The walk around Box Head is one of the best hikes along the Central Coast of NSW. It offers stunning panoramic views and also encompasses the secluded beaches of Tallow Beach and Lobster Beach. Visiting Box Head is a great way to escape from the city and makes for the perfect day trip from Sydney if you enjoy hiking without the crowds often found along Sydney’s coastal walks. Getting to Box Head and following the walking track is very easy – here’s all you need to know!
Box Head is the name of the headland located on the southern tip of the Central Coast in NSW. It is situated south of Wagstaffe and Killcare and forms part of the Bouddi National Park. Box Head marks the northern entrance of Broken Bay and the peninsula can be reached either by car or ferry. This article will mostly discuss the Box Head walk from Wagstaffe ferry wharf and back, but will also provide information on the Box Head walk if coming by car.
Important information about the Box Head walk:
- It will take you about 3 hours to do the roundtrip Box Head walk from Wagstaffe Wharf and back, stopping off at Lobster Beach, Box Head Lookout and Tallow Beach. Allow longer if you want to relax and have a swim in the sea.
- The walk is roughly 8.5km long.
- The Box Head walking track is an easy-moderate bushwalk.
- There are no food/drink or toilet amenities along the walk.
- Make sure you know the time of the last ferry!
How to get to Box Head from Sydney:
There are two main ways to get to Box Head:
- Drive all the way to Box Head or
- Drive (or get the bus) to Palm Beach and then get the ferry to Wagstaffe from there.
Both options roughly take exactly the same time (just over 1.5 hours from Sydney CBD), however taking the ferry is the more scenic and exciting way to get here and this is the way most people prefer to arrive.
If driving you will need to go northbound on the M1 Pacific Motorway towards the Central Coast and turn off at Gosford. You’ll then need to drive to Bouddi National Park which is located on the southern end of the peninsula. The drive is almost 100km and will take a little over 1 hour 30 minutes to get here from Sydney CBD.
You can find street parking in Wagstaffe and do the route I mention below. Alternatively you can also drive up Hawke Head Dr and park at the car park there which will lead you onto the Box Head walking track (go around the gate, turn left then bear right to get onto the path for the Box Head Lookout). However the last part of the road is a dirt road and so it is not really suitable if you don’t have a 4WD. The panoramic views from Hawke Head Drive looking out over Tallow Beach, Box Head and Barrenjoey Headland are stunning and there are several clearings where you can pull over to get great photographs.
1. Get the bus/drive to Palm Beach Wharf
Drive or get the bus to Palm Beach (bus number 199 from CBD or 190 from Manly). Palm Beach is the northernmost of the Northern Beaches, located 45km from Sydney CBD so getting up here will take at least an hour. Be sure to set off early: especially on the weekends there is a lot of traffic on the road going up to the Northern Beaches.
Alight at Palm Beach Wharf and then catch the ferry to Wagstaffe.
2. Take the ferry to Wagstaffe
The ferry is 30 minutes and it goes to Ettalong via Wagstaffe. Note that ferries run roughly ever hour/1.5 hours so plan your journey accordingly to ensure you don’t waste time waiting for a ferry. You can view the ferry timetable here.
There is no need to buy a ticket before you get on the ferry – you just buy a ticket onboard. During the journey the ticket man will come around to you. The fare is $12.20 one way. Opal card is not accepted on the ferry so you’ll need to use cash or a debit card.
When taking the ferry across to Wagstaffe you will be rewarded with absolutely stunning views as you leave the Barrenjoey Headland and Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and enter the Brisbane Water National Park. On your left you will pass Lion Island, Pearl Beach and Umina Beach, and on your right you will pass Lobster Beach and Box Head before arriving at Wagstaffe.
Make sure you know the time of the last ferry back to Palm Beach! It is 5.20pm, or 6.35pm from 1st October – Easter Monday.
Box Head Walking Route
- Wagstaffe Wharf
- Lobster Beach
- Box Head Lookout
- Tallow Beach
- Return to Wagstaffe Wharf.
This walk should take you just over 3 hours. Allow 4 hours or more to do the walk if you want to stop off, enjoy the viewpoints and have a relax or swim at the beach. The map below says the walk should take 2 hours but that doesn’t take into account all the hill inclines.
Box Head walk from Wagstaffe Wharf
When you get off the ferry head straight down Mulhall Street, then take either the first or second left onto Wagstaffe Avenue or Albert Street – it doesn’t matter which one you go down as they both join onto the track which leads to Box Head walk.
If going down Albert Street keep walking until you get to the metal gate at the end of the road. Pass the gate and you will be on the footpath at the start of the walk. If going down Wagstaffe Street, keep going straight until you see the sign for Lobster Beach. Turn right here and it will lead you on to the walking track.
Visiting Lobster Beach involves going on a tiny detour along the Box Head walk but it is well worth it. At the start of the walk you’ll see a crossroads where the footpaths intersect – take the path labelled ‘Lobster Beach’. Lobster Beach is a beautiful 300 metre long secluded beach and it is the beach you will have seen if you came by ferry. It is located directly opposite Pearl Beach and Umina Beach on the other side of Brisbane Water.
There are a lot of stairs to go up and down to get to Lobster Beach and there is a bench just over halfway down the path if you are a little out of breath or need a sit down for a little bit. It takes roughly less than 10 minutes each way to walk to Lobster Beach from the main footpath. When you have finished at Lobster Beach, head back up the path you came until you reach the crossroads again.
Flannel Flower Walking Track
Get back onto the path and turn right. You are now on Flannel Flower Walking Track. Cross the road and keep walking straight – you’ll see signs that say ‘no walkers or bikers’ on what appears to be footpaths, but these are actually driveways to houses. Please respect the privacy of the local residents as they actually opened up this walking track for visitors to enjoy, despite it going across their land.
Follow the path round to the right – it starts to get a little uphill here. The path goes round by some big boulders and is easy to follow. You won’t really be able to see many views during this part of the walk as you’ll be walking through a lot of bush here.
At the end of the track you come to a junction. Turn right to go to Box Head Lookout.
Box Head Lookout
The dirt path to Box Head Lookout leads you through a lot of rugged bushland. Walking along the ridge of Box Head the path gets quite narrow, rocky and sandy in places. It is shaded in most parts and you’ll see the odd clearing and big boulder along the way on either side where you can climb onto to get a nice view.
Several metres before you get to the lookout at the end of the peninsula you’ll see a couple of stunning lookout points on your left that overlook the lush yellow sand Tallow Beach and Putty Beach. You can get some really nice pictures here.
A little further on you’ll see some rocks on your right where you can sit on and admire the view across to Lion Island, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and Pearl Beach. Then head down the last little bit to get to the very end of the peninsula.
The viewpoint once you get to the end of Box Head is spectacular. You get incredible unobstructed panoramic views of Pearl Beach, Lion Island and the Hawkesbury River, as well as the Tasman Sea, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and Barrenjoey Headland at Palm Beach.
There is a bench here and some open green space for you to relax on if you wish. There is also a sign saying not to go any further or descend down towards the water – the dirt path here is just for the rock fishermen to climb down and it can be very dangerous if you try to walk along the rocks as they are very slippery and the waves are very strong.
You will need to head back the way you came – it is not safe to go down and walk along the rocks towards Little Tallow Beach despite maps.me showing a footpath linking the two. When you get back to the junction where you were before, turn right at the sign for Tallow Beach.
You will walk down Tallow Beach Trail for about 1km to get to Tallow Beach – a beautiful white sandy beach where you can stop off for a swim.
You can walk to Little Tallow Beach from here – you’ll see a small path on your left about 200 metres up as you are leaving Tallow Beach and walking back up the path. However there is no sand here – only rocks and seaweed so I wouldn’t recommend it if you are short on time as it was nothing spectacular.
What to bring on the Box Head walk:
- comfortable shoes and clothing.
- swimming costume and towel if you wish to go for a swim in the sea or relax on the beach.
- suncream and hat.
- bring a jacket for when the sun goes in, especially in the winter as it will get cool.
- snacks and water. There are no options for food or water during the walk.
Where to eat near the Box Head Walk
If coming off the ferry at Wagstaffe you’ll find the Wagstaffe Newsagency and General Store where you can buy some food. There isn’t any restaurants as such here.
If you are driving, there are several cafes in Hardy’s Bay where you can stop off for food such as The Fat Goose Bakery.
Can you bring dogs on the Box Head walk?
As Box Head is located in Bouddi National Park you are unable to bring your dog here. Dogs are not allowed in National Parks in Australia and failing to obey this will incur a fine.
If you are looking for some nearby walks in the Central Coast region, check out:
Pearl Beach to Patonga walk
Umina to Pearl Beach walk
To get to Pearl Beach from Wagstaffe you can either drive (25 minutes) or get the ferry to Ettalong (less than 5 minutes) and then it is a 10 minute taxi to Pearl Beach.
If you are getting the ferry from Palm Beach to Box Head make sure to stop off here and walk up to the Barrenjoey Headland to get fantastic views over Palm Beach and Pittwater. Click here to read more about what to do at Palm Beach!
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