Great North Walk - End to End

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Great North Walk - End to End

Postby Mattystein » Thu 11 Oct, 2018 3:05 pm

Hi all, just a quick trip report for my recent thru-hike of the Great North Walk from Sydney to Newcastle.
I completed this in 11 days from September 11th to September 21st, 2018.
Small gallery of images here: https://imgur.com/gallery/xLWc3IU
Main gear: 3F UL Gear 3m*3m tarp, Groundsheet, Sea2Summit Nano Bugnet, Sea2Summit UL Pillow, Klymit Static V UL sleeping pad Large, Helinox Chair Zero, Granite Gear Crown2 X60, Black Diamond Trail Back poles. Then just clothes, food, and water.

Break down of my days (using data recorded on Backcountry Navigator app):
Day 1 - Wynyard to Baden Powell Scouts (Thornleigh) via Macquarie Place Obelisk - 30km, +883m
Day 2 - Baden Powell Scouts to Tunks Ridge Campsite - 16.3km, +576m
Day 3 - Tunks Ridge Campsite to Ridge Top Campsite - 18.3km, +923m
Day 4 - Ridge Top Campsite to Brooklyn Dam - 16.3km, +673m
Day 5 - Brooklyn Dam to Van Dahl's Rest Area - 19.1km, +523m
Day 6 - Van Dahl's to Quarry Campsite - 27.7km, +924m
Day 7 - Quarry to Archers Campsite - 23.5km, +848m
Day 8 - Archers to Mt Warrawolong Campsite - 35.6km, +1493m
Day 9 - Mt Warrawolong to Crawford Tank & Hut - 23.6km, +796m
Day 10 - Crawford Tank & Hut to Watagan Forest Hotel - 30.6km, +1218m
Day 11 - Watagan Forest Hotel to Queens Wharf - 43km, +806m

Highlights:
All the animals I saw! Wallabies, brushturkeys, snakes (including diamond pythons, red-bellies, and a huge brown!), kangaroos, wombat (although very bad mange), too many different birds to list,
Flowers were out and very stunning.
Didn't meet many other walkers (which surprised me) but the everyone I did meet were just amazing to chat with.
The Helinox Chair Zero was amazing! I thought I'd regret the extra weight but I fell in love with having a chair every day after walking.

Lowlights:
A friend joined me for one of the weekends and almost got bitten by a large (~2m) brown snake. The snake reared up to about hip height and lunged as my friend approached. Luckily he was quick enough to jump (very high!) backwards and just miss the bite. What could have been though, scary. This was above Patonga in Brisbane Water NP.
The road walking, particularly Congewai, Wakefield, and the various dirt roads in the Watagans. Not too fun, but part of the experience I suppose.
Ended up hating my Sea2Summit UL pillow, just didn't find it comfortable at all.

Overall impression:
I'm not a super fit hiker by any means, and I did find this walk very challenging. However, I could have dialled back the distances and made it a bit easier. The walk is pretty amazing though. I think if I had to choose I preferred the Sydney end of things, I noticed a substantial drop in wildlife sightings once further north and a big increase in road (dirt and bitumen) walking. But maybe I was just mentally and physically tired also. I noticed my fitness increased significantly, and I barely noticed the 15-20kg on my back after about 6-7 days. Water was tricky at times, but all tanks had water except for the Archers campsite. There is a great thread on here with a list of water sources which worked great for me.
All in all, I hated it occasionally, but loved it most of the time. I was lucky to not get rained on either.
Last edited by Mattystein on Fri 12 Oct, 2018 12:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Great North Walk - End to End

Postby wildwanderer » Thu 11 Oct, 2018 3:27 pm

Great work!

And now for the all important pack weight question... What was your base weight? and total weight (at the start)?

Agree Sea2Summit UL pillow is not very good. Mine was uncomfortable, slippery and developed unrepairable micro holes within 6 months. Would not buy another. Now I use a stuff sack with bunched up clothes - works well.
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Re: Great North Walk - End to End

Postby DavidB » Fri 12 Oct, 2018 9:08 am

Well done. Some impressive day distances there. I gave up on the inflatable pillow - too uncomfortable and eventually developed some micro-holes. Now I just use a small travel pillow which I stuff a jumper into.
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Re: Great North Walk - End to End

Postby Mattystein » Fri 12 Oct, 2018 2:51 pm

wildwanderer wrote:And now for the all important pack weight question... What was your base weight? and total weight (at the start)?

Hmmm, I did weigh my pack the night before I left, with no water or food. It weighed in at ~12kg I think. For the first day I didn't carry any food and minimal water since I was in the city. I bought all my food at Thornleigh for the 2nd day and beyond. As for water I had capacity for 3.6 litres, until the Watagans I added another 1 litre bottle as I wasn't sure how reliable the tanks and water sources would be.
Anyway, to get back on track, once fully loaded at Thornleigh with food and 3L of water, I'd say I was at around 18kg. Far from Ultralight, but was quite comfortable with the Granite Gear Crown2 X60. I definitely bought too much food, rookie error.

wildwanderer wrote:Agree Sea2Summit UL pillow is not very good. Mine was uncomfortable, slippery and developed unrepairable micro holes within 6 months. Would not buy another. Now I use a stuff sack with bunched up clothes - works well.

DavidB wrote:I gave up on the inflatable pillow - too uncomfortable and eventually developed some micro-holes. Now I just use a small travel pillow which I stuff a jumper into.

Good to see it wasn't just me that experienced issues with the Sea2Summit UL pillow. As you both mentioned it was slippery and uncomfortable; not high enough for me mainly. Doubt I'll use it enough to even develop micro-holes. On my walk I switched to using my clothes bag with a jumper on top for a nice feel, was so much more comfortable.
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Re: Great North Walk - End to End

Postby LachlanB » Fri 12 Oct, 2018 3:59 pm

Those are some impressively long days! Interesting to hear your comments on the latter sections of the track; the firetrail has been one of the things that has so far discouraged me from most of the northern GNW.
Mattystein wrote:On my walk I switched to using my clothes bag with a jumper on top for a nice feel, was so much more comfortable.

My personal favourite is to roll my raincoat into a compact log, and then put a couple of rubber bands around it. Then wrap my jumper over it to make it feel better.
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Re: Great North Walk - End to End

Postby Mattystein » Fri 12 Oct, 2018 4:29 pm

I realise it's a bit of a sweeping generalisation for the northern sections by me. There are some really excellent parts to it that are worthwhile. But it did seem to contain more road walking and fire trails. And the tracks were less maintained.
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Re: Great North Walk - End to End

Postby RainbowSpirit » Sat 27 Oct, 2018 8:05 am

I walked the GNW at almost the same time as Mattystein, in fact I started 2 days in front of him, and if I hadn't had to take a week off to fix a stuffed knee we would have finished on the same day. My hike took 13+ days
My walk went like this:
Day 1 from Sydney to Lane Cove
Day 2 to Thornleigh Scout camp
Day 3 to Tunks Ridge
Day 3.5 to Crosslands (where I went home for a week with a stuffed knee to get it better)
Day 4 back to Crosslands, and off to Ridge Top
Day 5 to Brookllyn Dam
Day 6 to Quarry cs
Day 7 to Archers cs
Day 8 to Walkers Rest
Day 9 to a spot about 2km short of Watagan Creek cs
Day 10 to Barabba cs
Day 11 to Heaton Gap (motel)
Day 12 to Teralba (cabin at the caravan park)
Day 13 to Glenrock Scout camp (I could have gone to the finish that day, but as someone was picking me up at the finish the next day I spent $5 and stayed at the camp)
Day 13.3 to Newcastle.
My base weight was around 7kg, all up maximum weight was around 15kg, I dropped off two ammo cans of goodies along the track a few weeks before the walk at Mooney Mooney and Watagan Creek. The hills were a killer for me (I'm 66), and as Matty suggests the road walks in the northern section were boring. I met an Estonian hiker at Ridge Top and we walked together for 3 1/2 days, so that was fun. The only other walkers I saw was three section hikers going my way along the track from Heaton Gap to Teralba, and it made that boring section more interesting to have them to talk to. I loved the beach walk from Glenrock to Newcastle, hated the hills :)
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Re: Great North Walk - End to End

Postby Summitview » Tue 13 Nov, 2018 2:50 pm

Hi there. Just finished this walk end-to-end a couple of weeks ago. I have posted some links to useful resources and some updates at: viewtopic.php?f=47&t=28764
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