In 1825 the NSW Government began work on an inland road to connect Sydney to the Hunter Valley, a distance of 264 kilometres. Up to 720 convicts worked on the Great North Road and built stonework including buttresses, culverts, bridges and 9-metre-high retaining walls. The road was completed in 1836.
The Great North Road was not popular. It was isolated, had no permanent watercourses, and bypassed existing settlements. Coastal steamers became the preferred means of travel to the Hunter Valley, and by the time the road was completed in 1836 it was almost redundant.
The Old Great North Road is a 43-kilometre section that runs from Wisemans Ferry in the south to Mount Manning (near Bucketty) in the north. It runs within and adjacent to Dharug National Park and passes in and out of Yengo National Park.
It is called the Old Great North Road because it is the most intact section of the original road that remains undeveloped. The World Heritage-listed section of the Old Great North Road is about 7 kilometres long and lies within Dharug National Park. The road is closed to motor vehicles but can be walked.
World heritage listing
The Old Great North Road is one of 11 places that make up the Australian Convict Sites World Heritage property. The 11 sites were given World Heritage listing in 2010. The Devines Hill and Finchs Line sections of the Old Great North Road, which lie in Dharug National Park, are included in this listing – they are one of 4 New South Wales sites included in the Australian Convict Sites.
How the convict sites are managed
The Australian Convicts Sites Steering Committee manages the 11 convict sites, including the Old Great North Road. The Strategic Management Framework guides the management of the property.
The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service carries out day-to-day management of the Old Great North Road within Dharug National Park. This management is guided by the Dharug National Park Plan of Management, the Old Great North Road Conservation Management Plan and the Old Great North Road Maintenance Plan.
Convict features along the road
There are numerous features along the Old Great North Road that attest to the massive amount of work done by convicts to build the road. These features include timber and stone culverts, cut stone drains, sandstone-block retaining walls, convict graffiti, bridges, stockade sites and camps that are not included in the World Heritage listing.