Culture and heritage

Heritage of NSW

The Old Great North Road

The Great North Road, surveyed in 1825 and completed in 1836, was constructed using convict labour. Up to 720 convicts - some in chains - worked on the road, which spanned 264 km, connecting Sydney to the settlements of the Hunter Valley. It features spectacular and beautifully preserved examples of stonework, including buttresses, culverts, bridges and twelve metre high retaining walls.

Unfortunately the road was not popular. It was isolated, had no permanent watercourses, and bypassed existing settlements. By 1836, as the few remaining convict gangs were completing the last northern sections of the road, it had been almost entirely abandoned as a route to the Hunter Valley. Coastal steamers became the preferred mode of travel and transportation.

Only 43 km of the road remains undeveloped and relatively intact. Running through and alongside Dharug National Park and Yengo National Park, this section has been named the Old Great North Road. It goes from Wisemans Ferry in the south to Mount Manning (near Bucketty) in the north, and includes the oldest surviving stone bridges in mainland Australia. The road is closed to motor vehicles, but makes a great walk over two or three days - or an exhilarating day's cycle.

World Heritage Listing - Australian convict sites including the Old Great North Road
Eleven of Australia's convict sites were awarded world heritage listing in July 2010. These sites present the best surviving examples of large-scale transportation and the colonial expansion of European powers through the presence and labour of convicts. The Devines Hill and Finchs Line sections of the Old Great North Road in Dharug National Park form one of four sites in New South Wales included in the listing.

Convict sites along the way
Find out about the stoneworks, bridges and relics of convict life you'll find if you travel the Old Great North Road. Learn what's being done to protect them.

Walking or cycling the route
What you'll need to take, where you'll be able to camp, and information on the native plants and animals along the way.


Interactive map

The map below shows where the road travels through Dharug and Yengo national parks. If you're planning to walk or cycle the Old Great North Road, you'll need more than this map. It's best to buy the following 1:25,000 topographic maps, covering the length of the track:

  • St Albans 9031-2-N
  • Kulnura 9131-4-S
  • Mangrove 9131-3-N
  • Lower Portland 9031-2-S.

Map of the Old Great North Road. Based on a map from Gregorys National Parks of NSW, copyright Universal Press.

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Page last updated: 19 February 2016