Walks Around Sydney

Wheelchair and limited mobility walks

This one is down to Glenn Kesbah: Sydney Wheelchair Walks.

Day walks

For the more experienced walker, there are a number of attractive strolls in the spring or autumn. The walk from Waterfall to Audley, Engadine or Heathcote in the Royal National Park is a good spring walk with rail transport at both ends, and the Warrimoo track in Kuring-gai Chase National Park is nice if you have a car. I am waiting to walk these tracks again before I write them up. (Note that the walks in KCNP are now located on that page.)

Pamphlets on walks are available for most parks. You can get these at park entry points, but you have to ask for them.

The National parks and Wildlife Service also offer pamphlets at Cadman's Cottage near Circular Quay: you can find this old boathouse just to the north of the Museum of Contemporary Art. I strongly recommend that Taronga to Balmoral walk. I have yet to follow all the paths on that map, but I know enough of them to urge you to try it.

Another pamphlet features "A Harbour Circle Walk 2006". This shows you some of the many places where you can get onto walking routes by ferry, train stations and bus routes. It looks excellent.

One day walk which I have just completed is the Mount Kuring-gai to Berowra via Cowan Creek walk: this is an excellent walk for the reasonably fit.

Walks from your car

Going for a walk from your car is a good idea when the weather is a bit chancy. Most bush areas around Sydney have fire trails along the ridges. These are built so fire fighters can get in to fight bush fires, but they also make pleasant wide walking tracks, they are fairly level, and they often have good views because the trails run along ridges.

If you want to try some good fire trails, read up on the Kuring-gai Chase National Park, especially West Head. There are other good walks to be found in the area as well. Other good short walks are to be found in the other National Parks. Look for cars which seem to be parked in strange places, and then look at the walking tracks map that you asked for as you entered the park. You did ask for a tracks map, didn't you?

There are pleasant walks around Manly Dam, and several of the walks to lighthouses, make good bushwalks as well, and some of the urban walks get rather bushy in parts.

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Longer walks

During 1988, a walk from Sydney to Newcastle was opened up, and this is now well-established. You start with a ferry trip from Circular Quay to Hunters Hill, then pass up the Lane Cove valley and away to the north. This is known as The Great North Walk.

That aside, the main long walking areas are in the Blue Mountains National Park, especially the "Six-Foot Track" (named for its width, not its length), some parts of the Royal National Park (but check up on camping availability and requirements before you start), and in the Budawang Ranges near Nowra. This last is hardly Sydney, but the Permian sandstones of the area support plants and animals very like those which once lived around Sydney. You meet nice people there, but the area is not for beginners - go in a group for your first few visits, because the walking maps are a bit idiosyncratic, and you need to know where to go for water!

Harbour Circle Walk

Back in the Sydney area, though, the Harbour Circle Walk is a combination that covers much of the coast bounded by by the Harbour Bridge, Figtree Bridge, Gladesville Bridge, Iron Cove Bridge and the ANZAC bridge. There is also a downloadable map, though I picked up a printed copy at Cadman's Cottage. The experts say a fit person could walk the 26 km in 8 to 10 hours, but they recommend following the 2, 3 or 4-day plans, so you get to enjoy it.

The link in the last paragraph reveals some other brilliant plans that are close to completion: the Harbour Bridge to Spit Bridge, and Harbour Bridge to Great North Walk. Slowly but surely, faceless public servants are stitching together a wonderland of walks for us all to pursue. Look for the links to PDF files on the various sections. Here's to the faceless!

Paved walks

This is the sort of walk that can be handled from the age of 3 to 80, give or take a bit.

Shorter city walks

There are those who prefer, for one reason or another, to take civilised strolls under paved (or at least improved) conditions. If you are one of those, then these suggestions are for you. Most of these walks are accessible to the elderly, and some of them are wheelchair-accessible.

Royal Botanic Gardens If you call at the Visitor Centre in the Gardens, you can buy leaflets describing different walks. These lead you around the gardens on theme walks, such as their Summer Walk, and their Rainforest Walk. The leaflets tell you about the plants you are passing, and make handy souvenirs. While the leaflets are cheap, they are superbly produced. Some paths are a bit steep, but there is usually a gentler grade that will take you around. Don't be guided, follow your nose. If you smell something odd, you are approaching the fruit bats.

A view of the Domain from the Royal Botanic Gardens. Flying foxes (fruit bats) in the Royal Botanic Gardens. Flying foxes (fruit bats) in the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Pictures above, from left to right:

Hyde Park - Domain - Royal Botanic Gardens There are a number of pleasant walks to be had in this area. You can extend this walk into the next one, should you so wish. Don't miss the

Domain - Circular Quay You can even take this walk further, by going into The Rocks.

The Rocks Walk There is a self-guided historic tour of this area available from the Rocks Visitors' Centre, and you can use this to diverge from the specified route, via Observatory Park to the wharf roads that will lead you around to the start of the next walk.

Darling Harbour Walk Darling Harbour's attractions are outlined in that entry, but the Hickson Road/Sussex Street approach route is not discussed there. Try it.

Bondi to Coogee

This is paved, with a few slightly steep bits. I thought there were no impediments to getting a wheelchair through, but Hal Corbould tells me there are too many steps to negotiate. Pity! Thanks, Hal!

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North Head

Path on the walkway, North Head: easy for wheelchairs, great place to see wildflowers in spring! Sheoak, probably Casuarina distyla: dead and waiting to drop its seed. Looking down Middle Harbour from North Head, Manly ferry just visible. Macquarie Light, seen from North Head. South Head and Hornby Light, seen from North Head. The city and Bradley's Head are visible in the distance. Wind-sculpted sandstone, North Head.
Pictures above, from left to right: This area is discussed also
as a landmark, but it is worth listing here as well. At the end of the North Head road, you will find a parking area (you need to pay for parking, or have a National Parks sticker), and there are disabled parking spots and a level tarred walkway.

Except on very hot days, this is an easy path for wheelchair-pushers, and even on hot days, you can take rests and manage OK. The views are superb.

If you don't have a car, you can walk up Darley Road from Manly, or you can get a 135 bus from Manly Wharf. I have a vague idea that some of these go to the end of North Head, but I can find no evidence for them going beyond the Quarantine Station gates. That leaves you with a level walk of about 1.8 km. The road is narrowish, and you are sharing with cyclists, runners and cars (which are slowed down by speed bumps). It is much safer to walk in single file on the right side, so that you face the oncoming traffic!

There is an artillery museum about 1 km from the bus drop-off, and you can sometimes get sandwiches, cakes, coffee and tea, ice creams and soft drinks. They have a pleasant deck on which to sit and contemplate the harbour. If memory serves me correctly, they also have pies.

Iron Cove

Iron Cove and the Iron Cove Bridge.

Iron Cove and the Iron Cove Bridge in the distance.

This is a closed loop of about 7 kilometres, so you can start anywhere,and stroll back to your start in about three hours. The only hairy part is walking across the Iron Cove bridge, where the traffic seems awfully close, and your hat may blow off. Cyclists can also be a problem. I need to walk this one again before I write it up, but it is now a part of the Harbour Circle Walk. A nice stroll for about two and a half hours, less if you hurry, but take food and water, as there aren't many shops along the route.

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Watsons Bay

Watson's Bay.  Watson's Bay.  Watson's Bay.
Pictures above, from left to right: Getting there
In the early days of the colony, pilots, customs and medical officers had to board each ship as it entered the Harbour. The people who did this were gathered around Watsons Bay and Camp Cove.

By public transport, catch a 324 or 325 bus from Circular Quay, or on weekends, travel there in style by ferry: the supercats take about half an hour, stopping at Garden Island on the way, and at Rose Bay, Double Bay and Garden Island on the way back. By car, follow William Street through the Kings Cross tunnel, and travel along New South Head Road, or go along Oxford Street through Paddington, past Bondi Junction, and along Old South Head Road.

What to do there
The walks along the cliff-top towards Macquarie Light, and around to Hornby Light, are available, but most people go there to eat at "Doyle's", probably more for the environment than for the food which is excellent value: cheap and good but not outstanding. This is well worth investigating, but it will always be crowded (well, what do you expect when the place is good value?). There is also a very pleasant hotel with a very pleasant "beer garden", an outdoor drinking venue, where you can watch the people wander by.

What to watch out for
Don't miss seeing the harbour on a sunny day, or the walk to Hornby light on a stormy winter's day. Camp Cove, by the way, is where Arthur Phillip and his crew camped on their very first night in Sydney Harbour, before they began exploring the harbour to find a place to settle.

What else is around
The walks already mentioned, Vaucluse House and Nielsen Park are nearby: Parsley Bay is even closer, and Bondi Beach is within reach by car.

Longer paved walks

Bondi to Coogee

I will be dealing with this excellent walk on the beaches page.

Other short paved walks

Manly to Shelly Beach

Manly surf beach, near North Steyne, on a roiugh day when the beach was closed.  Part of North Head and St Patrick's visible in the background, also the Shelly Beach area. If that sounds like a bit much to tackle, try just the first part. Walk along the Manly Corso to the ocean beach, and turn right along the promenade behind the beach. There is a well-paved route from here to Fairy Bower and Shelly Beach (OK for wheelchairs), with an optional (but recommended, if you aren't pushing a wheelchair) extension past the beach and around to the point on the other side of the beach. There is a very pleasant if slightly up-market licensed sea-food restaurant (Le Kiosk) at the beach. Booking is advisable, but you can always buy the
makings for a picnic in Manly and settle down on the sand or the grass.


Over the Bridge

In the entry on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, details are given on the best way of crossing the bridge on foot. This is worth doing (once) for anybody.

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A Walk to the Fish Markets

This pleasant walk takes you away from the bustle of Darling Harbour, and out into the quiet of the harbour shores. Near the Australian National Maritime Museum, on the western shore of Darling Harbour, walk on around the water's edge, past Pyrmont Park and the Casino, and keep following the water, or Pirrama Road, diverging when possible to the water. Pyrmont is currently undergoing a lot of redevelopment, and some of the parks have gone in first, in order to make the place palatable to buyers.

You will eventually come in sight of a large harp-like structure, the cable-stayed ANZAC Bridge (often still called by its old name of "Glebe Island Bridge". The Fish Markets are at the foot of the bridge, on the city side, so head in that direction, and you will eventually get there.

The Fish Markets are mainly there to shift large amounts of seafood to retailers, but there are also retail areas where you can buy fish to take away, or to eat there. If you are too overloaded, or if your feet are now too tired, catch the Sydney Light Rail from just over the road (you will need to ask, as it is poorly marked).

The area is under the control of the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority: http://www.shfa.nsw.gov.au/frindex.html

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Unpaved walks

These are the walks that go over slightly rougher ground, though you will still be on made tracks. Generally suitable for ages 7 to 70, or those who act as though they are in that range. You need to be sensible, though: see the safety section on the 'Bush' page.

We call them bush walks, and consider that the best walks are bush walks. Bushwalking means heading off, preferably on a visible track, to travel through undeveloped land, away from the madding crowd. On that basis, the walk from Thredbo to Mount Kosciuszko in the Snowy Mountains in mid-summer is not a bushwalk, even if it is pleasant. There are too many people, and the track is mainly steel mesh, which is needed to protect the fragile environment.

The best part of walking in the bush is seeing the plants, animals and birds, and seeing the views. It also involves taking a certain risk, so the trick is to be well-prepared, so that the risk is minimised.

You can write whole books about bushwalking, and many people have, so we will not duplicate their efforts here. This section will give you some basic ideas, but you will need to investigate your selections more closely.

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The Spit-Manly or Manly-Spit walk

This goes along 8 or 9 kilometres, a mix of paved (concrete) path at the Manly end, and slightly rougher bush tracks at the other end. It involves a climb to about 90 metres at one point, and from sea level to 30 metres at another. The whole walk will take you about three hours, and it is now fairly well marked with blue and white signs and small arrows. You can walk as much as you like, and return when you wish. Most of the section along the shore to the head of North Harbour is reasonably wheelchair-friendly, but with one or two steep parts that demand strong arms if you are pushing a wheelchair, and a small rough section.

 Sydney Harbour, near Manly, in winter. You can get to The Spit Bridge by the 143 bus from Chatswood station or Manly Wharf, or buses from Wynyard with numbers between about 169 and 190, although the 190 bus may not stop there. Ask the driver when you board the bus, and ask to be dropped at The Spit. This is a sand spit that juts out into Middle Harbour. The bus runs downhill for some distance and comes close to the water: when this happens, you are there.

You can get to Manly Wharf by the 143 bus from Chatswood station, or by the Manly jetcat or the Manly ferry. The track is signposted, so I will only describe it briefly.

From Manly, as you come off the wharf, turn left along the water front, past the Manly Ocean World, and follow the steps to the path that leads up onto the headland beyond. You now have more than a kilometre of concrete path open to you, running along above Delwood beach and Fairlight pool. Fairlight is safe swimming except in bad weather and/or king high tides.

Near several boatsheds, you will come to a small rough patch of road to walk on (due for upgrading "one of these days"), followed by several hundred metres of paved walk, coming up to the head of North Harbour. As you join a road, look ahead to King Avenue, turning off to your left, and join this. At the end, follow the stairs down to North Harbour Reserve, walk across this, and at low tide, cross the sands on your left to walk to the marina. If the tide is high, go up the stairs on your right, turn left up the hill, and left again to cross a small footbridge. Go ahead along the road, following the coastline direction until you come to the marina.

The pictures here show,

  1. (above) Fishing on the rocks near Manly, with the area between Forty Baskets and Reef Beach across the way.
  2. Low tide mud flats sometimes offer a short-cut near North Harbour Reserve on the Manly-Spit walk.
  3. Signage and steps at North Harbour Reserve on the Manly-Spit walk.
  4. Walking near the water, heading for Manly, at North Harbour Reserve on the Spit-Manly walk.
  5. The map displayed at North Harbour Reserve on the Spit-Manly walk.
  6. Approaching the steps and map at North Harbour Reserve on the Spit-Manly walk. This is where you decide whether to cross the mud flats or not: the white bridge (upper left of the picture) is used at high tide.
  7. Picnic tables and free barbecue at North Harbour Reserve on the Spit-Manly walk.
Walking near the water, heading for Manly, at North Harbour Reserve on the Spit-Manly walk. Signage and steps at North Harbour Reserve on the Manly-Spit walk. Low tide mud flats sometimes offer a short-cut near North Harbour Reserve on the Manly-Spit walk. Picnic tables and free barbecue at North Harbour Reserve on the Spit-Manly walk. Approaching the steps and map at North Harbour Reserve on the Spit-Manly walk.  This is where you decide whether to cross the mud flats or not: the white bridge (upper left) is used at high tide. The map displayed at North Harbour Reserve on the Spit-Manly walk.

From here, walk ahead to Forty Baskets beach (safe swimming), go along the beach, along the track at the far end for a hundred metres or so, and then either take a short-cut by going right up the stairs and turning left, or (and this is recommended) go straight ahead to Reef Beach and follow the track which starts at the top of the wooden stairs on the beach. In spring, the best wildflowers will be found in the walk up to the top from Reef Beach.

Either way, follow the track until you come to a junction with the other route. The overgrown track (you probably won't see it) to the south is a dead end (Crater Cove), a bit rough but nice to explore, the track to the east (from Reef Beach) has nice lookouts, the one going west leads to the top of the hill and then on towards the Spit.

Portions of the Spit-Manly walk go over fragiule ground, so boardwalks are used.

We live close to the top of the hill, and we are always seeing people who have emerged from the bush and got themselves lost. Remember that the track you want is below the road where you look out and see the Heads the picture on the left shows you what to look for. Walk along the road until you see a way down to the wooden walkway, or ask anybody walking a dog, as they will be locals. Note that while you can do the track with a dog, you are barred from entering the National Park sections. These are the best parts, so I suggest that you leave your dog behind. The rangers are (quite rightly) firm about enforcing the "no-dogs" rule.

When you are ready, follow the track up: it ends up skirting the roadway, staying just below it, then pass the turn-off to Grotto Point Lighthouse, and head on towards Castle Rock. From here, there is a choice of a street route or a track: look for the signs. Either way, you will get to Clontarf (safe swimming in the pool). Follow the beach past Clontarf and around to Sandy Bay, then look for a track on the point in front of you. This track then leads you to The Spit, where you can catch a bus, either to the city or back to Manly.

From The Spit, the track starts off on the eastern side of the Spit bridge, and it is well marked with blue and white signs. You can cross under the bridge at both ends, and there are pedestrian walkways on each side. The track skirts Fisher Bay and the Sandy Bay, before reaching Clontarf, where there is a meshed swimming pool, toilets, and taps for water. Then the track continues past Castle Rock, past the turn off to the Grotto Point light house, and up to Tania Park, on top of Dobroyd Head. You can find water, toilets and shade on the far side of the park.

The author.The track continues on, offering a split to a high tide or low tide version. The low tide version is better, even if the tide is in, because it takes you past excellent views, but be careful as you scramble down the hill: your reporter does this track about twice a week, and always goes up this section, not down (he is short, rotund and white-bearded, and spends a lot of time looking at the flowers).

There can be as many as sixty species of wildflower blooming in the section to Reef Beach, while past it, you may see delicate native orchids between Reef Beach and Forty Baskets (look mainly on the southern side, away from the water). You arrive at Forty Baskets, where there is safe swimming, water and toilets.

At the end of the bay, there is a shop just above the park, to the south, as well as toilets and water. When you are finished, go back to the water, skirt the edge of the bay, go up the stairs, and follow the road, staying as close to the water as you can. Soon you will come out onto a road, which quickly gives you access to a harbourside path, which leads you past Fairlight (safe swimming when the tide is not too high, plus water and toilets), and so to Manly.

The Dobroyd crossroads, Manly-Spit walk. Sign on the Spit-Manly walk.  High tide is rarely a problem. A portion of the Spit-Manly walk: this section is occasionally used by vehicles, so it is suitable for wheelchairs.  To get to it, you go down a VERY steep hill - go carefully, or drive to the bottom to drop the wheelchair person.
Pictures above, from left to right:

Reef Beach, on the Manly-Spit walk. Forty Baskets beach, Manly-Spit walk. North Harbour Reserve, on the Manly-Spit walk.
Pictures above, from left to right:

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Harbour to Hawkesbury walk

I will be dealing with this one when I have time. Some of the sections are still being built or improved, but here is a first instalment which uses part of this long path.

Bantry Bay Loop
This is a walk that begins at Seaforth Oval, and drops down to the harbour at Bantry Bay. Except for one short section, this part of the path is dead easy. there is a small drop, close to the end, where work has been suspended, and you need to scramble in a gingerly sort of way. I have seen four-year-olds on this section, but they will need some supervision -- children under aight would need individual supervision on the scetions to come.

Down at Bantry Bay, you are looking across to an old disused explosives magazine. You have seen a few small parts of French's bullock track, but you will see some better bits later. The rocks are covered in oysters (not suitable for human consumption!!), and there are mangroves. There are places to sit, a small wharf to fish from, and toilets. There is also a track called the bay track, leafing north.

The Bay Track winds its way slowly up the side of the hill as it goes north. It can be a bit unclear when it crosses creeks, and there are one or two scrambles up, but nothing a 65-year-old could not handle. In the serious climb section near the end, there are one or two places where you will need to try a bit harder, because the track crosses bare rock.

You will come to a sign saying Bluff Track, follow this north, and look for a clear but narrow foot track, perhaps 150 metres from the sign. Follow this, and it will take you to a Scout Hall near Bantry Bay Road. Walk up the tar road, turn right and go past teh gate that closes the road off. You are now on an old gravel road that runs parallel to the Wakehurst Parkway, all the way back to Seaforth Oval. Look for a fence on the right that marks a site with many Aboriginal engravings: walk carefully and respectfully.

After you pass an odd wire fence on the right (it is to keep wildlife off the road), you will walk down a small part of the historic bullock track that was used to get timber down to the wharf, and food and other goods up fropm the wharf, in Sydney's early days.

Getting there
Drive over the Spit Bridge, take the left turn, go through Seaforth and onto Wakehurst Parkway, heading north. As you approach the end of the built area, you turn in on the left to Seaforth Oval and find parking. This is the start and the end of the walk. Buses to the area include the 169 bus, the 131, 132 and 133 bus, as well as the 172 and 173 bus.

Timing
This is an easy two-hour walk, or more if you stop to enjoy the views. We found one side-track that we have to go back and follow, some other time.

Risks
Near the water, watch out for oyster shells and broken glass, don't swim, as there are sharks about, assume you will get sunburnt in summer, so take some sun cream. Take plenty of water (in spring, we needed a litre each) and be careful on the steep bits.

One track I plan to walk in the near future runs from Roseville Bridge down to the other side of Bantry Bay.

Shorter unpaved walks

Warringah Beaches
There is a walkway that runs from Shelly Beach in Manly to Barrenjoey, a distance of some 30 kilometres. You can do it in bits, if you wish. Large sections of it are paved.

Cape Banks and Cape Henry
This is on the northern headland of Botany Bay. The best access point is Jennifer Street, which comes off Anzac Parade just before it reaches Bunnerong Road. You can drive down to the end, or if you are travelling by bus, get the
393 or 394 bus.

At the end of Jennifer Street, find the head of the track, on the eastern side of the road, and wander down the boardwalk to the map. Walk on to a tarred road, turn left and watch out for cars. Some of the best stuff is to the north, so when you come to a junction, turn left. There is a cobbled roadway/track that you can follow that will bring you out onto the headland.

Long trousers are a good idea, as the bushes are scratchy. There are tracks all over the place and rocks to scramble over (and cliffs to fall down, and some amazing sandstone geology. There are shale lenses in several places, and also a small volcanic dike on the beach at one point (you won't spot it unless you know what to look for!)

Sooty oystercatcher, Botany Bay. The view north from Cape Banks. The view north from Cape Banks.
Pictures above, from left to right:

The Jennifer Street entry point to the walks near Cape Banks. Banksia ericifolia, appropriately at Cape Banks. A map of the area is displayed close to the Jennifer Street entrance.
Pictures above, from left to right: Looking across to Cape Banks.  There is an oystercatcher in this picture, and a volcanic dike, slightly to the left, out of the picture.  Go see! Bare Island fort, Botany Bay. Bare Island fort, Botany Bay.
Pictures above, from left to right:
Mosman walks
Many of the foreshores around Neutral Bay and Mosman can be walked along. There is a walk from Reid Park in Mosman to the end of Cremorne Point, from Sirius Park, you can walk past the Taronga Zoo wharf and on to Bradley's Head and beyond to Taylors Bay and Clifton Gardens. The Taronga Zoo wharf is quite a good starting point for walks in this area.

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Nielsen Park
There are walking tracks in this park, such as the Hermitage Foreshore track, that may repay your investigation. You can get most of the way to Rose Bay, if you try. Nielsen Park is on the
325 bus route.

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Lighthouse walks

Macquarie Light

Macquarie Light, seen from North Head. You can see
Macquarie Light from many parts of Sydney, so equally, the views from there are superb. You can see down the harbour to the city, across to Manly, down the coast, and out to sea. Even if the lighthouse itself is not open, the views from the nearby Lighthouse Reserve are well worth a stop. At night, the lighthouse can be recognised by its two flashes, two seconds apart, followed by an eight second rest.

If you aren't a lighthouse freak, by the way, you may not be aware that lighthouses all have their characteristic patterns, so that even hopeless navigators cannot possibly go wrong, but navigation on land is dead easy. You can get there on a 324 bus along Old South Head Road, but the lighthouse is only open on the last Wednesday of the month from 1.30 to 3.15 pm.

Further down the road, you will see another lighthouse-like building: this is a signal station. Beyond that is Gap Park, winding along the cliff tops down to The Gap at Watson's Bay.

If you are travelling by bus, the best way is to get off at Macquarie Light, and walk along the cliff path down to The Gap, where the 324 bus terminates, and where it starts the return trip. From there, it is just a short walk to Hornby Light, and there are shops, restaurants and a hotel at Watson's Bay to cover your other needs. This trip is also an excellent one to combine with the Watson's Bay ferry.

Picture: Macquarie Light, seen from North Head.

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Cape Baily

The Cape Baily light is on the coast, most of the way along from the Kurnell historic site. It is 2.5 kilometres each way, and takes about two hours, there and back, so take water, and wear suitable clothing.

This is a wild and untamed coast, with the original heath, and many snakes in summer. It is hot and dry, so wear good shoes, but don't worry about the snakes - they will get out of your way. There are plenty of birds and frogs in the area, and mammals as well, though you won't see many of those by day. The area is alive with birds, so take binoculars and bird-books if you like birds.

Drive from the Kurnell Discovery Centre around to Cape Solander lookout, where you can park - but in winter, keep a careful look out to sea, in case there are any whales passing by. When you park and lock your car, make sure that you leave no valuables in view.

Look for the sign saying "Danger - Cliffs", and then for the sign pointing to Cape Baily, and wander off. The track is hard to pick up at first, so get a leaflet from the Visitor Centre, and stay on the cliff edge for the first few hundred metres, until you get to Tabbigai Gap. After that, follow the various tracks that head southwards.

You can also access the same coast a bit further down, by turning in on Sir Joseph Banks Drive, but the road is quite bad at the end, so you may wish to park and walk the last part, out to Potter's Point.

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Barrenjoey

Perhaps the most interesting lighthouse to visit is Barrenjoey Light, on the edge of Broken Bay, near Palm Beach, which you can reach by the 190 bus. Visiting this involves a walk up a fairly poor track, but the view makes it all worth while. Just make sure you wear sensible shoes.

Walk along Barrenjoey beach (on the Pittwater side of the peninsula), heading north with the water on your left, watching out for a track leading up off the beach. Follow this track all the way up, but don't expect to get into the lighthouse, as it is only open for a few days each year, round April, in Heritage Week. The track, by the way, is said to be a four-wheel-drive track, but it is badly eroded, so make sure you have good footwear.

Getting inside Barrenjoey lighthouse is a bit harder, as it is only open in Heritage Week each year, around the middle of April, usually from about 10 till 4 on two or three days. The views are superb in all directions, and you are near Palm Beach, and Kuring-gai Chase National Park is just across the water - ride the Palm Beach Ferries, or go there by car.

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Hornby Light

South Head at the entrance to Sydney Harbour. South Head and Hornby Light, seen from North Head. The city and Bradley's Head are visible in the distance. The picture on the left is from inside the heads, taken while on board the Manly ferry: the one on the right shows South Head and Hornby Light, as seen from North Head. The city and Bradley's Head are visible in the distance.

There are other smaller lighthouses around the harbour, like Hornby Lighthouse, just at the tip of South Head (with brown and white vertical stripes), and Grotto Point Lighthouse (below). Hornby Light is close to Watson's Bay.

Thanks to the positioning of the Royal Australian Navy's shore station, HMAS Watson, it may appear that you can't get close to Hornby Lighthouse. The chapel inside HMAS Watson is obviously accessible, and well worth a visit while you are in the area (unless it is in use: it is sometimes used for the funerals of former sailors).

All things are possible to the truly determined. There is a clearly marked and fenced track from the eastern end of Camp Cove, along the cliff past HMAS Watson and Lady Bay, a popular beach for unclad bathing, and so round to Hornby Light, the keepers' cottages, and a number of old fortifications. You can recognise the emplacements where the huge guns used to be, and the walls with loop-holes, designed to be used by those defending the base from sea-borne attacks.

The walk is a level one, and takes about 15 minutes each way, or more if you dawdle. I suggest that you take your time: the harbour views are superb, even when the weather is foul. At the end of South Head, you can clamber down to the rocks and watch as the Tasman Sea bashes away, enlarging the Heads, bit by bit. Hornby Light gets its name from the wife of Governor Denison who gave his name to Fort Denison: before her marriage, she was Caroline Hornby.

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Grotto Point

Grotto Point and Grotto Point Lighthouse.  Rosherville Light is visible, just to the right of the Grotto Point Light. Grotto Point and Grotto Point Lighthouse. Pictures: (left) Grotto Point and Grotto Point Lighthouse. Rosherville Light is visible, just to the right of the Grotto Point Light.
(right) Grotto Point and Grotto Point Lighthouse in a closer view.

The walk down to Grotto Point is a pleasant bushwalk, even if the track is a rough one, but the lighthouse itself is nothing much to write home about. Drive to the end of Cutler Road and walk down into the bush on the track in front of you, heading west and turning south where you see a sign. The track is now well-marked.

It is a side trip from the Spit-Manly walk, but you can also do it on its own. By public transport, catch a 132 bus from Manly Wharf to Bareena Park, walk up Vista Avenue, and along Bareena Drive to Tania Park. Cross the park, going in the same general direction, walking towards the Heads in front of you. There is a more direct route, but you miss some of the best views that way.

After you have crossed the road on the other side of the park, cut down onto the walking track below the road, and turn right. The Grotto Point track is to the left about 400 metres on. You will find more detail about this area in the entry on Sydney Harbour National Park.

Grotto Point's lighthouse is an unusual one, because it is half of a pair which are used when entering the harbour. The second light is Rosherville Lighthouse on Parriwi Road near Chinaman's Beach, built in 1911. Most lighthouses give a warning, but not these two. As ships enter and leave Sydney Harbour, the line of these two lights indicates the centre of the safe channel. Ships, by the way, travel on the right, all over the world, so incoming ships stay close to North Head, departing ships are nearer to South Head.

Links to other walking sites


This file is http://members.ozemail.com.au/~macinnis/syd/walks.htm, first created on February 28, 2006. Last recorded revision (well I get lazy and forget sometimes!) was on August 2, 2007.

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