The Old Great North Road was built to link Sydney, New South Wales with the Hunter Valley and Newcastle. Constructed from 1826 to 1836 by convict labour and stretching for 240 kilometres, the road commenced at the Great North Road, Five Dock, passed through Dural and headed north from Wisemans Ferry and on to Bucketty, Wollombi, Maitland and finally Newcastle. Just north of Wisemans Ferry, New South Wales an excellent example of the skills of these early engineers, surveyors and the convict workmen may be seen.
Traversing some 34 kilometres from Devines Hill near Wisemans Ferry to Mt. Manning, near Bucketty, the road, which is now closed to vehicular traffic provides an insight into the construction methods of the times and the lives of the convict road gang workers who quarried, shaped and aligned the massive sandstone blocks used to form the buttressed stone walls which support the roadway. In some places the retaining walls are over 12 metres high and the original drainage systems with stone culverts and drains are readily accessible. Several bridges have also been preserved within the Dharug and Yengo National Parks including Clares Bridge and Circuit Flat Bridge. The use of the Great North Road as the main route from Sydney to the Hunter was short lived as travellers found the route to be too remote from settled areas and lacked sufficient water holes and fodder for travelling stock.
The ascent of Devines Hill near Wisemans Ferry. Cathy McHardy 2018
The New South Wales Heritage Inventory provides an overview of the history and significance of the Great North Road
High sandstone embankment with supporting buttress on Devines Hill. Cathy McHardy 2018
Hairpin bend in the road on Devines Hill showing sandstone block construction of the embankment. Cathy McHardy 2018
A sandstone culvert, part of the road drainage system on the Devines Hill ascent. Cathy McHardy 2018