West Head

Top choice national park 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 engravings. 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 ochre handprints 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 downtown Sydney to Terrey Hills; you could head on from there by taxi, Uber or perhaps bike-share.


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