This walk starts at Cowan Station north of Sydney, and at first follows a track to the very pretty Jerusalem Bay, passing mostly through typical Hawkesbury Sandstone country. The track then climbs quite steeply, and after a bit more up and down it joins a fire trail for the second half of the walk. This might be a bit of a let down, only there are really excellent views across the Hawkesbury River at a point when the fire trail turns 90 degrees right and starts the long descent to Brooklyn. You need to walk about 20m to the left across rocks. Brooklyn is a nice village in a great spot on the water (but no photos because I was pushed for time).
Cowan to Brooklyn on the Great North Walk: Track Notes
I used track notes in the guide book A Day in the Bush, but the route is clearly marked by Great North Walk (GNW) signs, or on obvious fire trails, so it would be difficult to get lost. About 12 km one way with some steepish ascents and descents. The track starts on the platform at Cowan Station and you can catch a train back from Brooklyn Station. They’re every hour on the weekend.
A little bit of night walking
I did this walk on my lonesome, setting off in my car quite late in the day but still with plenty of time to finish the walk. Only I realised half way to Cowan that I had forgot my rail pass, and when I got to Brooklyn I just missed a train. I probably could have run for the train and not paid for a ticket, but I decided to give myself a proper work out by walking back to Cowan. Unfortunately my knees hurt a bit and I hadn’t left enough time to get back in daylight. I ended up finishing the last 3 km of the walk in moonlight, testing my inexpensive headlamps from Macpac, which were great.
It was only my second time to walk at night, and the first time by myself, but it was actually very atmospheric, especially at the top of the descent to Jerusalem Bay at twilight, and down at Jerusalem Bay itself in moonlight. I could get used to a spot of night walking. It was also a pretty balmy late Autumn night as I finished the walk comfortably in shorts and a t-shirt (although I imagine adrenaline helped).