Just when you thought Sydney Harbour couldn’t get any more picturesque, the path on Sydney Harbour’s northern shore leads us past yet more stunning architecture, pockets of native bush and teasing us with glimpses of turquoise waters and crisp white sails of skimming boats.
Welcome to Stage 5 of the Bondi to Manly Path.
Stage: 5 – Kirribilli to Taronga Zoo.
Distance: Official distance: 10.4km. My Garmin watch said 10.2km.
Time: Around three hours at a consistent yet leisurely pace.
Getting to Kirribilli: If you have the energy, walk northward across the Harbour Bridge and head down the first set of steps you come to on your right (there is also an elevator if you don’t fancy the stairs). At the bottom of the stairs, turn right and that will take you straight to the water. Alternatively, catch the train to Milsons Point station or the ferry from Circular Quay to Kirribilli or Milsons Point Wharf.
Getting Away from Taronga Zoo: The end of this stage is at the foot of Taronga Zoo and the ferry terminal. Ferries run regularly throughout the day and return you to Circular Quay. The trip takes around 15 minutes and costs $6.12 (using an Opal Card). It is the perfect way to finish this stage as it gives you a completely different view of the coastline you have just walked along AND you enjoy water views of all the Harbour’s famous landmarks. A bus also runs from the ferry terminal up to the top of the Zoo. From there you can catch #100 bus, change onto the B1 at Neutral Bay and it will take you straight into Wynyard in the Sydney CBD ($3.73 using an Opal Card).
- Waymarking: Signage is excellent on this leg, especially at the start of the walk. Sometimes the signs do disappear or they are not found in predictable places. That is where the app comes in handy. Download the maps for use offline to save your data. Because the path crosses many different council boundaries, I suspect the availability of signage, or not, reflects the Council’s level of support of the Bondi to Manly initiative. Surely people from these classy neighbourhoods wouldn’t steal the signs?
- Sun Protection: The route passes through some lovely shady areas, but wear a hat and sunscreen as the Australian climate is pretty unforgiving.
- Footwear: Sneakers, runners or walking sandals are perfectly suitable.
- Water, Toilets and Cafés: The app is excellent for showing the location of all the bare necessities. Take a water bottle with you and refill it at the plentiful water stations.
- Fitness: A medium level of fitness is required. Some seats/rest areas are available in a couple of parks.
- Terrain: The surface underfoot is generally excellent with concrete or asphalt footpaths. There are some quite steep sections and many sets of stairs which may make it inaccessible for some people.
- Swimming Gear: If you walk this path in Summer, consider carrying your swimming gear as there are quite a few attractive beaches and bays to dip into.
- Highlights & Sights: This section of the Bondi to Manly path was a true education for me. It really opened my eyes to places I didn’t know existed, didn’t know their location or had only ever heard about. This includes:
- Admiralty House: Home of Australia’s Governor General.
- Kirribilli House: The Sydney base for any sitting Australian Prime Minister with a penchant for Quilton toilet paper.
- The Ensemble Theatre: Australia’s longest continuously running professional theatre company.
- Platypus Submarine Base: Formerly a torpedo factory, submarine base and gasworks, I suspect the local residents much prefer that it is now a community recreation area.
- Nutcote Cottage: Home of iconic Australian children’s author, May Gibbs.
- Sirius Cove: A gorgeous protected beach with strong links to Australia’s artistic community. Along with Curlew Camp, in 1895 this area became the inspiration for some of Australia’s finest artists such as Arthur Streeton and Tom Roberts.
- History: I absolutely loved the availability of historical and other interpretive signage. It covered such a broad range of topics from indigenous history, flora and fauna, economic (who knew that they mined coal on Cremorne Point?) and architecture – especially the Arts and Crats period.
The Cremorne Gardens were especially enjoyable with shady paths edged by imposing homes on one side and the sparkling harbour on the other. Apparently in the early 1900s the local people had to battle hard to keep this stretch of land out of a greedy developer’s clutches. How lucky are we that people power was successful?
- Timing: As I walked this stage immediately after Stage 4 the sun was well and truly up, and starting to get hot. This stage would be glorious in the early morning cool although shade and water points are plentiful. Note: that some sections of this path, especially around the submarine base, are secured by locked gates from 9pm until 700am. If you want to start really early, you will have to detour around this area. If you have the app on your phone, it will quickly show you any alternate routes.
- Flora: Being the ‘leafy North Shore’, the whole area is abundant with glorious flowers. I walked in November and the jacaranda trees were decorating everything with a brilliant purple blanket as their flowers dropped. Heady wafts of climbing jasmine and elegant magnolia blooms were just a few of the varieties that perfumed my progress through these incredibly exclusive suburbs. (I was interested to see how many of those palatial mansions were for sale AND had SOLD plastered across the signs. Obviously some people are still very cashed up…or were.)
- Final Thoughts: As I complete each stage of the Bondi to Manly walk I think to myself, ‘this has to be the most beautiful/prettiest/most fascinating stage’. Then I walk the next stage and I am dazzled all over again. I can’t recommend the path highly enough. You don’t have to walk as far or as fast as I do, just get out and do it. It’s a path that just keeps on giving!
Have you walked any stages of the Bondi to Manly walk? What are your thoughts?
What: Stage 5 of the Bondi to Manly Walk. “The Bondi to Manly Walk is a proposal to link all of the existing coastal and harbourside walking tracks and paths on public land between Australia’s two most famous surf beaches, Bondi and Manly, in an 80 kilometre walk around the foreshore of Sydney Harbour”. Source
Where: Working my way eastwards away from the Harbour Bridge and right on the edge of the harbour.
When: I walked in mid-November 2020. You could walk this path at any time of the day or year.
Why: Walk this path to discover parts of Sydney well away from the normal tourist haunts, but still with stunning harbour views.
Who: Lycra-clad yummy mummies, dedicated parks and garden staff, the uber-wealthy, and walkers, shufflers and amblers of all shapes and ages.
Related Posts: To start from the beginning, read my post about:
- Stage 1 from Bondi Beach to Watsons Bay – here.
- Stage 2 from Watsons Bay to Rose Bay – here.
- Stage 3 from Rose Bay to Darling Point – here.
- Stage 4 from Darling Point to Kirribilli – here.
Related Blogs: If you like your walks with a side of art, then find out more about Arthur Streeton’s outstanding artistic career here.
Read About It: For an fascinating insight into Sydney Harbour, grab a copy of Scott Bevan’s The Harbour: A city’s heart, a country’s soul. Bevan takes us on an adventure around Sydney Harbour paddling in and out of small coves and bays in his kayak, revealing the intriguing history of the harbour, its workers, industries and invasions. Available from Book Depository.
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