Bush walks, picnics & native animals at Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden, St Ives


If you haven’t been to Ku-Ring-Gai Wildflower Garden yet, be sure to pop it on your ‘to do’ list! This place is amazing if you love a good bush walk or just want to get amongst the greenery and let your little ones explore. And the best thing is, it’s free! Kirsten Kane goes exploring.

For our family, it was our second time exploring these beautiful gardens and even the second time around, there was still so much to do! 123 hectares of it! This stunning urban bushland caters for all ages, with many walks to choose from. Depending on how you and your little ones are feeling, you can do a couple of short walks or a long one.

Or, if you don’t feel like walking, you can just hang out at one of the clearings and have a picnic. Lambert’s Clearing is a great one… there’s even a playground where you might spot some swamp wallabies. We saw two! Plus, there’s plenty of space to kick a ball around too. Here are a few highlights:

Caley’s Pavilion

We parked down the hill and found ourselves outside Caley’s Pavilion which is where they hold the Sunday Sound Garden concert on the first Sunday of every month. It’s a beautiful lush area fully enclosed with picnic tables. A great place to have a snack before or after your walk.

Caley’s Pavilion

Banks Track (300m, 10 minutes)

This little walk would suit all ages. It’s a lovely stroll along a boardwalk and sandstone track and takes you to the Fern House and Lambert’s Clearing.

Banks Track

Lambert’s Clearing

This place is awesome. If you just make it to here, you’ll still have a great time. There’s a great playground, a covered picnic area, swamp wallabies, more toilets and a nice big field to kick a ball or run around. The Knoll Native Gardens and Fern House are also located here where you can see many native Australian plants. Both are worth a look at and suitable for all ages. You can access many walks from here too. The closest car park is the lower one and then a short walk on the sealed Solander Trail.

Great playground at Lambert’s Clearing

There’s plenty to do here

Fern House

The Knoll Native Gardens

Solander Trail (2km, 45 minutes)

A wide sealed track perfect for strollers, scooters and bikes. Keep in mind that there are some steep parts. This is a nice way to see some of the urban bushlands but if your child wants some rocks to climb over and tree roots to watch out for (like my 8-year-old), then you might want to venture off onto one of the other walks.

The Solander Track is ideal for prams

Rest stop with a view

Senses Track (500m, 15 minutes, across from Visitors Centre)

Lovely sealed walk, suitable for all ages with information boards along the track to keep the kids interested. There’s a stunning lookout as well. Okay for strollers but not so much for bikes and scooters as it’s narrow. Not too far into the walk, you’ll find another picnic spot – Dampier’s Clearing. This has a large covered picnic area, electric barbeque and stunning views. Keep in mind that this is also where the booked birthday parties are held.

The Look Out on the Senses Track

Dampier’s Clearing – another picnic spot

Smith Track (400m, 15 minutes)

Well worth a walk for older kids. Would recommend for 6 years and older as there’s some steep rocky paths.

Smith Track – more stunning views

We loved it!

There are other walks too… we’ll be back to do those!

In a nutshell

We had a fantastic time (parents and kids!) and will definitely be back. My 8 and 10-year old liked the Smith track and the playground at Lambert’s Clearing the best. It’s a perfect place for a Sunday afternoon or a catch up with friends.

Essential Details:

  • Address: 420 Mona Vale Road, St Ives
  • Visitors Centre: Grab a map or ask a friendly ranger for any advice. Big park maps are located in many places around the gardens so you’ll never feel lost. Check out the website if you want to plan beforehand. There’s also ice blocks and cold drinks available. A good bribe for the end of the day!

Ice block time!

  • Parking: There is plenty of free parking. As you enter, turn right to go down the hill. If you turn left that will take you to the Visitors Centre where there is a handful of car parks in the front and on the left side.
  • Public Transport: If you wish to come by public transport, you can catch the 197 Forest bus from the Gordon station.
  • Facilities: There’s so many areas to stop and have a snack and plenty of toilets located throughout the gardens.
  • What to bring: Water bottles, hats and snacks and you’ll need to grab a coffee before you get here. St Ives Shopping Village isn’t too far away. If the adults in your family are keen walkers and your kids are not, see if you have any pedometers lying around the house. Kids love a challenge.
  • Opening hours: 
    • Wildflower Garden 8am – 5pm daily (except New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day).
    • Visitor Centre 10am – 4pm daily (closed between Christmas and New Year)

For more ideas of things to do on and around the North Shore, browse our Out & About section.


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