Alas, today is the last day exploring the Bondi to Manly path. It has taken a while to find a window in the timetable to slot in this final glorious stroll and, perhaps, a small part of me was reluctant for it all to be over.
Grab your hat and water bottle, we are off for a short stroll around the North Head of Sydney Harbour.
Stage: 8 and Final – Manly Wharf, around North Head to Manly Beach.
Distance: Official distance: 10.2km. My Garmin watch said: 9.99km.
Time: 2h25m with plenty of lollygagging and photo stops.
Getting to Manly: You have a couple of options to get to Manly. Buses run regularly, but why wouldn’t you choose the ferry? There are two types of ferry to pick from – 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, bays and headlands you have walked through on previous Bondi to Manly stages. ($6.88 with an Opal card).
Getting Away from Manly: The finishing point at Manly Beach is a short 200m walk down the Manly Corso back to the Manly Wharf and bus terminus.
- Waymarking: Bondi to Manly signage is completely absent (or did I miss it?) for the first 2km. From the Wharf, follow the footpath that hugs the water in a generally southerly direction. Alternatively, follow the blue signs for the ‘Manly Scenic Walkway to North Head’. The Bondi-to-Manly app helped to keep me on track once I left the Wharf area.
- Sun Protection: Definitely wear sunscreen and a hat unless walking very early in the morning or late in the afternoon/evening. Most of the path is exposed with little shade.
- 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. Coffee, along the way, can be found at the Little Manly Tidal Pool.
- Fitness: This is an easy stage with only a couple of stiff climbs, especially up Collins Beach Road and down to Shelly Beach.
- Terrain: The majority of this path is on concrete paths or well-formed tracks including metal grating and boardwalks.
- Swimming Gear: Pack your swimmers/togs to access a handful of heavenly swimming spots.
- Views: This walk offers a bit of everything and often, all at the same time! It starts with a stroll through some suburban streets before mixing it up with small beaches, waterfalls, pockets of native bushland, manicured parks and then large sections of coastal heathlands. The views are 360° with sweeping views back towards the skyscrapers of Sydney CBD, southwards to South Head where I started walking the Bondi to Manly path way back in June 2019, and then eastwards to blue ocean as far as the eye can see.
- History Lessons: You can’t finish this loop without learning something about the early days of Manly or the important role this part of Sydney played in the protection of our country during a number of wars, especially WWII. In fact, North Head is almost wall-to-wall with interpretative information about barracks, gun emplacements, tunnels, and other military paraphernalia. During WWII the whole of North Head was converted to a heavily fortified area and afterwards, home of the Australian Army’s School of Artillery.
- Fire: Unfortunately, parts of North Head are still showing the severe impacts of a backburn fire that went wrong a couple of years ago. It could have been a lot worse, but some sections – including the Fairfax Lookouts – are still closed to the public. It meant I was unable to complete a small loop of the Bondi to Manly path.
- Flora: I was surprised to see so much water up on the headland. One area, the Hanging Swamp, was almost completely underwater and was accessed by raised mesh platforms. Who would have thought that a completely different microclimate existed in such an exposed landscape?
Turning and walking back towards Manly I felt my steps slow as I wanted to savour every moment. The path became very busy with other walkers lapping up the Autumn sunshine and Summer-like temperatures. The water was full of swimmers and surfers, and the beach was full of sun-worshippers. This is certainly home of the beautiful people.
Stepping onto Manly promenade, there was a spring in my step as I hit the home straight. Being fully-clothed, wearing a backpack and hiking boots, I did look slightly out of place, but anything goes in Manly. Arrived at last and the only small downside was that I couldn’t find any final signage at Manly Beach to signify the end of my 80km adventure. It would have been nice to have a small Ta-Da-I-Made-It moment and a photo. No matter, I know what I have done and I savour all the joy it has brought me.
Now… onto the next adventure.
Have you walked any stages of the Bondi to Manly walk? What are your thoughts?
Where: Walking southwards and then northwards with 360° views of every type.
When: I walked in mid-May 2022. This is the perfect stroll for an Autumn day.
Why: Walk this path for views, history, nature, and to get your heart rate up.
Who: This path is perfect for water babies of every sort, 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
- Stage 7 from Spit Bridge to Manly Wharf – here
Related Blogs: If you don’t believe me, check out what All the Gear But No Idea thinks about the final stage of this path. He has some fabulous photos.
Read About It: Surfing was brought to Australia in 1915 by Hawaiian Duke Kahanamoku when he displayed the technique at Freshwater Beach, just up from Manly Beach. For a large range of surfing and surf-related books, check out Book Depository.
#travelinspo #bonditomanly #sydneywalks #bondi2manly #walkingsydney #manlywharf #waterviews #daywalks #shortwalks #sydneyharbour #manly #sydneybeaches #militaryhistory #manlybeach #northhead #nationalparks