Adventurous journeys are one of the key parts of The Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme and provide a welcome opportunity to spend a few days outside of the classroom in the bush. In the second week of August Gold, Silver and Bronze award participants combined to walk sections of the Great North Walk.
Our walk started with all 43 eager walkers meeting at Thornleigh Station. After a quick briefing we set off through the suburban streets to meet the trailhead, the track from Thornleigh to Crosslands Reserve being the day’s challenge. After finding the path we set off through the bush to our first stop, the historic ‘Steele’ bridge, which links Hornsby with Dural by a fire trail. From there we climbed the spur to Tunks Ridge Reserve, which had spectacular views north up the Berowra Valley. From here we followed the ridge until it was time to descend down into Galston Gorge – where we were met by two resident Bantam chooks, whose names were quickly christened ‘Dinner’ by some of the less charitable in the group! After ascending back up the ridge from the gorge, we swiftly covered the last few kilometres to reach our overnight stop at Crosslands Reserve. We arrived just in time, as no sooner were the tents were up and the Trangias lit, it started to rain.
Day two saw us waking up to showers of rain. We packed up during the breaks in the rain as best as we could and headed back south. It always seems faster when you cover ground for the second time, as a result we were back at Galston Gorge in no time. After making acquaintance with ‘Dinner’ 1 & 2 again, we headed back up out of the valley climbing up some thoughtfully provided stakes that had been driven into the rock face to form a ladder. We broke our walk for lunch at Tunks Ridge rest area, before once again descending and crossing the ‘Steele’ bridge. Once across the bridge, we turned left instead of right and headed up the fire trail to Hornsby Station. Here we said goodbye to the Bronze walkers, who had finished their two day trek. We then jumped on the train down to Thornleigh Station, where we walked the final 700 metres to Baden Powell Scout Camp – our stop for night two.Next morning we broke camp and headed down the Lane Cove River valley towards Chatswood. Along the way we watched as the tributaries of the river grew and grew with each successive kilometre. Having viewed Ryde Road and De Burghs Bridge from an entirely different angle (from the underneath), we continued on to the Lane Cove River National Park. We stopped for lunch at the weir, by which time some of our feet were getting sore! Fortunately, after we had rested it was only a quick but steep walk up Fullers Road to Chatswood Station. Here we said goodbye to the Silver walkers.
The final day for the Gold level walkers started at Milsons Point Station. Here, with the aid of some very vague instructions we set off towards Manly. Our path today was perhaps the most scenic, as it skirted around the fingers of land that jut out into Sydney Harbour. Soon we had passed Cremorne Point, Taronga Zoo and Clifton Gardens. With the James Prassopoulos’ bubbler count reaching 11, we arrived at Balmoral Beach. Despite the allure of the azure waves we pressed on, past some of the more expensive houses we had ever seen. Soon we rounded the corner and the Spit Bridge loomed into view. Here we crossed on to the Northern Beaches and summited the Gallipoli stairs. With a bit of encouragement we made the last push in to Manly, to finish our walk at the Wharf.Thank you to Mrs Freestone, Mr (P) Hill and Mr Pain for walking with us.