Oh dear, we have arrived at the penultimate stage of the Bondi-to-Manly path. What am I going to do when this little jaunt is over?
Yep, find another path to walk and, boy, I am planning a beauty! Stay tuned as I plot and plan a wee +1 000km stroll through the Aussie bush.
But, back to the path that stretches out in front of us and the jewel of Sydney Harbour on our right-hand side.
We are heading to Manly…
Stage: 7 – Spit Bridge to Manly Wharf.
Distance: Official distance: 10km. My Garmin watch said, bang on, 10km.
Time: Just over 3 hours at an easy pace with tired legs. I had just walked Stage 6 and the day was warming up and the ol’ legs were wilting.
Getting Away from Manly: You have a couple of options to get back to the Sydney CBD. Buses run regularly, but why wouldn’t you choose the ferry? There are two ferry options – the fast one or the more traditional rocking and rolling two-tier ferry. Go for the older version and sit out on the deck watching all the coves and headlands you have walked through and over, pass out of view. Spot the little coloured dots of people still out walking in the midday heat and relax knowing you can put your feet up now. ($5.44 with an Opal Card).
- Waymarking: There is not a lot of Bondi-to-Manly signage on this stretch, but again you can’t go too far wrong if you keep the water/harbour on one side.
- Sun Protection: Definitely wear sunscreen and a hat. The second half of this stage crosses a number of open headlands and beaches with absolutely no shade. The wind whipping off the water can also burn.
- 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 sporadic water stations.
- Fitness: A medium level of fitness is required. Some seats/rest areas are available at a couple of lookouts and beach areas.
- Terrain: Another mixed bag of bush paths, rock jumping, sandy beaches, concrete walkways and steep climbs up through the bush and onto the open headlands.
- Swimming Gear: You guessed it! The most delightful beaches await you at Clontarf and Fairlight, and there is a dog-friendly beach at Sandy Bay. It was a lovely sight to see deliriously happy dogs cavorting in the water and playing chases with each other. You could almost hear them laughing.
- Flora & Fauna: Nature lovers will really enjoy this walk with a good range of interpretive information, especially describing the surrounding plants and flowers. I was delighted to see flannel flowers bobbing gently in the breeze as well as other blooms.
The cheeky water dragons were also wonderful to see and certainly were not camera shy. I love the prehistoric look of these reptiles although a fellow walker was less than impressed and I had to act as her bodyguard shielding her from a potential attack! As if?!
- Views: It was a pearler of a day with the Autumn sun changing the Harbour from emerald green to brilliant blue. Sailing boats tilted into the wind and their white sails looked like confetti sprinkled across a blue blanket.
Every twist and turn of the path seemed to open up a new and stunning snap shot of the Harbour. Out on a high headland, I could look straight back across the water and see Watson’s Bay – the end of Stage 1 of the Bondi-to-Manly path. It feels like a lifetime since I started out on this wander even though it was less than 2 years ago. Maybe 2020 equated to a lifetime?!
The views also stretched North and I could see North Head and the Quarantine Station, which I will visit on my last stage of this incredible path. I can’t help but feel a little sad already that I have nearly reached the finish line.
- Indigenous History: The whole Harbour is like one long walk through Aboriginal history. This area was home to the Gadigal, Wangal, Wallumedegal, Boromedegal, Gamaragal, Borogegal, Birrabirragal and Gayamaygal people of the Eora Nation. The headlands and the protected coves, and excellent fishing would have sustained many different Aboriginal tribes and family groupings. On the top of Dobroyd headland, part of the Sydney Harbour National Park, don’t miss a visit to The Grotto where you can see Aboriginal carvings of large fish or perhaps they are whales. It is amazing to see how they have lasted through time. Despite the harsh conditions, they have endured.
- Final Thoughts: Like all the other stages of the Bondi-to-Manly path, this walk has been a feast for the senses. This path really makes you engage every part of your mind and body. What a privilege to be able to step out into nature and history.
Have you walked any stages of the Bondi to Manly walk? What are your thoughts?
Where: Walking eastwards around and over headlands with almost 360° views of Sydney Harbour.
When: I walked in mid-March 2021. An early start will help you avoid the worst of the heat.
Why: Walk this path for a dip at a secluded beach or a dose of Indigenous history.
Who: This path is perfect for beach bums, bird watchers, history buffs, nature lovers and all visitors to Sydney.
Related Posts: To start from the beginning, read my posts 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.
- Stage 5 from Kirribilli to Taronga Zoo – here.
- Stage 6 from Taronga Zoo to Spit Bridge – here
Related Blogs: If you don’t believe me, check out what All the Gear But No Idea thinks about Stage 7 of this path. He has some fabulous photos and have really captured the sweeping harbour views.
Read About It: For an interesting read about nature, evolution, history and early colonial Australia, grab a copy of Mr Darwin’s Shooter by Roger McDonald. The novel ranges all over the World and finally settles in Sydney Harbour. Available from Book Depository.
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