Lane Cove National Park Fairyland Loop Track
Take a step back in time as you embark on a picturesque walk through lush bushland and dense forest to discover the historic site of Fairyland Pleasure Grounds during this circular route.
6.4km circuit | Bushwalk with some steep climbs and steps | No dogs allowed
What is the Fairyland Loop Track?
Following the snaking Lane Cove River, this 6.4km circuit walk is popular with walkers, hikers and runners. The route also follows part of the Great North Walk, a 260km bushwalk from Sydney to Newcastle. During the walk you will travel through bushland and forest areas, climb up steep, rocky steps, walk along raised boardwalk and stroll along the quiet residential street of River Avenue. The main attraction of course is the Fairyland Pleasure Grounds, a historic site that was once a popular picnic area from 1913 to the early 1970s, now hidden from view through the dense forest growth.
Where to start the Fairyland Loop Track?
Following the peaceful Lane Cove River, I like to start this walk at the Rotary Athletics Field, just off Mowbray Road West near Epping Road where you can find ample free parking and toilet facilities. Alternatively, you can begin your loop walk at Fullers Road Bridge or from inside the Lane Cove National Park.
How to get to the Fairyland Loop Track?
You can access the Fairyland Loop Track easily by car or by bus. There are no trains or ferries close by.
Depending on where you want to start and finish is where you should consider parking. There is free parking at the Rotary Athletics Field (with one car space reserved for people with disabilities adjacent to the Athletics Field). However, bear in mind that on weekends it can get busy when the athletics field is in use.
Alternatively, you can park for free along River Avenue near Delhi Road by the Fullers Road Bridge. You can also park inside the Lane Cove National Park, accessed via Lady Game Drive but be mindful that this is paid parking, currently at $8 per vehicle per day and is open from 9am to 7pm during daylight savings and until 6pm at other times.
If travelling by bus, services 256 and 259 stop along Delhi Road by the Lane Cove River. Alternatively, you can find more bus services along Epping Road by Mowbray Road West which include services 258, 286, 287, 288, 290, 291, 294. I recommend checking timetables at Transport NSW.
How long will this walk take?
Allow at least two to three hours for this walk, in case you want to stop en route to admire the river views or enjoy a snack or picnic in the Lane Cove National Park. There are plenty of things to look at along the way with some steep climbs to consider too.
How hard is the Fairyland Loop Track?
This is a moderate walk with some rough, steep climbs, whilst parts of the walk might be overgrown in places. I recommend walking earlier in the day when it’s not as hot as it can get sticky and humid.
What to bring on this walk?
I recommend bringing the following items with you on this walk:
- Sunhat and sunglasses
- Suncream factor 30+
- Wear good, sturdy walking shoes or boots
- Layers and a coat if it’s raining
- Phone and powerbank
- First aid kit with basics – bandage, plasters, antiseptic cream
What is the Fairyland Pleasure Grounds?
Fairyland was a privately owned piece of land that was a popular place for picnics besides the pleasant Lane Cove River from 1913 to the early 1970s. Owned and run by the Swan family, they originally used this land as a market garden to grow strawberries and watermelons. People would often stop by during their trips along the river to buy fruit and by 1905, the Swan family started selling afternoon teas with strawberries so this area became known as “The Rest”.
Due to the popularity, these market gardens soon turned into a leisure and recreational area and became known as “Fairyland Pleasure Grounds”. Boats carrying up to 70 people would transport families here for picnics or an evening dance. Even at Christmas, families and friends would gather here for parties and play on the flying fox or swings or race and play tug-of-war.
Swimming was also popular in the water hole near the river, and fairytale characters like Little Bo Peep were set up to create this magical fairytale atmosphere that people could escape to.
Today, this whole lively setting with large open grassed picnic areas and fairytale characters have all gone, but the bush has grown back, carefully managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Rotary Athletics Field to Fairyland Pleasure Grounds
Begin your walk from Rotary Athletics Field car park. From the car park turn left and follow the river which will be on your right and walk under the bridge. Climb up the steps and walk along the bridge above the Lane Cove River and then back down the steps on the other side. Turn left to walk underneath the bridge and follow the footpath to arrive onto the Fairyland Track. Continue along this path, which includes boardwalk through a mysterious forest setting and across mossy, wooden footbridges to arrive at the site of Fairyland Pleasure Grounds.
Look out for the signage along the way which details the history with some old photographs to transport you back to Fairyland. You will also spot a large shady palm tree where close by you can also admire the Lane Cove River from a variety of viewing spots. If you’re lucky, you might even see some passing boats and kayakers too.
Fairyland Pleasure Grounds to Fullers Road Bridge
Continue along this path to arrive at boardwalk and walk along this above the wetlands area before emerging onto Quebec Road / River Avenue opposite property 101 Quebec Road. Turn right and walk along River Avenue with the green park area and Lane Cove River on your right. On the way admire the large houses and have fun choosing your favourite if money was no question. Turn right onto Lane Cove Valley Walk and pass the Whitefire Grill & Bar on your right before turning left and walking under the Fullers Road Bridge.
Note: rather than walking under the bridge you can walk across it to arrive at the other side of the river to loop back from here, but I like to continue on slightly into Lane Cove National Park. (The walkway is on the other side of the bridge).
Lane Cove Valley Walk to Fullers Road Bridge
After walking underneath the Fullers Road Bridge, follow the Lane Cove Valley Walk with the Lane Cove River on your right. Here you can find the Koonjeree Picnic Area and you might also spot people fishing. Continue straight and walk along the Lane Cove Weir where you are likely to spot ducks or fish swimming. Stop for a snack here if you wish with the Lane Cove National Park Café selling drinks, ice cream, cake and light meals at reasonable prices. The café is open Tuesday to Friday 10am until 4pm and Saturday, Sunday and public holidays from 9:30am until 5pm. You can also find toilets close by.
Walk along Max Allen Road and then turn right along Lady Game Drive with the Lane Cove River on your right and the Blue Gum Creek Park on your left. Just before the Fullers Road Bridge, you will find a track that goes underneath the bridge.
Fullers Road Bridge to Chatswood Golf Course
Follow this path ‘The River Walk’ where you can enjoy the shade from the thick forest of trees with the Lane Cove River on your right-hand side. You will soon arrive at the Chatswood Golf Course 8th tee. Watch for flying golf balls as you walk along here and try to keep to the right as much as possible.
Chatswood Golf Course to Rotary Athletics Field via Mowbray Park
After passing through Chatswood Golf Course, continue following the track which will lead onto boardwalk raised above the mangroves for part of it with more opportunities to gaze out over the Lane Cove River. Follow the direction of the River Track arrow and finally descend some rocky steps to arrive at Mowbray Park. You can also explore Mowbray Park further with Willoughby City Council's Walking Track Map. Just before the Rotary Athletics Field you can find an Aboriginal Interpretive Site which includes sculptures and carvings by Aboriginal artist Joe Hurst highlighting the Camaraigal use of the land as well as a large midden that was uncovered under the oval whilst trying to install a sculpture. Finally, continue along the path around the athletics oval to arrive back at the car park.
What type of wildlife will you see?
Along the loop walk you are likely to see or hear a variety of wildlife so be sure to stop, watch and listen along the way. The wildlife is particularly active early in the morning and popular birdlife and wildlife include:
- White-faced Herons
- Pacific Black Ducks
- Eastern Whip
- Superb Fairy-wren
- White-throated Treecreeper
- Eastern Water Skinks
- Eastern Water Dragons
- Blue Tongue Lizard
- Small crabs
- Schools of small fish
- Brush-tail and Ring-tail Possums