National Heritage Places - Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, Lion Island, Long Island and Spectacle Island Nature Reserves
New South Wales
A centre for biodiversity within the Sydney metropolitan area, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and adjacent island nature reserves are home to many plants and animals and provide a bush retreat for many Australians. The national park encompasses diverse vegetation, sandstone escarpments and picturesque waterways. The park has been a conservation area since 1894.
Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, Lion Island, Long Island and Spectacle Island Nature Reserves were included in the National Heritage List on 15 December 2006.
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Covering an area of approximately 15,000 hectares, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park welcomes over two million visitors a year. The park includes Barrenjoey Head and West Head. Nearby in the lower reaches of the Hawkesbury River are the Lion Island, Long Island and Spectacle Island Nature Reserves, which contribute to the national heritage significance of the area through their outstanding biodiversity.
Diverse flora and fauna
A diverse range of vegetation, from open forest and woodland to swamps and warm temperate rainforest, provides homes for a variety of plants and animals, including over 1000 native plant species, 100 moths and butterflies and native animals such as the spotted-tailed quoll, the southern brown bandicoot, the koala and the eastern bent-wing bat.
Lion Island, adjoining the national park, supports a large breeding colony of little penguins. Almost all breeding little penguins in the Sydney region are found on Lion Island, and research has shown this colony to be more successful and stable than populations at other locations.
Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park gives Australians a strong sense of our cultural history, with sites that display rich evidence of Indigenous occupation over at least the last 7400 years.
Ku-ring-gai fell within the boundaries of two local clans - the Garrigal people who occupied the area around Broken Bay, and the Terramerragal people who occupied an area around the Turramurra area.
Traditional rock engravings and paintings dating back 600 years, grinding grooves, stone arrangements and over 800 documented burial and occupational sites within the park provide a significant cultural and spiritual connection to our Indigenous heritage.
In the early 19th century, European settlers used the Ku-ring-gai area for timber extraction and boat building. They also collected materials for producing important resources such as soda ash, salt and shell lime.
Australian history in the making
The section of Pittwater within Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park was closely associated with the writing of the Australian constitution. In March 1891 the Drafting Committee of the first Constitutional Convention, which included significant figures such as Samuel Griffith, Edmund Barton, Charles Kingston and John Downer, revised the draft constitution aboard the paddle steamer Lucinda, which lay at anchor in the basin. Although this 1891 draft was not implemented, it later served as the starting point for the Constitutional Convention of 1897-98.
Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park covers the area where the Hawkesbury River meets the sea. It includes winding creeks, sheltered beaches, hidden coves and wide expanses of deep blue water. Stunning landscapes including drowned river valley estuaries, steep sandstone cliffs and plateaus dominate the geology of the area. These landforms date back to the early Jurassic and late Triassic periods, making them approximately 190 to 225 million years old. Long, Lion and Spectacle islands are remnant peaks of the rugged landscape that existed before water levels rose. The islands display outcrops of the oldest rocks in the region - Narrabeen sandstone and shale.
Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park is the earliest reserve established primarily for nature conservation. In the 1880s Eccleston Du Faur lobbied the New South Wales Government successfully to protect the area's native flowers from the threat of expanding settlement.
Proximity to the city
Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park attracts over two million visitors each year. The park's steep sided river valleys create a spectacular and rugged landscape combined with rich flora and fauna. Its close proximity to the Sydney Central Business District ensures that Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park continues to be a popular destination for visitors wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and indulge in the natural beauty of Australia.
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