Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, one of the oldest Australian National Parks, is a favourite of locals due to its proximity to the city. Located only 40km north of the CBD, it makes a great destination for a day into the wild without leaving the Sydney metropolitan area.
It is easily accessible by car, although an entrance fee must be paid at the gate, and beautiful by bike. If you plan to travel with the public transport you will need to plan in advance as the second best access to the park is by ferry from Palm Beach.
Take the L90 from the city, alight at Barrenjoey Rd, walk to Palm Beach Ferry Wharf and take the Mackerel Beach Ferry towards Bennets Ferry Wharf. Allow at the least 2 hours and half to arrive at Mackerel beach by public transports.
If travelling by car: park at the very end of West Head Road, just a stone's throw from the famous West Head Lookout, where the track begins.
This is a magic place, with views spanning across the Hawkesbury River to Lion Island, Patonga, Bouddi National Park and over to the Barrenjoey Headland. Palm Beach and its lighthouse look as magnificent as you can only dream from this lookout.
The lookout, a sandstone platform accessible by everyone, partly even by wheelchairs, has a number of bench seats, some informative interpretative signs and a few Kookaburras which will happily eat from your hand.
West Head Beach: Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park's hidden jewel From the West Head Lookout, follow the path that descends towards Resolute Beach. The first 100 meters or so are quite flat and unfenced, overlooking Palm Beach on your left. The next section of the path takes approximately 10 minutes; steep rock steps descend down the ridge until you reach a small creek with a waterfall. Continue till you arrive at the intersection between West Head Beach and Resolute Beach, just after the two flights of wooden stairs. Turn left and follow the path.
West Head Beach, a tiny stretch of golden sand and smoothed rocks is nestled between the tall cliffs and the thick gumtree forest, picturesquely framing Barrenjoey Headland.
The rocks [covered with oysters, mind your feet!] partially enclose the right side of the beach, creating a natural semi-pool with shallow and calm emerald green waters, perfect for kids or for chilling out after the short walk.
Resolute Beach: Don't need to be rich to live like a king Resolute Beach, famous between the lucky ones who own a boat, is a little smaller than West Head Beach but without rocks.
The cliffs frame the same stunning view on Barrenjoey and the water is exactly the same emerald green. It might be a little bit jammed during the weekend and most likely there will be someone sprinting in front of you with an aqua scooter. On the other hand it's always easy to find a quiet and isolated spot on the right side of the beach, between the flat rocks.
To reach Resolute Beach from West Head Beach, retrace your steps back up the hill till you intersect the main path again. Turn left and walk for a while on a narrow unfenced path with breathtaking views on Barrenjoey and Pittwater in front of you. Arrive at a small creek and turn left keeping it on your left. After a few hundred meters you reach the beach.
Sorry, but you need to climb again the steps back to the main path! Turn left and after some 20 minutes in the bush you will find yourself in the last beach. I think we took an alternative shortcut without knowing, anyway, once you see the sand, wherever you want to go down there's a flat rock to ease your way.
Mackerel Beach is the biggest and easiest to approach of the three. It is a 600 meters long moon shaped strip of white sand backed by a lagoon and a small community of houses. It faces Pittswater and again the water is of that beautiful emerald green on the left side and just pristine blue everywhere else.
It's famous between the locals and families with small kids because of the ferry from Palm Beach. We settled down on the left side where beautiful rocks and trees make it a perfect settling for a picnic or just for relaxing in the shadow with your feet in the shallow water.
Enjoy this last piece of paradise as long as you like and then take the path back to Resolute Beach. Retrace your steps back to the sign of Resolute Picnic area. Here you can choose to make your way back via the coastal track or take the Aboriginal Heritage Track on your right. Allow at least one hour and half to get back to West Head Lookout. If you choose the inner track make sure you have time enough to dedicate some minutes to the various aboriginal sites.
Useful info: Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park opening hours: 6.30 am to 8.30pm [or depending to sunset hour]
Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park entrance fee: 11 aud/car
Distance from Sydney CBD: approximately 45 km
No fire and camping allowed
No dogs allowed