Great North Walk - safety for solo hikers?

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Great North Walk - safety for solo hikers?

Postby _nomadnik » Tue 08 Oct, 2019 9:01 am

Hi all!

I'm looking to tackle the Great North Walk in 2 week-long sections come late October/early November. I've done day hikes around Lane Cove and Berowra previously but this will be my first time overnighting on the trail. My biggest question to everyone though is regarding SAFETY.

As a solo female hiker I just wonder how safe I am out there on the trail at night? I noticed a few peoples comments about coming across signs of other more 'recreational' campers rather than hikers or just generally shady characters. Seeing as most of the track is still quite close to suburbia I wonder if this is common?

All personal experiences or thoughts on this would be much appreciated! I'd especially love to hear from any other female hikers out there who have given it a go!! :D

Cheers,
Nik
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Re: Great North Walk - safety for solo hikers?

Postby wildwanderer » Tue 08 Oct, 2019 1:56 pm

Welcome Nik,

Firstly. If this is your first time camping overnight I wouldn't suggest going for a entire week. Do a overnight first, then a 2 night trip. 7 days solo is a long time if you're not used to it. (Edit. Realised u may have been referring to first time O/N on GNW specifically so above may not apply)

Re safety while camping at gnw campsites.

Generally you will be safer on the trail and camping than you are walking down the street or catching public transport. Less people = less chance of issues.

I think you would be fine camping on the Great North walk. Mostly any uncertainty you may feel will be fear of the unknown rather than a genuine threat.

Take your normal precautions. If anything seems not right then one of advantages is that suburbia is mostly close so a quick exit is possible. Also if you're not happy at a camp spot due someone else being there continue on and find a clear spot in the bush.

The only challenge I've heard of is during weekends and school holidays: on infrequent occasions some of the campsites are used for drinking parties. Never heard of a problem but you may want to avoid this time.

During school times the walk is often used by Duke of edinburgh award guided trips. So you may find 20 school kids with teachers and guides at the main campsites. (So would certainly have no safety issues there)

If you want to be ultra cautious avoid campspots that are drive in or connected to firetrails where people may go for afternoon walks from nearby suburbs. Or just don't set up until night time so no one knows your camping there. (But it's really unlikely you would need such precautions)

If people ask I generally avoid telling them where I'm camping, so having an alternative location which you can tell people you meet on the trail can be useful.

I don't know your financial situation but a Garmin inreach device to allow SOS and two way communication is very handy as works even if no mobile reception. The ability for friends and family to see your live location on a map is reassuring for them. Also will give you weather reports.

If not then consider a PLB as a minimum. (And a snake bite bandage).

The biggest dangers in the bush are tripping and falling or spearing yourself with a stick etc. I would put other people a far away 4th on the threat list. (Snakes second and also unlikely. Bushfires 3rd)

There is a great thread on the great North walk somewhere in this section. Edit Here it is viewtopic.php?f=47&t=28764&view=unread#unread

I'm sure you will have a great time :D

Just watch the weather re bushfires.

.
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Re: Great North Walk - safety for solo hikers?

Postby _nomadnik » Wed 09 Oct, 2019 6:27 pm

Hi Wildwanderer

Thanks for the intel! All very valid and what I was hoping to hear. Honestly, I've probably just watched too many Wolf Creek type movies for my own good....but I thought it best to check anyway! I think going with my gut each day will serve me fine and I'll be carrying a PLB just in case (I read you can get a free one from BMNP when you fill out a trip intention form). This will be my first time combining multi-day hikes and camping but rest assured I've done plenty of both and keen for a new challenge! I've also got an awesome support crew (aka mum) checking in on me throughout :)

wildwanderer wrote:There is a great thread on the great North walk somewhere in this section. Edit Here it is viewtopic.php?f=47&t=28764&view=unread#unread


I've read and re-read this one a bunch!! And found heaps of good info all over this forum - thank you everyone!

Vigilantly checking weather forecasts already too and brushing up on my snake bite protocols.

Having just as much fun doing all the research as I think I will out there on the actual trail hah!

Cheers again!!
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Re: Great North Walk - safety for solo hikers?

Postby wildwanderer » Wed 09 Oct, 2019 9:51 pm

_nomadnik wrote: (I read you can get a free one from BMNP when you fill out a trip intention form).

Id give them a call. Springwood police station would be the closest PLB loan location to Sydney. Strictly speaking they are supposed to be used only within the Blue Mtns National Park but Id hope common sense would prevail and they still allow you to borrow one (as long as you promise to return it)

_nomadnik wrote:Having just as much fun doing all the research as I think I will out there on the actual trail hah!
Cheers again!!

Yep :D
Planning is half the fun!
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Re: Great North Walk - safety for solo hikers?

Postby rcaffin » Fri 11 Oct, 2019 7:57 pm

In general we camped in obscure places and saw no-one nearby. Yes, we did generally avoid the established campsites - just used the tanks a few times to fill water bottles if needed. More often we used clean creeks. Our avoidance was NOT out of fear, just a desire to avoid noisy teenagers and cars. Sleep is wonderful.

Cheers
Roger
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Re: Great North Walk - safety for solo hikers?

Postby Rosscodj » Mon 14 Oct, 2019 12:26 pm

I'm jealous. I've been itching to do the whole GNW, but Uni exams and all that jazz have stolen my hiking time away!

I've done a few overnight sections on the GNW, from Circular Quay all the way through to Cowan station, as well as around the Hawkesbury. I never felt uneasy, but i'm a 6ft male in my 30's. My walking has mostly been mid-week, so I can't speak for weekends, but the vast majority of people in have come across on the trail have seemed friendly enough. I generally don't tell anyone where I'm planning on spending the night, not that anyone has really ever asked. Mostly people are curious as to how far I'm going, which I always answer "as far as I can!".

I'd suggest perhaps staying away from the 4wd/dirt bike areas like the Watagans on a weekend. Or if you can't avoid it and you're feeling uneasy about a few spots, convince a friend or two to drive in and spend a night camping with you. They can bring fresh food and cold beverages. And if they're a true friend, Ice Cream!

I think you'll be fine though, the vast majority of people aren't out there to cause any trouble. Also, if you're that way inclined, keep a bit of a delay on social media posts so they're a day or two behind (or better still, leave them all till the end and enjoy!) so people can't work out where you're at till you're already gone.
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Re: Great North Walk - safety for solo hikers?

Postby solohiker » Sat 19 Oct, 2019 7:59 am

Hi
Brooklyn Dam gets groups of teens on the weekend. There is a smaller secondary camp spot on the other side that could be used if the main site is rowdy.
There will be others camped at Watagan Forest HQ. There is a lot of space so can spread out though. I met a hunter camping for the night there and I got the impression it could get busy.
Other than that I didn’t see anyone at any other campsite.
I love blogging about my adventures. Please feel free to take a look https://solohikerblog.wordpress.com/
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Re: Great North Walk - safety for solo hikers?

Postby mih » Wed 20 Nov, 2019 11:06 am

Hi Nik,

Did you end up taking this bushwalk? How was the experience?

I'm doing a bit of a planning myself and hopefully I will give a go this year :)

Cheers,
Mihail
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