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Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park

Ku-ring-gai Chase is the best known of New South Wales’ national parks and, with the Pacific Highway running all the way up one side, is also the easiest to get to. The bushland scenery is crisscrossed by walking tracks, which you can explore to seek out Aboriginal rock carvings, or just to get away from it all and see the forest and its wildlife.

The park’s most popular picnic spot is at Bobbin Head, 6km east of the Sydney–Newcastle Freeway, essentially just a colourful marina with a café, picnic area and NPWS Bobbin Head Information Centre, located inside the Art Deco Bobbin Inn, which is neither a pub nor a hotel. From here, the Mangrove Boardwalk (10min return) pleasantly traces the water’s edge past thousands of bright red crabs and continues as the Gibberagong Track (additional 20min return) through a small sandstone canyon to some Aboriginal rock art featuring figures and axe-grinding grooves.

To the northeast, West Head Road leads to West Head, which juts into Broken Bay marking the entrance to Pittwater, a deep, 10km-long sheltered waterway. There are superb views from here across to Barrenjoey Head and Barrenjoey Lighthouse at Palm Beach on the eastern shore of Pittwater. From West Head, the Garigal Aboriginal Heritage Walk (3.5km loop; 2–3hr) leads past the Aboriginal rock-engraving site, the most accessible Aboriginal art in the park.