Wisemans Ferry to Clares Bridge
As you leave the suburbs behind and set off into the National Parks section of the trail its time to leave the car behind and either mountain bike or walk the next section of the trail. Be sure to stay on the road as you travel along and have plenty of water and sun screen with you. Many of the sections like finches Line or Shepherds Gully make for a great shorter walk as does the Devines Hill section of the road which can be done in a few hours comfortably.
A visit to the region is not complete until you have driven into the forgotten valley to St Albans. The drive from Wisemans Ferry across the main ferry and round to St Albans contains some unsealed road which joins sealed road just before the village and continues on across the river and winds its way back towards Wsemans Ferry via the Webbs Creak ferry. Perfect for a Sunday Drive.
Follow the Convict Trail as it takes you across the main ferry and on to the Thomas James Bridge. Built in 1830, it is the oldest functioning bridge on mainland Australia. There is a pull off section just past the bridge opposite the gate to Devines Hill that can accommodate several cars at one time.
The Great North Road then enters the Dharug National Park and climbs the World Heritage Listed Devines Hill. This section of the road is closed to traffic but available for hiking and bike riding. As you climb the hill you will see culverts, hand cut drains, towering buttresses and walling.
Be sure to visit Hangmans Cave, which was fist named this in the late 1890s to impress and horrify tourists. (In fact, hanging could only be ordered by the Supreme Court and usually took place in the gaol yard.) Round the corner and above the cave is the site of the stockade for Iron Gang No.3. From the base of Devines Hill to the Stockade site takes around 1 hour.
Towards the top of Devines Hill, Shepherds Gully track joins the western side of the road. This track was possibly built at the same time as the road. When combined with Sternbecks Track, Shepherds Gully makes for a wonderful scenic loop walk. The Sternbecks track/ Shepherds Gully loop walk takes approximately 2 hours.
Further long the Great North Road is Finchs Line. This was the original ascent, abandoned in 1828 as it was too steep and too long. It is another wonderful side track to explore as you travel along the Convict Trail.
Clares Bridge, was built in 1830 at the head of a gully. Sweeping stone walling leads to the bridge from either side and showcases the extensive skills of the road’s builders.