West Head Lookout upgrade

National Parks and Wildlife Service is delivering safety upgrades to West Head Lookout in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.

West Head Lookout, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, with temporary fence due to upgradesWest Head, in Kur-ring-gai Chase National Park, is a popular destination for visitors. The West Head Lookout is considered one of Sydney's best vantage points with views across Broken Bay to Barrenjoey Headland, Lion Island and the Central Coast.

The West Head Lookout was built in the mid-1960s. Earlier this year, an assessment of condition by a structural engineer identified structural and safety risk to visitors. Temporary fencing was installed in May 2021 to eliminate this risk to public safety while further assessments and plans were developed. During this time, West Head remains open and visitors can still access the lookout, the views and surrounds, but cannot get close to the edge.

What is happening at the West Head Lookout?

The National Parks and Wildlife Service will be carrying our stabilisation work and safety improvements at the West Head Lookout.

Earlier in 2021, an engineering assessment of the 1960s lookout structure identified structural and safety risks. Temporary fencing was installed around the perimeter of the lookout. At the same time, design work was undertaken in consultation with geotechnical and structural engineers to address the risk and ensure the iconic views from West Head can continue to be enjoyed by visitors.

We will be undertaking works to:

  • strengthen the wall and lookout with new retaining supports under the pavement
  • install a barrier to meet current Australian standards to minimise the risk of visitors falling from the edge of the lookout.

Several design solutions have been considered for the barrier and will be subject to further assessment and consultation before finalisation.

We will consult further with stakeholders before finalising a design which balances visitor safety with the heritage and landscape qualities of the lookout. We will continue to provide information to the public and opportunities to provide feedback on the project.

Stakeholders, visitors and users of the park will be kept informed of this project as it develops. Project details and updates will be available from this project webpage and the project newsletter. Anyone can sign up to receive the newsletter; please complete the online form below to register.

In accordance with NSW planning legislation, we will carry out rigorous environmental and heritage assessment of the site with input from relevant specialists. The proposed works align with the overall strategy for the management of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park outlined in the plan of management (2002; amended 2014).

The heritage and character of places in our national parks is a consideration for all projects that require repairs, remediation works or upgrades. This must be balanced with our responsibilities for visitor safety and risk management.

An engineering inspection was completed as part of National Parks and Wildlife Service's Asset Management Program. This inspection revealed concerns in the structural stability of the lookout. Further investigation was undertaken, and advice was provided, which led to the installation of temporary fencing in May 2021. A long-term solution is being developed to remediate the lookout and reduce the risk to visitors.

We must consider potential risks for harm within all national parks in New South Wales, particularly in places which experience high visitation, such as West Head Lookout. The 2 components of this work – strengthening the wall and lookout with below ground supports and restricting access to the cliff edge with a barrier will improve the overall safety of this structure.

The structural improvements that will be delivered as part of this project are essential to avoid the risk of collapse or failure. In addition, fatalities have occurred in national parks due to falls, and we have a responsibility to manage and reduce this risk where possible.

We have sought expert advice to inform and guide this project. This has included:

  • structural engineering
  • geotechnical engineering
  • heritage
  • risk assessment
  • environmental impact
  • Aboriginal heritage
  • Building Code of Australia advice
  • access consultant advice

In planning this project, design options considered physical and visual impacts on the lookout, including character and views as well as risk to visitor safety and our responsibilities for managing this risk. The draft proposal for the balustrade, which was circulated to the community via the project webpage and newsletter, meets the standard specified in the Parks Facilities Manual. This provides a consistent standard for built infrastructure across parks, including our approach to visitor safety where there is a risk of falls.

We are committed to undertaking further analysis and design to improve visitors' safety and restricting access to the cliff edges around the lookout before works commence.

Do you have any questions?

If we’ve missed anything, please send us your question and the project team will provide updates via this webpage.

West Head Lookout upgrade