Topham walking track

Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park

Overview

Topham walking track offers scenic views, picnicking, wildflowers and wildlife near Cowan Water in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, north of Sydney. Moderate difficulty, it’s perfect for families.

Where
Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
Distance
3.7km return
Time suggested
1 - 2hrs
Grade
Grade 4
Trip Intention Form

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Price
Free
Entry fees
Park entry fees apply
What to
bring
Drinking water, sunscreen, hat
Please note

Toilets and picnic facilities are located at Resolute picnic area in West Head

Topham walking track winds its way through open woodland to the escarpment overlooking Cowan Water, in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, north of Sydney. An excellent nature day trip for family and friends, you can be amongst the trees and listening for whipbirds within an hour of the city.

Passing heathlands of banksia and bottlebrush, look for colourful wildflower displays during the warmer months. You’ll catch the scent of the highly fragrant red and white boronia flowers along this walk. Keep an eye out for delicate flannel flower and iconic waratahs amongst the bush.

As the track leads to the escarpment, take in the lovely water views over Refuge Bay. Here, amongst the scribbly gums, you might hear the rustling of an echidna or perhaps the call of the golden whistler. Unpack a bush picnic and make the most of the tranquil setting before retracing your steps.

Take a virtual tour of Topham walking track 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/topham-walking-track/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 Topham walking track.

Track grading

Grade 4

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

    1 - 2hrs

  • Quality of markings

    Limited signage

  • Gradient

    Gentle hills

  • Distance

    3.7km return

  • Steps

    Occasional steps

  • Quality of path

    Formed track

  • Experience required

    No experience required

Getting there and parking

Get driving directions

Get directions

    Topham walking track is in the West Head and Basins precincts of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. To get there, follow West Head Road off McCarrs Creek Road. Look for the track head sign on your left.

    Park entry points

    Road quality

    • Sealed roads

    Vehicle access

    • 2WD vehicles

    Parking

    Parking is available near Topham walking track.

    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.

    Winter

    After walking Topham track you might like to drive a little further down to West Head and take in the magnificent views across Pittwater and over to Barrenjoey Lighthouse.

    Maps and downloads

    Safety messages

    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.

    Cycling safety

    Hundreds of cyclists head to our national parks for fun and adventure. If you're riding your bike through a national park, read these cycling safety tips.

    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

    Cycling is permitted on Topham walking track. The rough terrain means it's best suited to mountain bikes.

    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 (8 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 (6 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 (20 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

    Topham walking track 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)

    People enjoying the view out to sea from West Head lookout. Photo:David Finnegan