Explore Nature in Sydney
The Lane Cove National Park is a protected wilderness reserve that spans some 372 hectares around 10 kilometres north of the Central Business District (CBD) in Sydney’s metropolitan area. Made up of native bushland with some cleared picnic and barbecue areas, Lane Cove National Park’s landscape is distinguished by the Lane Cove River which runs along the valley floor.
Nestled among busy Sydney suburbs, the park extends from East Ryde to Pennant Hills and West Chatswood. The park is a popular recreation area for Sydneysiders, including picnic goers, school sports groups and people exercising – whether it be biking, running, hiking or kayaking on the river.
The park is home to some 7000 species of native flora and is a sanctuary for urban native wildlife as well as birds which flourish in this natural sanctuary. More than 250 wildflowers also bloom at different times of the year, a delight for visitors to spot in the bush.
Lane Cove National Park is rich in historic sites and has a rich living Aboriginal history, which can be understood first-hand along the self-guided Heritage Walk – brochures are available from the Lane Cove park office.
For long-distance hikers a Grade 3 20- kilometre section of the Great North Walk is achievable as a day walk; it starts in the park and makes its way to Thornleigh in Sydney’s north, where a train return is an option! The full multi-day 250-kilometre journey takes around 18 days as it makes its way from Sydney to Newcastle. A shorter, popular walk is the Riverside walking track which loops around both sides of the river in around three-to-four hours.
Plants and animals in Lane Cove National Park
Lane Cove National Park attracts many human visitors, given its proximity to the northern suburbs of Sydney and the city itself. The park is home to a wide variety of plants and animals that thrive in the park’s vast protected area.
Walking, cycling or paddling around the park offers lots of opportunities to encounter the park’s incredible wildlife – it’s just a matter of settling into a relaxed pace and taking time to notice the natural world. Eucalypt forests, casuarina woodland and saltwater wetlands are common throughout the park and in turn are home to a range of different plants, animals and birds.
Short-beaked echidnas with their spiny coats are said to be shy and are typically nocturnal, but they do occasionally venture out during the day when the weather is mild. Wildlife spotters must be quick and quiet to catch a glimpse, as the slightest noise will trigger a protection response in these endearing creatures: they quickly curl up into a very spiky ball as camouflage.
The swamp wallaby is a common sighting around the park, especially on the floor of rainforests and woodlands.
The Australian brush turkey is often spotted around the park. With a striking red head, blue-black plumage and booming call, these turkeys are famous for their dedicated nest building.
Eastern water dragons are one of the oldest Australian retiles can sometimes be spotted along the river, they’re spotted by distinctive black stripes and crest of large spiny scales along its back.
Another reptile, the giant Lace Monitor or goanna can grow to two metres in length and lives in trees. It’s distinguished by its dark blue colour, white spots and large clawed feet.
Kookaburras and the superb fairy wren are sociable and may be spotted around the park.
Depending on the season, visitors to the Lane Cove National Park may encounter the felt-like flannel flower and the wonga wonga vine with its pretty yellow or white flowers.
A range of native Australian trees makes up the bush landscape, with the Smooth-barked apple gum and scribbly gum – identifiable by the scribbles on its trunk made by tunnelling moth larva – are common to the Lane Cove area.
Made famous in the ‘Snuggle Pot and Cuddle Pie’ children’s books by Australian author May Gibbs, the gnarly slow growing banksia tree is found in dry schelrophyll forests and produces a distinctive yellow-green banksia flower from summer to early autumn. Its dried seedpod is known as ‘the big bad Banksia man’ character in the storybook classic.
Connection to Country
Lane Cove National Park is part of the traditional land of the Guringai People whose Country extends from around Newcastle to Sydney Harbour. The Guringai people lived primarily by the water, fishing and hunting in the waters and surrounding bushland. Today. the park protects several ancient Aboriginal sites, some of which are evident when exploring the various hikes and picnic areas around the park.
From time to time, the National Park will issue alerts and warnings and it’s important for travellers planning to visit the park to take note and plan accordingly, or potentially make alternative plans. Alerts appear on the National Parks Lane Cove homepage here: https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/lane-cove-national-park with an ‘Alerts’ menu in the web page header which lists alerts across all National Parks: https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/alerts/alerts-list. Alerts may include bushfire warnings, information of fire restrictions which may impact on lighting fires or using barbecues, and general fire bans. Park closures, closed areas and safety alerts will also appear here.