Two of Australia’s most famous beaches are now connected by an 80-kilometre harbourfront walking track. A series of existing paths between Bondi and Manly beaches have been merged into one, in a partnership between six local councils, the NSW government and a community support group. More than 350 Aboriginal whale-symbol signposts will guide hikers along the track, which can be completed in a seven-day trek or split into sections for shorter walks.
The track takes in the Waverley Cliff Walk in the eastern suburbs, the Harbour Walk from Rose Bay to Rushcutters Bay, then Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. It crosses the Harbour Bridge and travels along the coastal paths in Kirribilli, Bradleys Head and Balmoral Beach. It then heads north along the Spit Bridge, around Dobroyd Head and North Head, finishing up at Manly Beach.
Over the course of 80 kilometres, the path meanders past a number of landmarks – with plenty of opportunities for dips in the ocean and harbour. It goes past pretty Parsley Bay in Vaucluse, traverses the Hermitage Foreshore Track and gets you close to historic houses such as Vaucluse House, Strickland House and Elizabeth Bay House.
Of course, the track also shows off Sydney’s most famous icons, going past the Opera House and over the Harbour Bridge. But it also takes you through the hilly streets of Neutral Bay and past Nutcote, the former home of Australian children’s author May Gibbs (it’s now a dedicated museum).
You’ll also find a number of significant Indigenous heritage sites along the way, including rock engravings at Grotto Point (Clontarf), and rock art and an ancestral reburial site at nearby Reef Beach. And at Georges Head on the lower north shore, hikers can explore military fortifications and tunnels.
The track sprawls across six local government areas – 60 kilometres are on public land (including bushwalking paths), and the remaining 20 kilometres traverse footpaths, particularly around Potts Point, Point Piper and Darling Point in Sydney’s east.
“It’s a real, true bushwalking experience that’s available [in] Sydney. [It’s] public infrastructure that Sydneysiders can access and protect and promote all around the world,” Lachlan Harris, co-founder of Bondi to Manly Walk Supporters, told Broadsheet when the walk was announced in November 2018.
While some may take umbrage with putting Bondi before Manly in the title, Harris says that shouldn’t matter.
“I don’t care what people call it. This is a ginormous endowment of public land for future generations … It’s really exciting and very happy for all Sydneysiders that three levels of government have come together to make this walk a reality,” he says.
The Bondi to Manly walk is a joint project by the City of Sydney, Mosman Council, North Sydney Council, Northern Beaches Council, Waverley Council, Woollahra Council, Property New South Wales, the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust and Bondi to Manly Walk Supporters.
This article first appeared on Broadsheet on December 6, 2019. Some details may have changed since publication.