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My Ramblings

Website of Ian Muirhead

Great North Walk

Wakefield to Newcastle

Wakefield, a small rural community, is not the sort of place most people would see as a holiday destination. Thus it is not wise to count on finding accommodation in town, although the GNW Discovery Kit shows a campsite near the trackhead. It is, however, a convenient staging point for a half-day on the Great North Walk track; the time I had to fill after flying into Newcastle early afternoon.

Jerusalem Bay
The rural town of Wakefield.

The enchanting call of bellbirds (more correctly, Bell Miners) high in the trees around the small park at Wakefield Trackhead delayed the start a little. For a relatively small bird of around 20cm the Bell Miner can punch out a very penetrating call.

Much of the walking between Wakefield and Warners Bay, the overnight stop for this segment of my Great North Walk in stages, is on the road or formed pathway. For part of the way the verge is almost non-existent, but it was only the intermittent trucks servicing the local Teralba quarry which forced a side-step into the long grass.

In addition to the Bell Miners there were various bird species near several smallish water bodies on the way; from ducks in the swamp on the right just out of Wakefield to Little Pied Cormorants and Pelicans along the shores of Lake Macquarie.

Lake Macquarie
Sunset over Lake Macquarie, at Warners Bay

The walk into Warners Bay was quite pleasant along the shores of Lake Macquarie. though the numerous bicycles and joggers meant one had to stay somewhat alert. I took it easy and slept in a motel that night.

Leaving Warners Bay and entering open forest adjoining Vermont Place playground it is possible - as an un-named, and inattentive web writer found - to take the wrong turn on one of the numerous trails through the bush.

Flowering Banksias, the picturesque Charlestown Golf Course, and the strangely intriguing twisted sculptures formed by numerous burnt-out vehicles dumped in the forest were the highlight here.

Perhaps the nicest part of this section of the GNW is Yuelarbah Track and the walk northward along Burwood Beach. There are several reminders of an industrial past along the way, including remnants of an old copper smelter and colliery & associated railway. The day was fine and warm, and taking time out for a refreshing swim was easily justified.

Glenrock Lagoon
The view from Leichhardt Lookout over Glenrock Lagoon to Burwood Beach.

Further along the beach I was humourously reminded of a TV show called Meerkat Manor. Almost like clockwork every minute or two an elderly gentleman would rise from the sand on the highpoint of the dune and, standing tall, scan the beach for I know not what. Though my eyes did not linger long, he was best described as having skin the colour and texture of RM Williams boots, a rather large beer gut, and either the minimum of, or non-existent clothing.

Walking barefoot through the frothing edge of the small surf for a couple of kilometres was the perfect way to approach the final short section into Newcastle and the end of the Great North Walk.

Date of visit: March 2009