About this walk
The Fernleigh track is an old railway line from Newcastle to Lake Macquarie that has been turned into a bike path. The platforms of the stations are still visible along the way and food and drinks conveniently available nearby every stop.
Awabakal is a nature reserve in the middle of suburban Newcastle. Despite the encroachment of the surrounding suburbs, the coastal heath and lagoon are in breathtaking condition.
It takes about 9 hours to complete the full 31 kilometre walk, with plenty of breaks and photography stops.
A brisk walker can do this much faster, but consider that there's a lot to see along the way.
Getting there and back
Get the train to Adamstown using transportnsw.info. Plan your return trip from Adamstown at transportnsw.info.
Along the way
Exit the station and follow Park Avenue.
Where Park Avenue turns right, cross the street to get to the start of the Fernleigh Track.
The old train lineis now a foot/bike path, which this walk follow all the way to Redhead.
The path crosses roads several times along the way.
There's shops, restaurants and a public toilet near the track at the former Whitebridge station.
Take the path on the right of the track before up to the street above.
At the first intersection follow the road to the left.
Whitebridge's shops are to the left of the roundabout a short distance down the road.
Continue on down the Fernleigh track, past the Whitebridge sign.
After reaching the next station (Redhead) along the line, continue past the first sign to Redhead Beach.
Follow the second sign to Redhead Beach after the old platform, past the sports fields.
At the end of the sports fields, turn right to follow Elsdon Street.
At the intersection with Kalaroo Road turn left to keep following Elsdon Street.
A short diatnce after Elsdon Street turns left, enter the trackhead on the right of the road.
From the trackhead follow the trail to left towards the beach.
Follow the boardwalk through the wetlands and coastal heath until it leads back to the street to the left.
The boardwalk finally ends at a reserve along Beach Road.
From the reserve cross the creek across the bridge.
You can visit the surf club to the right first, or head left up Alison Street.
Alison Street turn right onto Collier Street. Follow it to the top of the hill.
Halfway up Collier Street, at the top of the hill, a sign and a faint bushtrail allow entry into Awabakal.
After initial dense vegetation the trail open up to wide views across the coastal heath.
Eventually the trail will join a firetrail, follow it to the right to the lookouts.
At the end of the firetrail a few faint bushtrails lead to views up and down the coast.
Return back down the firetrail until it eventually reaches a picnic table.
From the picnic table follow the firetrail to the left, downhill to the lagoon.
Turn left at the lagoon and walk around it clockwise.
On the far side of the lagoon the firetrail splits into several grassy paths, all of which lead out of the park.
The trail out of Awabakal end at some sports fields. Walk along the fields to get to the street on the other side.
Follow the street up to its junction with Ocean Street and follow it to the right.
There's several pubs along Ocean Street. Continue along the street and turn left into Bombala Street.
Follow Bombala Street all the way to the end to find the trailhead into Glenrock.
Start down the trail, taking the right forks to pass by several lookouts.
The trail eventually ends on Dudley Beach near a creek. Continue along the beach.
Near the end of the beach well past the carpark a worn path leads up from the beach to a firetrail.
Follow the gravel firetrail away from the beach through the coast heath.
The trail turns into a dirt road through higher growth, a well worn bike run on the right leads up the hill.
Climb the worn path all the way to the top of the hill, and folow the firetrail it joins to the right.
Near the end of the firetrail a wooden staircase indicates a winding descent to the next beach.
The trail passes along the campground of the nearby scouting camp on it's way to the beach.
Follow the beach past the lagoon and follow the creek up from there.
Great North Walk signs indicate where a walking path away from the beach starts.
Follow the directions to the trackhead on the various signs along the way.
It's easiest to follow the Great North Walk markers through the maze of tracks and trails.
Eventually all the trails join back up with the Gernleigh Track. Which one you follow isn't that important.
Follow the Fernleigh track back to its start.
At the start of the Fernleigh track, cross the road and follow the footpath back to the train station.
What to bring
- Check the national parks website for possible detours, closures and restrictions.
- Install an OpenStreetMap app for Android or iOS and preload the area.
- Download the GPS data if your device can import it.
- Print out this map and get a better one from a visitor information centre if possible.
- Be sure to leave enough charge in your phone's battery for emergency calls.
- Bring plenty of water, comfortable shoes, a hat and SPF 30 sunscreen.
- Also bring a light windbreaker/raincoat in case you get caught out in the rain.