Convict Trail: (32° 55′ 42″S, 151° 7′ 21″E) follows the route of the 240 km Great North Road. Free e-brochures can be supplemented by a coloured self-guided tour booklet with maps, which has been produced with assistance from Tourism NSW. Contact the Convict Trail Project, PO Box 96 Wahroonga, New South Wales. Parts intersect the Great North Walk.
The Great North Walk Companion extract- pages 64-65
The Great North Road was begun when Major Thomas Mitchell, Surveyor-General of the NSW Colony, had the bright idea of building an inland route to open up regions in northern NSW. He commissioned Heneage Finch to survey the route for the ‘Great Northern Road’ from Sydney via Castle Hill, Wisemans Ferry, St Albans, Laguna, where Mr Finch finally settled, and Wollombi.
“So, Alice,” I ask, hoping to keep the peace among generations. “Why the family interest in the Great North Road?”
“Because one of our fore-fathers (literally a great, great granddad — not sure how many greats but we can figure that out this evening) worked on the final stages of it. This road, we’re on it now by the way, is a monument to the convicts of early New South Wales. It was built, at least the original version of this road was built, by chain gangs of convicts of around 700 men between 1826 and 1832. I brought along the supply list of one of the convict details — in case you needed help with planning what to take tomorrow on your walk.” She chuckles at her joke as I turn to look into the folder on the back seat.
Great North Road Working Party Supplies: 100 convicts, 6 officers for 4 weeks
Sugar: one pound (0.45kg) per man per week
Rice — six bags
Tea — 50 pounds (23 kg)
Portable soup — six canisters
Salt — 100 pounds (45 kg)
Pepper — six pounds (2.7 kg)
Pack saddles — 6
Pack horses — 6
Rope: inch and half — three coils
Canvas — one bolt for bags
Tin camp kettles— 2
Stuff (cloth) from Parramatta — for 6 tents; for 2 blankets per man
Axes — 12
Tomahawks — 6
Muskets — 6
Ball cartridges 24 pounds (11 kg) for each watch
Glauber salt — 12 pounds (5.4 kg) — remedy for constipation/ poor digestion
Sal volatile — one bottle — remedy for fainting / low blood pressure
As I read, Alice continues, “Back then, the goal of the pioneers was to establish a road from the new settlement of Sydney into the Hawkesbury Valley, which had already become Sydney’s grocery basket, and from there on north into the Hunter Valley. This was causing them trouble because of the terrain.” She waves her hands away from the steering wheel and towards the hills rising around Castle Hill.