Church Point, located 32 kilometres north of the Sydney central business district, is a waterside suburb at the southern end of Pittwarer in Sydney's north. Just offshore is Scotland Island, one of only two inhabited islands in the Sydney region. Pittwater Road is Church Point's main thoroughfare and ends in the suburb. The Church Point ferry wharf is home to the Church Point Ferry Service, which visites Scotland Island and many of the small settlements on the western foreshore of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. Church Point has an interesting historic cemetery which visitors are free to wander through and read the gravestones.
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West Head, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park protects a large area of natural beauty on the northern perimeter of metropolitan Sydney, encompassing the central and lower regions of the Hawkesbury River on its southern side. Ferries, hire boats and houseboats make the park's intricate shoreline totally accessible, their deep waters are ideal for boating. The park may also be explored by a maze of walking tracks, some accessible by wheelchair, which lead to waterfalls, secluded bays and beaches.
Aboriginal Rock Art: Ku-Ring-Gai National Park contains the largest collection of aboriginal art in the Sydney region. Over 200 groups of engravings are recorded, most of the 1,110 individual figures having been carved onto horizontal sandstone slabs. They vary in size from a few centimetres to 15 metres long and include animals, fish, artifacts, people and ancestral beings. There are three main sites - The Echidna Engraving Site, The Basin Engraving Site and The Elvina Engraving Site - all are located off West Head Road between Elvina Nature Trail and West Head and are easily accessible and well sign-posted. The art at the Basin Engraving Site is the easiest to view and recognise, the objects carved there include fish, a whale, male and female humans, boomerangs and a row of jumping wallabies. A few hand stencils, which are now barely visible due to weathering, can be viewed in an overhang on the Red Hands walking track near West Head.
Facilities: toilets, barbeques, picnic tables, grassed areas throughout the park.
No access via public transport. Access by motor vvehicle from West Head Road, Ku-Ring-Gai National Park
The art at the Basin Engraving Site is the easiest to view and recognise, the objects carved there include fish, a whale, male and female humans, boomerangs and a row of jumping wallabies. A few hand stencils (above), which are now barely visible due to weathering, can be viewed in an overhang on the Red Hands walking track near West Head. A large midden can be seen on the Sphinx track to Bobbin Head (UBD Map 134 Ref N 9). Engravings may also be seen on the Bobbin Head Road 200m inside the North Turramurra park entrance.
Browns Bay, McCarrs Creek
McCarrs Creek is a relatively short but extremely picturesque watercourse which passes through a series of forests and a rainforest gully before reaching the yachts and waterside homes on Pittwater, entering it on the western side of Church Point. It rises in Terrey Hills not far from where the road which follows it - McCarrs Creek Road - leaves Mona Vale Road.
The drive along McCarrs Creek Road is one of the prettiest in Sydney, winding its way through the valley alongside the creek, passes the two Gledhill Falls in the vicinity of the turn off to West Head in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. After the falls the creek widens out into a small bay alongside McCarrs Creek Reserve. Here you get your first glimpse of Pittwater. There are areas for children to play and picnic facilities including wood barbecues under the trees. Although the understorey is disturbed, this Reserve has tall Spotted Gums which are winter flowering and provide habitat niches for aboreal mammals and birds.
Beyond the Reserve, the road leaves the shoreline and climbs the hills surrounding Browns Bay. It twists and turns its way around the southern shoreline, giving magical glimpses down to the water between the trees and houses perched above the bay. The road here is quite narrow and you will doubtless encounter some local traffic, so take care. After less than a kilometre you are at Church Point.
Upper Gledhill Falls: The falls are near the National Park's southeastern entr??Sance off McCarrs Creek Road below the first bridge across the creek when approached from Terrey Hills. The valley of the gorge in which the water cascades offers the best view of the falls and the pool, however there is no path down so great care must be taken if attempting a descent into the gorge. A walking path alongside McCarrs Creek which starts above the falls on the top side of the road leads to another smaller falls and a series of cascades further upstream.
Home to artists and privacy-loving celebrities such as Toni Pearen and Will Osmond, Scotland Island is a great place to feel like you're getting away from the rat-race, yet it is not too far from Sydney's CBD. Located on Pittwater, with Church Point to the south-west and Newport to the south-east, it has just the right balance of being secluded enough so it feels like a piece of paradise, but also being close to Australia's biggest city.
Lying off Church Point, the island is approximately 1 km in diameter and its highest point is about 120 metres above sea level. To the east is the suburb of Newport, west is Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, and south are the suburbs of Church Point and Bayview. Around 18,000 years ago Scotland Island was a hill in a river valley. Following the last ice age, sea levels rose, flooding the valley, forming Pittwater and creating the island. There are many small beaches, consisting mainly of mud, mangroves and rocks. There are no rivers or cliffs, but some small caves towards the top of the island. The top of the island is sandstone and the lower part consists of shale.
Scotland Island is one of two inhabited islands in the Sydney area and is home to around 650 residents. The island is accessed by the Church Point Ferry and private vessels. Most of the island consists of bushland, with a residential zones of approximately 350 houses around the perimeter foreshore. There are no shops, cafes or industrial zones.
The non-residential buildings are a kindergarten, Community Hall and Fire Station. The Child Centre and Community Hall were built by the residents in the 1980s and 1990s and are used for various purposes. Community groups on the island include the Island Thinkers, which organises regular discussion groups. In 2006, an arts and film festival was organised on the island by the community. A number of artists living on Scotland Island and the offshore communities of Pittwater. There is no road access to the island, and all access to it is by boat. A ferry services the island.
History: European discovery and first exploration of the island was in 1788, shortly after the establishment of a penal colony in Sydney Cove. The island was originally named Pitt Island by Arthur Phillip, Governor of the colony, in honour of William Pitt, the British prime minister at the time. The first European settler to own land on Scotland Island was Andrew Thompson where he created a successful salt works. He renamed the island Scotland Island after his homeland. He built boats on the island until his death in 1810. The island was sold as a whole several times in the nineteenth century before being sub-divided and sold off in lots in 1906. Around 1900, salt was extracted from seawater near what is now known as Tennis Wharf. Using an oil burner, about 90 kg were extracted each week.
Permanent residents took up residence in the 1960s and power connected to the island in 1967. Sheep farms were located on the island at one time but now the majority of workers commute to the mainland.
Akuna Bay is a dramatic inlet on Coal and Candle Creek, which is an 8km long steep sided flooded valley off the Hawkesbury River. The creek's name is believed to be a corruption of Colin Campbell, the name of an early settler who lived opposite Akuna Bay. Akuna Bay has a large marine complex which includes a restaurant, a reserve, aboat launching ramp and is a major fuelling and supplies centre servicing boat owners and operators in the area.
Location: 10 km west of Church Point within Ku-Ring-Gair Chase National Park via McCarrs Creek Road and Liberator General San Martin Drive.
Cottage Point is an isolated outpost on Cowan Creek, idylically located in the middle of beautiful waterside bushland, 38 kilometres north of the Sydney central business district. The eateries here have developed an enviable reputation and are visited by motorists, passing sailors and float planes alike, Cottage Point is entirely enclosed by Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.
Located at the junction of Cowan Creek and Coal and Candle Creek, Cottage Point was only reached by boat until 1934 when a bridle track to Akuna Bay was formed. Set within the exclusive enclave of Cottage Point is Sydney s smallest locality of only 52 homes which residents and holidaymakers have enjoyed for over 100 years. One of Sydney s most scenic and unspoilt suburbs, Cottage Point is listed as a heritage conservation area supporting a wide variety of native flora and fauna.
Cottage Point Kiosk offers day hire and as much instruction as you need to get you out and boating quickly. They also sell fabulous food and anything else you might want to take with you, including wine, water, newspapers and ice.
Location: 16 km north west of Church Point within Ku-Ring-Gair Chase National Park via McCarrs Creek Road and Cottage Point Road. More >>
There are calm saltwater beaches along both sides of Pittwater. Many on the eastern side have picnic facilities and childrens play areas.
Great Mackerel Beach: A secluded spot, thanks to the fact that it is surrounded by private property. In fact, only that part of the beach below the high water mark is crown land, the rest is private property. For this reason it is a good place to pass through but not to stop. Access is only by boat or on foot via the many tracks which lead here. It is the starting point for numerous bushwalks leading up to The Basin or West Head lookout. No facilities. Access via Palm Beach Ferries.
The Mackeral Beach Loop Walk takes one of two main tracks down to Mackerel Beach. The track leaves West Head Rd, passing some historic Aboriginal engravings before descending to the beach. The track loops around the small community of Mackerel Beach to come back down the beach and return to West Head Rd. A nice An optional side trip to Currawong Beach makes a nice addition to this walk. Track notes, walkers map etc. >>
The Mackerel Beach, West Head Loop is a walk which explores a large part of the West Head. The journey starts and finishes with a ferry across Pittwater. The walk heads around West Head, taking in views on the Broken Bay side, with Lion Island featuring as a prominent sight. The walk follows sections of road that connect some fantastic bush tracks together. This is a solid day walk if allowing time to relax and have a dip at one of the many beaches along the way. Track notes, walkers map etc. >>
Resolute Beach: An isolated beach, accessible only via walking track from Great Mackerel Beach or West Head, or by boat. Great views to Barrenoey Head and Broken Bay.
The Aboriginal Heritage Track takes in one of the most popular rock art sites in Ku-ring-gai National Park, and an amazing Aboriginal engraving site. The walk leads out from Resolute Picnic Area to pass by the caves and then continues down the management trail to the engravings. The walk then returns to the picnic area. It is a great way to see historic Aboriginal art in the Sydney region. Track notes, walkers map etc. >>
The Mackerel Beach and Resolute Loop is another great walk in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, accessed by ferry. From the Mackerel Beach wharf, this walk uses the Resolute Loop track to round the headland, enjoying a few secluded beaches and excellent, historic Aboriginal sites. This walk features Mackerel Beach and community, with an alternative route through the town which is well worth the walk.
Track notes, walkers map etc. >>
Currawong Beach: Another beach in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, on the western shores of Pittwater. It is surrounded by private property, this time by the Labor Council of NSW, who look on the beach as their own. You can beat the problem by renting one of their holiday cabins for a few days and making it your base while you explore the area. Recreational facilities include a tennis court, 6 hole golf course, volleyball. Landing by boat is prohibited. No public facilities.
Access via Palm Beach Ferries or on foot via the many walking trails of West Head.
Coasters Retreat: Accessible is by ferry from Palm Beach, cycle or on foot only via Basin Track or Bairne Track. This is the most popular location on the western shores of Pittwater because of its facilities for campers, boatspeople and day trippers. The bay, known as Coasters Retreat, was the base from which colonial boats navigating the Hawkesbury would leave and enter. There are two swimming spots - The Basin (below), a lagoon protected by a shark net and an open beach on Pittwater. Both offer calm water, making them ideal for children. Aboriginal rock carvings are close by on the West Head Road. As it lies within Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, park entry fees apply. Access via Palm Beach Ferries.
Facilities: camping, barbecues, picnic facilities, toilets, showers, public phone.
The Basin: The Basin is located in the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, on the western shores of Pittwater, beside Coasters Retreat. The Basin caters for 400 campers on non powered sites as well as acres of unspoilt beauty in the National Park. The Basin has deep water anchorage and a sheltered and netted lagoon. Amenities include toilets and showers, laundry, electric BBQs and under cover tables. Activities include swimming, bush walking trails, fishing sites and native viewing wildlife including Kangaroos, Wallabies, Goannas, Koalas. Aboriginal rock carvings are close by on the West Head Road. Access via Palm Beach Ferries.
The Basin Track is the only land access to The Basin, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park's only campsite. The walk follows mostly management trail and heads across the plateau away from West Head Rd, with a great side trip to Aboriginal rock engravings and The Basin Dam. This is a nice walk, heading through the heath of the plateau and down through the forest to the large campsite and facilities of The Basin. The Basin itself is a great place for a swim or overnight stay.
Track notes, walkers map etc. >>
The Basin to Mackerel scenic walk gives an excellent excuse for a ferry ride in Sydney's northern beaches region. The ferry leaves from Palm Beach Ferry Terminal, and crosses Pittwater to The Basin Wharf. The walk then heads around to Mackerel Beach and passes an optional side trip to some historic and interesting Aboriginal engravings. The scenic water views are complemented by the on-water views from a second ferry back to Palm Beach from Mackerel Wharf.
Track notes, walkers map etc. >>
Towlers Bay: 8km south of The Basin on foot via walking tracks, Towlers Bay has two beaches, the most accessible being at Morning Bay. This location has a jetty and youth hostel, limited facilities. To the south west are to smaller beaches, the most accessible one being at Lovett Bay at the mouth of Salvation Creek.
Portuguese Beach: An isolated beach between Coasters Retreat and Longnose Point. Access by walking track or boat only. No facilities.
Lovett Bay: Lovett Bay and neighbouring Elvina Bay are popular holiday/retirement villages. There is a picturesque waterfall on the way to the Flat Rock and The lookout, a short walk from the Lovett Bay Wharf. Salvation Creek Falls is a picturesque waterfall on the way to The Flat Rock and The Lookout, a short walk from the Lovett Bay Wharf. Reserves include Cooper's Point Reserve, Floods Reserve, Elvina Park and Rocky Point. Theese are accessed from McCarrs Creek to the southern side of Lovett Bay on the western foreshores of Pittwater. The Reserves are dominated by bushland in largely undeveloped areas. Access via the Church Point Ferry Service.
Lovett Bay is home to the stunning home built in 1925 for Dorethea Mackellar of 'I love a sunburnt country' fame, and is now in inhabited by Susan Duncan who wrote her award winning memoir of the area Salvation Creek. Chips Rafferty's famous home with the beer bottle wall is also in Lovett Bay, but unfortunately neither home is open to the public, although I have been on an organised tour of Dorethea's beautiful home, so look out for those as advertised. Tilly Devine, the infamous madam's waterfront retreat in the 1920's, is located just past Tennis Court Wharf.
Lovett Pools Walk takes you to a small but picturesque waterhole above Lovett Bay. You start with a short walk along a management trail, with an optional side track to an Aboriginal engraving site. Then continuing along the wide trail a little further, you'll turn left and following a couple of fainter tracks through the heath to the sandstone platform and creek. At the pool, there are a series of small cascades and a view over Lovett Bay, a lovely place for lunch before retracing your steps back to the car.
Track notes, walkers map etc. >>
Elvina Bay: Elvina Bay is within the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, on the western shores of Pittwater, beside Lovett Bay. Scotland Island, Church Point and Morning Bay. Clareville is on the opposite (eastern) Pittwater shore. An attractive location, it is often used for picnics and other family recreation.
Access via the Church Point Ferry Service.
The Elvina Bay Circuit bushwalking track takes about 2 hrs 30 mins to walk and is 4.5 km long. This walk takes you down to an isolated waterside community, where you can amble along, looking at homes and a historic Grave Site. From Elvina Track Car Park, the vegetation changes from scrubby bush to she oak and large eucalyptus as you decend to the waters edge. The walking is mostly along a management trail, however the return trip follows a narrow track. Side trips include an aboriginal engraving site, a 25m waterfall and a few other view points. Please remember you are visiting a small community please respect the privacy of the local people.
Track notes, walkers map etc. >>
The Elvina Bay Engravings Walk offers good examples of local aboriginal rock engravings on an attractive elevated rock platform, with views into the distance. From the car park, the walk travels through mostly flat, scrubby bush, before gently rising through heath onto a tessellated rock platform. Rock engravings are best observed in the early morning or late afternoon, or after rain. The track and trail are followed back to the car park.
Track notes, walkers map etc. >>
Prior to European settlement, the Hawkesbury was home to numerous tribes of Aborigines who had been custodians of the land for 14,000 years or more. Evidence of their occupation can be seen in the thousands of camp and rock art sites which are prolific throughout the region.
The river was named in March 1788 by Sydney's first Governor, Arthur Phillip when he explored its lower reaches in search or arable land. The name honours English aristocrat Charles Jenkinson (1729-1809), created Baron Hawkesbury in 1786 and the first Lord Liverpool in 1796, who was secretary to the Treasury (1763-65), secretary at war (1778-82), and president of the board of trade (1768-1801). The Sydney locality of Liverpool was named in honour of his son who was Prime Minister of England between 1812 and 1827.
The Hawkesbury's middle floodplains were found to be good farming land and became Sydney's granary and virtual lifeline. Not only were the historic settlements on its banks the major food source for the young colony, the river itself was the highway along which produce was brought to the people of Sydney, access by road being difficult due to the rugged terrain.
McCarr's Creek was surveyed by Capt. John Hunter in 1789 and by Surveyor W.R. Govett in 1829. From that time, weekend cottages began to dot the countryside between Church Point and Coal and Candle Creek, to its immediate west. Coal was discovered in the area in the 1830s but no attempts have been made to mine it commercially. Thomas Langford, the first white settler in the Church Point area, acquired 40 acres (160,000 m2) in 1852.
The locality was originally known as Chapel Point because it was the site of a Wesleyan Chapel built in 1872 on land given by William Oliver. Before moving into the wooden building, services were held at Bayview under a loquot tree. By 1881 the building was utilised as a school for 22 children and was called the Provisional School, changing in name to the Pittwater Public School in 1884. In 1888 a school opened a short distance away on Bay View Road and the church ceased to be used as a schoolroom. The church held services every week until around 1908 when a new Methodist church opened at Mona Vale and people no longer travelled to the spot. The church was eventually demolished in 1932 despite efforts to save it for its heritage value, but the cemetery remains.
Early records indicate the Aboriginal name for the locality was Whurra whurra. As it means "go away" (the use of a word twice was to give emphasis or plurality) it is more likely this is what the white sttlers were told when they asked the natives what the place was called. With both not understanding what the other was saying, the whites thought they were having their question answered, while the natives, unaware that a question was being asked, were telling the visitors they were not welcome there. Historical notes >>
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Church Point Methodist Chapel, after which the suburb was named