Beautiful Area with stone pavement at West Head Lookout Point and Barrenjoey Head background Blur - stock photo

Sydney NSW Australia - June 5th 2020 - Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park on a sunny winter afternoon

Patricia Mado/Getty

West Head

Top choice in Sydney

This central section of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park is a spectacular wilderness, with awe-inspiring vistas over Pittwater and Broken Bay, hidden beach communities, Aboriginal engravings and great walking tracks down to perfect little coves. It's accessed off Mona Vale Rd in Terrey Hills or via boat from Palm Beach. West Head itself, 14km from the main road, offers a sensational lookout point and a precipitous trail down to a WWII emplacement. Other trailheads are signposted along the road.

The West Head lookout sees you gazing eastwards over the Palm Beach peninsula or north to Lion Island and across Broken Bay to Umina and Pearl Beach.

About 3.5km short of West Head is the Basin Track, which offers an easy stroll to a good set of Indigenous carvings. Approximately 2.5km further along the track is the Basin, a shallow round inlet where there is a beach (day visitors adult/child $3/2) and camping area. Access is via this track or by boat from Palm Beach. A branch off the Basin Track heads down to the remote, carless beachside suburbs of Mackerel Beach and Currawong (Little Mackerel) Beach, also accessible by ferry from Palm Beach.

About 1km short of West Head, the Resolute picnic area has faint Indigenous handprints in ochre nearby at Red Hands Cave. Also from here, the Resolute Track, heads past an Aboriginal engraving site on a 3km loop that takes in pretty Resolute Beach and another site. You can push on a little (some wading required) to Mackerel Beach, allowing you to return via the Basin Track.

Normally elusive, lyrebirds are conspicuous at West Head during their mating season, from May to July.

Accessed via the same exit off Mona Vale Rd are the pretty Pittwater locales of Church Point, Akuna Bay and Cottage Point, all bristling with bobbing leisure boats. All have eating options. The scenic road winding along the water is curiously named after the liberator of Argentina, General José de San Martín. Apparently it was a reciprocal gesture after a Buenos Aires street was named Australia.

There are no buses into the park. The only public transport to reach it are the ferries from Palm Beach. Cycling is a good option around the park's roads, but it's a long ride to here from the nearest station. Bus 270 goes from central Sydney to Terrey Hills; you could head on from there by taxi, Uber or perhaps bike-share. Sydney OutBack run good tours to the park.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Sydney attractions

1. Barrenjoey Lighthouse

1.18 MILES

This historic sandstone lighthouse (1881) sits at the northern tip of the Northern Beaches in an annexe of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. You've got two…

2. Currawong Beach

1.28 MILES

You will have to take the ferry at Palm Beach to reach this sheltered, carless beach suburb on the shores of the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. There…

3. Palm Beach

1.31 MILES

Long, lovely Palm Beach is a crescent of bliss that's famous as the setting for cheesy TV soap Home and Away. The 1881 Barrenjoey Lighthouse punctuates…

4. Pearl Beach

2.53 MILES

This secluded beach is perhaps the Central Coast's most beautiful; a seductive curve of sand lapped by gentle waves with a lovely outlook across the bay…

5. Whale Beach

2.59 MILES

Sleepy Whale Beach, 3km south of Palm Beach, is well worth seeking out – a paradisiacal slice of deep, orange-tinted sand backed by pines and flanked by…

6. Avalon

4.09 MILES

Caught in a sandy ’70s time warp, Avalon is the mythical Australian beach you always dreamed of but could never find. Challenging surf and sloping,…

7. Bilgola


With its huge saltwater pool and tucked-away location between the better-known Newport and Avalon beaches, little Bilgola feels like a bit of a secret gem…

8. Newport

5.26 MILES

This well-known Sydney surf beach is a kilometre-long strip of east-facing sand with reliable waves and a backing of Norfolk pine trees.