Located at Bedlam Point in Gladesville on the Parramatta River you’ll find this unassuming stone wall that like many of our posts has a much more significant past than you might realise.
But first, let’s talk a little about what was known as The Convict Trail. Built between 1826 and 1836, The Convict Trail or Great North Road was the first established road connecting Sydney to the Hunter Valley. It was built by over 700 convicts, some of which were in chains. It was a major achievement in its time and evidence still exists with stone bridges and 12 metre high retaining walls still visible as part of what is today known as the Great North Walk.
The road started the 264km journey in Five Dock and followed the route along what is still named “The Great North Road” to the Parramatta River at Abbotsford. It was at this point where the river is at its narrowest (at least until Homebush) so a punt would carry passengers across Parramatta River to the photographed stone wharf at Gladesville.
The punt was in operation from 1832 and had two chains fastened at either side. It was wound across the river by hand and was only big enough to carry one horse and cart plus a couple of passengers.
After a number of years the service closed after which the Bailey and Cashman families ran competing private river crossing services at a cost of 2 cents per trip. When it became dark, passengers would signal ferryman by lighting a hurricane lamp and swinging it slowly back and forth. The first family to react would usually win the fare. These services remained in operation until 1884 when the first Gladesville Bridge opened.
Note: I try to be as accurate as possible but make no guarantees. Please use this information at your own risk.