National Parks Near Sydney

Blue Mountains National Park Bouddi National Park Brisbane Water National Park
Garigal National Park Kuring-gai Chase National Park Lane Cover River National Park
The Quarantine Station Royal National Park Sydney Harbour National Park

Sydney is surrounded by National Parks. There are more than forty of them around Sydney, so it may take a while for me to get to mentioning all of them, or for you to get to them! In fact, there are more than 600 designated parks in New South Wales, covering 7% of the state.

Anybody coming to Australia from Britain will be in for a pleasant shock. National Parks in this neck of the woods are comparative wilderness areas. There are no farms with fancy signs on the gates proclaiming them to have a special status. People without the British experience may not realise just how lucky we are with our parks.

The mining lobby, of course, regards the National Park system as a useful set of reserves for future exploitation, while scattered farmers think that cattle would improve the vegetation in the parks, and occasional timber barons propose a careful thinning of the trees. For the trees' own good, of course. There are also genuine tensions, where dingoes, kangaroos and other perceived or actual farm pests are able to breed in national parks.

"National Park" is actually a bit of a misnomer: the National Parks and Wildlife Service is a state department, part of the New South Wales government. The world's first national park was in the USA: when what we now call the Royal National Park was created a couple of years later (but officially gazetted before the Yellowstone legislation went through!), it was based on the American model, and called "The National Park". Since then, the name has just stuck, and spread to the other parks. It got a "Royal" when Betty Windsor came to town in 1954, I think.

We are now all able to share in the spoils of the actions of a dedicated group of lobbyists over many years: the National Parks that surround Sydney. But if you drive there, you'll probably have to pay for the privilege. You can camp in some parks, usually with a small fee to pay. Day walkers get in for free, but there is a park use fee on all vehicles. For the nature and national park enthusiast, there are annual stickers for cars, costing the equivalent of about seven park entry fees, giving access to all New South Wales National Parks where an entry fee is charged. The National Parks and Wildlife web site page explaining this can be found at http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/npws.nsf/content/annual+passes+and+vehicle+entry+fees, and you will find more details there. (There are a few "catches", like the Jervis Bay national park, which is under the control of Canberra, and which is well worth paying for in any case!)

People other than legitimate campers are not welcome in National Parks after dark. Some are there to get up to mischief, some are likely to be victims, and the bright lights of cars dazzle bush animals. So unless you are camping in an approved place, sunrise to sunset is the time for you. National Parks are places for quiet enjoyment: walking, camping, munching, cooking (sometimes), swimming (again, sometimes), and generally having a good time. Because they often represent fragile environments in need of protection, some things are banned, like shooting, pets, mining, forestry, and other things which could be harmful. When in doubt, find out first.

If you know very little at all about the National Parks system, call in at the Service shop at Cadmans Cottage at the western end of Circular Quay near the Museum of Contemporary Art, or join the National Parks Association: their membership charges are quite low, and they offer lots of activities for all ages. You can pick up application forms at many National Parks, and also at Cadmans Cottage. They live in P.O.Box A96, Sydney South, NSW 1235 in the city, phone 9299 0000. Their Web address is http://www.npansw.cjb.net/

For a full list of Sydney parks, see this link.

Sydney Harbour National Park

Sydney Harbour has a number of sections of bush land which were mainly reserved for defence establishments, and which have now become the Sydney Harbour National Park. See this link for more. You may like to start there, as several parts can be reached by public transport.

You can walk through part of the park on the Spit-Manly or Manly-Spit walk, and this has public transport at both ends.

Getting there

Sydney Harbour National Park is scattered in bits and pieces, all over the headlands that make up Sydney Harbour. Some of the bits were reserved for military purposes, other bits have other backgrounds. If you head up Middle Harbour, though, you may find yourself in another national park again. Just enjoy it.

One piece, the Quarantine Station will soon have an entry of its own here, and Shark Island and Clark Island will be covered under Islands in the Harbour: the other parts are referred to here. The best parts of Watsons Bay are in the park as well. The Dobroyd Head section of the Park is mentioned in the description of the Spit-Manly Walk.

South Head may be reached by a 324 or 325 bus, Nielsen Park is on the 325 route, Ashton Park is a short walk from the Taronga Zoo ferry, Middle Head may be reached by a 204 bus from the Cremorne ferry wharf, Dobroyd Head by a Manly ferry and a 132 bus, followed by a level walk from Woodland Street, while North Head may be reached from a Manly ferry, followed by a 135 bus to North Head.

Access, times, entry costs

Opens: People are not usually welcome in National Parks after dark, for several good reasons. In the case of Sydney Harbour National Park, this rule would prevent you seeing some magical views, and so the rule is relaxed. In particular, try North Head at night, especially when the full moon is rising, at sunset, or when there is a violent electrical storm (but stay in your car!). Nielsen Park is closed from 10 pm to 5 am.

Entry fees: There is no park use fee levied on vehicles at the moment, except at Ashton Park, and at North Head.

What to do there

When the settlement of Sydney was young, there was a fear that "an enemy" might come along and attack the town. It was, after all, far from help, and if England were to get involved in a European war, there was a long tradition of attacking colonies. So fortifications seemed to be in order, and these were set up, on North and South Heads, covering the coast and out to sea, on Middle Head, covering the entrance, and some small areas were guarded on Dobroyd Head.

Further up the Harbour, where ships had to turn sharply round Bradley's Head (this was in the days of sail, remember), there were more guns, with yet more on Fort Denison. Bradley's Head was a very good spot to mince up passing ships, as they would normally have to "wear ship" at that point, when the prevailing breeze was blowing, so more crew would be needed to haul on lines, and that meant fewer shooting back at the shore batteries. Despite what civilians say, the military could see that not being shot back at was a Good Thing, so they went for it.

In the end, people realised that the guns were of little use against aircraft, that invasion was unlikely, and so the guns were taken down. There are still a few to see, at Bradley's Head, but most have gone forever. Only the stonework and concrete remains. Interestingly, the iron reinforcing is the same as the small sections of original railway line used in Australia, pieces of which can be seen beneath Loco No. 1 at the Powerhouse Museum.

The lovely thing is that the departure of the military coincided with the high period of National Park-ism, so that property developers were prevented from getting their paws on the land. Instead, it became communal property, Sydney Harbour National Park, in fact, with a few other bits thrown in as well, like the Quarantine Station.

What to watch out for

Go there for the views, the walks, the quiet places to chew on a sandwich, even for the fishing, or take a guided tour to explore the tunnels of Middle Head (take a torch or a flashlight if you are American, and book through 9977-6522), the fortifications, or whatever.

What else is around

That depends where you are, but wherever you are, there is plenty to do.

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The Quarantine Station

Quarantine Station: the beach.The Quarantine Station (now disused).You can find information about this park at this link.

Getting there

The Quarantine Station has magnificent views of Sydney Harbour, fascinating history, and much more. It is highly recommended, but keep in mind that you have to book before going there.

The usual method is to catch a 135 bus from Manly Wharf to the station or to its gates, and walk in. Parking in the grounds is not encouraged. It isn't allowed, in fact! The buses leave from Manly Wharf: catch a ferry to Manly, walk off the wharf, and look around, to the left. The buses are timed to coincide with the ferry arrivals, but you need to watch out for the 135 bus.

There is no general access to the Quarantine Station. There are various guided tours organised, including night-time wildlife activities in the school holidays. See their Web site for contact details.

Access, times, entry costs

Opens: There are both day and night tours to be had: ring and check.
Entry fees: Depending on the tours on offer.
Closed: Check when booking, because this varies.

What to do there

For a century and a half, people with infectious diseases (or who were suspected of having infectious disease) were kept at the Quarantine Station at North Head. The area was actually first used in 1828, when a smallpox-ridden ship was anchored there. The initial impetus for the station was the European cholera outbreak of 1830: a fearsome disease, previously only known in India.

In the early days, people were kept aboard their ships which were moored off the beach. This is usually a calm enough anchorage, except when the north-westerly blows, so things would not have been too bad for the healthy passengers. By 1836, there is a record of 14 convicts clearing the scrub in the area. It was first used in 1837, with tents as the main accommodation. Still, in 1840, Mrs. Meredith refers to the passengers staying on board the ships moored there (Sydney Harbour 6), so it seems that only the sick went ashore in the early days.

From rough and ready accommodation, things slowly improved over a century and a half, so that at the end, there were three classes of accommodation at the station, just as there were on the ships bringing the passengers. If you tour the station, you will be able to view these. Many of the people held there, of course, were quite healthy, and they have left their marks in intricate carvings in the local sandstone: there are more than a thousand recorded carvings in many languages. The station ceased operations as a quarantine base in 1984.

The staff are quite likely and willing to show you the remnants of a sea eagle's meal, or a possum's droppings, or even a sleeping ring-tail possum in its nest, or they may even show you a penguin's cave, and let you smell the fishy smell. They may also have some more salubrious things to show you, like the views. The area has been largely cleared in the past, and the lawns used to be maintained by a large population of rabbits, so the clear views out to North Harbour and elsewhere are still to be had. I am not sure if the rabbits are still there.

What to watch out for

Apart from a tour of the quarantine facilities, including the huge boilers used to kill the vermin in immigrants' clothes, make sure you see the rock carvings (these were done by whites, and are three-dimensional carvings, not engravings), and watch out for wildlife.

Contact details, Web links

Address: North Head Scenic Drive

What else is around

You are in the vicinity of Manly and North Head.

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Royal National Park

You can find information about this park at this link.

Getting there

The "Royal" is south of Sydney. By car, aim for the eastern Distributor, which runs from the Cahill Expressway or the Harbour Tunnel and south past the airport. Keep following the signs to Sutherland, then Wollongong, and then the signs for the Royal National Park. From western Sydney, take the Liverpool-Heathcote road, and enter either through Audley or through Waterfall.

Trains to the "Royal" start in the Eastern suburbs, pass through Central railway, and take you either to Loftus, Engadine, Heathcote or Waterfall. Check on the details of family and excursion fares on weekends, but week days are better: the "Royal" is particularly popular on summer Sundays. (Previous visitors note: there are no trains to Audley any more.)

This is no problem if you are planning to walk: the day walks from Waterfall to Heathcote or Audley are comparatively people-free, even on weekends: they are no longer fashionable, it seems. You will find more details on these walks elsewhere. With no trains to the Audley end any more, you may prefer to catch the train to Sutherland, get a taxi to Audley, and walk to Waterfall, where there are many trains back to Sydney. The Audley end of the track, I am reliably advised, is being clearly marked as this is written.

You can also catch a ferry from Cronulla railway station to Bundeena, and from there you can fish, swim or bushwalk in delightful coastal parts of the Royal.

There are also other walks, starting from Otford railway station, further south, and going over to the coast.

Access, times, entry costs

Opens: sunrise to sunset
Entry fees: Normal fee, or annual sticker for each car. Walkers get in for free, but there is a park use fee for all vehicles. There is a fee for camping at Bonnie Vale.

What to do there

The Royal is Australia's oldest, and the world's second oldest National Park: only Yellowstone in the USA is older, though "The Royal" was actually passed through legislation first, making it the oldest established national park. Older still, though, were the first inhabitants, the Dharawal tribe, most of whom died of smallpox or measles after the coming of the whites. Their traces are still to be found in the Royal.

There are some rock engravings in the park, not as many as there are in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, but there are still some, and you will find spear-sharpening grooves in a number of places, especially along the edge of Uloola Brook, on the walk from Waterfall to Heathcote or Audley. There are also some middens, and at least one cave with hand stencils in it.

Bush camping is allowed in the Royal, but only in designated areas, and only if you have a camping permit, available from the Visitors' Centre, between 8.30 a.m. and 4.30 p.m. 7 days.

What to watch out for

The park was run by a Trust in its early years, and some of their damage is still to be seen: there are fallow deer in the park, released in 1885. All in all, six species of deer have been released, but only the rusa deer from Java are still known to be in the area. There was a chance to get rid of the deer after the fires in 1994 which burnt out most of the park, but muddle-headed public outcries about "Bambi" led to this noxious feral destroyer being allowed to survive.

You can sometimes see deer close to the road in the Bundeena-Garie area, especially if you get out of your car: they are often right there, hidden in the heath. The deer also come into Bundeena at night, and their tracks can often be seen in the area around Garie Beach. The lookout above Garie is a good place to spot deer, browsing around the huts at Era beach in the late afternoon. These huts are there on borrowed time: they are slowly being demolished and removed as their owners die - the huts were mainly built without permission during the 1930s, and have become permissive occupancies. Along Lady Carrington Drive and on the Couranga track, you can still see evidence of early logging activities, and Audley has a large number of exotic trees.

There are several surf beaches, including Wattamolla, Little Marley (but not Big Marley, which is dangerous!) and Garie, there are boats for hire at Audley, there are numerous picnic places that you can learn about from the visitor centre at Audley, you can rent boats to take on the dammed Kangaroo Creek and Hacking River at Audley. There are no motorboats allowed.

There are plenty of bush walks, starting from a number of points. You can get details at your entry point (where you pay), or at the visitor centre at Audley. Drive down the hill from the Sutherland end, cross the weir, and look for the buildings on your right. Especially recommended walks are the Lady Carrington Walk, the Curra Moors track, the Coast Walk, the Waterfall-Audley Hike, the Uloola track, and the Marley Track in past Deer Pool.

You can also ride a bicycle or walk along the vehicle-free Lady Carrington Drive. If you do this from south to north on a mid-week early morning, you stand a very good chance of seeing a lyrebird, or at least of hearing one. Go slowly after the first half kilometre or so, and listen. Stay on the road, as there are leeches in the undergrowth.

The Royal National Park is different from other parks in one major respect: there are more roads than you would usually find. The temptation is there to simply drive around the park, say that you've seen it, and go on to somewhere else. You should make the effort to get out of your car: there are many more tracks to be found than are shown on the maps. Talk to the staff where you pay to enter, as they usually have maps, or call in at the Visitor Centre at Audley.

There are plenty of wallabies to be seen, fish, frogs, snakes, all sorts of lizards....what you find is up to you. Food and drink can be bought at kiosks at Audley, Garie and Wattamolla, although these may close at quiet times. You can also stock up on the necessary goodies in the neighbouring suburbs (Miranda, Sutherland, Waterfall and Bundeena) as or before you enter the park.

What else is around

You are well on the way to Kiama. You can drive down to Stanwell Park and watch hang gliders if there is any wind, or visit the Heathcote National Park on the other side of Highway 1, where cars are banned and people aren't, or just enjoy some more park. Or you can go and look at the Sydney Tramway Museum at Loftus.

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Kuring-gai Chase National Park

I have now created a separate Kuring-gai Chase National Park page, and I will progressively switch links away from here.

You can find information about this park at this link.

Getting there

Kuringai, Kuring-Gai, Ku-ring-Gai or whatever, it is a name often given for the aboriginal tribe who lived in the area. These people were either wiped out by disease or drink, or moved out before they could be taught our form of writing, so they have never had a say in how their name was spelt.

The Dharuk and Eora peoples lived in the area for thousands of years, and there are plentiful reminders of their prior presence to be observed. And to be preserved: once these are gone, they cannot be replaced. We need to care for these relics from the past.

You can drive to the park from Mona Vale on the Manly-Warringah peninsula, or from several parts of Mona Vale Road, (Route 33) or from the Pacific Highway. You can get there by train, walking in from Mt Ku-ring-gai, Berowra, or even Cowan. The best of the lot though, is probably the ferry ride from Pittwater Park wharf to The Basin. Catch the 190 bus, then catch the ferry to the Basin.

The park was created in 1894, and has been going strong ever since. There has been a certain amount of damage where home-sick Europeans planted exotic trees, but that aside, most of the land is as it should be, much the same as the Sydney bush must have been before the whites came.

There are some signs of previous occupation by whites, like the barbed wire in the bush near the Duck Hole, and the slope for running ammunition down to World War II gun emplacements at West Head. In some areas, horse-riders have damaged and eroded the trails down to bedrock, but the area is largely free of trail-bikes and the far worse damage that they cause.

Access, times, entry costs

Opens: sunrise to sunset: West Head may be chained, and then it will cost you money to get out!
Entry fees: Car entry fee (or annual sticker), camping fees at The Basin.

What to do there

There are picnic spots dotted along the West Head road, along the road that leads round to Akuna Bay, (Coal and Candle Creek Drive), and in the vicinity of Bobbin Head. There are also fireplaces at The Basin, but no firewood within several hundred metres. Fires are a problem in any case: they should only be lit where there are fireplaces, and the Park staff would really prefer you to use a gas fire, or none at all.

There are dozens of walks to be had along most fire trails, including the ones that run in from the West Head road. These are shown in the books of Sydney walks, on leaflets that you can get from the entrance stations to the park, and on the "Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park tourist map". You can get that map at the park's visitor centre, near Bobbin Head, or at places selling CMA maps.

After that, go and find a few of your own, like the Long track and Cowan track. The Mount Kuring-gai to Berowra via Cowan Creek walk is highly recommended.

There are several establishments renting out boats around the waters of the park, including Halvorsen's (cruisers, launches & rowing boats) 9457-9011 at Bobbin Head (closed Christmas Day), and a small place at Cottage Point, phone 9456-3024, which has a number of aluminium runabouts (up to six people) with outboard motors (open every day -- and they do great meat pies). There are other establishments around Pittwater and Berowra Waters which may also be worth approaching. Try the Yellow Pages under "Boat Hire - Drive Yourself"

Fishing seems quite popular off the rocks along Coal and Candle Creek Drive, but I have never tried it myself. We have had a few reasonable bream with handlines at the bottom of the Bibbenluke track, where it meets the Warrimoo track. Try asking the park's staff for advice. Kids enjoy fishing at The Basin, but there seems to be little to catch there. Be aware that you need a licence to fish!

There are charges for camping in some parks, and this is one of them: if you want to camp at The Basin (the only legal camping spot), you must book on 9974-1011, and pay a fee for each tent for each night. Day visitors get in for free, and so do Pittwater ferry riders going to The Basin, but there is a park use fee levied on vehicles driving into the park. Annual stickers can be used.

What to watch out for

The engravings which are found on the rocks, all over the park - ask the rangers at the entry stations for more information.

Some of the firetrail walks along the West Head road.

What else is around

You are in the vicinity of a large and beautiful park - stay with it! The Northern Beaches are nearby, if you have to move on.

Roughly in order of difficulty, try the Willunga track, Red Hand Track, Topham track, Challenger track, America Bay Track, Salvation loop (with or without the Wallaroo extension), Flint and Steel track, Bibbenluke track, Smith's Creek East track, Ryland track, Bairne track (with or without Soldier's Point track), Bobbin Head to the Sphinx, Elvina Track, Basin Trail Walk, Warrimoo track, and the Waratah track for starters.

I will deal with some of these walks in more detail later.

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Garigal National Park

Getting there

The Davidson Picnic Area, once called the Davidson State Recreation Area is a popular weekend picnic spot, which fails to reach its full potential, mainly because people don't know how to make full use of it. This is because most people know just the small picnic area, below the Roseville Bridge. There is a great deal more to be found, because this is part of an extensive park.

Catch a train to Chatswood station, and then catch a private route 56 bus (timetable information 9450-2277) to Roseville bridge. The STA bus route 136 can also drop you there. If you have a car, drive towards the Roseville bridge from the Forestville side, and take the side lane that drops off to the left just before the bridge. This is a one-way route: if you are coming from the Chatswood side, you need to cross the bridge, go up the hill, make a right turn into a dead-end street (Bangalla Place), turn there, and drive back down the hill again, as though you had come from the Forestville side in the first place. Or drive to the traffic lights at the crown of the hill, turn off to the left at the shops, where you can buy liquor and some types of food, and use the traffic lights to come back out again and turn right to go down the hill. This is probably safer if traffic is busy.

Access, times, entry costs

Opens: sunrise to sunset
Entry fees: A normal National Parks charge applies for vehicles at the Davidson area. Look for the ticket machines. I am fairly sure that people on foot get in for free.

What to do there

There are many more foot tracks through the area, and there are some good walks to be had, some of them entering the park from other places. The walk down towards Bantry Bay from the picnic area, past the old dance hall, is a good one. Downstream from Roseville bridge, the track follows the main (buried) sewer pipe-line for some distance. You eventually come to a small beach, and the track appears to die out there, but it can be found again on the other side, and followed all the way round to Bantry Bay and the former explosives depot there. This will involve some bush-bashing, but from there you can actually push on through to Seaforth, if you are tough enough!

Middle Harbour around Roseville bridge was dredged for sand for many years, and the picnic area is the result of repair work done by the dredgers as "restoration". How good they have been, you may judge by walking upstream, and looking at the higher areas where there has been neither dredging nor restoration. The walk up-river from the picnic area is pleasant, but not after heavy rain. You can also ride a bicycle up this track if you wish.

What to watch out for

It is possible to go upstream by boat for some kilometres, to a track which comes in from St Ives, but if you are boating, keep an eye out. This is a more likely event than you may realise, due to the large number of powerboats which churn up and down the water.

Contact details, Web links

Phone: 9451 3479
Web:
http://www.npws.nsw.gov.au/parks/metro/Met014.html

What else is around

You are in the vicinity of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park or The Northern Beaches, and not too far from Manly and Narrabeen Lake.

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Lane Cover River National Park

You can find information about this park at this link.

Getting there

"Lane Cove River Park" is the common name. The area was actually a State Recreation Area, but now it is just another national park, but it is much more of a picnic spot than most, and there is far more razzamatazz and civilisation than in an ordinary National Park. The usual rules about behaviour still apply. There are also more than a million visitors a year: we leave it to you to imagine what Sundays must be like!

You can drive there from the city by going along the Pacific Highway to Chatswood, turning into Fullers Road, following Route 29, and turning off to the right at Fuller's Bridge when you get to the very bottom of the hill. By public transport, catch a train to Chatswood station, and then catch a bus from there.

Access, times, entry costs

Opens: 0830 to sunset
Entry fees: I think there is one for vehicles. The season sticker that gets your car into National Parks will work here.
Closed: in times of high fire or flood danger

What to do there

Picnic, hire a boat or canoe. The Lane Cove River is dammed off with a weir, just above Fuller's Bridge, providing a safe area for boating. There is no fishing above the weir, although it is allowed below the weir, where the fishing is quite good.

Power boats are not permitted above the weir, making the area fairly safe for children. Swimming in the water is not a good idea, especially after heavy rain, when the water can become quite polluted.

What to watch out for

Traffic, crowds.

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Blue Mountains National Park

You can find information about this park at this link.

Getting there

Drive west along the Great Western Highway (Route 32), using the M4 Motorway. Past Penrith, you join the Great Western Highway as you reach the foothills of the Blue Mountains, and then you climb through the tilted rocks of the Lapstone monocline.

It takes about 90 minutes or two hours to drive from the city to Katoomba, if that is where you are headed - you can get there just as fast by train, with less stress and strain. There are also tourist trips by coach, most of the starting at Circular Quay.

From the centre of the city, given reasonable traffic conditions (i.e., not Friday evening peak hours) you should get there in a couple of hours. An alternative route is along Bell's line of road, named after Archibald Bell, who surveyed the route in the early days. You go out through Richmond and Kurrajong. Why not drive there one way, and come back by the other route?

Access, times, entry costs

Opens: sunrise to sunset, once you are off the road.
Entry fees: You can get into this park for free, except at Glenbrook, where the usual car fee applies. Get a yearly sticker!

What to do there

The park offers visitor centres at Glenbrook and Blackheath, both open daily, bush camping, rock climbing, fishing, swimming and all that. All you have to do is ask for the details. The passable routes found by the explorers are now occupied by cars on roads, so you can't walk those, but there are plenty of other walks that you can do. There is just one problem: DON'T DRINK THE WATER!

You will need to carry water with you, sufficient for your needs. Even boiled water is unsafe. You have been warned! This is a mountain area, and can be quite cold. Fogs can come up quite suddenly: you need map, compass, and lots of good sense. The outer areas are not really for an amateur to wander around in, alone and unattended. There are usually several firms offering guided tours in the area, both one-day and longer duration, but these come and go, so you will need to investigate this on your own. (One of the advantages of hostel accommodation is that you get to compare notes, but chatting with other people on tours can be almost as useful to you.)

The Three Sisters, Katoomba.If you do decide to go out there on your own, most of the books of walks around Sydney will have information about day walks in the Blue Mountains area. Of course, "walking on your own" should not mean solo walking: that's asking for trouble in unfamiliar country. When we say "on your own", we mean "without a guide". Stay on the made trails, OK? And wear sensible shoes, too!

What to watch out for

The Three Sisters, the grand cliffs and valleys, the wildflowers in spring, the autumn colours in April.

What else is around

You are in the vicinity of Mount Tomah Gardens, the Zigzag Railway

The Blue Mountains is a tourist area, and you will find more links there. In any case, you will have no trouble finding things to do, in or out of the park. It is, however, a bit beyond Sydney, so rather than giving you pointers to other entries, here are some brief details of other attractions.

You could do a lot worse than call in at the Royal Botanic Gardens' annexe at Mount Tomah, especially in spring for the flowers, summer for the cool, and autumn for the autumn leaves on the exotics planted in the gardens and in the surrounding district. It is on Bell's line of road, which would make a pleasant alternative route for your return. You get across from the highway by turning north at Mount Victoria.

There is also the historic site at Hartley (http://www.npws.nsw.gov.au/parks/metro/met12.htm), just off the Great Western Highway (highway 32) on the Jenolan Caves road, which is open every day. There used to be a museum in the old court house, and a visitors' centre, but these appeared to be closed during a visit in 2006.

Good walks in the area include the Scenic railway to Ruined Castle Walk, the Three Sisters Walk and the Scenic Railway to Furber's Steps. For other ideas, look at Walks and runs.

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Bouddi National Park

You can find information about this park at this link. The name rhymes with 'moody'.

Getting there
Bouddi National Park is about 70 km north of Sydney, still within commuting distance for the hardy, and it offers 1150 hectares of coastline, heath, and many animals. The park is on the ocean coast, just north of Broken Bay. Take the Pacific Highway north through Hornsby, and join the freeway to Gosford. You can either drive through Gosford and through Kincumber and along the Scenic Road, or you can pass through Woy Woy and over The Rip bridge.

If you are using public transport, catch a train from Central Railway to Gosford, and then catch a bus to Killcare. These run four times a day on weekdays, with no service on weekends, and it is some 30 km to Gosford, making taxis expensive: phone 02 4368 2277 for times and other details. (There are occasional buses to McMaster's Beach on the weekend, bringing you within 5 km.)

Access, times, entry costs

See the information on safe bush-walking before you set out. It can be cold wet and slippery on the tracks around the area. Take warm water-proof clothing in winter. In summer, take some water with you. Tell somebody where you are going, better still, take a companion, and take some spare food. There are charges for camping in the park, but day-walkers and car visitors get in for free. There are camping limits in all three beach locations, and scales of charges that depend on the place.

You have to book in advance from the National Parks and Wildlife Service: get the details off the Web. You can book up to three months in advance, all payments have to be in within ten days, and the Parks people need to hold ballots over the busiest periods. The conditions in the camping areas are comparatively primitive, but all explained in leaflets available from the park headquarters in Gosford. There is no water at Tallow Beach or Little Beach.

What to do there

A small group worked to save Bouddi in the 1930s, at a time when nobody much cared. At first, it was just called a State Park: it was too small to be a National Park (even though both sorts are administered by the State Government!), but it has since been raised in status. We should count ourselves lucky that it has been preserved from "development", but now Bouddi ought to be safe from the developers.

Bush walking, swimming, fishing, snorkelling (the park includes a marine extension), being generally lazy. Maitland Bay is named after an old wreck dating from 1898, the S.S. Maitland, bits of which can still be seen at low tide. The walk is pleasant, the surf has always seemed a bit risky, with several prominent rips, but it is well worth a visit.

The rock platform at the northern end of the beach is well worth exploring at low tide, but remember that it is still in the national park: the marine extension covers all of Maitland Bay. That means no souvenirs! Tallow Beach has a tremendous advantage for serious campers: it is one kilometre from the nearest road, and there is no tap or tank water, and it is the cheapest of the three venues.

What to watch out for

The walk to Maitland Bay

What else is around

You are in the vicinity of:
Maitland Bay and Gerrin Trail
Bouddi Range and Bombi Moor
Brisbane Water National Park (next entry)
Australian Reptile Park

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Brisbane Water National Park

You can find information about this park at this link.

Getting there

The park lies on the northern side of Broken Bay, and covers more than 12 000 hectares of sandstone, occasionally enriched by small lenses of shale. There are bush tracks to walk, leading you past mangroves at the tide's edge, lyre-birds in the cool valleys, scrub and forest, and magnificent views from the high points, more than 250 metres above sea level.

Drive north from Sydney through Hornsby, and on to the freeway north. As soon as you cross the Hawkesbury River at Broken Bay, you have the park on your right, and this continues almost until you reach the Old Sydney Town turn-off. To get into the park, you can turn into Girrakool, stop off at Mooney Creek, or drive to Pearl Beach or Patonga. You get to Girrakool by turning off the Australian Reptile Park turnoff, and then into Quarry Road.

You can also get to parts of the park by ferry to Patonga from Brooklyn railway station, or from Palm Beach in school holidays, or by train from Sydney to Wondabyne. There are also buses running from Woy Woy (get to Woy Woy by train) to Pearl Beach and Patonga.

Access, times, entry costs

Opens: sunrise to sunset
Entry fees: There are no charges for entering the park, although there is a fee payable at Girrakool which is part of the park: payment is into an honesty box.
Closed: after dark

What to do there

One of the best aboriginal engravings sites around Sydney is at Bulgandry, on the Bambarra Road, running from Kariong to Woy Woy. This site has been made accessible by the construction of special timber walk-ways that let you get close to the engravings without damaging them. There are leaflets explaining the site in a box near the entrance.

What to watch out for

The walks from Girrakool: watch out for lyre-birds in the early morning.

What else is around

You are in the vicinity of: Australian Reptile Park
Bouddi National Park (previous entry)

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Workspace

National Park

You can find information about this park at
this link.

This file is http://members.ozemail.com.au/~macinnis/syd/natparks.htm, first created on February 28, 2006. Last recorded revision (well I get lazy and forget sometimes!) was on October 9, 2006.


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