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Lake Eckersley campground

Heathcote National Park

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Learn more about why this park is special

Lake Eckersley campground is in Heathcote National Park. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:

A long and varied history

Kingfisher pool, Heathcote National Park. Photo: Nick Cubbin

The area was for years home to local Aboriginal people, and you can still see several Aboriginal rock engraving sites. In 1937, a bushwalking group leased a section of what is now national parkland to protect this important area of bush. This section and its surrounds became known as the Heathcote Primitive Area (1943). This was expanded again and renamed Heathcote State Park (1967). In 1974, the area became Heathcote National Park.

The beauty of the bush

Wildflowers in Heathcote National Park. Photo: John Spencer

Heathcote National Park is a rugged landscape, flourishing with a variety of plants and animals. Eucalypts such as bloodwood, grey gum, Sydney peppermint, and scribbly gum dominate open forest areas alongside pockets of bright flowers like banksias, hakeas, and waxflowers, which are best enjoyed along a relaxing bushwalk. With so much plant life to admire, it’s no wonder wildlife like sugar gliders, ringtail possums and swamp wallabies also call Heathcote home. A soundtrack of chatty friar birds, honeyeaters and lyrebirds can also be heard across the park gorges during winter.

  • Bullawarring walking track For great Sydney bushwalking, visit Heathcote National Park, near Waterfall in the Sutherland shire; combine your hike with birdwatching and freshwater swimming.

The great outdoors

Mirang Pool campground, Heathcote National Park. Photo: Nick Cubbin

Slow down and forget your cares with a freshwater swim. Try Kingfisher Pool, Mirang Pool or Lake Eckersley. Or check out the pretty rockpools and waterfalls where Heathcote Creek meets the Woronora River. Cycle along Pipeline Road to the Sarahs Knob picnic area, where you can also complete a great hill run. The 2250ha park is less than an hour from central Sydney by car or train. The park adjoins Royal National Park, just west of the Princes Highway and South Coast train line. However, once you're inside you'll forget about transportation - the park is beautiful, quiet and secluded, plus, it's a vehicle-free zone. If you love to bushwalk, then Heathcote is your kind of park. A multitude of walking tracks criss-cross the park, including the Heathcote to Waterfall track linking Heathcote and Waterfall train stations.

  • Kingfisher Pool picnic area A visit to this Sutherland picnic spot, located at Kingfisher Pool campground in Heathcote National Park, near Waterfall, offers birdwatching, bushwalking and swimming.
  • Mooray walking track Enjoy a day of Sydney bushwalking and birdwatching. One of the best walks in Heathcote National Park, Mooray walking track is easily accessed from Waterfall train station.

Plants and animals you may see

Animals

  •  Blue Tongue lizard. Photo: Rosie Nicolai

    Eastern blue-tongue lizard (Tiliqua scinciodes)

    The eastern blue-tongue lizard, one of the largest skinks in Australia, is found throughout most of NSW. When threatened, the eastern blue-tongue lizard displays its blue tongue in a wide-mouthed intimidating show. Not an agile animal, they feed on slow-moving beetles and snails.

  • Yellow-tailed black cockatoo. Photo: Peter Sherratt

    Yellow-tailed black cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus funereus)

    The yellow-tailed black cockatoo is one of the largest species of parrot. With dusty-black plumage, they have a yellow tail and cheek patch. They’re easily spotted while bird watching, as they feed on seeds in native forests and pine plantations.

Plants

  • Grass trees, Sugarloaf State Conservation Area. Photo: Michael Van Ewijk

    Grass tree (Xanthorrea spp.)

    An iconic part of the Australian landscape, the grass tree is widespread across eastern NSW. These Australian native plants have a thick fire-blackened trunk and long spiked leaves. They are found in heath and open forests across eastern NSW. The grass tree grows 1-5m in height and produces striking white-flowered spikes which grow up to 1m long.

  • Old man banksia, Moreton National Park. Photo: John Yurasek

    Old man banksia (Banksia serrata)

    Hardy Australian native plants, old man banksias can be found along the coast, and in the dry sclerophyll forests and sandstone mountain ranges of NSW. With roughened bark and gnarled limbs, they produce a distinctive cylindrical yellow-green banksia flower which blossoms from summer to early autumn.

  • A red triangle slug on the trunk of a scribbly gum tree in Blue Mountains National Park. Photo: Elinor Sheargold/OEH

    Scribbly gum (Eucalyptus haemastoma)

    Easily identifiable Australian native plants, scribbly gum trees are found throughout NSW coastal plains and hills in the Sydney region. The most distinctive features of this eucalypt are the ‘scribbles’ made by moth larva as it tunnels between the layers of bark.

Look out for...

Yellow-tailed black cockatoo

Calyptorhynchus funereus

Yellow-tailed black cockatoo. Photo: Peter Sherratt

The yellow-tailed black cockatoo is one of the largest species of parrot. With dusty-black plumage, they have a yellow tail and cheek patch. They’re easily spotted while bird watching, as they feed on seeds in native forests and pine plantations.

Environments in this park

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Lake Eckersley campground, Heathcote National Park. Photo: Nick Cubbin