Sydney: Circular Quay to Manly 30km

Back to an old favourite hike today, walking from Circular Quay along the Sydney Harbour foreshores all the way back to Manly.

It is a truly fantastic walk, so much are parklands and national parks and the views are constantly stunning. A cool and mostly overcast day made for perfect hiking conditions.

You may have noted a gap in the GPS tracking on the map above. For some non obvious reason, Runkeeper can just suddenly pause its tracking and if you don’t pay attention… Oh well, not too much was not measured.

I was up early arriving at Circular Quay just after 7am. A familiar landmark was visible between the morning ferries.

Now, dear readers, crossing the Rocks two weeks ago, in the evening and in the dark (and totally sober), I stumbled over this tree root or looking at it now I realise that it could have been that stone block. This spot has no street lighting at all and I can not have been the first stumbler here.

My bruising is still not fully healed and prolonged walking / hiking still reminds me of it. 

Bring out that chain saw… Or light up the place after dark…

The aftermath of ANZAC Day celebrations were still visible in the Rocks. Here they were cleaning up, the first guy to the left of the car belonged to that team. The guy to the left of him was clearly a resident and he was not happy with a perceived lack of cleaning progress. Yep, it was a bit rowdy.

Over the Sydney Harbour Bridge…

…where 2 Manly ferries could be seen on either side of Fort Denison.

Over at Milson’s Point on the northern side of the bridge, you walk past these apartment blocks.

I read somewhere that they were built post WWII and were modeled on similar blocks on the Lower East Side in New York City and having been there I can say that they do look very similar.

At Anderson Park, where many commercial cruising boats are kept, daybreak meant boat cleaning and other maritime maintenance.

From here it was then walking on suburbian streets until Cremorne Reserve so a bit dull. What does that sign say?


Cremorne, this upper sociodemographic area of Sydney is of course very well kept and maintained. All very green and proper.

The foreshores of Cremorne Point are popular spots for checking out the NYE fireworks.

My first break for the day, and always for this hike, is Cremorne Wharf and its little cafe. I had a few minutes sit down there with my caffe latte.

A selfie along the way…

There are many lovely houses on the eastern side of the Cremorne peninsula. I like this house the most.

Nice views here too. This is overlooking Mosman Bay.

Bromley Avenue seemed to be misnamed somewhat. There is no road here and the handful of dwellings to the right do not have any vehicular access as the street is to the left of the picture up quite a few stairs.

Talking about stairs. These can be found off Raglan Street up the hill on the other eastern side of Mosman Bay. I have always half expected them not be there the next time that I arrive here given their shaky appearance, but they still are.

I have followed the partial demolishment and subsequent extensive extensions of this house for the last several years. There was a time when only the old sandstone section was there and a huge hole where the newer section was later added. All finished now it looks like.

Continuing on to Taronga Zoo and clearly something has happened here. Hopefully no animals were harmed or even fled the enclosure.

After circling the southern perimeter of the zoo, I arrived at the Taronga Zoo Wharf and then the adjacent entrance. The main entrance is of course up the hill and on the other side.

This very fancy bush fence below, if you want to call it that, stretches between Atola Hall and Bradley’s Head. Note the down lights a third down on the posts.

Presumably Atola Hall, a fancy venue that you can book, paid for the fencing as this part of the path would be used at weddings and the like. The couple would be strolling down to nearby Bradley’s Head for photographs using Sydney Harbour and the city as the background.

Soon though the track became “normal” again…

More great views as the track snakes north along the water towards Clifton Gardens.

This building has puzzled me for years as it has been empty for a long time and clearly been squattered and graffitied. The water is just in front of it behind a bit of parkland with Clifton Gardens just down some steps. There is uncapitalized money there. I wonder what the story is… A family feud?

The old navy buildings visible across Chowder Bay with Clifton Gardens Reserve to the left.

The cutest little Baccino coffee shop can be found here, complete with sun chairs for the punters to enjoy their cuppa in. I didn’t stop this time, but has done so many times before.

A board depicting the area. Chowder Bay at the bottom as I was moving north and towards Balmoral Beach.

Suddenly I saw this guy. A kookaburra totally unafraid of humans. Or perhaps somebody had just given him that piece of apple. He couldn’t care less about me taking his photo.

Up on the headlands around Gunners Barracks you can see across the heads and towards Manly. Home sweet home.

They opened up this passageway a few years ago between residential houses to the left and MS Penguin to the right. Both sides have tall fences with barbed wire and you feel that you are walking through a prison enclosure or similar. The infrastructure however is very neat and well kept.

Soon I was down at Balmoral Beach. It is not really one of my favourite beaches because I find the people a bit snobbish around here. Meaning of course that everything you buy is also more expensive than it should be. I moved along…

…crossing Chinaman’s Beach and up the Lombard Street, San Francisco like McLean Crescent. This is looking down for its top, but it is a tough slog getting up there.

I couldn’t help myself here, trying to be artistic. I didn’t notice the dent in the mirror in front of my face until later, but heck, let’s include the picture anyway.

Lunch time at The Spit. This Italian eatery did takeaway and I took another selfie as I was waiting for my feed…

…which was fish and chips. And a pretty good one too. For $10. No way I would have got that at Balmoral Beach.

I found some concrete steps near a small beach at the Spit where I had my lunch while checking out the maritime activities.

A short bit of street walking across Spit Bridge which is never pretty…

…before getting onto Manly Scenic Walkway or Spit to Manly Walk which is mostly very pretty.

However, these unexpected signs are never fun to encounter. Track closure you didn’t know about, with no alternative suggested other than taking public transport (not the reason for being out here in the first place).

Well, I was lucky today as the closure didn’t take effect until after this weekend.

I passed the main Clontarf Beach and moved on to its sandy stretch around the corner and behind the houses on Monash Crescent. There are times when this is impassible, at high tide the water can go all the way to some of the house lines.

These signboards can be found in several places along the way.

And up at Tanya Park, the views are spectacular. This is looking out at sea with North Head to the left and South Head to the right.

Almost there. Manly with its wharf to the right. And parts of our white apartment building to the left.

This headland is really a very nice part of the walkway. So close to suburbia and the city but down there it really feels like you are in the bush.

Low tide and you can walk across the mud here close to North Harbour Reserve. High tide and there is an alternative way crossing a pedestrian bridge up there somewhere.

Low tide today meant access to the steps without getting wet. Again, these steps would be partly under water during high tide. North Harbour Reserve is behind there.

After that, I was definitely on a home stretch and I again realised how much I enjoy this hike. It is a long one, yes, and parts of it are a bit strenuous but it is such a pleasant hike, so much bush and great views along the way.

Highly recommended.

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