The MacDonald valley is an easy trip close to Sydney with some great scenery and simple river crossings. Suited to any type of 4wd, and even the adventurous 2wd, the track follows the MacDonald River from St Albans.
There are a number of crossings of the MacDonald River along the way and some of these are bridges, whilst towards the end they become open sand based river crossings. I would certainly not attempt this trip if there has been a lot of rain in the days prior as the river would become impassible. The road turns from a very hard based gravel road into a meandering track that becomes very sandy and soft when crossing the river.
Along the way there are plenty of stop off points where you could go swimming in the river or even have a picnic. The road is lined with private property so make sure you stay within the bounds of the road and not venture into the paddocks. Many of the properties are un-fenced to the road, so there is quite a lot of cattle in places and it is advisable to take care when driving close to them.
The road eventually closes in and seems to disappear into the scrub, but I have heard that you can drive for many kilometres up the river bed itself where the road appears and disappears into the bush. On our trip we didn’t try driving up the creek as it looked a little too soft and a bit risky, especially as we had experienced the soft ‘quick sand’ nature of the river itself when attempting to cross at one point.
Before heading up the river, St Albans is a great place to stop off and have a coffee or a drink at the pub and the township is quite historic. The Settlers Arms Inn is very well known and was built back in the early 1800’s on the only route from Sydney to the Central Coast back in those days. Undoubtedly it has seen its fair share of traffic, but nowadays it is only the small handful of locals and tourists that frequent its bar.
The video below follows a typical day in the MacDonald Valley and gives a bit of an insight into the trip. To get there from Sydney, travel out to Wisemans Ferry on the Old Northern Road and follow the signs to St Albans. You will cross the Hawkesbury River on the Webb Creek Ferry and then follow the picturesque and winding road out to St Albans. Just before you follow the road right and cross the bridge into St Albans there is a turn off (really a straight ahead) onto the Upper MacDonald Road. Follow this road until you can follow no further.