and a small timber bridge at the northern end. This is a beautiful spot and a worthy place to rest and enjoy the water passing by. Swimming and jumping at the Fishponds waterhole have resulted in fatalities – please heed the signs and Cora’s parents’ plea and enjoy the water from the edge. To start this optional side trip continue straight here. On returning from this side trip continue straight when you get back to this intersection. Details below.
At the intersection of Blue Gum Walk & Great North Walk turn sharp right, to head along Blue Gum Walk.
Then pass the "Signposts" (10 m on your left).
After another 10 m find the "Fishponds Lookout" (on your left).
Fishponds Lookout
Fishponds Lookout

Fishponds Lookout is a fenced rock platform at the intersection of the Benowie walking track and the Rosemead trackhead. It is marked with a number of Great North Walk signs. This informally named lookout has good views down over Fishponds, a large waterhole on Berowra Creek. Looking north across the creek, there are views to the upper waterhole and the cliffs on the other side.
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Fishponds Lookout is a fenced rock platform at the intersection of the Benowie walking track and the Rosemead trackhead. It is marked with a number of Great North Walk signs. This informally named lookout has good views down over Fishponds, a large waterhole on Berowra Creek. Looking north across the creek, there are views to the upper waterhole and the cliffs on the other side.

After another 65 m (at the intersection of Blue Gum Walk & Negotiable) continue straight, to head along Blue Gum Walk.
Then cross the bridge (about 3 m long)
After another 145 m head down the steps (about 10 m long)
Galston Gorge
After another 15 m (at the intersection of The Great North Walk & Blue Gum Walk) by following the "Galston Gorge" sign turn left, to head along The Great North Walk.
Then pass the "Signposts" (on your left).
After another 7 m cross the bridge (about 6 m long)
Then head up the 9 steps (about 4 m long)
After another 8 m head up the 7 steps (about 3 m long)
After another 20 m head up the 14 stone steps (about 3 m long)
After another 9 m head up the 37 steps (about 20 m long)
After another 15 m head up the 39 steps (about 35 m long)
After another 10 m head up the 20 steps (about 10 m long)
After another 35 m head up the 25 steps (about 15 m long)
After another 20 m head up the 7 stone steps (about 2 m long)
After another 7 m head up the 40 steps (about 30 m long)
After another 10 m head up the 9 steps (about 5 m long)
After another 6 m head up the 19 earthen steps (about 20 m long)
Then head up the 15 surface|wood steps (about 4 m long)
Then head up the 13 surface|wood steps (about 4 m long)
Then head up the 14 stone steps (about 10 m long)
After another 25 m (at the intersection of Manor Road & The Great North Walk) veer left, to head along Manor Road (a residential road).
After another 1.3 km (at the intersection of Clarinda Street & Rosamond Street) turn left, to head along Clarinda Street.
Continue another 580 m to find at the intersection of Clarinda Street & Clarinda Firetrail at the end.

Side trip to a lookout with filtered views across the valley and some Aboriginal engravings of wallabies.
Turn map Directions & comments
Start.
Great North Walk.
After another 40 m continue straight.
After another 25 m turn left, to head along Western Firetrail.
After another 100 m head through/around the gate.
After another 55 m pass the "Great North Walk" (5 m on your left).
After another 2 m (at the intersection of Quarter Sessions Road & Western Firetrail) turn left, to head along Quarter Sessions Road (a road).
After another 135 m turn left.
After another 10 m come to the viewpoint (25 m on your right).
Then cross the bridge
"Blackfellow Head Engravings".
Blackfellow Head Engravings
Blackfellow Head Engravings

On the far north west corner of Quarter Sessions Road (beside no.280), there is a lookout and some Aboriginal engravings. The signposted site has a timber platform providing some filtered views across the valley. On the left side of the platform is a sandstone block with the engraved images of two wallabies. There are reports of other engravings in the area, but like many similar sites, their exact locations are not published to protect them. Please keep off the engravings area, to reduce wear.
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On the far north west corner of Quarter Sessions Road (beside no.280), there is a lookout and some Aboriginal engravings. The signposted site has a timber platform providing some filtered views across the valley. On the left side of the platform is a sandstone block with the engraved images of two wallabies. There are reports of other engravings in the area, but like many similar sites, their exact locations are not published to protect them. Please keep off the engravings area, to reduce wear.

The end.
Turn around and retrace your steps back the 370 m to the main route.

Side trip to Fishponds waterhole on Berowra Creek. At the southern end, there are stepping stones to help cross the creek, and a small timber bridge at the northern end. This is a beautiful spot and a worthy place to rest and enjoy the water passing by. Swimming and jumping at the Fishponds waterhole have resulted in fatalities – please heed the signs and Cora’s parents’ plea and enjoy the water from the edge.
Turn map Directions & comments
Dural
At the intersection of Great North Walk & Blue Gum Walk by following the "Dural" sign Start heading along Great North Walk (a walking track).
Fishponds Lookout (about 10 m back from the start).
Fishponds Lookout
Fishponds Lookout

Fishponds Lookout is a fenced rock platform at the intersection of the Benowie walking track and the Rosemead trackhead. It is marked with a number of Great North Walk signs. This informally named lookout has good views down over Fishponds, a large waterhole on Berowra Creek. Looking north across the creek, there are views to the upper waterhole and the cliffs on the other side.
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Fishponds Lookout is a fenced rock platform at the intersection of the Benowie walking track and the Rosemead trackhead. It is marked with a number of Great North Walk signs. This informally named lookout has good views down over Fishponds, a large waterhole on Berowra Creek. Looking north across the creek, there are views to the upper waterhole and the cliffs on the other side.

Find the Signposts at the start.
After another 55 m cross the stepping stones (about 10 m long)
This is flood prone; never cross flooded waterways.
After another 50 m find the "Fishponds" (15 m on your right).
Fishponds
Fishponds

Fishponds is a long waterhole on Berowra Creek in Berowra Valley Regional Park. The waterhole is lined with tall cliffs and a few sandstone caves. At the southern end, there are stepping stones to help cross the creek, and a small timber bridge at the northern end. This is a beautiful spot and a worthy place to rest and enjoy the water passing by. The waterhole is fairly popular with local teens in summer, cooling off. Swimming and jumping at the Fishponds waterhole has resulted in fatalities - please heed the signs and Cora's parents' plea and enjoy the water from the edge.
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Fishponds is a long waterhole on Berowra Creek in Berowra Valley Regional Park. The waterhole is lined with tall cliffs and a few sandstone caves. At the southern end, there are stepping stones to help cross the creek, and a small timber bridge at the northern end. This is a beautiful spot and a worthy place to rest and enjoy the water passing by. The waterhole is fairly popular with local teens in summer, cooling off. Swimming and jumping at the Fishponds waterhole has resulted in fatalities - please heed the signs and Cora's parents' plea and enjoy the water from the edge.

Veer right.
After another 95 m come to the end.
Turn around and retrace your steps back the 195 m to the main route.
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Terrain
Know the Hills, grading & facilities

Great North Walk: Thornleigh - Hornsby


Grading
Class 4/6
Hard track
Length 10.4 km
Time 3 h 15 min to 5 h
Quality of track Formed track, with some branches and other obstacles (3/6)
Gradient Very steep (4/6)
Signage Directional signs along the way (3/6)
Infrastructure Limited facilities, not all cliffs are fenced (3/6)
Experience Required Moderate level of bushwalking experience recommended (4/6)
Weather Storms may impact on navigation and safety (3/6)

Some facilities on route
Campsite: There is one 2.9 km from the start.

Toilet: There are 2 on route, on average they are 3.5 km apart with the largest gap of 10.4 km.

Seat: There is one 55 m from the start.


Order of key facilities on route
ItemFrom StartName & link to notes
Toilet
-6 m[toilet]
Toilet
-5 m[toilet]
Building
0 mZacs Great Food
Campsite
2.9 kmThe Jungo
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