Located off Condamine Street Balgowlah is North Harbour Reserve, this lush green dog friendly reserve is home to beautiful trees and flora, a children's playground and barbecue facilities. It also joins the Manly Scenic walkway, which you can take either to Manly or to the Spit Bridge. It offers stunning tranquil views of Jilling Cove and Manly Cove stretching over Sydney Harbour past the heads as you walk further around.
The whole area has historical significance especially Manly Cove. Based on the First Fleet journals, before arrival of the First Fleet in Australia in 1788, Aborigines occupied North Harbour and the North Head area. These Aborigines living around Sydney Harbour referred to themselves as the Eora, but with several different clan names spread out. Initially when the First Fleet did explorations at North Harbour Reserve during 1788, they were met by twenty local Aborigines, who "waded into the water unarmed, received the gifts offered to them and looked on with curiosity at the ship." Captain Arthur Phillip was so impressed by the confidence and manly behaviour of the Aborigines that later he wrote his dispatch to Lord Sydney and referred to the area as "Manly Cove" so this is how the area got its name.
The Founding of Australia, Captain Phillip - Image source -Wikipedia
I have a passion for walking especially in the bush and anywhere near the ocean. The walkway from Manly to the Spit is viewed by many as one of the most scenic harbour walking tracks in the world. If you take the walk to Manly from North Harbour Reserve it will take you past modern harbour-side suburbs and beaches of Manly Cove and Fairlight. In the other direction to the Spit you will come across the sandy Forty Baskets beach, Reef Beach and the track will enter National Parkland where you will come across Aboriginal sites, native coastal heath and pockets of sub-tropical rainforest. This particular day I had my dogs with me, so I firstly stopped by a lovely dog friendly cafe called Forty Beans located at lower beach street which looks onto the North Harbour Reserve. This is a perfect cafe to fuel up on a coffee and a bite to eat before heading onwards to Forty Baskets Beach or doing the complete walk to the Spit Bridge.
The cove in front of North Harbour Reserve is Jillings Cove. A nice little area for the dogs to have a swim and at low tide you can cross there and enter the walkway. Failing that if it is high tide, you can walk back up to the steps and along North Harbour road you will find the pedestrian crossing over Wellings Reserve. I had actually parked my car at the end of Clarence Street which flows straight onto the pedestrian crossing.
Pedestrian crossing over Wellings Reserve - enter off Clarence Street, Balgowlah
After around 15 minutes of walking you will come across Forty Baskets Beach. The name Forty Baskets comes from a catch of 40 baskets of fish made in 1885 and sent to troops that were detained at North Head Manly Quarantine Station after the NSW first military expedition to Sudan in 1885. This is a lovely area to come for a picnic. It faces north east across Manly Cove with well maintained toilet facilities, a children's playground, barbecue areas and a shark proof netted swimming tidal pool backed by a grassy reserve and Norfolk Pine trees. There are also some very lucky residents who have sensational houses overlooking this beach.
It was a humid summer day and my dogs were anxious to jump in for a swim, so I took them further up past the sandy beach which doesn't allow leash free dogs to a rock pool area where I could let them free to have a swim.
I sat in the shade and played fetch the ball with the dogs for a good hour. It was such a lovely view. Meanwhile several bush walkers past me on the way out of the National Park entrance or towards it. There were plenty of Japanese and Korean tourists who thought the dogs were very cute and took some photos.
This end of Forty Baskets Beach is where the track starts into the National Park. Dogs are not allowed in the National Park. The walkway is well signposted with various entry points and information boards along the way. You can even park at Beatty Street and enter the tracks to Reef Beach or down to Forty Baskets Beach if you didn't wish to do the walk I just did.
The entrance to the National Park walkway that takes you to Reef Beach and further to the Spit
It was time to head back the way we came. I would of loved to continue but as I had the dogs, I needed to leave that part of the walk for another day when I was dog free. It was just as lovely walking back.
I snapped a few more photos of beautiful plants and flowers. This is the perfect walk for beginners and is easy for all ages. It's peaceful and really lifts your spirits. Personally I love walking just on my own without any conversational noise and to me this is the perfect way to recharge and keep positive. Try it out one day you will enjoy it as much as I did.