I am always looking out for new experiences, wherever I may find myself.
Published October 29th 2018
In the last few months, I've been slowly getting to know the Northern Beaches after friends recently moved to Freshwater. We've walked around Manly a few times and visited some of the big attractions like North Head, but barely ventured north. Recently we changed that, by doing a very long, very beautiful coastal walk from Dee Why to Freshwater.
The walk we did isn't an official walk. It actually joins together a few other walks, like the Curl Curl Boardwalk and the Dee Why Coastal Walk (within Dee Why Cliff Reserve). They all flow pretty easily into each other though. All up, I'd say they took around two hours to complete, one way (we actually used the roads to walk to Dee Why, eating at Girdlers before taking this more scenic route back).
We started our walk at Dee Why Beach, passing the car park at the southern end of the beach to enter Dee Why Cliff Reserve off Pacific Parade. This reserve is a thin, untamed stretch of bush that stretches from Dee Why Beach round to North Curl Curl. At the beginning is an open grassy space, with a table and a series of seats where you can take in the views.
Dee Why Beach was very busy on the Sunday I did this walk.
The Dee Why Coastal Walk takes about forty-five minutes and involves a very uneven, rocky track with lots of stairs. However, if you ever want to do it and don't have time to complete the whole thing, you can leave halfway.
I loved this section of the walk, both for its unexpectedly beautiful views and the constantly changing surroundings. First, there were windblown trees, then sections where the cliff we were walking on dropped away beside us. There were times the path skirted along a cliff face rising next to our track, and other times it passed by hundreds of flowers.
The Dee Why Coastal Walk was the most difficult section of the walk from Dee Why to Freshwater.
While there are good views all along this section of the walk, some of the best are found at the two lookouts; the Tea Tree Lookout and the Gahnia Lookout. Tee Tea Lookout is a proper, fenced lookout that offers views north, while Gahnia Lookout is more of an open rocky ledge where you can see in both directions (at least, I think this is Gahnia Lookout).
This view is on offer at Tea Tree Lookout and I was pretty impressed with it. I'm not a resident of the Northern Beaches, so I'm not very familiar with the beaches and headlands. As a result, I was amazed at how far I could see. Look at all those headlands in the distance!
The view from what I think is Gahnia Lookout. I've done this section of the walk a second time even more recently (as you can probably tell by the sudden change in cloud cover) and as far as I can tell, this spot best matches what I've heard about Gahnia Lookout.
As you get closer to the end, the vegetation is far less lush, and once you round Dee Why Head the views south start including Curl Curl Beach. Near here, you will find a detour to North Curl Curl Rockpool, which is a pool set into the rocks at the bottom of the headland. It is only accessible via this walk (but you should access it from the Curl Curl end if you want to visit it).
There are excellent views of Curl Curl Beach towards the end of the Dee Why Coastal Walk.
Visible on the Dee Why Coastal Walk is the North Curl Curl Beach obelisk, which commemorates ten men from the area who died in WWI. You can see it on top of the cliff on the right hand side of this photo.
This part of the walk (the Dee Why Coastal Walk/Dee Why Cliff Reserve) ends near North Curl Curl Life Saving Club, on Houston Parade. There is another car park here if you ever want to do the reserve walk from this direction.
On the other side of Curl Curl Life Saving Club are some great views of Curl Curl Lagoon.
After such an up-and-down, rocky route through the reserve, I found that continuing the walk along the flat track behind Curl Curl Beach was a welcome break. To get to this part, follow the Houston Parade footpath until you get to Griffin Road, then turn left, and, once you're over the lagoon, look for the driveway entrance to the beach. It immediately splits in two, with the left side going to the lagoon and the ride side going through a car park to a walk behind Curl Curl. We took the right side and soon came to an open grassy space that was full of dogs (incidentally, since the Dee Why Cliff Reserve permits dogs, this whole walk is dog-friendly. At least in theory. Not all may actually manage it).
At South Curl Curl, the walk looks out over the beach and you pass South Curl Curl Life Saving Club and Gusto on the Beach. Further along is another rock pool, and near it are stairs you should use if you want to continue the walk to Freshwater. There are two options at this stage; walk through the car park at the top of the stairs to access the Curl Curl Boardwalk, or go all the way up to Carrington Parade use the road, which allows you to pass by Harbord Diggers. It doesn't really matter which you use; Both are scenic and converge before you get to KcKillop Park where you'll find Freshwater Lookout.
The views at this lookout are outstanding, like so many are on the walk, as you look across the bay to Manly. However, if you can be a bit patient, I think you get better views when you take the stairs near the lookout down towards Freshwater Beach. Closer to the water, near Freshwater's rock pool, you get the same great views towards Manly that you did at the lookout, but this time you also get unimpeded views of Freshwater Beach too. These views last for the whole last stretch of the walk, as you follow the cliff-side path round to the beach (nowhere else did I take as many photos as I did here).
It's hard to choose the best view on this walk, but the ones across to Manly from Freshwater are certainly high on my list.
After my experience on this walk, I'm convinced I need to keep finding excuses to explore the Northern Beaches; none of these places were on my radar before I visited them, but they were so beautiful. I mean, standing at Tea Tree Lookout, I had already decided this walk was just as good as any of the more famous attractions around here, and at that point I'd barely scratched the surface.