Great North Walk Day 4 (5 July): Ridge Top bushcamp to Brooklyn Dam

The trail

The trail

Time of writing: 8:06am 5 July

Everyone has their own personal trail rhythm. Some sleep in and enjoy the morning at camp after a late night around the campfire. Others linger all day on the trail. Me, I like to be up around 5:00am regardles of the sun. I enjoy a relaxed breakfast before breaking camp and setting off around 7:00am. This gives me time to knock over most of the day’s mileage in the morning but also time to stop and enjoy the sights.

What a fantastic experience

What a fantastic experience

Right now I’m at a lookout heading into Cowan looking back at the spur I hiked down this morning. It was a stiff descent that took me to Joe Craft’s Creek where I rested and washed (rinsed) some of my clothes before climbing to where I sit now. The sun is climbing higher into the sky to my right and the wind is gusting through the trees.

Last night I enjoyed campfire games and marshmallows with the Duke of Edinborough people. It was a grand laugh and I have learned some new games for Scouts. We played the “I’m having a picnic” word game (the one where you have to go in alphabetic order), the “In my happy place” word game (where you can only have thing with double letters), and the “Guess where the train stops word game (where you have to say “umm” before the place. And we played “Mafia and Villagers” where you give everyone a playing card. Black is mafia and red is villager. Red Ace is the doctor and Red King is the sherriff. Everyone closes their eyes. The person nominated as “God” tells the mafia to open their eyes and select someone to murder. The mafia then close their eyes as “God” tells the doctor to open their eyes and select someone to save (the doctor doesn’t actually know who the mafia killed). The doctor then closes their eyes. “God” then tels the sherriff to open their eyes and to ‘investigate’ someone who they suspect is mafia. Everyone then opens their eyes and “God” tells then who was killed (unless the doctor saved them). Everyone then has a town council to decide who to blame for the murder – that person will be expelled from the village and reveal whether they were mafia or villager. The goal is for the mafia to kill all the villagers and for the villagers to expell all the mafia. The game only works if you have more villagers than mafia. To make things more interesting, you can add Cupid (Red Jack) who nominates a Romeo and Juliet for the game. If either Romeo or Juliet dies or is expelled from the village, then the other also suffers the same fate. Romeo and Juliet do not know whether the other is mafia or villager.

Time of writing: 3:58pm 5 July

So this morning I wrote about my morning routine on the trail. I have a bit of a routine at the end of the day too. Once I find camp, I take time to find the best site. The one that’s most flat and sheltered with good views and, preferably, morning sun. Not that I’m fussy. Before I set up I hang out any clothes that need drying and, if there’s a creek, I was my shirt, socks and underclothes. When I say “wash”, I really mean rinse because I don’t use detergent. Then I make soup. I have soup, dinner and dessert for every camp but have worked out that I can’t eat them all as a big meal. The great thing about the soup is that it tends to be salty so I can replace both lost fluids and salts straight away when I get to camp. My soups all have carbs and vegies too, so I’m getting some nutrients at the same time. Then I set up camp and laze around writing, reading the guide book and eating until dark when I pretty much go to bed tired.

Today’s hike was another brutally beautiful one. Once at Cowan I walked what was supposed to be 200m but seemed like twice that to a shop. The shop was also the only “public” toilet in town so I bought a Mint Patty and drink so I wouldn’t feel bad using the bathrooms. It was worth it just to wash my grotty hands with sweet scented soap.

Jerusalem Bay

Jerusalem Bay

From Cowan the trail dropped down the eastern side of the range to Jerusalem Bay. It followed Cowan Creek, often merging as one entity. The creek dropped down gullies of ferns and over flat rock shelves, eventually widening out into a muddy-bottomed inlet that would make good crabbing grounds. Then it opened out into Jerusalem Bay; a deep long bay lined with high mountains (well, relatively high anyway) that plummeted into the bay. I stopped at a clearing along the bay for a long rest. The clearing was on top of a cliff shelf a few meters about the water so I had a gorgeous view. I lay in the sun and fell asleep for half an hour.

As I prepared to leave, a group of young Christian missionaries walked by. They were out hiking for the day to clear their heads after working to prepare for a conference. They had an air of calm about them, especially the one who spoke with me. I would leap frog up the trail with them all day to Brooklyn Dam.

Soldier crabs

Soldier crabs

Soldier crab up close

Soldier crab up close

From Jerusalem Bay the trail climbed steeply up the range. At times I had to really clamber to get up the rock steps. The views from the top were superb! Then the trail dropped down to a small creek before climbing up to the ridge that would take me almost to camp. The climb was rocky and there were metal pegs in the rock to help hikers through (I just wish my legs were longer thought to climb some of the pegs). From the top I could see all the way to Porto Bay.

As I walked I came to a big group of squawking black cockatoos. The kind with the yellow tail feathers. I got a sense they might be Guardians to this land so I told them I was just passing through and meant no harm. Some of the birds glided around. One sat on a nearby branch and ate fruit from his claws. But one hopped from branch to branch beside me watching me before gliding off after I was finished speaking. I am sure he was pleased with my words and accepted me into his lands.

Camp at Brooklyn Dam

Camp at Brooklyn Dam

It’s quite cold and windy here at camp. The water from the dam is cooling the air. I might seek out a more sheltered spot before I put on my tea.

Total: 15km with 25kg pack


  • porridge with fruit and nuts
  • Organic Food bar
  • 2 x museli bars
  • Mint Patty
  • 6 x Vita Wheat crackers with chocolate paste
  • coconut curry soup
  • curry fish rice
  • hot vanilla custard
  • fruit puree


9 responses to “Great North Walk Day 4 (5 July): Ridge Top bushcamp to Brooklyn Dam

  1. Pingback: Great North Walk Day 3 (4 July): Tunk Ridge bush camp to Ridge Top bush camp | Transventure

  2. Pingback: Great North Walk Day 5 (6 July): Brooklyn Dam bush camp to Mooney Mooney Creek bush camp (north) | Transventure

  3. sounds like you are having an awesome experience! so cool to meet other hikers and get into a groove. that is a lot of granola! good luck with the rest of the hike!

    • G’day Mary 🙂 It was a fantastic experience. I actually finished the walk last Friday and spent the weekend camped at Newcastle. I returned home today so have spent a few hours typing up my diary notes from the trip 🙂 I look forward to catching up with your running adventures now that I have internet access again.

  4. A great section of the walk, I especially like Jerusalem Bay. I’m just trying to place you ridge top camp?

    • I was just trying to find my Spot GPS record of that camp but it’s the one where my tracker didn’t work so I can’t share a link to the map location. Ridge Top camp is a little lookout and campsite about 700m from the end of Turner Road, Berowra (or at least that’s what the sign at the campsite said). It’s at the top of the trail when you climb up from Berowra Waters.

  5. I really envy you this experience Andrew, being one amongst nature is one of my favourite passions! 🙂

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