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Welcome to the Project

Modern Australia was founded as a convict settlement. Banished from their homeland, these men and women found themselves in a totally new environment – harsh, hot, dry and decidedly less fertile than the land they left behind. For many, the new colony provided an opportunity to become enterprising individuals who laid the foundation for a great nation. As the settlement grew, convicts were sent to build infrastructure such as roads and bridges and to open new industries. The Convict Trail is a monument to these former felons, and a tribute to their work.

Between 1804 and 1822 convicts who committed another crime after arriving in the Colony had been banished to the penal settlement at Newcastle, then only accessible by sea. In 1826 re-offending convicts were put to work on one of 19th century’s greatest engineering feats in Australia – the Great North Road.

What is the Great North Road?

Extending north from Sydney to the Hunter Valley, the Convict Trail follows the route of the 240 km Great North Road, built between 1826 and 1836. Most of this road continues to be used today, offering an alternative, slower paced scenic route between Sydney and the Hunter, where one can explore the brilliant engineering works created by hundreds of convicts – many working in leg-irons.

Relics such as stone retaining walls, wharves, culverts, bridges and buttresses can still be seen along the entire length of the Great North Road – in Sydney suburbs like Epping and Gladesville, at Wisemans Ferry or Wollombi, Bucketty or Broke, or when walking in Dharug and Yengo National Parks.

Vale Gillian James


On the 6th of November Gil unexpectedly and peacefully died in her sleep at home.

Gil has been involved in the CTP since the start of the project in the early 1990s. She represented Wollombi on the board and ensured that the promotion and maintenance of the Great North Road always stayed high on the agenda in the Hunter Valley.

Through Wollombi Tidy Valley she also organised working bees for the convict sites within this area.

Gil will be dearly missed by all of us in the Convict Trail Project.

Paul Budde

Download a Map

Convict Trail MapThe NEW 2018 map of the Great North Road is available in all visitor information centres and is also available for download here.

VISIT THE CONVICT TRAIL