Dan reckons Birnie Lookout is the best viewpoint in Ku Ring Gai National Park. Now you can find it for yourself (along with a pretty sweet Picnic Cave).
- Spectacular views of Pittwater
- Epic cave picnic area
- Picturesque bays
- Adventurous hiking
Birnie Lookout has absolutely breathtaking views of Pittwater – there’s even photographic evidence that it’s been enjoyed for well over 110 years. However, there’s no clearly marked trail leading to this incredible lookout. So if you’re lucky enough to find it, you’ll probably have this stellar viewpoint to yourself.
Towlers Bay Trail
To find Birnie Lookout, you’ll need to start with Towlers Bay Trail (also known as Bairne Walking Track). It’s located in the West Head area of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, of which, the Guringai people are the Traditional Owners. On its own, Towlers Bay Trail is a straight forward management trail. However, to find Birnie Lookout, you’ll need to follow a faint trail to the right, after roughly 1.4km on the Towlers Bay Trail.
Cave Picnic Area
The side-trail leading to Birnie Lookout is quite overgrown so expect a few twigs and branches to the face. It’s not quite a bush bash, but it’s a bit rough. Luckily, the side-trail only lasts about 500 metres before you reach a junction. One of your options is another faint trail to your right. Follow this trail and in a matter of moments, you’ll stumble upon a unique cave! Inside is a picnic bench and a small natural sunroof.
If there’s a better-placed picnic table in NSW, we’d like to hear about it! Just around the corner from this cave, is the majestic lookout you’ve been waiting for.
Leave no trace: Ku Ring Gai Chase is a busy national park, so it’s super important that you stay on the track and take your rubbish with you when hiking.
Continue on the same trail that led you to the cave. It’ll steer you out of the dense bushland trail to an exposed rocky outcrop. To your left is the magnificent Birnie Lookout! Absolutely phenomenal views of Pitwatter and all of its picturesque bays await you. On the rocky outcrop, you’ll even find an old wooden bench – it’s literally the best seat in the house.
Whilst you’re there, see if you can count all of the yachts. We were stunned by how many fill out the bays of Pittwater.
The Return Hike
So, to get back you have two options. For one, you can simply retrace your steps back to the trailhead. After all, you’ve triumphantly discovered and explored the mighty Birnie Lookout! The other option is to complete a loop. This way, you’ll get to visit the gorgeous Morning Bay, enjoy more great views of Pittwater and hike an even longer route! Surely the second option, right?
Towlers Bay Circuit
To complete the loop, retrace your steps to that junction I mentioned earlier. You’ll turn right and follow a steeply declining zig-zagged track. As you near the bottom, the landscape transforms from bushland to forest. Once you’ve arrived at Morning Bay, turn left at the junction. Almost immediately, you’ll feel as though you’re wandering through someone’s backyard. Well, that’s because you sort of are! Don’t worry, the locals are friendly.
Once you pass the Lovett Bay Boatshed and Wharf, you’ll need to head left up a trail, to rejoin the Towlers Bay Trail. It can get a bit confusing, so just ask one of the locals if you’re unsure. Once you’re back on track, enjoy the other beautiful views of Pittwater before smashing out the rest of the hike.
- Hiking boots
- Insect repellant
How To Get There
Simply park at the trailhead of Towlers Bay Trail on West Head Road, Ku-ring-Chase National Park. There are enough spots there for about ten cars, so don’t rock up too late on the weekend or you’ll miss out.
It’s $12 per vehicle per day to enter the national park.
Most of the hike is straightforward but reaching Birnie Lookout can be tricky.
Distance Covered / Elevation Gain / Duration
7km / 220m / 2 hours