Aboriginal Heritage walk

Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park

Overview

Take the fascinating Aboriginal Heritage walk highlighting rock art and engravings of the Guringai people of West Head in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.

Where
Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
Distance
4.4km loop
Time suggested
2hrs 30min - 3hrs 30min
Grade
Grade 4
Trip Intention Form

It's a good idea to let someone know where you're going. Fill in a trip intention form to send important details about your trip to your emergency contact.

Price
Free
Entry fees
Park entry fees apply
What to
bring
Drinking water, hat, sunscreen
Please note
  • The Aboriginal rock art and engravings along this walk are of great cultural and historical significance and are very delicate. Please don’t touch or interfere with the artworks.
  • You can do an easy 1km return walk to Red Hands Cave and the rock engravings
  • Remember to take your binoculars if you want to birdwatch

For a great experience that highlights the best of the Aboriginal art in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, step out on Aboriginal Heritage walk. Combining Resolute and West Head walking tracks, you’ll encounter historic rock engravings and art of the Guringai people, the traditional owners of this land.

Within a 10-minute walk along the track, you’ll come across the best-known site in the park, Red Hands Cave. It’s not known how old some of this art is, but either way, you’re bound to be in awe of this ancient Aborginal art. Nearby, as you continue on the track, there are impressive rock engravings, and further down the hill you’ll discover an historic occupation shelter. During the colder months, families would light a fire inside, warming the stones and themselves.

The people of West Head were virtually decimated by an outbreak of smallpox within a year of the arrival of the First Fleet. Pause for a moment in this beautiful bushland, to reflect and pay your respects. Continue around the loop track to the impressive views from West Head lookout before heading back to Resolute picnic area for lunch.

Take a virtual tour of Aboriginal Heritage walk captured with Google Street View Trekker.

For directions, safety and practical information, see visitor info

Current alerts in this area

There are no current alerts in this area.

Local alerts

For the latest updates on fires, closures and other alerts in this area, see https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/walking-tracks/aboriginal-heritage-walk/local-alerts

Park info

  • in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park in the Sydney and surrounds region
  • Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park is open sunrise to sunset but may have to close at times due to poor weather or fire danger.

    • The entrance to Bobbin Head and Appletree Bay is closed from 8pm to 6am during daylight savings periods, and from 5.30pm to 6am the rest of the year.
    • Gates to West Head are closed from 8.30pm to 6am during daylight savings periods, and from 6pm to 6am the rest of the year.
  • Park entry fees:

    $12 per vehicle per day.

    Vehicles over 8 seats: $4.40 per adult, $2.20 per child (per day). Students on educational programs: $1.10 per student. Teachers/educational supervisors: free (1 adult per 10 students).

    Buy annual pass (//pass.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/).
See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about Aboriginal Heritage walk.

Track grading

Grade 4

Learn more about the grading system Features of this track
  • Time

    2hrs 30min - 3hrs 30min

  • Quality of markings

    Clearly sign posted

  • Gradient

    Very steep

  • Distance

    4.4km loop

  • Steps

    Many steps

  • Quality of path

    Rough track, many obstacles

  • Experience required

    Some bushwalking experience recommended

Getting there and parking

Aboriginal Heritage walk starts at Resolute picnic area in the West Head precinct of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. To get there, follow West Head Road to the end.

Parking

Parking is available at Resolute picnic area, as well as a bus-turnaround area, near the end of West Head Road.

Best times to visit

Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park offers an exceptional visit all year round. You're sure to find a walk, tour, activity or attraction to appeal, regardless of the season.

Spring

If you're interested in wildflower displays, set aside a day in August or September to stroll through the park's blooming heathlands.

Summer

Bring your fishing gear and go camping at The Basin.

Winter

Barrenjoey Head (on the other side of Pittwater, but still in the park) is an excellent spot for whale watching. Take the Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk between May and August or celebrate International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend in August.

Weather, temperature and rainfall

Summer temperature

Average

17°C and 31°C

Highest recorded

43.1°C (1994)

Winter temperature

Average

5°C and 20°C

Lowest recorded

-3.5°C (1986

Rainfall

Wettest month

February and March

The area’s highest recorded rainfall in one day

253mm

Facilities

Toilets and picnic facilities are located at Resolute picnic area.

Maps and downloads

Safety messages

Beach safety

Beaches in this park are not patrolled, and can sometimes have strong rips and currents. These beach safety tips will help you and your family stay safe in the water.

Bushwalking safety

If you're keen to head out on a longer walk or a backpack camp, always be prepared. Read these bushwalking safety tips before you set off on a walking adventure in national parks.

Mobile safety

Dial Triple Zero (000) in an emergency. Download the Emergency + app before you visit, it helps emergency services locate you using your smartphone's GPS. Please note there is limited mobile phone reception in this park and you’ll need mobile reception to call Triple Zero (000).

Permitted

Fishing

A current NSW recreational fishing licence is required when fishing in all waters.

Please note that spear guns and hand spears are not permitted in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. They may not be carried through the park and must not be used within 100m of a beach in the national park.

Prohibited

Gathering firewood

Gathering firewood and the use of heat beads is not permitted.

Pets

Pets and domestic animals (other than certified assistance animals) are not permitted. Find out which regional parks allow dog walking and see the pets in parks policy for more information.

Smoking

NSW national parks are no smoking areas.

Visitor centre

Nearby towns

Gosford (17 km)

Gosford is a great destination for a family day trip or holiday. It's situated on Brisbane Water National Park and surrounded by state forests, lakes and beaches.

www.visitnsw.com

Palm Beach (3 km)

If you enjoy surfing or coastal walks, head to Palm Beach on Sydney's northern beaches for great surf and easy walks along the beach or to Barrenjoey Lighthouse. Palm Beach wharf makes the perfect fishing spot for the kids and you can all unwind at a waterside cafe.

www.sydney.com

Sydney City Centre (30 km)

No trip to Sydney is complete without spending some time in the city’s beautiful parks. Whether it’s in central areas like Hyde Park or the Royal Botanic Gardens or further out in Centennial Parklands, there’s plenty of green space to go out and enjoy.

www.sydney.com

Learn more

Aboriginal Heritage walk is in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:

A great location to run, row or ride

West Head lookout, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. Photo: David Finnegan

Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park is situated within the Sydney Metropolitan Area, 20km north of the Sydney CBD. The park runs from St Ives to the shores of the Hawkesbury River at Brooklyn. The 14,882ha park also includes the stunning Barrenjoey Head, 1km across Pittwater at Palm Beach. Multiple entry points offer easy access – one of the many reasons this park is so popular with locals. With everything from jogging tracks to picnic areas and great places to whalewatch, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park is excellent for outdoor activity. Hire paddle boats from Bobbin Inn, walk the Gibberagong track, horse ride the Perimeter trail or cycle from Mt Colah to Pymble station.

  • Akuna Bay Boating enthusiasts love Akuna Bay. Use the public barbecue and enjoy a picnic at Akuna Bay Marina. It's the ideal spot to recharge after you've been out sailing.
  • Bobbin Head Visit Bobbin Head picnic area in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and enjoy a barbecue or a spot of fishing. Go canoeing or hire a paddle boat for a great daytrip from Sydney.

A rich Aboriginal heritage

Aboriginal engravings in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. Photo: David Finnegan

The Guringai Aboriginal people originally inhabited the area, and the park showcases their rich cultural heritage. More than 350 Aboriginal sites have been recorded in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. They include rock engravings, burial sites, axe grinding grooves and places that show evidence of Aboriginal occupation. For many visitors, these sites and other relics are the most visible reminders of the area's rich, living Aboriginal culture.

  • Aboriginal Heritage walk Take the fascinating Aboriginal Heritage walk highlighting rock art and engravings of the Guringai people of West Head in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.
  • The Basin track and Mackerel track The Basin track and Mackerel track offer stunning ocean views, as well as one of Sydney's best Aboriginal Art sites. You can also enjoy a picnic and swim, or catch a ferry to other scenic spots on Pittwater.

Brilliant for birdwatchers

Wildflowers in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. Photo: David Finnegan

Over 160 bird species have been recorded in the park so bring those binoculars to see wood ducks, crimson rosellas, wedge-tailed eagles and pelicans. The Basin campground is home to some confident kookaburras, so keep a tight hold on your lunch.

  • Waratah walking track The long, yet gentle, Waratah walking track takes in wildflowers and scenic water views over Akuna and Yeomens Bay in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.

Wonderful waterways

Views from Barrenjoey headland, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. Photo: David Finnegan

Protecting a major part of northern Sydney’s waterways, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park is the ideal place to make a splash. The park includes much of the Hawkesbury River, Pittwater and Cowan Water, plus numerous creeks and coves. You’ll find good facilities at Empire Marina, amazing sea views at Barrenjoey Head and several good spots for a waterfront picnic.

  • Coastal walk stage 3: Mona Vale to Barrenjoey With the end in sight, we'll make the final 12km trek from Mona Vale to Barrenjoey Lighthouse in Ku-ring-gai Chase. This series of 3 walks starts in Manly and finishes at Palm Beach.
  • The Basin track and Mackerel track The Basin track and Mackerel track offer stunning ocean views, as well as one of Sydney's best Aboriginal Art sites. You can also enjoy a picnic and swim, or catch a ferry to other scenic spots on Pittwater.
  • West Head lookout Enjoy incredible views from West Head lookout, regarded as one of Sydney's best in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. Photograph Pittwater and Barrenjoey Head, or take a short walk from here.

Plants and animals you may see

Animals

  • Long-nosed bandicoot, Sydney Harbour National Park. Photo: Narelle King

    Long-nosed bandicoot (Perameles nasuta)

    A nocturnal marsupial and one of the smaller Australian native animals, the long-nosed bandicoot is found across eastern Australia. Populations in the Sydney region have dwindled since European settlement, leaving only endangered colonies in inner western Sydney and at North Head, near Manly. The long-nosed bandicoot has grey-brown fur and a pointed snout which it uses to forage for worms and insects.

  • White-bellied sea eagle. Photo: John Turbill

    White-bellied sea eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster)

    White-bellied sea eagles can be easily identified by their white tail and dark grey wings. These raptors are often spotted cruising the coastal breezes throughout Australia, and make for some scenic bird watching. Powerful Australian birds of prey, they are known to mate for life, and return each year to the same nest to breed.

Plants

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  •  Grey mangrove, Towra Point Nature Reserve. Photo: John Spencer

    Grey mangrove (Avicennia marina)

    Grey mangrove is the most common and widespread mangrove found within intertidal zones across Australia, and throughout the world. Growing to a height of 3-10m, they thrive best in estuaries with a mix of fresh and salt water. They excrete excess salt through their long thick leaves, and absorb oxygen through their aerial root system.

Environments in this park

Education resources (1)

Aboriginal heritage walk, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. Photo: Andrew Richards/OEH