Ku-ring-gai Chase National ParkNorth Shore; Hawkesbury River
25 km north of Sydney, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park is a popular tourist destination, known for its scenic setting on the edge of a southern branch of the Hawkesbury River as well as rock engravings and other art of Aboriginal origin. Picnic, boating, and fishing facilities can be found throughout the park. There are many great walking tracks in Ku-ring-gai, especially through the Duffys Forest and Terrey Hills area. Many kilometres of park front the southern shoreline of Broken Bay, making it a good place to explore by boat.
Australia's second oldest national park, Ku-ring-gai Chase is a recreational favourite for locals and visitors alike. It is a place where you can feel at one with nature without leaving the Sydney metropolitan area. A heritage-listed park, it combines important history with scenic beauty.
Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park forms a buffer of natural bushland between Sydney's northern suburbs and the Hawkesbury River. Its river shoreline is a tight cluster of secretive, winding creeks, sheltered beaches, hidden coves, mangroves on the tidal mudflats and wide expanses of deep blue water, backed by heathlands on the sandstone ridges and dense forests on the slopes. Camp at The Basin or spend your time exploring walking tracks, mountain biking trails, breathtaking lookouts and significant Aboriginal sites. But there are also plenty of creature comforts - marinas, cafes, kiosks and well-equipped picnic areas.
The first inhabitants of the area were the Garigal tribe. The rugged landscape provided abundant food and adequate shelter for the aboriginals. More than 800 indigenous sites have been found in the park. These include rock engravings, cave drawings, paintings and stencils, axe grinding grooves and middens. The Aboriginal rock art, like most of the park's other attractions, are accessible only by walking tracks.
The villages of Cottage Point, Appletree Bay, and Bobbin Head are located within park boundaries. An isolated portion of the park - Barrenjoey Headland - is located to the north of Palm Beach east of the primary park body and is home to Barrenjoey Lighthouse.
The park boasts a great number of walking tracks. Off the West Head Rd there are 17 numbered tracks, many of them leading to lookouts and beaches. In the centre of the park between Smiths Creek and Cowan Creek, tracks start from many of the streets off Booralie Rd in Terrey Hills. In the western part of the park, the Warrimoo Track from Warrimoo Ave, St Ives, the Sphinx and Bobbin Head Tracks from Bobbin Head Rd, the Gibberagong Track from Grosvenor St, Wahroonga, the Mt Kuring-gai Track from Mt Kuring-gai station and the Berowra Track from Berowra station all lead eventually to Bobbin Head. They can be connected to form longer loops.
2.5km one way, some steep grades - On this walk, you will explore the isolated community of Elvina Bay, accessible only by boat or on foot. Starting at the Elvina Track car park, you follow a mostly level management trail, before descending steeply through she oaks and large eucalyptus to the coast and houses. At Elvina Bay Park, you will find picnic areas and a fabulous rope swing. There are optional side trips to aboriginal rock engravings and an historic grave site. Please remember you are visiting a small community please respect the privacy of the local people.
- Track notes Waratah Track
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- Track notes Towlers Bay Track
- Track notes Topham Track
- Track notes Bairne Track to the Basin
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5.3km one way, easy walk - The long, yet gentle, Waratah walking track takes in wildflowers and scenic water views over Akuna and Yeomens Bay in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.
Salvation Loop Track
3.6km circular track and Salvation Creek, level walk - This walk makes a circuit from West Head Rd around the Salvation Loop track in Ku-ring-gai Chase NP. The walk passes through wet heathland vegetation and around a hanging swamp. The thick heath vegetation along the track means that the views are mostly restricted, however it is still a nice walk with wildflowers in spring, plenty of scribbly gums and some rock outcrops to explore. The full length of this walk is on road or well-defined management trail.
Wallaroo North & Wallaroo South Track
Both accessed from the mid-point of the Salvation Creek Track, 4.5km one way, some steep sections. This is a nice walk in the Ku-ring-gai Chase NP, passing through a mix of thick heath vegetation and more open forest. There are some great views over Cowan Waters from the end of the track.
1.5km steep return walk - on this walk you will visit the highest point in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. At the top of the hill is an old trig point and some stunning panoramic view. On a clear day, there is an uninterrupted 180-degree view across large parts of the park, including Pittwater to the east and distant glimpses of Sydney city on the horizon, far to the south.
4km one way. Easy walk with good views. This walk explores another ridge of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and heads down a steep hill to the Towlers Bay community. You can explore the village and the ferry wharf before walking past the Youth Hostel on the walk back up. The Youth Hostel is available for an overnight stay, but book ahead. Please remember you are visiting a small community please respect the privacy of the local people.
2.5km one way, easy walking. This is a pleasant walk along an old management trail, off West Head Rd. Following the ridge top you will pass through a variety of vegetation types including some dense heath and some tall scribbly gums which occasionally give way to a wide view over the park. There is a nice lookout at the end of the walk with views to Cowan Waters, through the trees.
4.5km one way. This relatively flat walk takes you through some woodland forests, open shrub and rock platforms to a lookout. There are great views over the Basin, and out to Narrabeen and north up the Pitt Water. The track is well defined, and the views are well worth the walk.
Towlers Bay from Bairne Track
Bairne Track to Towlers Bay
3.4km one way. This relatively flat walk takes you through some woodland forest, open shrub and rock platforms to a lookout. The views look over Narrabeen and along Pittwater. The track is well defined, and the views are well worth the walk.
America Bay Track
1km one way occasionally difficult walk to vantage point overlooking the bay. This short walk has a great range of scenery, making it a great choice if you have only a short time in this National Park. This track one of two ways to access America Bay the other is by boat. The track cuts straight through the bush from West Head Rd to pass historic Aboriginal engravings and a large cliff with a small waterfall, which also gives an impressive view of the bay.
1.5km one way easy walk. The Challenger Track is a simple track which heads through the heath and some forest to arrive at a pleasant lookout. Starting at West Head Rd, the track follows a ridge out to a rocky outcrop where views over the Hawkesbury River and Broken Bay reveal Patonga and Brooklyn.
The Basin and Mackeral Track
This walk is a great way to see some popular areas in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. The walk from West Head Rd travels to The Basin campsite, and the ferry takes you over to Mackerel Beach. Before returning to West Head Rd, the walk also gives the option to head down to Currawong Beach. There is plenty to do at the beach, with swimming and picnic areas, and clearings for other games.
Flint & Steel Track
1.4km one way, difficult walk in parts. This track creates a loop between Flint and Steel Beach and Bay by traversing the headland between them. The walk explores Flint and Steel Beach and the McGaw ruins, while providing scenic views across the Hawkesbury River to landmarks such as Lion Island. This walk passes through very remote areas and sections have no visible track. At least one person in your group should have training and experience in off track walking and navigation. Even with these notes and a GPS these extra skills and equipment are required.
800m loop track opposite the Resolute Picnic Area. Probably the best word to describe this walk is 'cute'. The circuit walk starts with a few steep steps, but soon flattens out, following a well-defined track through an open forest, via some natural sandstone sculptures. The lookout is notable for wonderful views to Patonga, Lion Island and out through the entrance of Broken Bay at Barrenjoey. A seat at the lookout is well placed to encourage people to stop and enjoy.
Aboriginal Heritage Walk
3.5km loop walk accessed from the Resolute Picnic Area. 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.
West Head Army Track
This is a relatively short but relatively steep walk down to the old World War II gun embankments on the shores of the headland. The battery hosted two 4.7-inch ex-naval guns supported on 800kg pedestals (the only dual 4.7 gun battery in Australia), an observation post, ammunition storage and two searchlights. West Head was a key defence site that played a strategic role in the protecting Pittwater, the Hawkesbury River (and in particular the Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge and Woy Woy railway tunnel) and northern Sydney. Heavy equipment was originally transported down the track via a purpose-built railway, using a rail system with a counterweight pulley to transport materials.
Flannel Flower Beach
The well-constructed track winds down the side of the slope through light eucalypt forest and after 300 metres reaches a set of steel stairs. From the Observation Post at the bottom of the cliff there are views out across Broken Bay to the Pacific Ocean, with Lion Island to the left at the entrance to the Hawkesbury River. Next you reach two covered concrete gun casings, which housed one of the 4.7" guns. A 7-ton gun pedestal was transported into position via the old army railway. The final surviving structure is the ammunition magazine, which is cut into the cliff, with the southern emergency exit of the magazine mostly blocked by a fallen boulder.
About 500 metres from the end of the Army Track is Flannel Flower Beach, a narrow sliver of sand backed by a 5 metre sandstone bluff. There are plenty of rocks to scramble over upon reaching the shoreline. There is not much of a beach at high tide, and getting to it is much harder and possibly dangerous if arriving on a rising tide or at high tide. The trail (1 km each way) begins at the end of West Head Road at the lookout.
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This 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 have been carved onto horizontal sandstone slabs and vary in size from a few centimetres to 15 metres long. They include animals, fish, artefacts, people and ancestral beings. Three main sites - The Echidna Engraving Site, The Basin Engraving Site and The Elvina Engraving Site - are located off West Head Road between Elvina Nature Trail and West Head are all easily accessible and well signposted.
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. A large midden can be seen on the Sphinx track to Bobbin Head. Engravings may also be seen on the Bobbin Head Road 200m inside the North Turramurra park entrance.
Bobbin Head is a large area offering lots of attractions and facilities. As well as being a great place to bushwalk, paddle or go fishing, Bobbin Head is the perfect waterfront picnic spot. Facilities include a marina, picnic areas, a small store, and a lunch-time restaurant in what used to be the Bobbin Head Inn, which also contains an information centre. The area contains many fire trails and a walk through mangroves. Aboriginal engravings can be seen in the area.
At Bobbin Head you can hire a run-a-bout with a fishing licence - collect maps and brochures from Bobbin Head Information Centre. Follow any of the number of walking tracks; stroll the mangrove boardwalk behind the picnic area and see if you can spot some of the park's many birds.
Bobbin Head is easily reached by car by taking Bobbin Head Road through North Turramurra or Kuringai Chase Road, Mount Colah near Hornsby.
Another popular picnic spot. It features a paved parking area, including trailer parking, Boat launch ramp and jetty, Picnic Tables and Barbecues.
A popular camping and picnic site with a small beach is located at the Basin on Pittwater. This is the only place in the entire national park where camping is allowed. At The Basin, you'll find great facilities along with a picnic area, sheltered beach and an inland lagoon. The campground accommodates up to 400 campers. There is no car access to The Basin, so park at West Head Road and then walk or cycle. You can also arrive by water taxi, boat or a ferry departing from Palm Beach Wharf. Access on foot is either by West Head Road via The Basin Track.
West Head Lookout is situated at the far north east corner of the park, and offers spectacular views across Broken Bay to the central coast and Pittwater to the Barrenjoey Peninsula. On the way in you pass some of the best and most accessible Aboriginal rock art sites in the Sydney region. The lookout has toilets, good picnic facilities and is the starting point for numerous delightful bushland walking tracks.Located across Pittwater from West Head, Barrenjoey is a picturesque headland, and unusual amongst the National Park's features as it is not joined to the rest of the Park by land but separated by 1 kilometre of water.
There are many interesting walks that start around West Head and provide visitors with the opportunity to experience the scenic landforms, waterways, plants and animals, as well as local cultural heritage.
Cottage Point is entirely enclosed by Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, which protects 14,712ha of rugged bushland, and by two waterways Cowan Creek and Coal and Candle Creek. Cottage Point is also listed as a Heritage Conservation area by Warringah Council due to significant buildings which highlight the leisure related development of the area.
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. Cottage Point's main feature is a Restaurant, Kiosk and Boat Hire, built around 1918. Located at the junction of Cowan Creek and Coal and Candle Creek, part of the Hawkesbury / Broken Bay river system, Cottage Point is a dream destination for kayakers and an ideal place for breakfast or lunch, or a great launching point to discover the abundant flora and fauna and Aboriginal rock art. A variety of small craft are available for hire from the Cottage Point Kiosk - Dory and Deluxe Tinnies (seat 5 or 6); Single Sit In Kayaks; Single Sit On Kayaks; Deouble Kayaks. More information >>
Opposite Cowan Waters you will see Looking Glass Bay and to the right is Looking Glass Rock which glows brightly with the dawn sun in summer. It is said that the local Aborigines believed that if the rock ever became submerged then it would be a sign that the Europeans would depart!!
Cottage Point was only reached by boat until 1934 when a bridle track to Akuna Bay was formed. Access to Cottage Point by road is via Terrey Hills off Mona Vale Road. Drive right to the end of the road at Cottage Point and you'll find the kiosk. Ph: (02) 9456 3024.
You can catch a Sydney Seaplane and fly to Cottage Point Inn for lunch. You'll enjoy a leisurely three-course a-la-carte lunch, featuring exceptional modern Australian cuisine. Travelling to and from Sydney by seaplane, the trip offers aerial photo opportunities of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House and Bondi Beach, an informative commentary from the expert pilot-guide, and a choice of three departure times: 11:30am, 12:30pm and 1:30pm. More information > >
Jerusalem Bay is accessible by a track which is part of the Great North Walk from Cowan railway station next to the Pacific Highway. The track passes through a creek gorge lined with temperate rainforest and large turpentines before opening to the bay. At the bay is an old abandoned habitation site. It opens out to Cowan Water and Broken Bay making it popular with boating and fishing enthusiasts. After the bay the track proceeds up a steep climb past Campbell's Crater and along the ridge all the way to Brooklyn. Campbell's Crater is a volcanic diatreme containing subtropical rainforest species such as Red Cedars and Cabbage Palms with a floor of ferns.
Deep in the heart of Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park on Cowan Creek is Refuge Bay. Across the head of the bay are cliffs over which flows a creek, tumbling into a pool on the beach before entering Cowan Creek. This secluded little corner of Paradise is a popular place for launches to anchor and enjoy a picnic lunch. There is nothing better on a hot day after a swim than to take a cold water shower under the waterfall. Access is by boat or on foot. Topham walking track winds its way through open woodland to the escarpment overlooking Cowan Water, in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, and leads to the top of the escarpment overlooking Refuge Bay.
The draft for the Australian Constitution was worked on by politicians aboard a paddle steamer anchored in Refuge Bay in the Autumn of 1891. In 1942 Refuge Bay was a top secret training base for Force Z, a team trained for a daring raid on Japanese shipping in Singapore Harbour.
The bay has a large marine complex which is a major fuelling and supplies centre servicing boat owners and operators in the area. Akuna Bay is an inlet on Coal & Candle Creek, an 8km long flooded valley. Its name is believed the latter name a corruption of Colin Campbell, the name of an early settler who lived opposite Akuna Bay.
A drowned valley with steep sides, Cowan Creek extends 12km from Eleanor Bluffs to Bobbin Head. Cottage Point, Bobbin Head and Akuna Bay are the only locatities on Cown Creek accessible by motor vehicle. The other bays can only be reached either by boat or walking track. Evidence of pre-colonial Abgoriginal occupation is plentious, particularly middens which can be seen in most bays.
An isolated beach on the western shores of Pittwater, accessible only by boat, or via walking tracks from Great Mackerel Beach or West Head. Resolute Beach is one of those secluded beaches in Sydney that you should visit at least once in your life. With amazing views of Pittwater and The Barrenjoey Headland, beautiful emerald green water and virtually no tourists around, this is a true hidden gem. The Resolute Track, or Resolute Loop Trail, is the walking track that takes you to Resolute Beach from the Resolute Picnic Ground. Another track, the Red Hands Track, leads to the top of West Head.
To get to the beach from the Resolute Picnic Ground on West Head, follow the signs to the Resolute Loop Trail and Resolute Beach. A point of interest on the Resolute track is a small site with very well preserved Aboriginal engravings.
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 (serviced by ferry from Palm Beach) or on foot via the many tracks which lead here.
Another beach 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. Access is by ferry from Snapperman Beach on Barrenjoey Peninsular opposite or on foot via the many walking trails of West Head.
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, 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. Facilities: camping, barbecues, picnic facilities, toilets, showers, public phone.
Isolated beach between Coasters Retreat and Longnose Point across the water from Palm Beach. Access by walking track or boat only. You can stay overnight aboard a yacht here in settled weather - protection from Westerly winds is excellent. No facilities.
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. Nearby is Towlers Bay, a quiet and peaceful bay and small beach are on offer surrounded by bushland. There are a few houses at neighbouring Morning Bay. Elvina Bay is thought to be named after Elvina Fitzpatrick, one of the daughters of the man who developed Scotland Island around the turn of the 20th century. Lovett Bay: named after John Lovett who lived on this bay in 1836.
Towlers Bay from Bairne Track
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. The picturesque Salvation Creek Falls is on the track to The Flat Rock and The Lookout, a short walk from the Lovett Bay Wharf. 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.