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Published October 21st 2018
The Best Things in Life are in Spitting Distance
The walk from Manly along Sydney's Harbour blends secluded beaches, rainforest and historical landmarks. It's more than a stroll along Sydney's beauty spots. It's also a 3-hour journey through the harbour's history.
Sail to the starting point on a ferry from Circular Quay to Manly Wharf The wharf, the Corso boardwalk and the nearby beach are enough to make you settle here for the day, but don't lose focus - a walk awaits.
Manly Wharf (by Governor Macquarie at Flickr)
Head west along the beach, passing the former site of the Sea Life Sanctuary, closed in 2018 after over 50 years as an aquatic wonderland.
Past Federation Point, Norfolk Island Pines offer shade in Esplanade Park. The park winds toward steps leading to the quaint Delwood Beach.
You're now in Balgowlah and Forty Baskets Beach. The original baskets, filled with fresh fish, were delivered over 130 years ago to soldiers arriving from Sudan. It's an ideal spot to be quarantined, as these men were while they were monitored for typhoid infections. Germophobes don't need to panic. The worst you'll encounter now is a mild sunburn.
Manly Quarantine Station (by Jim Bowen at Flickr)
Keep going until the turning point just after the small beach at Reef Bay. In the 1980s, you'd be blushing at the exposed flesh on the former nudist enclave. Visitors now cover up after resident wowsers protested.
As the path edges west, the water will be at your left shoulder when you reach Sydney Harbour National Park. You'll recognise it by the bright red Banksia flowers and calming scent of Tea Trees.
Enjoy the view from a shaded lookout at Dobroyd Head, before continuing into an undulating forest which leads to Crater Valley. The fishing huts were built almost 100 years ago.
Take a sharp south turn into Grotto Point where the lighthouse, over a century old, still stands tall. For an ancient art gallery, take a detour east to see Aboriginal engravings of local animals, including whales, emus and sharks.
Grotto Point Lighthouse (by Brianegge at Wikipedia)
Watch your step as you climb the muscle-burning stairs at Castle Rock Beach. Catch your breath in Lexi Beach, peeking across the harbour at Mosman's Wyragine Point.
When your heart has stopped racing, walk on to Clontarf Point, named after a battle in Dublin where Irish soldiers routed a Viking invasion over 1,000 years ago.
Northward, you'll pass lavish mansions on Monash Crescent. Enjoy the multimillion-dollar views without the eye-watering mortgage repayments.
Mitchell Walk winds past luxury homes on the high banks before reaching a waterfall in another small rainforest – Fisher Bay. A houseboat has dropped anchor here.
Within the bay, you'll spot your finish line from Brady's Point, just around the bend.
Success – you've hit the Spit Bridge, Sydney's Tower Bridge. You can watch sailing ships pass under the raised sections during the scheduled opening times. Once the bascule decks are lowered, cross over the water for the first time to reach the bus stop. Public transport will carry you up the steep, steep climb.
From the top, you can catch buses back along Military Rd and into North Sydney or onto the city, completing your round-trip.
I found doing the walk from The Spit to Manly much easier. There is large parking area (it costs) at The Spit. Walk across the bridge and down onto Clontaff beachfront (there's a cafe where you can refuel the body whilst refueling the soul, watching the dogs play in the water. And then, start walking. The track is wonderful, the views breathtaking and if, you're lucky enough, Mr Whippy will be there (about half way along) - look up and he may be parked on the closest road to the walk. When you get to Manly, there are so many food places to choose from - especially to have a chocolate milkshake, chocolate on pancakes and chocolate dipped strawberries - there has to be some kind of reward! And then you catch the bus back to The Spit. You may think I'm into it for the chocolate reward - you're right but what a way to earn it.