The park after colonisation
Governor Phillip explored the area that is now Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park in 1788. He returned in 1789 to travel up the Hawkesbury River, opening up the area to white settlers for farming. However, the spread of European settlement in Pittwater was slow.
Between the 1790s and 1840s, Pittwater was a haven for escaped convicts and liquor smugglers. For ships travelling the NSW coastline, it was also a place of shelter from storms. Many were shipwrecked before a lighthouse was built on Barrenjoey headland in the late 19th century. Early attempts at industry in the area included boat building, timber harvesting, and the production of lime, soda and salt.
However, by the late 19th century Pittwater had become a genteel playground for the wealthy. New coach and ferry services brought picnickers and campers to popular spots like The Basin, and large steamers offered excursions on the waterways. Visitor numbers increased further with the invention of the motor car and omnibus.
The park area became a favourite spot for holiday and retirement homes amongst the wealthy. Some people even settled permanently in the area. Edward Windybank, a boat builder who arrived in 1887, lived in Waratah Bay (north of Bobbin Head). He created a fantasyland where Sydneysiders could escape to 'paradise', complete with holiday cottages, houseboats, beautiful caves and entertainments.
Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park was created in 1894. This was largely the work of one man - Eccleston du Faur. Disgusted at the destruction of local native plants, particularly by Sydney's flower sellers, he lobbied for a public reserve. When the national park was gazetted, Du Faur became its managing trustee. He held this position for 10 years, and was involved in the Ku-ring-gai Chase Trust until his death in 1915.
At first, the Trust aimed to promote the park's Pittwater areas - particularly The Basin - to holidaymakers. Walking tracks and wharves were constructed, and staff were employed to carry out maintenance work. Then, in 1901, Du Faur helped to pay for a roadway from North Turramurra to Bobbin Head. Another road was built from Mt Colah railway station to Bobbin Head in 1903, providing a circular drive through the park.
Bobbin Head enjoyed a surge in popularity. Many facilities were built in the 1930s - particularly shelter sheds, pavilions, toilets, stone buildings, Orchard Park and the Bobbin Inn (now the park visitor centre). Children's playgrounds, miniature train tracks and other facilities were added in the 1950s.
West Head was added to the park in 1951, after a mixed history. In 1929, the area had been proposed as an upmarket country club, hotel, casino and golf club. However it ended up being used by the navy during the Second World War, when fortifications and gun emplacements were built along the headland. After the war, the naval buildings were turned into a fitness camp, which closed down in 1964 and became West Head lookout.
The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service was created by Act of Parliament in 1967. The organisation took over the management of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, putting a new emphasis on nature conservation. A koala sanctuary, built in the 1950s, was turned into Kalkari Visitor Centre. The visitor facilities of the 1930s were also restored at Bobbin Head.