Child-friendly bushwalks in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park

The Gibberagong walking track is great for little kids
The Gibberagong walking track is great for little kids

When it comes to nature ‘outings’ there is no lack of choice in the North Shore region. During the school holidays, we spent many hot Summer days exploring the fabulous North Shore beaches and although we always enjoy catching a few waves and playing in the sand, the delights of the NSW National Parks offer a welcome change and spark a wonderful sense of adventure in our souls. This Summer we explored Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and here are some of our favourite things to do!

America Bay Track

The America Bay track is ‘the bushwalk’ my children (8 & 9 years old) keep wanting to go back to. The walk is both scenic and easy. Only 1 km long but with enough freshwater holes to keep us entertained for hours.

The track is located along West Head road, which starts off McCarrs Creek Road, Terry Hills (NSW park entry fees apply). Ask for a map as you enter the National Park and follow the road to West Head until you come across a sign ‘America Bay’ on your left. Park along the road, at the start of the track.

The walk begins by meandering through brushy woodland, here a small detour leads you to some carvings made by the Guringai People. As the walk descends, the landscape changes into a greener and lush forest. The track follows a creek and thanks to regular rainfall the waterholes have turned into refreshing pools so be prepared to get wet. We spotted many tadpoles in the water holes. Along the track are a few small waterfalls which make for excellent photo opportunities.

The track ends with a stunning view over Cowan Waters. Be warned as there is a steep drop here so keep children away from the edge. This is a beautiful spot for a picnic before making your way back. The track used to go down to the bay, but is now closed and deemed unsafe (and illegal).

Taking a refreshing dip at a waterhole along the America Bay track

Resolute Loop Track 3.5km with optional extension to Mackerel Beach

A bit further down from America Bay track, along West Head road is a trail to Resolute Beach. This is a slightly longer and more challenging walk but still easy enough to take children along. Some parts of the path are very rocky and extra care needs to be taken. For putting in the physical effort, the walker gets rewarded with stunning views through the dense rainforest of the turquoise sparkling clear water of Resolute Beach.

Resolute beach is protected and the water is usually calm, after a refreshing swim and picnic we continued the walk to Mackerel beach. This was my children’s favourite part of the whole walk; the track is more challenging as is winds around the headland. It involves some climbing over rocks but for my children this was the fun part. It takes about 20 mins to reach stunning Mackerel Beach.

View of Mackerel Beach

The Basin

Always a winner with our family. We usually drive to Palm Beach and catch the ferry to the Basin but we have done the walk when the children were younger. The trail to the Basin from West Head road is 2.75km long. Although a beautiful walk, the ferry ride wins it in popularity!

The ferry takes about 20 mins from Palm Beach to the Basin, a return ticket for adults is $16.40 and children $8.20. A ’landing’ fee to the National Park also needs to be paid upon arrival at the Basin wharf, this is $2 per child and $3 per adult. Ferry timetable & fares.

Bring a picnic, some diving masks and snorkels plus an inflatable and the children are entertained for the afternoon! They love the shallow water and there are plenty of fish to spot. You can also camp at the Basin but booking in advance is recommended, there are public toilets, showers and BBQs available.

The ferry from Palm Beach to The Basin

Shallow water for swimming at The Basin

Bobbin Head

Bobbin Head is in another section of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park that is well worth exploring. It is located at the end of Bobbin Head Road, North Turramurra, or you can access it from Mt Colah entrance. Again, NSW National Park fees apply.

Bobbin Head has 2 cafés’, a visitor centre and an excellent playground for younger children, which can be a bit of a sun trap on hotter days!

Gibberagong walking track’ leads to an easily accessed boardwalk with a bridge over the creek. Mangroves grow here, and many crabs can be spotted at low tide. We like to come here and bring our kayaks but paddle boats can be hired to explore beautiful Cockle Creek.

Once you’ve finished exploring the area the café near the water sells little bags of food to feed the hundreds of fish. This will entertain the children for a further 10 mins, I usually make it a rule that if they return the emptied plastic fish food bag to me they will be rewarded with an ice cream!

Finally, I would like to recommend a bushwalk for active mums ‘to do’ when the children are back at school. Park the car near Sphinx Memorial at the entrance of the park near North Turramurra. From here starts the ‘Sphinx Memorial to Bobbin Head loop track’. This is a moderately challenging walk covering 10km, which takes about 4 hours to complete. When doing this walk I look forward to a coffee or brunch at the bottom of the trail!

More Parks & Playgrounds around the North Shore:


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