Western Sydney

Western Sydney locations

These locations are to the north and west of Sydney. Some of the most diverse birding in Sydney can be found in the district, from rainforest birds in the Blue Mountains, shorebirds at Mason Park or Pitt Town Lagoon, and bush birds at Prospect Reservoir or Castlereagh Nature Reserve.

Homebush Bay Precinct
The Homebush Bay precinct, comprising Bicentennial Park and Mason Park is another accessible site with good birding. Much of the Olympic Park / Bicentennial Park site was an industrial waste area until restoration works began, and the park was opened in 1988.
Other good birding locations in the area but not described here include Hen & Chicken Bay, and Rookwood Cemetary.

Access: Bicentennial Park
Approx. 16 km from Central Station.
Drive along the Great Western Highway / Western Motorway and turn right onto Homebush Bay Drive. Check the website for Bicentennial Park for specific directions for the location you want to visit.

Mason Park
Approx. 16 km from Central Station.
Drive along the Great Western Highway / Western Motorway and turn right onto Homebush Bay Drive. Turn right at the roundabout onto Underwood Road, and left into the carpark area next to the sport field. Walk along the canal to the areas overlooking the mudflats.

Type of habitat: Bicentennial Park is a widely varied park, consisting of some excellent mudflats, relatively extensive stands of mangrove forest, large areas of grassland, and other niche habitats. Places such as The Brickpit protects the habitat of the Green and Golden Bell Frogs.

Mason Park is a mudflat with a small amount of mangrove forest. The main attraction is the mud.

What birds can be expected: Bicentennial Park is a diverse park, with accordingly diverse birdlife. Migratory shorebirds are present at suitable locations when they are in the country. The lake with the bird-hide is not as good as it once was, but is still worth a look – in the past it has held large flocks of Red-necked Avocet. Spotted Harrier has been seen at the Brickpits.

Mason Park can be superb. However, it can and frequently does dry out, and the birds go elsewhere. Each migratory shorebird season, there are usually good numbers of Sharp-tailed and Curlew Sandpiper. A few other good birds such as Pectoral Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper and Pacific Golden Plover usually turn up as well. In good seasons, the wetland supports a large breeding population of Black-winged Stilts.

Best Time to Visit: Bicentennial Park is worth a visit at any time of year, but is probably more rewarding in spring and summer. Mason park is best during the Australian summer, when the shorebirds are present.

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Castlereagh Nature Reserve
Access: Castlereagh Nature Reserve
Approx. 65 km from Central Station
The car-park on The Northern Road is approx. 6 km from the junction with Richmond Road to the north, and approx. 2 km from the junction with Cranebrook Road to the south.
Park in the small car-park area opposite the smash repair facility.

Type of habitat: Castlereagh Nature Reserve preserves a not insignificant stand of drier Eucalyptus forest. There are a number of walking trails that go through the park, and a very rewarding day can be had.

What birds can be expected: Birds of the drier inland regions are one of the main attractions here, particularly in times of drought inland, when these birds make their way towards the coast seeking refuge. Different species of Whistlers, Woodswallows, Robins and Finches are all quite common, and in recent times, the Reserve has had small flocks of Speckled Warbler present.

Check with local birders for up to date information on what has been around.

Best Time to Visit: Castlereagh Nature Reserve is worth a visit year round.

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Richmond area
The Richmond/Hawkesbury area is an excellent area for birding close to Sydney. It consists of large, fertile floodplains, and large tracts of original woodland still survive.

Wetland areas such as Pitt Town and Long Neck Lagoon frequently have large numbers of rare and unusual shorebirds.

Access: Pitt Town Lagoon
Approx. 62 km from Central Station.
Drive along Windsor Road and turn right onto Pitt Town Road. Follow this road for approx. 4 km, bearing left onto Bathurst Street when entering Pitt Town. Turn left down Church Street, park and follow the walking track to the lagoon. It is possible to walk around the lagoon, although it is advised to wear gumboots.

Long Neck Lagoon
Approx. 65 km from Central Station.
From Pitt Town, drive north east along Cattai Road. After approx. 3 km, the lagoon will be visible from the road. It is possible to walk around the lagoon from here.
Alternatively, from Pitt Town, drive along Cattai Road, but turn right onto Pitt Town – Dural Road after 2 km, and turn left at Whitmore Road to access the reserve from the Field Studies Centre.

McGrath’s Hill Sewage Treatment Works
Approx. 57 km from Central Station.
Drive along Windsor Road, and approx. 200 metres from the set of lights with Pitt Town Road is a layaway on the left. It is possible to set up a scope here and examine the ponds.
There is unfortunately no access to the ponds themselves.

Cornwallis Road Turf Farms
Approx. 66 km from Central Station.
Drive through Windsor, heading for the north-west corner and Greenaway Crescent, which becomes Cornwallis Road.
Park where suitable, and walk along the road.

Cattai National Park
Approx. 68 km from Central Station.
From Long Neck Lagoon, continue along Cattai Road, which will become Wiseman’s Ferry Road. The entrance to Cattai National Park is on the left, and a park entry fee is payable.

Type of habitat: Pitt Town and Long Neck Lagoons, and McGrath’s Hill STW are all wetland areas.

Pitt Town and Long Neck Lagoons also have surrounding woodland, but the primary focus is the water.

Cornwallis Road Turf Farms are well watered grassland, and the surrounding farmland is worth investigating.

Cattai National Park is dry woodland and parkland fronting the Hawkesbury river. The woodland is similar to nearby Long Neck Lagoon.

What birds can be expected: Dry country specialists like White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, Speckled Warbler, Double-barred Finch and Brown Treecreeper can be found in the woodland areas.

Quail, Glossy Ibis, Banded Lapwing, raptors and several species of Woodswallow are frequently found in the farming/turf farm areas.

Unusual shorebirds, such as Wood Sandpiper and Ruff occasionally turn up on the wetland sites in the area, in addition to more common waterbirds.

Check with local birders, particularly the Cumberland Bird Observers Club, for up to date information on what has been around.

Best Time to Visit: For shorebirds, the Australian Summer is the best time. Other birds are usually present, with Spring/Summer being the times they are most active.

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Prospect Reservoir
Prospect Reservoir is the storage facility for much of Sydneys water supply. The reservoir is controlled by Sydney Water, and the hours of access are restricted. Much of the area surrounding the Reservoir is inaccessible, however the areas that can be reached offer rich rewards.

Access: Prospect Reservoir
Approx. 33 km from Central Station
Drive west along the M4 Motorway, and exit onto Reconciliation Road. Turn right onto Reservoir Road and enter the Reservoir.
Check the opening times on the Sydney Catchment Authority website prior to visiting.

Type of habitat: Apart form the reservoir, which is a deep water storage facility, there are good stands of Eucalyptus forest, and grassed parkland.

What birds can be expected: Great Crested Grebe are regular to the Reservoir. They can be difficult to see however, as they spend much of their time underwater. There is usually thousands of Eurasian Coot in the North East corner of the Reservoir. Swift Parrot are frequently sighted during winter months, and other birds attracted to blossom – honeyeaters and lorikeets – frequent the area. Birds of prey are also attracted to the parklands and the visiting observer should keep an eye out for them.

Best Time to Visit: Prospect Reservoir is worth visiting year round.

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Blue Mountains
The Blue Mountains are the western border of the Sydney area. They are covered by a vast national park that has far more places that are good for birds than the small selection of localities is listed below.

For a more detailed coverage of the area, check out Carol Proberts website – bmbirding.com.au.

On the western side of the Great Dividing Range is the Capertee Valley. As it is beyond the scope of this guide it is not covered here. It is however very strongly recommended that the visiting birder go there – it is one of the premier birding destinations in NSW. Carol Proberts website has information available.

Access: Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens
Approx. 105 km from Central Station.
Driving north-west from Sydney, head for the Bells Line Of Road. Approx. 37 km from the start of the Bells Line Of Road, Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens are on the left.

Evans Lookout, Blackheath
Approx. 115 km from Central Station.
Drive west from Sydney along the Great Western Highway, and turn right onto Evans Lookout Road in Blackheath, approx. 52 km after leaving the motorway and joinging the highway. Follow this to the end where there is a carpark (approx. 4 km from turnoff).

Darks Common, Lapstone
Approx. 60 km from Central Station.
Drive west from Sydney along the Western Motorway, and bear left where it ends and becomes the Great Western Highway, and drive down Governors Drive. Follow this through Lapstone, and turn right onto Explorers Road. Park on the road near the sporting fields approx. 200 metres along, and walking trails through the Common are easily accessed.

Type of habitat: The Blue Mountains has representatives of all types of habitat. It is dominated by deep sandstone valleys (such as those visible from Evan’s Lookout) and Eucalyptus forest (such as that found at Darks Common). Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens are unique in that they hold a collection of alpine species not usually found in the Sydney region.

What birds can be expected: As the Blue Mountains is the border between the drier western portion of the country and the wetter coastal strip, birds from both areas can be found in different parts of the area. The Blue Mountains is core habitat of NSW’s only endemic species, the Rock Warbler. Other birds that are easier to find here than many other places include Glossy Black and Gang-Gang Cockatoo, Superb Lyrebird, and Robins. During winter, thousands of migrating honeyeaters pass over the mountains as they journey north.

Carol Proberts website has a list of birds found in the area and their relative abundance.

Best Time to Visit: It can get very cold in the mountains in winter, and very hot and bushfire-prone in summer, but a visit at any time of year is rewarding.

Check with local birders for up to date information on what has been around.

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