West Head Lookout safety improvements

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service has improved visitor safety and access at West Head Lookout in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.

West Head, in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, is a popular destination for visitors. The West Head Lookout is 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. In early 2021, an assessment of the condition by a structural engineer identified structural and safety risks to visitors.

In 2022, the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service prepared designs to address safety and structural issues. Construction commenced on 25 May 2023 and the lookout reopened on 29 November 2023. 

Aerial view of a wide curved stone lookout on a thickly forested rocky outcrop over the sea

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

We worked with the late landscape architect Bruce Mackenzie, who designed the original Commodore Heights West Head landscape layout for architects RC Smith and Thompson in 1963, to deliver a design that balances visitor safety with preserving the lookout's original design intent and landscape values. We were fortunate and grateful to have Mr Mackenzie, one of Australia's most influential landscape designers, working on this project.

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

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

Design options considered the 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 proposed safety improvements were designed to minimise the impact of balustrades on sight lines from the main lookout area, while the use of balustrades along the entry and exit points represent practical means of preventing falls in those areas.

Update October 2023

The West Head Lookout safety improvements are on track for completion by mid-November 2023.

  • 22 Oct 2023

Update August 2023

Work progress.

  • 03 Sep 2023

Update June 2023

Works progress, site management and access

  • 11 Jul 2023