Tracks & Trails

Fairylands and the Lane Cove Valley | GNW
Tracks & Trails | bushwalking | hiking | national parks | Sydney North | New South Wales

Fairylands and the Lane Cove Valley | GNW

The Great North Walk

by Susie Baber  |  13 March 2021

North Ryde to South Turramurra | Approx. 12km | 4.5 Hours | Moderate

If done as a single walk, section three of the GNW is a circuit starting at North Ryde train station and exploring a stretch of the Lane Cove River, visiting the historic Fairyland Pleasure Grounds before continuing back up the hill through Lane Cove Tourist Park. When combined as a thru walk it wanders through Fairylands and then crosses the river at the weir (section 4) to continue upstream through the Lane Cove Valley.

Today we are combining sections 3, 4 and a bit of 5. North Ryde through Fairyland Pleasure Ground, 3.5km, Lane Cove River Park weir to DeBurgs bridge, 4.5km, plus about 4km further up the Lane Cove River.

Starting back where we left off in North Ryde we head downhill to the waters edge and wander along the river through what was once known as Fairyland Pleasure Grounds.

Fairyland Pleasure Grounds

For a while in the early 1900’s this area was a market garden and when the market gardens closed the area become a popular picnic and playground, for people arriving mostly by boat.

Planted with exotic plant species, painted fairytale figures placed on trees, and carved fairy like wooden figures placed in the grounds. There was a slippery-dip in the shape of a sleeping giant, a wooden pirate boat, tiny tots, the upside-down house, strength-testing machines and coin-operated machines through which customers could view silent film. A dance hall was built around 1930, and netting was installed around a small sandy beach on the river for swimming.

In the mid 20th century as the suburbs of Sydney expanded and the remoteness of the area diminished, Fairyland lost much of its popular appeal. After a series of floods in the 1960’s it was closed. Today the buildings have (mostly) gone, nature has reclaimed the cleared area and we are left to imagine what it would have been like in its prime.

At the end of Fairylands track the GNW heads left along Quebec Road which runs along the edge of Macquarie Park Memorial Gardens. Jen and I find an open gate and decide to make a quick detour to visit our mum who was laid to rest here last year. A few tears later…

The track then heads down hill towards Delhi Road and continues along the river to the weir. Crossing the weir starts us on section 4 with an opportunity for a loo stop as well as a raspberry bran muffin and an iced tea from the kiosk.

Lane Cove River Park

The rest of this section follows the river upstream along the valley, a very pretty walk through open forest where you will see scribbly gums, red gum and peppermint trees. The walking track runs through two caves, in the second cave the lip hangs down a bit, providing some shade and a cool rest spot on hot days, there are a couple of well placed boulders forming nice seats.

Lane Cover River
Keeping a close eye on us
Track west of DeBurgs Bridge

Further towards DeBurgs Bridge, the track comes to a sandy beach and water hole, ‘Blue Hole’, on the Lane Cover River. We took the opportunity to take off our boots and soak our feet in the cool creek water for a while as the water dragons eyed us warily.

DeBurgs bridge is the finish of the 4th section of the GNW and was one of our options to finish for the day, walking up onto the bridge and along to Eden Gardens Nursery. After a bit of deliberation we decided to put off the plant shopping to another day and push on a little further up the valley. Section 5 of the GNW continues under the bridge and follows the river upstream. The track leads gently up among the grass trees and along the management trail crossing small creeks and passing waterfalls.

At the intersection of Koombala Road my blisters had decided they had had enough for today and we rang for our pickup. Without the advantage of a local volunteer driver our other option would have been a long uphill to Turramurra station, although there is a bus route on Kissing point Road as far as I can see they don’t run on weekends.

This post is not a comprehensive guide to the GNW, more resources for these walks can be found at

If you would like to read more about our adventures on the great North Walk some of these stories might interest you…

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