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Published February 27th 2020
Beaches, bushwalks, cycling trails, water activities & more
The list below features top National Parks that are within 2 hours from Central Central, making it the perfect day trip or weekend escape.
Surround yourself with nature, wildlife & birds, coastal views, lush rainforests, dry bushland, rivers, and more.
1. Bouddi National Park
Where: The Scenic Road, Killcare Heights & Putty Beach Road. When: All year-round. Cost: Free, except for Putty Beach area- $8 per vehicle/per day fee Details: There are several great walks, camping opportunities, swimming, snorkelling, fishing, and other water-based activities, cycling trails, lookouts, coastal walks, Aboriginal sites, wildlife & birdwatching opportunities, marine protected areas, lush rainforest and sandstone cliffs. Highlights: Secluded beaches, coastal heaths blanketed by wildflowers, Maitland Bay & the wreck of the PS Maitland, the spectacular Bouddi Coastal Walk, and the many lookouts. Accommodation: Yes, camping at Little Beach Campground, Putty Beach Campground, and Tallow Beach Campground.
2. Berowra Valley National Park Where: End of Sommerville Rd, Hornsby Heights When: All year-round. Cost: Free Details: The natural bushland around the National Park is a bushwalker's paradise. The Park is home to walking tracks, lookouts, canoeing or kayaking, children's play area, short walks, wildlife spotting, birdwatching opportunities, picnic areas and BBQ areas, and fishing opportunities. Highlights: Barnett's Lookout, children's play area, the multi-day Great North Walk, and the Place of the Winds Interpretive Trail. Accommodation: No.
Where: Near Gosford When: All year round Cost: Free, except for Sommersby Falls & Picnic Area and Girrakool Picnic Area- $8 per vehicle/per day fee Details: There are spectacular walks, cycling trails, fishing spots, ancient Aboriginal rock engraving sites, lookouts, colourful spring wildflowers, rainforest and rugged sandstone country, picnic spots, waterfalls, boardwalks, and picnic areas. Highlights: The magnificent Sommersby Falls & Picnic Area, Bulgandry Aboriginal art site, Staples Lookout, Accommodation: No.
Where: North of Windsor- off Cattai-Wisemans Ferry Road. When: All year round Cost: $8 per vehicle/per day Details: The National Park is home to significant historic sites, canoeing or kayaking, fishing, BBQs, bike riding opportunities, birdwatching, picnic areas, campsites, historic sites, native vegetation, including scribbly gum forest and tall bloodwoods, walking tracks, and picnic areas. Highlights: Cattai Farm- originally a land grant to First Fleet assistant surgeon Thomas Arndell. It features Arndell's 1821 cottage, historic grain silos, and ruins of a windmill believed to be the oldest industrial building in New South Wales. Other highlights include the secluded Mitchell Park, camping. Accommodation: Yes, camping at Cattai Campground
Where: Near Wisemans Ferry When: All year round Cost: Free Details: The National Park covers rugged bushland, is home to dramatic sandstone cliffs, natural habitats, mountain biking, walking trails, historic sites, canoe & kayaking opportunities at Hawkesbury River, camping opportunities, and abundance of wildlife & birds. Highlights: The World Heritage-Listed Old Great North Road- this Heritage Walk was built by up to 720 convicts between 1826-1836 and is recognised as part of the Australian Convict Sites World Heritage Property, birdwatching- keep an eye out for the gang-gang cockatoo, satin bowerbirds, Accommodation: Yes, camping at Mill Creek Campground & Ten Mile Hollow Campground
Where: Access from Belrose, Frenchs Forest, Forestville, Killarney Heights, Seaforth, Lindfield East, St Ives, Davidson, Killara East, and Oxford Falls When: All year round Cost: Free, except for Davidson area- $8 per vehicle/ per day fee Details: There is an impressive expanse of diverse bushland with spectacular scenery, water & bush views, waterfalls, significant Aboriginal sites and heritage, mountain bike riding, horse riding, walking trails, picnic areas, boating, canoe/kayak, paddling & fishing opportunities, and birdwatching. Highlights: The mountain bike tracks, water-based activities, Aboriginal sites, an array of wildlife and plants, including the threatened southern brown bandicoot, heritage walk to Bungaroo, and Middle Harbour Creek. Accommodation: No.
Where: Western side access- Bobbin Head Rd via the Pacific Hwy & access to the eastern side from Mona Vale Rd. When: Sunrise to sunset- Bobbin Head & Appletree Bay is closed from 8pm-6am daylight savings time & 5:30pm-6am other times.
West Head is closed from 8:30pm-6am daylight savings & 6pm-6am other times. Cost: $12 per vehicle/per day Details: This National Park combines important history with spectacular scenic beauty. It is home to winding creeks and stretches of ocean that meet rainforest and eucalypts, rocky cliffs, mangroves, camping sites, an array of walking tracks, mountain biking trails, lookouts, significant Aboriginal sites, kiosks, cafes, marinas, well-equipped picnic areas, birdwatching & wildlife spotting, a lighthouse, and water-based activities. Highlights: Barrenjoey Lighthouse, Bobbin Head & Akuna Bay, Basin Aboriginal art site, Kalkari Discovery Centre, Spinx Memorial, and the walking tracks. Accommodation: Yes, camping at The Basin Campground.
Where: Near Chatswood When: Daily, 9am-7pm during daylight savings & until 6pm other times. Cost: $8 per vehicle/ per day Details: There is an array of things to do & experience at this National Park including historic sites, heritage walks, water-based activities, walking tracks, picnics, children's play equipment, glamping, camping & cabin stays, barbecues, birdwatching, and cycle tracks. Highlights: The picturesque Lane Cove River, The Great North Walk, Lane Cove Boatshed, Lane Cove River Holiday Park, and the self-guided Heritage Walk. Accommodation: Yes, camping, cabins & Glamping at Lane Cove River Tourist Park
Where: Near Hornsby & Wisemans Ferry When: All year round Cost: Free Details: This National Park is one of Hawkesbury's best-kept secrets. It is home to wonderful canoeing, kayaking, swimming, cycling, camping, bushwalking trails, picnic areas, birdwatching opportunities, heritage sites, spectacular views, campgrounds, and picnic areas. Highlights: Canoeing & Kayaking, Canoelands Ridge Management Trail cycle trail, historic heritage sites from early European settlement, Aboriginal heritage, Accommodation: Yes, camping at Gentlemans Halt Campground & Marramarra Creek Campground
Where: From Gosford head north on Pacific Highway for 41km and take Elizabeth Bay Drive. When: See website. Cost: $8 per vehicle/per day Details: Is home to 12km of rugged coastline, water-based activities, coastal walks, awe-inspiring coastal views, swimming & surfing opportunities, camping, whale-watching opportunities (during migration), fishing, picnic areas, and birdwatching. Highlights: Moonee Beach Trail, water-based activities including swimming & surfing, camping and Tea Tree Picnic Area & Lookout. Accommodation: Yes, camping at Frazer Campground & Freemans Campground
Where: From Gosford follow Old Pacific Highway across the Hawkesbury River towards Cowan. When: 6 weekends throughout the year. Cost: Free Details: This is an extraordinary place to view wildflowers during spring, discover the fragile ecosystems and Aboriginal cultural heritage. There is an abundance of waratahs, angophoras, old-man banksias, native orchids, and more, birdwatching opportunities (keep an eye out for the soaring wedge-tail eagle and iconic lyrebird), and walks. Highlights: Wildflowers (in spring), Aboriginal rock engravings, birdwatching and spotting of native animals including echidnas. Accommodation: No.
Where: Near Wisemans Ferry When: All year round Cost: Free Details: Take a step back in time and explore the hidden gems at the National Park which includes walking & cycling trails, lookouts, picnic areas, wildlife spotting, Aboriginal heritage & birdwatching. Highlights: Aboriginal sites, Hawkesbury River foreshore, horse riding & mountain biking trails, and walking trails. Accommodation: No.
Where: Bateau Bay When: All year round- Crackhead Lookout & Pelican Beach Road Lookout are closed from 8pm-5:30am daylight savings & 6pm-5:30am other times. Cost: Free Details: Divided into two sections, this National Park is home to the last patch of coastal rainforest on the Central Coast, whale watching opportunities (during migration season), spectacular lookouts, birdwatching opportunities (keep an eye out for eagles & kestrels), bike trails, picnic areas, and walking trails. Highlights: Crackhead Lookout, The Coast Walking Track, birdwatching, and whale watching. Accommodation: No.