Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park
Just north of Sydney, historic Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park constantly surprises with its tree-covered headlands, sheltered coves, wide peaceful estuaries and wonderful blue-water views. It is rich in both Aboriginal and European heritage.
New Suoth Wales' most loved and visited parks, declared in 1894 and thus the state’s second oldest national park, Ku-ring-gai Chase preserves an important stretch of natural bushland as well as the lower reaches of the Hawkesbury River and a number of its tributaries. It is scenically beautiful, provides important breeding and roosting sites for numerous bird species and contains signiﬁcant Aboriginal sites. It is also an outstanding recreation area, enabling visitors to savour the pleasures of this relatively undisturbed bush so close to Sydney.
From Sydney by road: to North Turramurra then via Bobbin Head Rd; off Pacific Hwy at Mt Colah/Asquith then Ku-ring-gai Chase Rd; from Terrey Hills or Church Point then McCarrs Creek Rd; or by bus, ferry or rail
30 km north of Sydney CBD
- NSWNPWS 1300 361 967
- Bobbin Head Visitor Centre (02) 9472 8949
- Kalkari Visitor Centre (02) 9472 9300
- Palm Beach Ferries (02) 9974 2411
14 977 ha
Sydney (02) 9240 8788
Featured Activities in the National Park
Explore Ku-ring-gai’s Aboriginal art sites
Visit Barrenjoey Lighthouse for breathtaking coastal views
Take the ferry to the Basin then swim in the lagoon
Enjoy a picnic at historic Bobbin Head
- Bushwalking in and around Sydney, Eco-friendly activity
- Ku-rin-gai Chase National Park, Recreational Indigenous, Recreational Indigenous
- Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and the Hawkesbury River, Kayaking, Kayaking
Ku-ring-gai’s plant life is a mix of low, shrubby heathland, eucalypt forest (typically including Sydney peppermint and red bloodwood trees), small areas of rainforest with dense, glossy-leaved lilly pilly and Australian fan palms, and mangroves emerging from the swampy mudﬂats. More than 1000 plant species have been recorded in the park.
Most of the park’s wildlife is shy and nocturnal, with many possums, gliders, marsupial mice and other creatures only emerging at night. If you are lucky you may see a swamp wallaby sheltering in an area of thick undergrowth, but again this marsupial mammal generally waits until night-time to feed. Among the park’s rare mammal species are the southern brown bandicoot and the common bentwing-bat, while vulnerable amphibians include the giant burrowing frog and the red-crowned toadlet. Ku-ring-gai’s birds are more visible and audible. Look for the large, messy nests of the wedge-tailed eagle balanced precariously high in a tree or on a rock ledge. Parrots, galahs, sulphur-crested cockatoos and laughing kookaburras can regularly be heard, while on the mudﬂats you may see spoonbills, egrets, Australian white ibis and eastern curlews delicately searching for food. Snakes and lizards are most likely to be seen – or detected by a rustle as they quickly slither away – during the warmer months. Watch for the common bluetongue, one of the world’s largest skinks. Around 100 butterﬂy species also inhabit the park.
Limited climbing and abseiling are allowed at Barrenjoey Head. Swimming at the sheltered beaches and in freshwater pools, ﬁshing (ﬂathead, tailor, mullet and snapper are typical catches) and relaxing at the water’s edge are other options.
Walking is by far the best and sometimes the only way to experience many of the park’s sights. There are tracks for all different levels of ﬁtness and expertise. Aboriginal sites, secret beaches, expansive views, birdlife and colourful wildﬂowers in spring and summer are highlights. Willunga Trig Walk (1.8 km one way, 30 minutes) takes you through heathland and woodland to Willunga Trig, the park’s highest point, and some dazzling 360-degree views. Follow Elvina Track (7 km one way, 2½ hours, medium difﬁculty) to see waterfalls, water pools, rainforest and Aboriginal rock engravings. Garigal Aboriginal Heritage Walk at West Head (3.5 km one way, 2½–3 hours) is also fascinating. Or make the steep climb to the 1881 sandstone Barrenjoey Lighthouse at Broken Bay for tremendous coastal views. There is also a wheelchair-friendly Discovery Walking Trail from Kalkari Visitor Centre. Pick up detailed maps from Bobbin Head Visitor Centre.
The deeply indented coastline ensures excellent opportunities for sailing and boating, and there always seem to be dinghies aﬂoat and canoes swishing by on the peaceful waters. There are two marinas within the park, at Bobbin Head and Akuna Bay.
Ask at Kalkari Visitor Centre about the Discovery programs, which include guided tours to see Aboriginal art sites, wildlife and more.
There are 15 kilometres of trails in the Terrey Hills and Duffys Forest areas.
Ku-ring-gai has long been a favourite for family picnics. The only barbecues are at busy Bobbin Head, with its 1930s picnic shelters and pavilions (the visitor centre is also here), but there are quieter locations (take a fuel stove as open ﬁres are not permitted). There are also several kiosks in the park.
Scenic driving and cycling
A network of roads allows easy access to various parts of the park for those who enjoy touring by car. Cyclists can ride on many of the park’s trails and roads.