This walk follows the Great North Walk above Berowra Creek from Thornleigh to Galston Gorge, on bush tracks and service trails. The Steele Bridge is quite an interesting landmark of the area. Fishponds is a wonderful highlight, it is a lovely water hole surrounded by tall sandstone cliffs. The walk finishes on a road a long way from anywhere, you will need to organise a friend to pick you up.
Note this walk was re-routed in early 2016 to go via the streets of Hornsby Heights. This re-route is due to the multi-agency decision to close the Fishponds to Steele Bridge section of the Benowie Track. This decision has upset many people and the protest continues.
(open in app)
Cross sectional view of the Thornleigh to Galston Gorge bushwalking track
Analysis and summary of the altitude variation on the Thornleigh to Galston Gorge bushwalking track
Overview of this walks Grading - Based on the AS 2156.1 - 2001
These details are new. This new feature still requires more testing and refining. Please use the 'Walker Feedback' for report specific issues. Please e-mail Matt if you have any general comments. Hope you find it helpful.
Under this standard, a walk is graded based on the most difficult section of the walk.
Very steep (4/6)
Quality of track
Formed track, with some branches and other obstacles (3/6)
Directional signs along the way (3/6)
Moderate level of bushwalking experience recommended (4/6)
Storms may impact on navigation and safety (3/6)
Limited facilities, not all cliffs are fenced (3/6)
*This summary of grading information is new and still in testing
Some more detail of this walks Grading
Here is a bit more details explaining the grading looking at sections of the walk. Gradient
6km of this walk has short steep hills and another 3.8km has gentle hills with occasional steps. Whilst another 3.3km is very steep and the remaining 2.2km is flat with no steps.
Quality of track
7km of this walk follows a clear and well formed track or trail and another 6km follows a formed track, with some branches and other obstacles. The remaining (1.9km) follows a smooth and hardened path.
Around 8km of this walk has directional signs at most intersection, whilst the remaining 7km is clearly signposted.
9km of this walk requires no previous bushwalking experience and another 5km requires some bushwalking experience. The remaining (990m) requires a leader a with moderate level of bushwalking experience.
Around 15km of this walk is not usually affected by severe weather events (that would unexpectedly impact safety and navigation), whilst the remaining 990m is affected by storms that may impact your navigation and safety.
Around 8km of this walk has limited facilities (such as not all cliffs fenced), whilst the remaining 7km is close to useful facilities (such as fenced cliffs and seats).
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Thornleigh Train Station
Morgan Rd Walk: Easy - road
Length = 989 m
Time = 18 mins
Climb = 7 m
Descent = -47 m
From the western (north bound) side of Thornleigh Station, this walk follows the 'Jungo Rest Area' sign along the footpath towards the car park and The Esplanade. The walk then heads down a short distance further to turn left and cross 'The Esplanade' at the traffic lights, then continue straight along the footpath down along Eddy Rd. Following a couple of GNW arrows down Eddy Rd as it then bends left, turning into Tilock St, and shortly later this walk then turns right into Morgan St. Continuing down till just before the end of this street, this walk comes to an intersection marked with a GNW arrow and the 'Elouera Bushland Natural Park' sign (on the right).
Int of Bike Trail and Morgan Rd tracks Track: Moderate - bushtrack
Length = 226 m
Time = 4 mins
Climb = 3 m
Descent = -7 m
Turn right: From the end of Morgan Street, the walk follows the GNW arrow and the 'Elouera Bushland Natural Park' sign between houses no. 28 and 26. Once behind the houses at a small clearing, the track turns left and follows down the rocky side of Zig Zag Creek. Soon after passing behind the third house, the track comes to an intersection with a wide concrete trail, where a sign points back along the track to 'Sydney Cove'.
Int of Bellamy trail and Morgan Rd tracks
Zig Zag Creek Bridge int. Walk: Easy - servicetrail
Length = 129 m
Time = 2 mins
Climb = 0 m
Descent = -6 m
Turn right: From the intersection, this walk follows the 'The Jungo' arrow downhill along the wide concrete trail for 25m to cross over the culverted creek (with a green rail on one side)[fac=8404]. The walk continues down into the valley along the concrete trail for another 110m to come to a signposted intersection marked with a 'Great North Walk' sign (on your left), just before 'Zig Zag Creek' and the long bridge.
Thornleigh zigzag railway
Alt = 120 m
The Thornleigh zigzag railway originally ran from the main rail line near Thornleigh to a historic quarry, near present day De Saxe Cl, Thornleigh. There are only minor fragments still visible today. The 'Heritage Trail' in Thornleigh has interpretive signs for the railway and the old Thornleigh Quarry. A book is available with some detail on railway and associated quarry: 'Sydney's Forgotten Quarry Railways' by John Oakes, ISBN 0 9757870 3 9
Zig Zag Creek Bridge intersection
The Jungo Track: Moderate - bushtrack
Length = 1.43 km
Time = 25 mins
Climb = 16 m
Descent = -37 m
Turn left: From the intersection, this walk follows the 'Great North Walk' sign along the narrower track, keeping the gully to your right. The pleasant track leads into, then through, the ferny forest with tall trees for about 700m, before crossing a side creek on a timber bridge. The track then continues in a similar manner for another 700m, coming to a large clearing and campsite, The Jungo. On the far side of this clearing is a well-signposted intersection with a 'Bellamy Street' sign pointing back through the campsite.
Alt = 98 m
The Jungo is a relatively small clearing and campsite near the junction of Berowra and ZigZag Creeks at a well signposted intersection. There is often water in the creeks (treat well before drinking) but there are no facilities. Speculation on the source of the name 'Jungo' includes the Aussie tendency to abbreviate words ('Junction' gets corrupted to 'jung-o' etc) as well as a possible derivation from one of a few similar sounding aboriginal words.
Int of GNW and Stringybark Ridge trail Track: Moderate - servicetrail
Length = 103 m
Time = 2 mins
Climb = 1 m
Descent = 0 m
Veer right: From the campsite, this walk follows the 'Fishponds' sign down across the concrete ford, over the usually small creek. Here, the concrete management trail leads uphill, becoming dirt as it starts to flatten out. This walk then comes to a signposted intersection of the 'Great North Walk' and the Stringybark Ridge management trail (signposted 'Cherrybrook Lakes' trail).
Int of GNW and Stringybark Ridge trail
Elouera Lookout Track: Moderate - bushtrack
Length = 1.05 km
Time = 27 mins
Climb = 81 m
Descent = -58 m
Turn right: From the intersection, this walk follows the 'Great North Walk' sign down the narrower track. The track leads downhill for about 70m, getting steeper as it goes, and then crosses Berowra Creek - this creek may become impassable after rain. On the other side, the walk comes to an intersection on a small sandy beach. Here, the walk turns left, following the GNW arrows downstream for about 250m among the grass trees and crossing a flat timber bridge. The rocky track then continues for just shy of 250m and crosses a mossy gully on a large flat rock. The track then continues, staying fairly flat for another 170m before bending right and heading steeply uphill. At the top of this climb, the track soon leads to a section of fenced cliff. At the end of the fence, the walk passes through casuarina forest for a short distance before passing alongside another (longer) fenced cliff and coming to the Elouera Lookout, where there is an intersection with the 'Westleigh' track (on your right).
Alt = 116 m
This fenced lookout is on the Benowie Track close to Westleigh. There are uninterrupted views from the clifftop across the Berowra Creek valley, which is rare for the area. As well as being on the Great North Walk, this lookout can be accessed by a short walk from Elouera Rd, Westleigh. This section of fenced rock platform is about 100m long, and there is some limited shade from the casuarina near the lookout if you want to take a rest.
Int of the Great North Walk and the Quarter Sessions Road track Track: Moderate - bushtrack
Length = 2.16 km
Time = 54 mins
Climb = 152 m
Descent = -130 m
Continue straight: From Elouera Lookout, this walk follows the 'Great North Walk' sign along the track, keeping the fence and valley to your left. At the end of the fence, the walk bends left following the rocky flat track for about 200m, where the track then becomes progressively steeper for about 250m, winding steeply down then across a flat timber bridge. From here, the track leads beside Berowra Creek for a short time before crossing another flat timber bridge. The track then passes among the pleasant grass trees for about 200m (crossing a couple of small creeks with timber plank spans) to then climb a few sets of timber steps and cross a small (often dry) creek. From here, the track gently winds up along the side of the hill for about 800m, passing through a pleasant casuarina forest then heading across a rocky creek on another small, flat, timber bridge. Just over 100m later, the track crosses a smaller (often dry) creek to then wind uphill for about 100m to a three-way intersection with the signposted 'Quarter Sessions Rd' track (on your right).
Int of the Great North Walk and the Quarter Sessions Road track
Int of the Great North Walk and the Blackfellows Head lookout track Track: Moderate - bushtrack
Length = 615 m
Time = 16 mins
Climb = 36 m
Descent = -64 m
Veer left: From the intersection, this walk heads north along the main rocky track, keeping the valley down to your left. The track leads along beside a rock wall (which is on your right) and through a rock outcrop, where the track soon heads quite steeply uphill along the eroded track for a short time. At the top of this steep section, the rocky track continues to meander much more gently up along the side of the hill for about 300m, then crosses a small, rocky gully, just below some houses. The track then continues gently uphill for about 100m to an intersection with the unsignposted Blackfellows Head track (on your right).
Int of the Great North Walk and the Blackfellows Head lookout track
Int of the Great North Walk and the Blue Gum Walk (SW) Track: Moderate - bushtrack
Length = 76 m
Time = 2 mins
Climb = 7 m
Descent = -9 m
Continue straight: From the intersection, this walk heads north along the clear track, keeping the valley down to your left for about 100m, where the walk comes to a three-way intersection and 'The Jungo' sign points back along the track.
Int of the Great North Walk and the Blue Gum Walk (SW)
Fishponds Lookout Track: Hard - bushtrack
Length = 988 m
Time = 21 mins
Climb = 21 m
Descent = -87 m
Veer left: From the intersection, this walk follows the 'Fishponds' sign past the 'Berowra Valley Regional Park' sign, gently uphill along the narrow ridge. The track is mostly flat for about 200m before it starts to head fairly steeply down over some rocks and down a set of rock steps. This area comes alive with Patersonia lilies and pink wax flowers in early spring. The track then continues fairly gently down along the narrow ridge for another 200m before leading through a crack in a rock, then down a bit further to climb down through a particularly steep rocky section. Near the bottom of this descent, this walk passes a couple of arrow posts, where the track bends right to pass below a large rock overhang. Just beyond this overhang, the track bends left and leads across Waitara Creek at the interesting holes in the rock know as 'the spa'. This creek may become impassable after heavy rain, the rocks can also be slippery. Across the creek, the walk comes to a large rock platform and a Blue Gum Track post.
After stopping to enjoy cool spot, this walk continues left along the unfenced rock platform (keeping the creek down to your left). The walk soon steps off this large rock (at the far right-hand corner, through the fork in a tree). This walk heads over another rock platform, then along a notably flat section of track (now with Berowra Creek on your left), passing beside some cascades for about 100m before climbing up and over some rocks and under a sandstone overhang. The track leads around the side of the hill for about 100m, then down to cross a small creek using the small flat timber bridge. The walk then climbs up some timber steps to a fenced lookout over Fishponds, at a well-signposted intersection. A sign points back along the track to 'Thornleigh Station'.
Alt = 49 m
Fishponds Lookout is a fenced rock platform at the intersection of the Benowie walking track and the Rosemead trackhead. It is marked with a number of Great North Walk signs. This informally named lookout has good views down over Fishponds, a large waterhole on Berowra Creek. Looking north across the creek, there are views to the upper waterhole and the cliffs on the other side.
Fishponds crossing Optional sidetrip: Track: Moderate - bushtrack
Length = 71 m
Time = 2 mins
Climb = 3 m
Descent = -4 m
Continue straight: From the lookout, this walk follows the 'Galston Gorge' sign along the fenced rock shelf (keeping the fence to your left). The track leads down the rocky steps to the edge of Berowra Creek. The walk crosses the creek using the stepping stones, and comes to a small cave on the other side. This creek may be impassable after rain. (Retrace your steps back to the main track, then turn left to continue along this walk.)
Alt = 49 m
Fishponds is a long waterhole on Berowra Creek in Berowra Valley Regional Park. The waterhole is lined with tall cliffs and a few sandstone caves. At the southern end, there are stepping stones to help cross the creek, and a small timber bridge at the northern end. This is a beautiful spot and a worthy place to rest and enjoy the water passing by. The waterhole is fairly popular with local teens in summer, cooling off. Swimming and jumping at the Fishponds waterhole has resulted in fatalities - please heed the signs and Cora's parents' plea and enjoy the water from the edge.
Corner of Dilkera and Manor Rd Track: Moderate - bushtrack
Length = 496 m
Time = 19 mins
Climb = 131 m
Descent = 0 m
Turn right: From the lookout, this walk follows the 'Rosemead Rd Trackhead' sign directly away from the view over Berowra Creek. After about 70m, the track leads over a timber footbridge, then leads up the side of the valley for about 100m to climb up the steep carved rock steps (with a hand rail). Here the track leads along the top of this unfenced cliff and soon comes to a well signposted three-way intersection, where a 'Fishponds' sign points back along the track. Veer left: From the intersection, this walk follows the 'Alternative Route' arrow on the GNW sign. The track dips before heading steeply uphill, zigzagging in several sections. The walk leads you up a large metal staircase to the top of the cliffs, coming to the intersection of Manor Rd and Dilkera Cl.
Corner of Dilkera and Manor Rd
End of Clarinda St Walk: Easy - road
Length = 1.66 km
Time = 31 mins
Climb = 36 m
Descent = -49 m
Continue straight: From the intersection, this walk follows Manor Rd as it initially heads up a gentle hill. After about 600m, Manor Road turns to skirt about Mount Wilga Hospital, and the road changes name to Rosamond St. The walk continues along to the intersection with Stewart Ave on the left (this is a four-way intersection, with Carrington Rd on the right). Continue straight: From the intersection, this walk heads north along Rosamond St following the Great North Walk arrow. The walk then turns left into Clarinda St and follows it to the end of the road, to find the 'Clarinda Wetlands' sign.
End of Clarinda St
Int of Clarinda St trail and waterfall track Walk: Easy - servicetrail
Length = 1.08 km
Time = 24 mins
Climb = 51 m
Descent = -66 m
Turn right: From the end of Clarinda St Hornsby, this walk heads around the green gate with the 'Berowra Valley Regional Park' sign on it, keeping the 'Clarinda wetlands' to the left. The walk follows the management trail, which soon bends left and gently winds through the bushland. There are some interesting rock formations on the right and the occasional valley view on the left. The track is fairly flat most of the way, until a left-hand bend that leads down to cross a small creek, and then up the other side of the valley. Once the track flattens out again, it comes to an intersection with the Simon Pl management trail on the right, at a fairly large clearing. Continue straight: From the intersection, this walk follows the flat management trail, heading away from Simon Place past the 'Berowra Valley Regional Park', 'Dogs Prohibited' sign. The walk gently meanders along the trail, enjoying the ferns and sandstone rocks for a while until coming to a 'Great North Walk' sign highlighting the intersection with small track on the left.
Int of Clarinda St and waterfall track
Int of Stewart Ave service trail and waterfall track Track: Moderate - bushtrack
Length = 473 m
Time = 13 mins
Climb = 9 m
Descent = -98 m
Turn left : From the intersection, this walk heads down the hill along the narrow track, following the 'Great North Walk' sign. The track is rocky and steep in a few places. Take care as the track turns at the top of some smaller cliffs while winding down the hill. Steps have been made from rocks and logs, making this track a bit more gentle, and there are some carved steps in the steeper sections. At the bottom of a small flight stone stairs, the walk crosses the creek on the rocks just in front of the waterfall. Veer right: From the waterfall, this walk climbs the stone stairs (keeping the waterfall initially on the left) and then turns right, heading up out of the gully. Once at the top of the stairs, the walk heads through the bush until soon coming to a 'T' intersection with the Stewart St management trail, signposted with a large 'Great North Walk' sign.
Int of Stewart Ave service trail and waterfall track
Steele Bridge Walk: Easy - servicetrail
Length = 396 m
Time = 8 mins
Climb = 5 m
Descent = -29 m
Turn right: From the intersection, this walk follows the 'Galston Gorge 4km' arrow down the hill along the wide management trail. For the most part, the trail gently heads downhill then bends around to the left, leading to an intersection just before Steele Bridge.
Historic Military 'Steele' Bridge
Alt = 38 m
This large steel and timber bridge spans Berowra Creek north of Fishponds. The creek is fairly wide at this point and the bridge provides a great view of the sandstone overhangs along the creek's edge. The bridge was commissioned in 1965 to allow access for fire trucks. The bridge was designed by Major General Sir Clive Steele in 1942. Bridges of this type were critical during the WWII South West Pacific campaigns. The bridge is designed on the Warren truss style and is one of only 4 'Steele' bridges still in use in NSW. More info
Tunks Ridge Rest Area Track: Hard - servicetrail
Length = 1.78 km
Time = 44 mins
Climb = 160 m
Descent = -33 m
Veer right: From the intersection, this walk crosses the 'Historic Military Steele Bridge' and turns right to follow the 'Crosslands' sign  uphill along the wide management trail. After about 200m, the trail becomes steeper (and is concreted) for around 150m, then flattens out just before the left bend. The trail continues to climb (enjoying the valley views to the right) for another 400m, after which the trail becomes quite steep again for for about 600m (here the trail is sealed then concreted in two sections). From the top of the second concreted section, the trail leads gently uphill for just shy of 300m to the well-signposted 'Tunks Ridge Rest Area', where a sign points back down the trail to 'Stewart St Hornsby Trackhead'.
Tunks Ridge Rest Area
Alt = 165 m
Tunks Ridge Rest Area is a large, shady and gently sloping campsite at the junction of three management trails. There is no water or other facilities (you will need to carry your own in). A sign at the top of the campsite reminds campers that there is a one night limit and that it is a fuel stove only area (no campfires). Please note that the composting toilet has been removed and no longer available.
Tunks Ridge Rest Area
Int of Great North Walk and Galston Gorge track Track: Moderate - servicetrail
Length = 1.36 km
Time = 28 mins
Climb = 38 m
Descent = -68 m
Turn right: From the top of the rest area, this walk follows the 'Galston Gorge' AND 'Crosslands Reserve' signs along the wide management trail, keeping the valley to your right. The trail winds along the side of the ridge (passing along the base of a long rock wall, up to your left) for about 700m, until the trail comes to the top of the ridge. From here, the trail leads for another 500m, down across a saddle then up to a clear Y-intersection. The walk takes the left branch and passes a few 'Regeneration Area' signs over about 250m, coming to a well-signposted intersection with narrower track (on your left), partway around the right-hand bend.
Top of Galston Gorge Campsite
Alt = 137 m
This campsite can be found on the Great North Walk, off the service trail just before it descends into Galston Gorge (when coming from the south). There is plenty of room for a group of tents, however there is no available water or facilities. Although this is an official campsite for the Great North Walk, there are some threatened species in the area, therefore Tunks Ridge Reserve (1.4km South) would make a better alternative, with better facilities.
Int of Great North Walk and Galston Gorge track
Galston Gorge track head Track: Hard - bushtrack
Length = 546 m
Time = 16 mins
Climb = 14 m
Descent = -119 m
Turn left: From the intersection, the walk follows the 'Galston Gorge' sign down the steep rocky track as it zigzags down towards the valley. About 40m down the hill, the track comes to a 'Great North Walk - Walkers Registration' box. After leaving your comments, this walk continues downhill, passing through a crack in the rock where the walk bends right and follows along the particularly rocky section for about 150m and comes to a fence. The fence guides down a steep section, passing a cave, and comes to the top of a metal peg ladder. This walk climbs down the ladder, then follows the rock wall (keeping the road to your left), heading down through a crack and along another fence, then coming to a flat area beside the road. Here the walk follows the GNW arrow to the right and down under the bridge. The walk crosses the creek, usually a bit more than ankle deep. This creek maybe impassable after rain - the road bridge above offers an alternate way across, but watch and listen for traffic. On the other bank, the walk turns left to follow the track uphill. The track well-formed track climbs to the well-signposted and paved Galston Gorge trackhead, where a 'Fishponds' sign points back down the track.
Galston Gorge track head
Alt = 24 m
Galston Gorge track head is located at a small car park on the eastern side of Berowra Creek, near the bottom of the gorge on Galston Road. This track head is a good access point for those wanting to do sections of the Great North Walk and is well signposted. Keep an eye open for the local chickens.
Fire Danger This walk passes Greater Sydney Region fire area which currently has a LOW MODERATE rating and No fire ban in place. (Tomorrow the Fire Danger Rating is LOW MODERATE, No fire ban.) (Downloaded 5 years ago) Please Note: Each park may have its own fire ban, this rating is only valid for today and is based on information from the RFS Please check the RFS Website for more information.
Berowra Valley National ParkLink to official closures and fire bans page Following the Berowra Creek the Berowra Valley National Park is located on the Hornsby Plateau and is made up of typical Hawkesbury Sandstone. The great North walk, Benowie walking track, and many other great walks stretch spann this park. The area has varied vegetation including many different sorts of Eucalyptus and plenty of native animals, includingl swamp wallibies, water dragons, bandicoots, Lyre Birds, and bush turkeys. There are several campsites within the Park, and Crosslands Reserve is also a popular spot near the middle of the park. Region: Sydney & Surrounds Park feesCamping Current Park Closure information for Berowra Valley National Park Closure information last downloaded Sunday 27th of September 2015 07:00 AM Safety alerts: Quarry trail and Benowie walking track restricted access Access restrictions are in place along trails that traverse the land managed by the Hornsby Rifle Range. Restricted areas include:
an 800m section of trail, 2km in from the Quarry Road entrance at Dural
an 800m section of trail, 300m in from the Stewart Avenue entrance at Hornsby
a 750m section of the Benowie walking track between Steele Bridge and Fishponds Waterholes.
Shooting times are between 9am and 4.30pm, 7 days a week. All visitors wishing to access the restricted sections of trail during these times must request prior authorisation by contacting the Hornsby Rifle Range on their 24 hour contact number 0417 201 606. Consult the map on Page vii of the Berowra Valley National Park Draft Plan of Management to plan alternative routes during these hours. Visit the website for further information about the Hornsby Rifle Range.