Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park

Landscape and Geology

The park's landscapes include drowned river valley estuaries, steep sandstone cliffs and plateaus.

How the landscape was formed

The landscape of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park started forming between 190 and 225 million years ago. At this time, Australia was part of the Gondwanaland supercontinent, and the Sydney region was a large freshwater lake. This was slowly filled up by deposits of sand, mud, silt and pebbles, washed in by large streams. Over the millions of years that followed, these sediments were gradually overlaid by others and compressed into sandstone, mudstone and shale.

Two to 12 million years ago, the Hornsby plateau was uplifted to between 150 and 250 metres above sea level. As rivers flowed across this plateau, they gradually cut deep V-shaped valleys into it, leaving narrow sandstone ridges behind. Then, during the past million years, rising sea levels flooded the lower valleys. The sea cut off some of the plateau peaks, forming islands like Lion Island, Scotland Island and Barrenjoey Head (which is now once again connected to the mainland by shifting sands). 

Geological features

The park's geology is dominated by hard, creamy Hawkesbury sandstone - though you'll also find shales and other types of sandstone as you look around. In places, the Hawkesbury sandstone has weathered in interesting and unusual ways. Look out for the following features:

  • Gnammas, which are large holes on rocky outcrops, caused by weathering and the root action of plants. You'll usually find plants around them, from mosses and lichens to shrubs and tall trees.
  • Honeycomb weathering, which is caused by salts running out of the soil and collecting at the bottom of a rock face. They then crystallise and wear away the bottom layers of the rock. This type of weathering is most often found in rock overhangs and caves.
  • Tesselated pavements, which are flat areas of rock marked with a mosaic pattern of weather-worn cracks. The cracks probably trace the lines of weakness in the rock, formed when the rock dried out, shrank and cracked much as a mudflat does. You can see examples of these along the Elvina Track and Centre Track.

The park also contains areas of igneous rock (molten rock from beneath the earth's crust, which has come to the surface, cooled and become solid). These include:

  • Dykes, which occur when lava from the earth's interior hardens in sandstone cracks. Some dykes can be tracked for many kilometres through the park - for instance along West Head, where it cuts through the sandstone near Resolute picnic area.
  • Diatremes, which are pipe-like lava flows that have intruded into the surrounding sandstone. When the solidified lava wears away, it leaves craters in the sandstone. Campbell's crater, near Cowan, is an example of this - it's accessible from the Great North Walk.

Where to see some of the park's landscapes and features

Barrenjoey Lighthouse

View from Barrenjoey Lighthouse, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park (Image: M. Cooper/DECC)Barrenjoey Lighthouse sits at Sydney’s most northern point – Barrenjoey Head at Palm Beach.

Positioned 91m above sea level, the lighthouse can be reached by a couple of walks.  Take the picturesque 1km walking track to the top, which is an easy walk offering outstanding views along the track.  Or for those who are keen for a challenging short hike, take the Smugglers track to the top. Getting its name from the customs officers who built the track around 1850 to monitor any smugglers bringing contraband into Broken Bay, it now offers a steeper and shorter trek to the lighthouse. Don’t worry though, the walk isn’t as hard as it looks and is well worth the effort.

Bring your camera or your binoculars if you’re whale watching. Or you may simply want to capture the panoramic views of Broken Bay, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and the Central Coast.

Barrenjoey Lighthouse is one of the Sydney Northern Beaches’ most iconic sights and boasts a notable cultural heritage. Built in 1881 from sandstone quarried on site, the lighthouse, its oil room and keepers’ cottages remain unpainted in the original stone finish.

It is an easy daytrip from Sydney and is a great place to bring overseas visitors – they may recognise the lighthouse from Home and Away. Afterwards, head to the Summer Bay Surf Club for an ice-cream or cold drink.

Activities: walking, whale watching

Cultural heritage: Built in 1881 from sandstone quarried on site, the lighthouse, oil room and cottages are unique in that they remain in their original natural stone finish.

Location:  shown on West Head and The Basin map

Getting there: Barrenjoey Lighthouse is reached by a 1km walking track.

Road access: Sealed road - 2WD vehicles.

Facilities: lookout


Events, activities and alerts at this location
Commercial activity

EcoTreasures

EcoTreasures experienced local guides are going to show you some hidden gems around Sydney's Northern Beaches. Choose from a range of nature experiences including stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, snorkelling, bushwalking, coastal walks and Indigenous walks.

The Basin Campground - EcoTreasures offers guided stand up paddle board (SUP) safari, snorkelling tours and SUP Hire and kayak hire during the school holidays and by group request all year. Indigenous guided nature/culture walk to ancient engravings available by request. Customised group programs available with transport and catering options available for all tours. Please book ahead to avoid disappointment.

Sydney Harbour National Park - EcoTreasures provides guided coastal walks around Manly's foreshores, North Head and through Sydney Harbour National Park. If you are a family, team building group or a private groups who would enjoy a local nature experience with a local eco guide then the Coastal Walk is a perfect option. Customised programs, educational work sheets and team building programs are available specifically designed to meet the aims and objectives of your day.

Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park - You be in charge and tell me what your group would like. Private Tours are available by request. Choose from a range of nature based experiences options including stand up paddle boarding, snorkelling, bushwalking, bird watching and Indigenous guided walks. Perfect for school groups, team building groups, family and private groups.

More info: Ecotreasures, Phone: 0415 121 648 (international +61415 121 648)

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Commercial activity

Flamin' Galah Tours and Adventures

Ku-ring-gai Chase National ParkFlamin' Galah Sydney Tours and Airport Transfers offer a unique collection of exciting and affordable private tours of Sydney. Want to know what to do in Sydney? Well, look no further than Manly Beach, Sydney's northern beaches, The Blue Mountains, The Hunter Valley wine region and Jenolan Caves.

The Manly Package. This tour shows off a classic Sydney beach and reveals why there is SO much more to Manly than just Manly Beach.

Home and Away Tour. Explore Summer Bay (Palm Beach in Sydney) to see the location of Home and Away, one of Australia's best loved TV soaps.

Blue Mountains, Sydney. A truly iconic Sydney tourist attraction. No wonder millions of people flock to see the 3 Sisters at Sydney's Blue Mountains.

Hunter Valley Wine Tour. Sit back, eat, drink and be merry on the ultimate tour to The Hunter Valley - one of Australia's finest wine making regions.

Jenolan Caves. A rare and intriguing natural phenomenon, gets you out of Sydney and soaking up some of Australia's vast landscape.

Half or Full Day Bush and Beach Experience. An 'off the beaten track Sydney tour', showcasing Sydney's spectacular, untouched, vast and beautiful bush and beach settings.

More info: Flamin' Galah Sydney Tours and Airport Transfers, Phone: 02 9977 7890 (international +612 9977 7890)

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Commercial activity

Understand Down Under

1 Day Royal National Park Eco-tour
Your beach and wilderness escape. If you only have one day in Sydney, then this should be it!

Understand Down Under (UDU) invites you on a journey of discovery. Have fun while using all your senses to actively learn about:

  • Plants and their traditional uses
  • Australian and Aboriginal culture
  • Local history and geology
  • Australian birds and wildlife

Australia's oldest national park: The Royal National Park is Sydney's hidden secret. It's renowned for its beautiful and diverse natural landscapes, its abundant wildlife and unique local history. It is more than just bush and rainforest - Royal National Park boasts a beautiful coastline and is only 30km away. Instead of sitting on a bus, relax or have fun at the beach.


1 Day Royal National Park Highlights
The UDU mini-bus will take you on a 1 day adventure with a great mix of active discovery & serene relaxation:

  • Where it all started, Audley is full of history and fantastic birdlife;
  • Discovery Eco-walk - explore the magical Wattamolla. Learn how to live in Australia's bushland and hear dreaming stories;
  • Relax over a delicious, uniquely Australian picnic lunch overlooking the Royal's many beaches
  • Garie Beach - plenty of time to swim, play Aussie beach games, relax or sunbake. For the more adventurous, climb to the cliff-top for a breathtaking panoramic view
  • Throw boomerangs and spears alongside the Hacking River
  • Tranquil bushwalk through temperate rainforest
  • Afternoon tea with awe-inspiring views from Bald Hill; home to Lawrence Hargraves, Australia's pioneer of flight
  • Grand Pacific Drive - take time to see this incredible area, including the distinctive Sea Cliff Bridge

More info: Understand Down Under, Phone: 0448 388 687 (international +61448 388 687)

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Basin Aboriginal art site

With over 800 Aboriginal sites recorded across Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, each one is a visible reminder of the rich Aboriginal heritage of the region. Basin Aboriginal art site is one of the best examples of rock engravings by the Garrigal people of the Guringai Nation.

Well worth the detour on The Basin track and Mackerel track, this significant site is best viewed early morning or late afternoon, when the shadows give an edge to the faint, yet impressive engravings. Here, you’ll make out the outlines of animals and human figures. After exploring the extensive range of engravings, continue along the medium difficulty walking track and enjoy a picnic in the bush.

There are further examples of Aboriginal heritage with axe grinding grooves and rock paintings and stencils within the park. Middens are also found near rock caves and shelters and contain shells, tools and animal bones.

Activities: walking, birdwatching, picnicking, playing and socialising

Location:  shown on West Head and The Basin map

Getting there: Basin Aboriginal art site is situated near the start of The Basin track and Mackerel track in the West Head and Basin precincts of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. On entering Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, head down West Head Road, 8.5km from the Liberator General San Martin Drive junction.

Road access: Sealed road - 2WD vehicles.

Facilities: carpark, trackhead/access point

Beechwood Cottage

Originally built in 1882, Beechwood Cottage harks back to an era when sailors, convicts and even pirates lived in these parts. Now it’s your turn to add to the region’s colourful history and hire this beautifully restored historic cottage in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.

Situated on the western shores of Pittwater, near The Basin picnic area, this charming venue is available for conferences, functions and weddings. With delightful water views and a tranquil bush setting it’s a perfect venue for hire for relaxed and informal get togethers. It has a large function room, a well-equipped kitchen and wide shady verandahs. There’s even a fenced yard where kids can run around.

There’s plenty of equipment to cater for up to 60 guests inside the cottage, however larger groups may choose to take advantage of the spacious grounds with room for a marquee.

Activities: walking, mountain biking, swimming, fishing, birdwatching, picnicking, playing and socialising

Getting there: Beechwood Cottage is in the West Head precinct of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. To get there:

  • Catch the ferry which departs hourly, on the hour between 9am and 5pm, from Palm Beach Wharf.
  • Drive or ride your mountain bike through the park to West Head, then walk or cycle along the 2.8km Basin track to The Basin.
  • If you own a boat, anchor in the sheltered bay opposite the picnic and campground.

Road access: Unsealed road/trail - no motor vehicle access.

Opening hours: The Beechwood Cottage is:

  • open sunrise – 10pm (Monday – Sunday) 

Facilities: venue, boat ramp, drinking water, flush toilets, trackhead/access point, electric power

Venue hire: See details

Contact: The Basin and Beechwood Cottage (Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park), Phone: 02 9974 1011

Bobbin Inn Visitor Centre

Wheelchair access: medium

Wheelchair access is via the café

Make the most of your day trip to Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park with a visit to the historic Bobbin Inn, which now houses the visitor centre. The friendly staff can provide the lowdown on walking tracks, paddling routes, or the best picnic spot to suit a family outing or impress your visitors.

Whether you’re picking up a brochure or wanting to discover more about parks and reserves in the northern Sydney area, find out about the plants and animals of the region before heading out. You can enquire about school and group activities and tours, as well as pick up a great range of books, maps and souvenirs with an Australian theme.

It’s a short walk along Birrawanna walking track to nearby Kalkari Discovery Centre, where you can learn about the people of the Guringai Aboriginal Nation. Suitably inspired, head out with a picnic and enjoy your day exploring Sydney’s nature playground.

Nearby there’s a children’s playground that’s sure to be a hit with kids and you can pick up a coffee at the Bobbin Head Inn Café or tuck into some beautiful Mediterranean cuisine at Galley Foods Restaurant and Kiosk.

Activities: walking, paddling, birdwatching, picnicking, playing and socialising

Getting there: Bobbin Inn Visitor Centre is in the Bobbin Head precinct of Ku-ring-gai National Park. To get there, follow Bobbin Head Road and follow the signs.

Road access: Sealed road - 2WD vehicles.

Opening hours: Bobbin Inn Visitor Centre is:

  • open 10am-12pm and 12.30pm-4pm (Monday to Sunday)
  • open 9am-12pm and 12.30pm-4pm (summer school holidays)
  • closed on Christmas Day

Facilities: picnic tables, cafe/kiosk, carpark, flush toilets, trackhead/access point, visitor centre

Contact: Sydney North (Bobbin Inn, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park), Phone: 02 9472 8949

d'Albora Marinas at Akuna Bay

Wheelchair access: easy

This area is fully wheelchair accessible.

Just 40 minutes from Sydney, popular d’Albora Marinas is nestled in the heart of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park on the Cowan/Hawkesbury River system. This makes it a perfect base for delving into the natural beauty of the area around Coal and Candle Creek.

You can hire a boat here, berth your own, or cast off in a kayak for something a bit more adventurous. d’Albora Marinas offers 24-hour fuel, and dockmaster assistance.

Akuna Bay also features great facilities for a pre-departure picnic, with a public barbecue and ample tables for everyone. Furthermore, the family-owned Driftwood Café offers seasonal meals for breakfast and lunch, terrific coffee, and platters or hampers to take away and eat at your leisure – perhaps on a private beach surrounded by eucalypts.

Activities: paddling, sailing and boating, fishing, picnics and barbecues

Getting there: d'Albora Marinas at Akuna Bay is in the Akuna Bay precinct of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. To get there:

  • Follow McCarrs Creek Road and turn onto Liberator General San Martin Drive
  • Akuna Bay is part way along scenic Coal and Candle Creek.

Road access: Sealed road - 2WD vehicles.

Opening hours: d’Albora Marinas office is:

  • open 8:30 – 5pm (Monday – Sunday)
  • open 8:30 – 7pm (during summer months)
  • please call ahead to confirm office is attended

Driftwood Café is:

  • open 8:30am - 3pm (Monday – Thursday)
  • open 8:30am - 4pm (Friday – Sunday)
  • closed Tuesday, except during school holidays.

Facilities: amenities block, picnic tables, gas/electric barbecues (free), boat ramp, cafe/kiosk, carpark, drinking water, public phone, flush toilets, venue

Bookings: Phone: (02) 9486 3000
Email: akuna@dalboramarinas.com.au
Website: http://dalboramarinas.com.au/

Empire Marina Bobbin Head

Wheelchair access: easy

This area is fully wheelchair accessible.

In 2008, Empire Marina Bobbin Head underwent a multi-million dollar re-development. Since then it has proved itself as the most outstanding marina of the area, offering a variety of berths and easy water access to the pristine reaches of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. The award-winning business offers 200 deepwater berths and on-site trade services just 24km north of Sydney.

If you’re looking to hire a runabout, this is the place to come and has been since the 1890s. Bring your gear and choose a small boat to reach dozens of inlets between Bobbin Head and Cottage Point, teeming with birdlife and superb opportunities for fishing.

Before you set out, be sure to stop in at Galley Foods Restaurant, with a spacious outdoor dining area overlooking the marina. Locally sourced fish and organic produce from Galston or Flemington Markets guarantees a delicious breakfast and lunch. If you prefer to eat on the water, stop in at Gallery Foods to pick up some delicious snacks to take with you whilst on the water.

Activities: fishing, picnics and barbecues, paddling, sailing and boating

Getting there: Empire Marina Bobbin Head is in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. To get there:

  • Take Bobbin Head Road through North Turramurra and turn right before the bridge at Cowan Creek
  • Take Ku-Ring-Gai Chase Road from Mount Colah or Pacific Highway

Road access: Sealed road - 2WD vehicles.

Opening hours: Galley Foods is:

  • open 8:30 – 4pm (Monday – Friday)
  • open 8am – 4pm (Saturday – Sunday)
  • for dinner opening hours, visit the Galley Foods website.

Facilities: amenities block, picnic tables, gas/electric barbecues (free), cafe/kiosk, drinking water, public phone, flush toilets, trackhead/access point

Bookings: Phone: (02) 9457 9011
Email: Stephen@empiremarinas.com.au
Web: www.empiremarinas.com.au

Kalkari Discovery Centre

Wheelchair access: easy

This area is fully wheelchair-accessible.

Immerse yourself in the knowledge Kalkari Discovery Centre has to offer. At Kalkari, you’ll be inspired to learn more about the park’s plants, animals and Aboriginal history, under the guidance of Kalkari’s knowledgeable volunteers. Find out more about the Discovery trail and the range of educational activities for adults and children on offer. You may find yourself making a model wombat and burrow, sipping morning tea with visitors from around the world, or playing Aboriginal games.

From the Discovery Centre, it’s a short walk along Birrawanna walking track to Bobbin Head, which is a great place to stop for lunch.

Activities: walking, birdwatching, picnics and barbecues

Getting there: Kalkari Discovery Centre in the Bobbin Head precinct of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. To get there, enter the park from Ku-ring-gai Chase Road, off Pacific Highway.

Road access: Sealed road - 2WD vehicles.

Opening hours: The Kalkari Discovery Centre is:

  • open 9am – 5pm (Monday – Sunday)
  • closed on Christmas Day

Facilities: amenities block, visitor centre

Contact: Sydney North (Kalkari Discovery Centre), Phone: 02 9472 9300 or 02 9472 9301

The Basin campground

Wheelchair access: medium

Assistance may be required to access this area.

  • Wheelchair access is by ferry only
  • Wheelchair-accessible toilet

Caming at The Basin in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park (Image: DECC)The Basin campground is the only place you can camp in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. This large, grassy area overlooks Pittwater, offering lovely surroundings and views.

It’s easy to see why this waterfront campground is so popular. 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.

Pitch your tent in a shady spot, enjoy a bike ride or a swim and see if you can spot the local swamp wallabies or kookaburras.

There’s 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.

Beechwood Cottage was originally built in 1882 when sailors, convicts and even pirates survived in these parts! Today this beautifully restored cottage can be hired out for conferences, functions and other special occasions.

Activities: walking, paddling, liloing, swimming, picnicking, playing and socialising, camping

Location:  shown on West Head and The Basin map

Getting there: The Basin campground is on the western foreshores of Pittwater in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. To get there

  • Take the ferry which departs on the hour between 9am - 5pm from Palm Beach Wharf
  • If you own a boat, anchor in the sheltered bay opposite the picnic and campground.
  • Drive or ride your mountain bike through the park along West Head Road, then walk or cycle along the 2.8km Basin Track to The Basin.

Road access: Sealed road - 2WD vehicles.

Opening hours: The campground is open from sunrise to sunset. Entry to the campground after sunset is for pre-booked campers only.

Facilities: amenities block, cold showers, flush toilets, gas/electric barbecues, wood barbecues (firewood supplied), drinking water, picnic tables, public phone

Vehicle entry fee: $11 per vehicle per day. Please note vehicle entrance fees are not included in your accommodation or camping fees. Purchase at the local office or buy an annual pass online.

Camping fees: All campsites - site fee - $28 per night (2 person inclusive); $14 per night per additional adult (16 years+); $7 per night per additional child (5-15 years); infants free (0-4 years).

Other fees: Landing fees: If you’re arriving at The Basin by water for a day visit, you’ll need to pay landing fees of $3 per adult, $2 per child. Annual pass holders must pay landing fees. If you’re arriving by bus or taxi and walking or cycling to The Basin, you’ll need to pay daily entry fees of $4.40 per adult, $2.20 per child.

Online bookings: use a secure payment facility to book online

Alternatively, please contact the Customer Experience Team on 13000 PARKS (13000 72757).

NB: All reservations incur a booking fee of 2.5% in addition to the total amount payable

Contact: The Basin and Beechwood Cottage (Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park), Phone: 02 9974 1011

View along the beach at The Basin in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park (Image: DECC)The jetty at The Basin in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park (Image: DECC)Playing in the sand at The Basin in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park (Image: DECC)Playing in the mud at The Basin in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park (Image: DECC)

The Basin picnic area

When you need a city escape, gather the crew and set sail for The Basin picnic area, nestled in the bush on the eastern shores of West Head in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. Accessed by walking track from West Head or ferry across Pittwater, there’s something for everyone at this popular spot.

With lovely views of the water and heaps of activities, you’ll be hard pressed deciding what to do first. The kids will love swimming and paddling at the sheltered beach and inland lagoon and if you’re keen to explore on foot, there’s nearby Bairne walking track. When it’s time for lunch, unpack the picnic hamper or spark up the barbecue and tuck in.

After a day of relaxing, it might be hard to pack up and leave this idyllic oasis. If you want to make a weekend of it and stay overnight at the adjacent The Basin campground. Be sure to book ahead, as this is a popular place to stay in spring and summer.

Activities: walking, paddling, liloing, swimming, fishing, birdwatching, picnics and barbecues

Getting there: The Basin picnic area is in the western foreshores of Pittwater at Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. To get there:

  • Take the ferry which departs hourly, on the hour, 9am - 5pm from Palm Beach Wharf
  • If you own a boat, anchor in the sheltered bay opposite the picnic area.
  • Drive or ride your mountain bike through the park to West Head Road, then walk or cycle along the 2.8km Basin track to The Basin.

Road access: Sealed road - 2WD vehicles.

Facilities: picnic tables, amenities block, gas/electric barbecues (free), wood barbecues (firewood supplied), drinking water, flush toilets, trackhead/access point


Events, activities and alerts at this location
Commercial activity

EcoTreasures

EcoTreasures experienced local guides are going to show you some hidden gems around Sydney's Northern Beaches. Choose from a range of nature experiences including stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, snorkelling, bushwalking, coastal walks and Indigenous walks.

The Basin Campground - EcoTreasures offers guided stand up paddle board (SUP) safari, snorkelling tours and SUP Hire and kayak hire during the school holidays and by group request all year. Indigenous guided nature/culture walk to ancient engravings available by request. Customised group programs available with transport and catering options available for all tours. Please book ahead to avoid disappointment.

Sydney Harbour National Park - EcoTreasures provides guided coastal walks around Manly's foreshores, North Head and through Sydney Harbour National Park. If you are a family, team building group or a private groups who would enjoy a local nature experience with a local eco guide then the Coastal Walk is a perfect option. Customised programs, educational work sheets and team building programs are available specifically designed to meet the aims and objectives of your day.

Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park - You be in charge and tell me what your group would like. Private Tours are available by request. Choose from a range of nature based experiences options including stand up paddle boarding, snorkelling, bushwalking, bird watching and Indigenous guided walks. Perfect for school groups, team building groups, family and private groups.

More info: Ecotreasures, Phone: 0415 121 648 (international +61415 121 648)

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West Head lookout

Wheelchair access: easy

This area is fully wheelchair accessible

West Head lookout, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park (Image: D Finnigan/OEH)Prepare to be impressed – the views from West Head lookout are some of Sydney’s best. On your visit, you’ll be greeted with a real visual feast. From West Head lookout, you can see Broken Bay on your left, Pittwater on your right and Barrenjoey Headland and Lighthouse in front.

You can also enjoy amazing vistas across the Hawkesbury River to Lion Island Nature Reserve and the beaches of the Central Coast, including Patonga and Umina Beach.

The lookout itself is a large sandstone viewing area with a number of informative interpretive signs. Rest on one of the benches and absorb the sounds of the birds and waves below before heading to nearby Resolute picnic area for lunch or taking a walk on Aboriginal Heritage walk.

Cultural heritage: The fortifications at West Head date back to World War II. The battery at the base of the headland contained two, 4.7 inch ex-naval guns, an observation post, ammunition storage and two searchlight posts. The site was very important to protect the Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge and to prevent raiding parties from entering Pittwater and Cowan Creek.

The guns of the battery were at the bottom of the headland while the road access to the site and battery administrative area were at the top. All the fortifications, equipment and stores were moved by an inclined railway from top to bottom where they were offloaded onto a railway running behind the gun positions.

West Head Awareness Team (WHAT), a small volunteer group has developed a series of diagrams (P. Rea, technical drawings and photographs) and a model of the railway (P. Adderley, photos/model design). Watch the following videos to find out more about the history of the fortifications: Fighting fit - saving the West Head forts from invasion | Extended interview with Jack "Bluey" Mercer | A history of Pittwater, Part 4 - West Head fortress 

Current access to the area is restricted for safety reasons; the site is remote, there are potential fall heights and the railway line is steep. If you'd like to see the structures take your boat around Pittwater where you can view the site from the water. View this diagram (PDF 346kb) for a visual representation of the site.


Location:  shown on West Head and The Basin map

Getting there: West Head lookout is in the West Head precinct of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. To get there, follow West Head Road or access the lookout from the Resolute picnic area, along the West Head lookout track (1.9km).

Road access: Sealed road - 2WD vehicles.

Facilities: lookout

West Head Battery railway model made by P Adderley (Image: P Goldie/OEH)


Events, activities and alerts at this location
Commercial activity

EcoTreasures

EcoTreasures experienced local guides are going to show you some hidden gems around Sydney's Northern Beaches. Choose from a range of nature experiences including stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, snorkelling, bushwalking, coastal walks and Indigenous walks.

The Basin Campground - EcoTreasures offers guided stand up paddle board (SUP) safari, snorkelling tours and SUP Hire and kayak hire during the school holidays and by group request all year. Indigenous guided nature/culture walk to ancient engravings available by request. Customised group programs available with transport and catering options available for all tours. Please book ahead to avoid disappointment.

Sydney Harbour National Park - EcoTreasures provides guided coastal walks around Manly's foreshores, North Head and through Sydney Harbour National Park. If you are a family, team building group or a private groups who would enjoy a local nature experience with a local eco guide then the Coastal Walk is a perfect option. Customised programs, educational work sheets and team building programs are available specifically designed to meet the aims and objectives of your day.

Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park - You be in charge and tell me what your group would like. Private Tours are available by request. Choose from a range of nature based experiences options including stand up paddle boarding, snorkelling, bushwalking, bird watching and Indigenous guided walks. Perfect for school groups, team building groups, family and private groups.

More info: Ecotreasures, Phone: 0415 121 648 (international +61415 121 648)

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Commercial activity

Flamin' Galah Tours and Adventures

Ku-ring-gai Chase National ParkFlamin' Galah Sydney Tours and Airport Transfers offer a unique collection of exciting and affordable private tours of Sydney. Want to know what to do in Sydney? Well, look no further than Manly Beach, Sydney's northern beaches, The Blue Mountains, The Hunter Valley wine region and Jenolan Caves.

The Manly Package. This tour shows off a classic Sydney beach and reveals why there is SO much more to Manly than just Manly Beach.

Home and Away Tour. Explore Summer Bay (Palm Beach in Sydney) to see the location of Home and Away, one of Australia's best loved TV soaps.

Blue Mountains, Sydney. A truly iconic Sydney tourist attraction. No wonder millions of people flock to see the 3 Sisters at Sydney's Blue Mountains.

Hunter Valley Wine Tour. Sit back, eat, drink and be merry on the ultimate tour to The Hunter Valley - one of Australia's finest wine making regions.

Jenolan Caves. A rare and intriguing natural phenomenon, gets you out of Sydney and soaking up some of Australia's vast landscape.

Half or Full Day Bush and Beach Experience. An 'off the beaten track Sydney tour', showcasing Sydney's spectacular, untouched, vast and beautiful bush and beach settings.

More info: Flamin' Galah Sydney Tours and Airport Transfers, Phone: 02 9977 7890 (international +612 9977 7890)

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Commercial activity

Understand Down Under

1 Day Royal National Park Eco-tour
Your beach and wilderness escape. If you only have one day in Sydney, then this should be it!

Understand Down Under (UDU) invites you on a journey of discovery. Have fun while using all your senses to actively learn about:

  • Plants and their traditional uses
  • Australian and Aboriginal culture
  • Local history and geology
  • Australian birds and wildlife

Australia's oldest national park: The Royal National Park is Sydney's hidden secret. It's renowned for its beautiful and diverse natural landscapes, its abundant wildlife and unique local history. It is more than just bush and rainforest - Royal National Park boasts a beautiful coastline and is only 30km away. Instead of sitting on a bus, relax or have fun at the beach.


1 Day Royal National Park Highlights
The UDU mini-bus will take you on a 1 day adventure with a great mix of active discovery & serene relaxation:

  • Where it all started, Audley is full of history and fantastic birdlife;
  • Discovery Eco-walk - explore the magical Wattamolla. Learn how to live in Australia's bushland and hear dreaming stories;
  • Relax over a delicious, uniquely Australian picnic lunch overlooking the Royal's many beaches
  • Garie Beach - plenty of time to swim, play Aussie beach games, relax or sunbake. For the more adventurous, climb to the cliff-top for a breathtaking panoramic view
  • Throw boomerangs and spears alongside the Hacking River
  • Tranquil bushwalk through temperate rainforest
  • Afternoon tea with awe-inspiring views from Bald Hill; home to Lawrence Hargraves, Australia's pioneer of flight
  • Grand Pacific Drive - take time to see this incredible area, including the distinctive Sea Cliff Bridge

More info: Understand Down Under, Phone: 0448 388 687 (international +61448 388 687)

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Volunteer activity

West Head Awareness Team (WHAT)

West Head Battery project team - R Walter, N Funke, J (Bluey) Mercer, B Trotter, P Bergman (Image: D Tribe)The WHAT team provide valuable input about the West Head fortifications through manual works, historic research, site promotion, heritage talks, models, diagrams and grant applications. A key member of the team is Jack 'Bluey' Mercer, who helped construct the Forts in 1942 and celebrated his 18th and 90th birthdays at the lookout. To find out more about the history of the fortifications, see West Head lookout.

If you'd like to get involved or organise a heritage talk by WHAT members, please contact the Sydney North office.

Difficulty: easy

Park: West Head lookout (Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park)

More info: Sydney North (Bobbin Inn, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park), Phone: 02 9472 8949

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