Topham Hill Rock Art (West Head)

Off-track exploration of the Aboriginal engravings and trig station on Topham Hill, just south of the Topham Track. 

Having done all the tracks and trails of West Head, I’m now exploring a list of some off-track locations within the area. One of these is an Aboriginal engraving site described in the “Field Guide to Aboriginal Rock Engravings” (Stanbury & Clegg), which refers to a number of sites that no longer have marked trails.

On my first attempt I fail to find the site, as I push through the thick scrub towards a sandstone platform.

Instead, I find a completely different site, with a number of figures; most of them (like the one below) are very distinct and some of the best engravings I’ve seen around Sydney.

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I’m back a few days later. This time I go too far again, although it’s interesting to explore the rock formations of Topham Hill, which offers glimpses of Pittwater from the top.

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On the way back I finally find the site I’m after, which still has slightly faded sign from when there was a path up to the engravings.

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I can’t find all of the rock art – the site includes a school of 30 fish being attacked by a shark, as well as shields, a bird track and two figures a bit further to the west. Many of the fish are fairly distinct, and it’s a spectacular setting for the engravings, with Pittwater visible in the distance.

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Continuing up Topham Hill, there’s another view of West Head Road; on the horizon is the Bahai temple at Ingleside and the city skyline.

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There’s no shortage of caves, overhangs and rock formations to explore on the way up!

There are occasional views toward Pittwater as I continue up Topham Hill.

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There are a couple more potential engraving sites  higher up the hill – although I really can’t be sure if they are are natural erosion or Aboriginal rock art. Stanbury & Clegg did note many years ago that there are many interrelated sites on Topham Hill.

At the very top of the hill, with an elevation of 223m (only 10m less than the Willunga Trig, the highest point in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park) is TS5653. The Topham Trig Station consists of just a steel post, with the rusted vane lying a few metres away.

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There’s not much of a view from the trig station; a few years ago the views were more extensive after a fire went through the area. Returning initially via the same route, before taking a slightly different path back to West Head Road, there are some more nice views over West Head and toward Pittwater in the distance.

I make it back just as the rain starts; it’s been another fun afternoon exploring the West Head area!

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Location South of Topham Track, on West Head Road
Distance 0.6km – 2km return (2.2km return to trig station)
Grade Hard. Thick scrub and no track.
Season/s All year.
Map/s 9130-1N Broken Bay (1:25K) Buy / Download
GPS Route AllTrails interactive topographical map of route to Topham Trig Station
Resources Field Guide to Aboriginal Rock Engravings by Peter Stanbury & John Clegg.

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